Roosevelt Collier's Colorado Get Down Feat. Bill Nershi 2.17 & 2.18.16
The Barkley Ballroom
Words & Photos By J. Picard
Video By EvenStev & Carly Marthis
The motorhome roared up I-70 from Denver, headed west up the mountain towards Frisco under the beautiful Colorado sun! On board the mothership was Roosevelt Collier, Bill Nershi (The String Cheese Incident), Alwyn Robinson (Leftover Salmon), myself, Matt and Teri Maylen (whose motorhome it was) and our tour pup, Moose. The Allman Brothers' Eat a Peach played over the soundsystem while the team talked through some material, joked, laughed and soaked up the beauty that surrounded us! The craft was loaded with gear, snacks, beer and general non-sense, which was par for the course. Moose took a liking to Bill, cuddling up and invading his space big time, all but sitting on his lap. We passed through the Eisenhower Tunnel, dropped down into Dillon, CO and a short time later arrived at The Ramada Limited in Frisco. Just as we arrived, the power came back on at the hotel so we checked in and threw some stuff into our rooms before reconvening at the motorhome to head over towards Main Street to grab some food and load in at the venue. The day was already off to a great start with everyone in high spirits and the night was shaping up to be something special!
A couple of hours later we gathered at the motorhome and were on our way to the venue for the evening's main event. Upon our arrival the line was out the door and Genetics was getting after it. As Wednesdays at The Barkley are typically "Bluegrass night," Genetics toned down their set with some slower more explorative tunes, as opposed to their typical shredfest. Owner Todd Altschuler tended to the door checking some IDs and greeting folks. I appreciate an owner/buyer/promoter that is humble enough to take on the most basic of roles at an event as it shows solid leadership and a willingness to help at all levels. Our team got situated both in the greenroom and in a few chairs next to the stage. The place was going nuts as Genetics dipped into some captivating music and seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage. The three bartenders bounced back and forth behind the bar serving patrons at a rapid rate, all with a smile and great customer service. It was cool to see a mountain venue firing on all cylinders on a Wednesday!
The Roosevelt/Andy Thorn original "Skunk Mountain," came next with some interesting interplay between Rosie and Bill. The track has morphed into a wild jam and a hodgepodge of solo sections that culminate with the signature melody, that doesn't always leave and return to the station at the same time. A Bill contribution, "Outside and Inside" came next and the crowd erupted in cheer. A couple of ripping exchanges between Bill and Rosie led towards the set's conclusion and the band making its way to the greenroom as folks stopped them for photos and signatures. Backstage the band pieced together a loose setlist and after a short break, returned to the stage for the second set.
Roosevelt thanked the bartenders for their hard work and let them know that he'd be coming over after the show. The band launched into "Jellyfish" with Bill handling the vocal raps. "Alice!" the crowd yelled with Bill before the band jumped into double time and Bill ran in place! It was a great end to a wild evening of music in Frisco, but wouldn't mark the end of our fun. The band shook hands and posed for pictures while the bar cleared out before heading to the motorhome and back to the hotel. Most of our group headed to bed while a few of us snuck into the hot tubs around 3:00 AM for a late night soak under the stars.
Vince Herman swung by the hotel to take Alwyn to Avon for a Winter Wondergrass pre-party while the rest of the group hung in Frisco. Around dinner a portion of the group was off to Ollie's for some apps, food and great company. At some point in the conversation, Matt and Teri were talking about their former tortilla chip company, Great Lakes Chip Company, and it came up that I designed the logo and label for their bags. "I also designed the label for a chip company," Bill said with a smile. It turned out to be true, which was super weird. The snow started to dump on the small mountain town, as we headed across the way to The Barkley where to my delight Genetics was playing a much more aggressive set. Their abilities on stage far surpass those of most bands at their level of popularity and it was clear that night that they had gained a bunch of fans through their stellar performance. Backstage Bill and I sat and talked about Photoshop and graphic design as we waited for the team to arrive.
Rosie's squad came out of the gates ripping with excitement. There was only a song or two on the previous evening's list that the band had yet to get to, so they were added to night two's setlist. Only a couple of repeats came in the form of "Hot Lanta," which the band wanted to dig into deeper and "Jellyfish," which Roosevelt enjoyed so much on night one that they decided to do it again. Jimmy Smith's "Root Down" made the cut, as well as Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" that featured Bill and Rosie up front. As the first set came and went, welcoming set two, myself, Carly and a couple of the Genetics guys danced and got down to the action. From what I recall the evening was pretty blues heavy and towards the end was contrasted with a dedication to Matt and Teri in the form of "Colorado Bluebird Sky," to close the weekend. The crowd was satisfied and it was fun to see fans being able to interact and get photos with some of their favorite musicians!
Back at the motorhome before lift off, Bill sat singing "Windy Mountain," a song about Coal Creek/Nederland, where both he and Matt and Teri own homes. Teri and Carly drove our Jeep down the mountain while Matt, Rosie, Bill and I headed down in the motorhome, conversing about Bluegrass, Sacred Steel and the likes. We pulled into downtown Denver where the sun was shinning on a 70 degree day. We unloaded Bill's gear, said our goodbyes, Bill and Matt exchanged numbers and Bill's wife, Jill, scooped him up. We headed back to my house where the motorhome returned to its launchpad. We had a riot in the mountains. The whole experience was surreal and Roosevelt still had another day in town.
The following night was swung by Cervantes where he sat in with Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, before heading to The Ogden for a sit in with G. Love & Special Sauce. What started off as a "work" trip to the mountains felt more like a vacation, as is often the case. It's these experiences that make what we do worth it and the stories of those experiences that we will later tell as a sort of literary cache in a long string of tall tales...