Friday, September 30, 2016

PREVIEW: Jason Hann's Rhythmatronix (October 6 - 9, 2017)

Frisco & Denver, CO

Join us for GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique Presents Jason Hann's Rhythmatronix featuring Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident, EOTO), Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers Band), Fareed Haque (Garaj Mahal), Todd Stoops (RAQ, Electric Beethovan), Raul Pineda (Chucho Valdes)!

-Thursday October 6 at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco, CO:

-Friday October 7 at Cervantes Other Side in Denver, CO:

-Saturday October 8 At Cervantes Other Side in Denver, CO:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Umphrey's McGee, Moon Taxi, Dead 27s 9.23.16 (Photos)

Riverfront Park
North Charleston, SC

Photos By Bain Stewart Media

View Bain's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Interview: Leftover Salmon

Hornings Hideout
North Plains, OR

Interview & Words By Mitch Melheim
Photos By Coleman Schwartz

There are very few bands who can emulate the type of fun that Leftover Salmon consistently provides on-stage. From Mayor McCheese to guitarist Vince Herman’s scat-filled antics, it would be an understatement to say there’s never a dull moment with these guys. Their infectious on-stage personas are the reason why I jumped on the chance to interview them at this year’s Northwest String Summit.

Herman, who introduced himself as Bernie Sanders, arrived to the interview alongside band co-founder and multi-instrumentalist, Drew Emmitt, and banjo virtuoso, Andy Thorn.

Mitch Melheim: Welcome back to Oregon. You’ve rang in two of the last three New Year’s in Portland. What keeps bringing you back?

Vince Herman: It’s a great corner of the "Left Coast" to play. We usually like to switch up where we play our New Year’s shows. Just recently we’ve done Chicago, Portland, Seattle… We’re doing Tahoe and Salt Lake this year. There’s a lot of different ways to party out there and we want to experience them all.

MM: You guys have hit the west coast festival circuit pretty hard this summer having already played High Sierra, Vince at Oregon Country Fair, and now Northwest String Summit. Do you have a favorite West Coast festival?

Drew Emmitt: It’s gotta be this one.

VH: I probably know personally 80 percent of the bands here playing this weekend. This is definitely the middle of our social circuit.

MM: Out of your contemporaries here at the festival, whose set are you making sure not to miss?

VH: Benny Galloway.

MM: You guys are billed as “Leftover Salmon & Friends” for tonight’s late night show. When you have sets billed as such, how many of those “friends” are planned and how many are thrown together at the last second?

VH: We will answer that question this evening. It’s an “and friends” set tonight, though?

MM: (Laughing) Yes. I guess that answers my question.

Andy Thorn: There’s no friends here…

MM: Well, do you at least plan your set lists?

DE: We never follow them. I’ve come to the conclusion that a set list is just sort of a map to navigate by. It’s okay to deviate from a perfect set list if it feels right.

MM: What was it like being able to play with Bill Payne for a couple years?

VH: He added a 'go anywhere in any direction at any time' kind of thing. His improvisation was great. Such a vocabulary, such an outrageously good player.

While making note of Payne being featured prominently on their new live compilation album 25, Herman mentions that it is only available digitally (although now being released physically) and with a shit-eating grin wider than Mayor McCheese’s head comes to the realization that “Leftover Salmon digital 25” is abbreviated “LSD-25”... Vince Herman, folks. Gotta love him.

In reference to their live compilation album 25:

DE: I just listened to it the other day actually. We had a barbeque at my friend’s house and listened to the whole thing. It’s really good. There’s some great stuff on there.

AT: Keller Williams is on “Aquatic Hitchhiker” and he plays a talking drum solo that was completely spur of the moment. We didn’t even see him. He just snuck on stage and started doing it and it’s like “whoa, this is working.”

DE: There’s some horns on some of the tracks too.

MM: Speaking of horns, seeing you guys with Skerik last year was some of the best Leftover Salmon I’ve ever seen.

AT: Yeah. He really got in there. We also had Jeff Coffin at the Stanley in March and he took it to a similar place.

MM: You guys are obviously no strangers to sit-ins. Is there anybody you can think of that’s really challenged you guys with their improvisation?

VH: Bruce Hampton always makes you listen differently than anybody else. Bobby Lee Rodgers has been playing with us occasionally and wow, he takes it somewhere unanticipated. He starts playing that smart stuff and I don’t know what to do. Jon Stickley too.

AT: There’s Stickley right there. He’s gonna sit-in with us tonight if he can stay sober. He has a history with us.

VH: These guys (Thorn & Stickley) went to grade school together. That’s why he says shit like that.

MM: Is there any particular sit-in that sticks out to you as most memorable?

VH: That sit-in with Gipsy Moon at the Oregon Country Fair was mind and heart-blowing. We’ve had some intense experiences at the Country Fair over the years and to have played a set with both of my kids at the Country Fair this year was just a beautiful circle coming around and the heart of that festival is just unparalleled. They’ve been there 47 years in the same place figuring out how to do it right and they’ve got it right. Everybody’s head and heart is in the right place.

MM: Leftover Salmon is quite the myriad of musical influences. Who brought which sound to the band?

DE: I think Vince was more the Zydeco, Cajun, Old-Time thing and I was more the Bluegrass and the Rock side. Vince was way into the Calypso and I think a lot of that was West Virginia.

VH: Yeah, a guy named Vinnie Parsetta for Calypso and I got to hang with Jimmy Balfa whose kind of the pillar of Cajun music. I kind of got all of that out of Southwest West Virginia.

MM: Was it a conscious decision to have drums and create a more Rock’n’Roll sound?

VH: The band started on New Year’s Eve 1990 as a combo of my Cajun jug band, The Salmon Heads, and Drew’s Bluegrass band, Left Hand String Band. A couple of the guys from The Salmon Heads couldn’t make it so I called up a couple of the guys from Left Hand String Band and after that first night, the circuit in Colorado at the time around ski bars was such that we had 6 gigs and never looked back.

MM: You guys have been through a “who’s who” of banjo players. Andy Thorn now, Noam Pikelny, Matt Flinner, Tony Furtado, and of course Mark Vann. Almost just as many drummers and keyboardists. How have you two (Herman & Emmitt) managed to continue on through so many line up changes?

VH: We’re the only ones that are insane enough to keep doing it. It’s the funnest thing I know how to do. I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’ve been a carpenter, a cook, a painter, a roofer, a fisherman, a logger... I’ve done everything man and nothing beats this job.

MM: How has touring for over two decades and experiencing all of the different parts of the country changed your perspective on the United States?

VH: I’m the biggest patriot there is after doing it for 26 years on the road. I love that it’s not the same at every exit. You would think it is, because there’s the same 6 restaurants at every stop, but once you get beyond the exit it’s different in every place. Parts of Pennsylvania are even way different from each other then down into Kentucky, all of the way out to California and Oregon. Wow. Everything is so different. There is no monotone one America and that is awesome. It’s inspiring at every turn.

MM: In reference to the 2016 election, social unrest, and the current state of the U.S.:

VH: I think we’re smart enough to think our way out of this. I think we are. I see signs. If we can just figure out how to turn off the TV we’ll be alright. Utah Phillips said, “If you watch the news you’d think the country has gone to hell in a bucket.” There’s not much inspiring shit to see, but if you go out and talk to people who are doing this or doing that, you’ll see examples all around you that we’re moving in the right direction.

DE: What’s interesting is we’ve been touring during three different decades now and have been able to see things change. One thing I’ve been noticing lately is how all of the cool towns are getting slammed. It’s like people are figuring out where the really cool places are to live and it’s crazy how much they’re flocking to these places. It’s really become apparent how much more people now know about things like this.

MM: Leftover Salmon for president?

AT: Mayor McCheese!

VH: I ran for office once. Yeah, and in a back room dealing in the Nederland town council I was accused of giving drugs to a 10 year old. So the guy who got the least amount of votes got the position. I was the next runner-up and I really just wanted to bring the whole council down. The kid had a great trip! But no, my point is that you can have skeletons in your closet and that doesn’t exclude you from participating in our democracy. Imaginary things from my closet were pulled out so that made me think twice about it.

DE: Well, you were the mayor of Nederland whether you were elected or not. That place hasn’t been the same since Vince left.

VH: And it just dodged a major fire this weekend.

MM: In reference to the Colorado wildfires and dealing with distractions:

VH: I was at the Oregon Country Fair with my son and his house was right on the line for days. The most profound thing that we learned out of it was our buddy Mark saying, “You feel split. Here we are at the Country Fair and your mind is on this thing over here.” He said, “Humans do not have the capacity to do that. We feel ripped apart because we are. We are only designed to be able to think and comprehend that where we are.” Like Horning’s Hideout. You know if we were to get word right now that one of those popular terrorism attacks were to have taken place, it would be in our minds, but we have no capacity for understanding that. So I’m trying to be more here with where we are and what we’re doing because it’s better for the brain.

DE: There’s just so much information right now. It’s too much. I think people are just so distracted by it all. I don’t think it’s good. I’m happy to be around people with iPhones because it benefits me, but I don’t think it’s good. I think that having that much information in your hand is not good. You can tune into it when you want to, but to constantly be exposed to it is a distraction. I love nature and I think that it takes people out of nature. It takes people out of the moment and takes people away from who they are. I kind of envision a world where the internet would go away and all of these devices would go away.

VH: Which brings up Pokemon. Seriously. Our little rural Southern Oregon newspapers, both of them, have pictures on the front of little kids running around town looking through their phone screens. It’s funded by a company called IQTell whose mission is stated as keeping the CIA on the cutting edge of technology. They’re the ones that started this game. And there’s kids running around filming where they are. Are we that stupid? That all of a sudden everyone in the country is talking about Pokemon. How the hell did that happen? I mean it’s so obvious to me. I read 1984 as a young kid and we were wondering when that was going to happen. I think we’re there now…
How can you hear a banjo correctly in this environment?

Bonus Stoner Round:

MM: Your love of cannabis is far from a secret. I want to know, what are your favorite strains?

VH: Right now, I’m a big fan of the Gorilla Glue. Romulan is coming up a strong second. You can’t beat a good Diesel. Also, Durban Poison.

MM: Well-rounded. Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid. I like it. How about the hash oil? Or do you stick to flower?

VH: I’m kind of a flower guy, but pressed rosin, just pressured, no chemicals…

AT: With the little vacuum cleaner pipe straight into the thing of rosin…

MM: Oh yeah, the Nectar Collector?

AT: It’s another level.

VH: Yep, rosin. That’s the difference.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Railroad Earth, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood & Anders Osborne 9.16.16 (Photos)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Phish Dick’s 9.2 - 9.4.16

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Commerce City, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
(Fat Guerilla Productions)

Six Dick’s, Dick’s six, that’s a total of eighteen Dick’s, that’s a lot of Dick’s, and I’ve had them all. Dick’s is the not-so-secret Phish festival that has happened every year in the heart of Commerce City, Colorado since 2011. This year locals felt the squeeze as tickets for all three nights sold out over a month in advance, which was a new phenomenon. Each run has featured some trickery or set list shenanigans, but with the conclusive "Thank You, HARPUA" encore last year on Sunday many speculated that it was an end of an era. That would not be the case. This year my personal Phish fandom came full circle on night three, second set, aka the "Crosseyed and Painless" Extravaganza. It was my "Moby Dick" you could say.

In 2000 at Deer Creek, I was just a young noob out on the prowl for good times and a good show. My lack of experience caused me to trade my ticket for night two for night three. My thoughts were, "Well I can only afford one show and they have to peak during the last night." I couldn’t have been more wrong. That show was and forever will be known as the "Moby Dick" show and I listened to it from outside of Deer Creek’s walls. I was chasing that white whale for sixteen years until Phish delivered an epic raincheck in the form of their Talking Heads inspired set on Sunday. But first…

Friday, September 2:

Phish returned to Dick’s for their Summer tour closing run on Friday as fans streamed into the campgrounds. The Bass Center event the month prior seemed to take some of the lushness out of the grass in the soccer fields, but the campground was no worse for wear. The tent city was rapidly constructed as the first notes of sound check drifted over the walls of the stadium. Eventually, the sounds of Steve Miller’s “Swingtown” could be heard before they cut the sound check. That silliness seemed to be in the air as they took the stage for night one. They opened with an authoritative “Ghost.”

Set One: Ghost, No Men in No Man’s Land, Breath and Burning, Undermind, Heavy Things, Stash, Ass Handed*> The Wedge, Alaska> 46 Days

Set Two: Run Like An Antelope, Mercury> Seven Below> Birds Of A Feather, Wombat, Tweezer> Runaway Jim> Suzy Greenberg

Encore: Bug> Tweezer Reprise

*First half performed in a Swing style

Friday felt like the new era coming home to roost. With the creative output of Phish at an all-time high they have incorporated literally dozens of new original songs into their repertoire. That means that these aren’t your older brother’s set lists anymore. They are eclectic mix of 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 songs and with the new album on the horizon anything is fair game. “No Men In No Man’s Land” took on a funky feel through the extensive jam. The lyrically intricate “Breath and Burning” which debuted this year in Noblesville is a bouncy lull. “Undermind” was a rocker before a standard “Heavy Things.” “Stash” followed by the heaviest 45 seconds of rock in the form of “Ass Handed,” which featured a swing style performance. I would say this song could replace “Tweeprise” if I wasn’t afraid of the repercussions.

“That was really swinging…. Just seems like tonight we’re swinging dicks.” –Fishman

“The Wedge” is a Colorado standard, and it was performed flawlessly. “Alaska” was a fun choice and caused the dance party to ensue. The set closing “46 Days” was pure rock.

Musically, Phish is playing at their peak. Their second set was equally impressive and also started with a huge song. “Run Like An Antelope” signaled the return and would stand alone before a massive run that included “Mercury” into “Seven Below” into a perfect “Bird’s Of A Feather.” These segues featured some of the most intricate jamming of the evening. Proving once again that each song is a puzzle piece and the members of Phish are all puzzle masters. The playful “Wombat” had a big bite before the earth-shattering “Tweezer.” Phish pushed the jam hard before jumping ship with “Runaway Jim.” They kept it going strong with a set closing “Suzy.” The encore left us wanting more with a typical “Bug” and a quick “Tweeprise.” It was an interesting show that demonstrates that the Phish from Vermont are still tinkering and adding to their sound even at this late stage in the game. They are never satisfied and they never want to stagnate. Phish is progressive first and foremost, everything else is just a part of that. The lights came up and the wookies scrambled to find their respective rides. The rest of us found our tents and called it a day.

Saturday, September 3:

There's a lot to do in Denver when you are waiting for Phish to play. Many of my friends opted to find a brewery for a drink in the shade. I found a disc golf course and then continued my festivities in the parking lot at Dick’s. There was a wind storm that hit both the lot and the campsite early in the afternoon. Several EZ-Ups lost their lives that day, but more noticeably the dust storm made setup difficult for the vendors. Eventually, it all settled and the business people were able to continue peddling their wares.

As the sun set, the band members emerged to open the show with an unheard of “Slave To The Traffic Light.” It’s not that Phish has never opened with “Slave,” it’s just been 27 years. The mid 80’s called, they said we could use their opener.

Set One: Slave To The Traffic Light, Down with Disease, What’s the Use?> Maze, Farmhouse, 555, Wolfman’s Brother, Divided Sky> Rock and Roll

Set Two: Fuego> Sand> Blaze On> Simple*> Twist> Theme From the Bottom> Also Sprach Zarathustra> Harry Hood

Encore: The Squirming Coil**

*Trey on Marimba Lumina
**w/ Mike soloing on bass to end

“Down with Disease” was the 2 on the 1 – 2 punch to start the show. The “What’s the Use?” jam went deep and it went dark before emerging into a dangerous “Maze.” “Farmhouse” reminded us all that we do like that song. Mike took the lead as he did throughout the weekend on a stunning “555.” “Wolfman’s Brother” was funky, but straightforward. However, the “Divided Sky” took us all to another planet before the set closing version of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.”

While the first set was about tight intricate jamming, the second set seemed looser from the opening notes of the fan favorite “Fuego.” They wasted no time and continued with an epically timed “Sand” before the band exploded on another new song “Blaze On.” Trey found himself back at the Marimba Lumina on an exploratory “Simple.” The unending jam continued with a smooth transition into “Twist.” “Theme From the Bottom” came next and featured an unbelievable solo from Trey. Suddenly, “2001” poured out of the PA and we all strapped in for the ride. They closed with an utterly appropriate “Harry Hood.” The boys from Vermont returned for their “Squirming Coil” encore, but instead of ending with the traditional Page solo for the first time in Phish history they gave that honor to Mike. So as they finished up the body of the song each member left the stage leaving Mike to slap out some magic for us before he too disappeared into the darkness. It was an absolutely enchanting way to end night two at Dick’s.

Sunday, September 4:

We awoke early on Sunday and gathered our gear. We marched out of the campground on a mission to make our tee time at the world famous Bucksnort Disc Golf course in Pine, CO. Several bemused wookies who had yet to find their beds stood at attention as we beelined it to the car. After 28 holes in the mountains we were ready for beers and music. It always gets warm and fuzzy on night three. Friends will wake up on Monday and head back to their lives, but for one more show we are all still here. That’s the beauty of Dick’s, plenty of time to get nostalgic.

Set One: The Moma Dance> Chalkdust Torture, Mike’s Song> Wingsuit> Weekapaug Groove, Party Time, Bathtub Gin> Split Open and Melt, Tube> Character Zero

Set Two: Crosseyed and Painless> Steam*-> Piper*^> Light*> The Lizards, First Tube*

Encore: Walls of The Cave*

*w/ Crossed and Painless tease and lyrics
^ w/ Trey on Marimba Lumina and Page and Mike on percussion

Sunday started innocently enough with a tight “Moma Dance” that eventually gave way to an unbelievably clean “Chalkdust Torture.” An early “Mike’s Groove” featuring an unusually placed, but perfectly organized “Wingsuit” was a treat.” They were hitting us hard, but still no shenanigans. At this point it appeared that this run may slip by without any fireworks. “Party Time” is always an enjoyable part of the set. The “Bathtub Gin” reached a monumental jam that included the impeccable keys of Page McConnell. The “Split Open and Melt” was a bit lacking in the deep jam department, but the “Tube” reached full blastoff. With a segue into a rowdy “Character Zero” that was that. It’s like we were all still waiting for something to happen.

Then it happened. They went into the first ever “Crosseyed and Painless” at Dick’s (not including the tease during “Ocelot” in the infamous ‘Fuck Your Face’ show.) That would have been pretty sweet on its own, but that was only the beginning of the best set of the summer. The tone for the rest of this set was put forth in the mammoth jam during the Talking Heads cover. The “Steam” continued the tone with the first of five returns to “Crosseyed and Painless.” The excitement in the audience was palpable. It was going down and they could not have chosen a better song for this shtick. “Piper” got categorically spiritual stretching out to nineteen minutes with a huge percussion jam featuring all four members and another “C&P”. “Light” has been huge jam vehicle for Phish in recent years and it fit perfectly into this Type II set. The first gentle notes of “Lizards” washed over us like a mist. They closed with a tremendous “First Tube.” As they left the stage the crowd began chanting ‘Still Waiting’ over and over again until Phish returned. The single encore “Walls of The Cave” again saw a reappearance of “Crosseyed” before they jammed out the end of the song beautifully. This set represents the type of experience I’ve been chasing ever since Deer Creek 2000.

Sitting outside as a young fan taught me a valuable lesson. First, if you have a ticket to the show, go in. Don’t think the grass could be greener as you might miss the concert of the decade. Second, never stop going because any night could be your "Moby Dick."

Nick’s Photo Gallery

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Widespread Panic 9.17.16 (Photos)

U.S. Cellular Center
Asheville, NC

Photos By J. Scott Shrader Photography

View Scott's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lotus, Tycho & El Ten Eleven 9.17.16 (Photos)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Brewgrass Festival 9.17.16 (Photos)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Umphrey's McGee & Widespread Panic 9.16.16 (Photos)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gov’t Mule w/ moe. 8.25.16 & moe. 8.26.16

Words By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Photos By Nicholas Stock & Conrad Meyer
Audio By Chuck Miller & Marcus B

Thursday, August 25:

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, Colorado

Moe. has a dedicated Colorado contingent. Each time Five Guys Named Moe makes the journey out West, we appear eager and ready to rage with the boys from Buffalo. We are a out here and we even get together for the occasional barbecue. Moe. is the steam engine that never slowed down. Musically they are still playing at a peak that eludes most touring groups. The individual members of this band are completely in synch on any given night and their two-day romp through the foothills was no exception. This year they teamed up with Summer Sessions stage-mates Gov’t Mule and relative newcomers Blackberry Smoke to play the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The following evening moe. sold out the Boulder Theater for a much more intimate affair with the diehards.

A little sidenote for all the new parents trying to make it to the venue to catch the opener, leave even earlier. We got caught in traffic and by the time we dropped off the little one it was apparent we were working against the clock. We pulled into Lower North just in time to hear Blackberry Smoke jamming the Grateful Dead’s “Ramble On Rose.”

Blackberry Smoke Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 8.25.16

Blackberry Smoke is a rowdy Rock band with aspirations. Aspirations of rocking every single face on the planet. They have a twinge of Country and Soul, but their heart is Southern Rock. They are following along the trail paved by the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was nice that we got to hear them from outside. This band had a dedicated following and it won’t be long before they are selling out their own shows at Red Rocks. They gained a lot of momentum performing this summer with Gov’t Mule which lead to dozens of live collaborations. Us jam fans eat that shit up.

Moe. took the hallowed stage for the first time in three years. I grabbed my camera and started snapping away as they went into an unbelievable “Rebubula” opener. They were pulling out the big guns early. This would be a theme throughout the run.

moe. Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 8.25.16

Set One: Rebubula> Bones Of Lazarus, Annihilation Blues, Haze, Rainshine, Captain America, Moth> Hi & Lo> Brent Black, Thorazine Shuffle, Billy Goat

The transcendental “Rebubula” lingered, but then gave way to a searing “Bones of Lazarus.” All five members had an air of seriousness throughout the hour and forty-minute set. The Chuck Garvey sung shred-fest “Annihilation Blues” was the button on a monumental start. Rob took the mic on a perfect “Haze” before they went into a soaring “Rainshine.” The clouds had threatened throughout the afternoon, but began to clear as moe. played on. “Captain America” snapped everyone to attention as Red Rocks erupted in dance. By now the venue was full and the music shifted into second gear. Al took the mic to honor longtime fan Glenn Roberts, who passed away earlier this year, and mention that a few of the songs were being played in his memory. They continued with an intrepid “Moth” that featured some of the most creative playing of the entire set. The massive jam meandered before coming up for air on a tight “Hi & Lo.” The segues continued into a spot on “Brent Black” before the boys finally went back into the huddle. Moe. proceeded with the Gov’t Mule classic “Thorazine Shuffle,” causing fans to wonder what this meant for the upcoming Mule set. Suddenly, Rob slapped the bass and the “Billy Goat” was on the mountain. This was a solid close to a flawless one set show. I’m sure more than a few Warren fans were converted during this set. Night two would bring loads of musical deliciousness for the ".rons" in Colorado, but first Mr. Haynes and his band.

It’s been 12 years since Gov’t Mule shared the stage with moe. at Red Rocks. As the sun headed below the mountains, the Mule made their way to the stage for a chunky set of music. They opened with a series of classic Mule tunes starting with a tight “Railroad Boy.”

Set One: Railroad Boy> Mule> Soulshine, Banks Of The Deep End, Larger Than Life> If 6 Was 9> Larger Than Life, Kind Of Bird*, And Your Bird Can Sing, Captured> Opium> One Of These Days> Fearless> Blind Man In The Dark**

Encore: I Shall Be Released***

*Happy Together tease
**Shakedown Street tease
***w/ Charlie Starr, Brandon Still, Rob Derhak, Al Schnier, Chuck Garvey, Vinnie Amico & Jim Loughlin

Warren’s virtuoso guitar playing sometimes seems like a stream of musical consciousness. He plays from the heart and has no real need to stop, ever. The “Soulshine” came early much to the delight of fans. As the night came on the temperature dropped causing a rush on hoodies at the merch table. They kept the classic Mule coming with a stellar version of “Banks Of The Deep End.” Matt Abts sat low behind the kit as he kept the rhythm. I found myself mesmerized by the abundance of toms and lack of snare in his sound. The dark and brooding “Larger Than Life” was another highlight in this powerful set of music. Warren broke it up with a tight segue into and out of the Black Sabbath-esque “If 6 Was 9.” During “Kind of Bird” Haynes featured a crowd-pleasing riff on The Turtles’ “Happy Together.” Gov’t Mule kept the aviary theme going with “And Your Bird Can Sing.” They brought the tempo down with an impeccably timed “Captured.” The sweet tones gave way to shadowy riff of moe.’s “Opium,” and it became clear that the bands were trading songs for their sets. It was subtle, but fun for those paying attention. Suddenly, the heavy bass tones of Pink Floyd’s “One Of These Days” filled the amphitheatre. They treated us to a pair of covers from the English luminaries that ended with a spot on “Fearless.” Gov’t Mule closed with an incredible “Blind Man In The Dark” that featured a huge “Shakedown Street” jam.

For the encore all of the members of moe. and Blackberry Smoke joined Gov’t Mule for a heartwarming version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Music fans floated out of Red Rocks on a bed of clouds. Musically, this was an incredible show all around. Not only did we witness a reunion 12 years in the making, but we got the bands to trade covers in the process. Moe. seemed a bit more relaxed the following night in the cozy confines of the Boulder Theater.

Nicholas Stock’s Photo Gallery

Friday, August 26:

Boulder Theater
Boulder, Colorado

Moe. appeared utterly more comfortable playing in Boulder. They brought with them an energy and dedication to their fans that is rarely seen in live music today. We were basically treated to a surprise third set of music via a huge acoustic encore. The first clue that something was in the works came in the form of punctuality. Moe. took the stage at 9:01 PM leaving some fans scurrying to get inside. They opened with the precise instrumental “Defrost” which snapped into an explosive “Akimbo.” Jim Loughlin detonated on the drums like a repressed Catholic at their first beer bust. All in all, there seemed to be a different smell in air on night two.

moe. Live at Boulder Theater on 8.26.16

Set One: Defrost> Akimbo, Smoke> Meat> Tubing the River Styx> The Pit> Tailspin> Meat

Set Two: Spine of a Dog> Jazz Wank> The Happiest Days Of Our Lives> Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)> George, Buster> Rebubula^

Encore: Blond Hair and Blue Eyes*, Shoot First*, Blue Eyed Son*, Blister in the Sun*, Sensory Deprivation Bank

^Completes version from 8-25-16

Smoked meat was on the menu. The whole first set was heavy, that’s the word. The “Smoke” came on innocently enough, but the “Meat” was large and well… meaty. It featured the watertight guitar work of both Chuck and Al. Luckily as we emerged from the musical depths and much to the delight of the audience Jim went into a ridiculous vibraphone solo to begin “Tubing the River Styx.” The dark and heavy tones continued with a huge rendition of “The Pit.” “Tailspin” was a dance party freak out for the sold out crowd before they returned to “Meat” to end the first set.

The second set was equally impressive, but it took on a brighter tone all around. Moe. started with a massive “Spine of The Dog” that stretched past the fifteen-minute mark. The audience sang the chorus as moe. ripped into the opening chords. They pulled no punches from the start and this set would go on to feature some of the best improvisation of the entire run. A well-built “Jazz Wank” gave way to Pink Floyd’s “The Happiest Days Of Our Lives” into “Another Brick In the Wall (Part 2).” This was only the second time they’ve played these covers since their Floyd themed set at Peach Music Festival earlier in the month. “George” again took us on a journey as we all zoned in, band and patron alike. They finally took a breath before treating us to another big jam, this time on “Buster.” They finished by segueing into the “Rebubula” that started it all just the day before. It was an epic bookend to two jaw-droppingly good days of music. And if they had stopped there it would have been more than enough. However, as the clock struck midnight, moe. returned to the stage to inform us that unlike the night prior, they “didn’t have to get off the stage.”

I noticed they brought up stools and I knew we were in for something unusual. They started with a straight-forward Rob sung ode to his baby girl “Blonde Hair and Blue Eyes.” Chuck came back to the mic for a sultry “Shoot First.” In true democratic fashion and in theme with Rob, Al sang “My Blue Eyed Son.” It looked like they were gearing up for a finish, but there were more tricks in store. During Al.nouncements a fan emphatically requested the Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.” Not ones to make their audience wait, they went into the punk cover next. We provided the claps. They finished by plugging back in for a solid “Sensory Deprivation Bank.”

Moe. always finds a way to make it unique. For the kid who waited 14 years to hear them play “Blister In the Sun” I’m sure it was very memorable. As a band, moe. continues to innovate and write new and interesting tunes. They’ve just announced a two-night Tarantino-themed Halloween run in Philly. Maybe next year we can do a Thelma & Louise show in Denver… okay maybe not.

Nicholas Stock’s Photo Gallery

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lockn Festival 8.25 - 8.28.16

Arrington, VA

Words By Eric Lewis
Photos By Bain Stewart Media

Somewhere nestled between the mountains and the trees there is a farm. On this farm is a family. A family brought together from across the nation for four days out of the year. This year, I was lucky enough to join in and become a part of the Lockn' fam. Welcome to Lockn' 2016.

After haphazardly setting up my tent and necessary shade on no sleep, I followed that festival smell of body odor and patchouli to the gates. Past the constant tide of people and beyond the mental fog of “what have I gotten myself into,” I found myself holding a Star Hill Brewery local brew at the Main Stage with no preexisting knowledge or expectations for the first band. Lockn' could not have chosen a better band to kick off the party. At 7:30 PM the bustling crowd settled as focus turned to the stage lights, as Michigan-natives Vulfpeck took to the stage. Accompanied by what I would deem probably the funkiest bass player in recent history, Vulfpeck blasted off with “Concious Club.” Bringing their blend of tight punctual rhythms, driving bass and jazzy melodies, the group sparked off a chain reaction of bodies moving. The smiles of every member spilled out infectiously into the crowd and by the end of their set I was absolutely certain I picked the right festival this year.

As if it couldn't get any cooler, following Vulfpeck's farewells, the stage began to spin. Questioning that this wasn't some secret ingredient they put in my Gouda Boy's philly cheesesteak, I watched in awe as the stage physically turned 180 degrees and we were face-to-face with the lights and power of Umphrey's Mcgee. This addition to Lockn's Main Stage assured stage-hopping for headline acts wouldn't be a problem. Never disappointing, Umphrey's kept the train rolling, including their own take on Billy Joel's “The Stranger” featuring the iconic Gene Ween sitting in. After Umphrey's capped off their show, the enigmatic Ween took the show over. Filling the night with their signature alternative sound for two solid hours on their first set, they were met with equal enthusiasm from the crowd. At the conclusion of Ween I was pretty spent, and looking around I felt I was in similar company, but there was still EOTO! Featuring Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident, EOTO played their brand of improvised electronica jam to the dazzling sights and sounds of The Woods Stage. On stage, they electrified the cool night air with a sound experience that is never the same twice. If you thought that would be enough, you're dead wrong. Because Joe Russo's Almost Dead absolutely brought the house down out at the Blue Ridge Bowl, starting at 1:00 AM with “Truckin'” and not ending until nearing five in the morning following the entire "Terrapin Suite." JRAD was mind-boggling. Being my first time seeing JRAD, I now knew what all the fuss was about, and damn was it well-warranted.

Finding myself somehow alive on Friday morning, breakfast burrito in hand, I headed to the Blue Ridge Bowl. The beer in my right hand of last night had been replaced with a refreshing iced coffee from a neighboring tent. As I found a spot in the audience to post up, I was greeted by the sweet, Bluegrass infused sound of Donna The Buffalo. Their singer Tara Nevins led the group playing fiddle, accordion, and singing with a voice that on occasion reminded me of an early Stevie Nicks. Attention shifting from the early morning show, the progressive dual-guitar drive of Moogatu shook the air surrounding the Main Stage. Although I was finally awake and aware, no amount of coffee could have prepared me for the colorful display of Turkuaz that came next. With a full brass section barreling ahead and singers dancing on every beat, their energy was a triple espresso shot to the dome. Mixing a blend of 80's pop cut with early dance and disco, they were out of this world. Decked out in their signature color suits, they were captivating. Never missing a beat, Vulfpeck spun into position again for their second set of the festival. Looking perfectly comfortable on stage, the unstoppable groove-force poured out some real viscous, funky jams that never let down.

Coming in hot on Vulfpeck, White Denim was next up on the Main Stage. The four Texans shifted gears and propelled forward, fueled with soulful, Southern Rock tendencies. Fuzzy riffs and hot licks abound, they kept the tempo rolling on; even including a sit-in from Scott Metzger of JRAD. Next up was Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. With funky backing, the soulful and evocative vocals of Charles Bradley dug down deep into the heart. Reminiscent of 60's and 70's Soul and R&B, it felt like a trip back in time and damn did it feel good.

Afterwards, the great Peter Wolf picked up the pieces. Rocking out J. Geils Band songs, originals and covering a few classics, the 70 year old Wolf never ceases to remind us what Rock and Roll feels like. Succeeding Peter Wolf, Ween was once again the main attraction. As the sun was setting, they kicked off with “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese” and played songs spanning their entire discography. Including songs like “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down),” they ended their last set with “Buckingham Green” to a deafening crowd. Having never seen Ween live, I hadn't known what to expect. But they were easily one of the best live bands I think I've ever witnessed.

In their wake, I felt like I could've left Lockn' right then and been perfectly happy with what I had seen so far. But amazingly, it only got better. The very next band was and is one of my favorite bands of all time; a band I've wanted to see since I was 16. Phish walked on at 8:30 PM and proceeded to melt our faces for nearly four hours. Trying in retrospect to explain the experience of seeing Phish live will never do it enough justice. Flying right into Gamehendge track “Wilson,” Phish blew me away. Although somewhere I felt afraid they would never live up to my expectations, they exploded past them and then some. Ending the first set with an a cappela cover of “Space Oddity,” they were incredible. Second set included other classics like “Punch You in the Eye” and they closed out with a “You Enjoy Myself.” Frankly, I could have written this solely about my personal pilgrimage to witness Phish, but incredibly enough there was still so much more to see and hear.

Just after Phish, Circles Around The Sun took over The Woods Stage. Being the band's first actual show, they were a great band to transition into. If you had been lucky enough to catch any Fare Thee Well shows, you might have recognized Circles Around The Sun as being the band responsible for the original music used in the intermissions. The band, the brainchild of the music-machine Neal Casal, they were a perfect bridge into the second night of JRAD. Once again, JRAD grabbed the helm and played their own fantastic takes on Dead classics like “Shakedown Street,” “Franklin's Tower” and more. Bringing out the soulful Nicole Atkins on a few songs made it even better. I slept extremely well Friday night to say the least.

The always fun and always great Keller Williams' Grateful Grass greeted us all Saturday morning. Playing plenty of Dead tributes and even featuring a cover of Johnny Cash's “Big River,” it was a perfect start to the day. Next up was the DJ Williams Projekt out at the Main Stage. The talented guitar work and musicianship of D.J. was impressive and included music of varying influences.

Moon Taxi was the next act to take the stage. Let me just go ahead and say, Moon Taxi was phenomenal. I've heard their studio recordings before, but like with many bands I wasn't sure how well they would translate in a live performance. Not just playing their songs with precision, they had one hell of a stage presence. Lead singer and guitarist Trevor Terndrup kept the entire audience mesmerized and singing along. Interacting with the crowd constantly and leaping onto a speaker monitor during a particular anthemic chorus really showed they were having as much fun playing as we were listening.

Twiddle was the next band on the Main Stage. Seeming to be an up and coming jam favorite, they played their brand of reggae-flavored tracks to a wide assortment of fans. At the end of Twiddle's set, Galactic with Lee Oskar flew in with their otherworldly blend of funk fusion and kept us all entertained for the next two hours. Coming right after, Hard Working Americans were up. The Rock supergroup once again reminded me of the fact Neal Casal is probably one of the hardest working Americans at Lockn'. Playing first in Circles Around The Sun, Hard Working Americans, and later in Chris Robinson Brotherhood and alongside Phil Lesh & Friends, Casal is one hell of a musician.

Every band so far has been spectacular, varying in tastes and flavors, but the next band is the one reason most people, me included, came to Lockn'. And that is the legendary Phil Lesh & Friends. Lesh's set on Saturday began with “Scarlet Begonias” as he went on to share his stage with The Infamous Stringdusters, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks on multiple songs. Jamming on classics like “Uncle John's Band,” “Mr. Charlie,” “Sugaree” and more, Lesh had the entire crowd singing along. Lesh being the hero he is, needs little explanation.

Next up was Tedeschi Trucks Band from 8:30 to 10:30 PM, and at this point the entire pit was packed to the brim. If you hadn't been lucky enough to get a good lawn spot about five hours prior, good luck getting up close. Thankfully though, Lockn' provided more than enough space and the two projector screens made sure everyone could see. Playing a lot of tributes including a Derek and the Dominos and a Miles Davis cover, the Tedeschi Trucks Band was an experience all unto itself.

My Morning Jacket came up next to everyone's pleasure. Never dull and always entertaining, they plowed forward with their unique rock sound. By the time they played a tribute to Prince in the form of “Purple Rain,” there wasn't a single person in the entire festival not feeling it. After the sonic adventure of My Morning Jacket, the cool etheric sound of the three piece Khruangbin floated out of The Woods Stage. Unfortunately, I was so tired I was unable to go see them, but I heard them comfortably from my campsite. There was still more music though, as the energetic and talented Lettuce was about to take the stage at the Blue Ridge Bowl at 1:00 AM. I was more than bummed I had cashed out so early, but after the day I had, I could barely walk. They sounded like they were a blast, but I had to get some rest for Sunday.

I woke up, chugged a gatorade and proceeded to walk to Infinity Downs to get some breakfast. Feeling rejuvenated, I turned around to head to the Blue Ridge Bowl to go to church with Keller. Keller Williams' Grateful Gospel started off with a prayer and appeal for the 'cardinal sins' of 'taking liberties from Grateful Dead music and playing songs you've already heard this festival'. It was forgiven I'm pretty sure because they slayed. Good vibes, good sounds and a warm sun above–it was a perfect start to the last day of Lockn' 2016.

At the end of Keller, we were going to see The Dharma Initiative on the Main Stage, but I realized a little too late that I forgot my water bottle back at the campsite, so I regretfully missed seeing them. I was able though to see The Wailers, who took over the show at about 2:00 PM in the afternoon. Having not listened to Marley in years, it was really refreshing and a cool change of pace to hear some proper Reggae. All the hits were there–“Exodus,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” and “Could You Be Loved” just to name a few.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood was next in line, another Neal Casal group. Playing alongside the infamous Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, they played originals and also a Bob Dylan cover of “It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Immediately following was the second and final set of Phil Lesh & Friends. Featuring the talented Gary Clark Jr. sitting in on a couple songs, Phil also shared the stage with Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Always smiling, Lesh waved goodbye with the rest of the performers and we were greeted with the second to last show; Gary Clark Jr. Known for his guitar work and soulful Blues-powered vocals, he was yet another must see act at Lockn'. Right on Clark's heels was the final set by Phish.

Kicking off with Hoist track “Sample in a Jar,” Trey and Co. continued on to play two sets jam-packed with everything from “Tweezer” to a “No Quarter” Zeppelin cover, and even their awesome rendition of Richard Strauss' “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Stanley Kubrick would be proud, and would probably be dancing along. After an awesome “Tweezer Reprise,” Phish put the ribbon on our Lockn' experience with a encore cover of The Rolling Stones' “Loving Cup.” After stumbling down from the mountain to the campsite, I reluctantly packed up everything and made peace with myself knowing I'd be seeing Phish again in a couple weeks. Even though I was sad to leave, I was content in getting back on the road. Lockn' was incredible this year and was definitely the best festival experience I've ever had. If you ever get a chance to swing through Oak Ridge Farm and join the fam, don't hesitate–you won't regret it. See you next year!

Bain's Photo Gallery

Monday, September 12, 2016

PREVIEW: Telluride Blues & Brews 9.16 - 18.16

Telluride, CO

Words By Ty Hyten

If you travel out of the city, up 285, cut through dusty one stop light towns, like Salida and Ridgway, you’ll arrive in one of the most beautiful little towns in America. Telluride, Colorado, is a living daguerreotype photograph of the Old West, unmolested by the ski corporations, void of a single Walgreens or Wendy’s. In the 120 years since Butch Cassidy pulled off his first bank robbery on the main street in town, it appears as though little has changed architecturally. Nestled at the bottom of a box canyon, surrounded by twelve thousand foot mountain walls, over nine thousand music fans set up camp every September. For the last twenty-three years, the 2,300 person town has been home to the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival – an isolated three-day weekend (September 16 - 18) of blues music, craft beer, late night shows at historic venues, and breathtaking fall scenery.

The festival is laid out at the end of town, across the babbling San Miguel river, in Telluride Town Park. At one end of the festival grounds is the camp ground with Ingram Falls overhead in the distance, trickling down a gigantic bald mountain. At the other end, the mainstage is backed by another mountain dotted with golden, newly turning aspen trees.

The festival has two large stages and one campground stage that sits just in front of a raging waterfall. This year, over thirty bands will keep these stages nearly constantly occupied with music with deep roots in America’s cultural history. The festival does a good job of keeping the show going, by providing live music while equipment is being swapped out. After the festival ends for the day, the town also has a handful of “Juke Joints” which provide intimate settings to see big acts a second time, in some truly unique venues like the historic Sheridan Opera House and the Elks Lodge.

Telluride Blues and Brews always strikes a good balance between legacy acts, buzzworthy new artists, and both traditional and modern interpreters of the blues, funk and soul. This year’s headliners hit that balance quite well with acts like Shakey Graves, Jason Isbell, Joe Walsh, and Gary Clark Jr.

Shakey Graves has continued to gather momentum since his first Blues and Brews appearance in 2014. His frequent Colorado appearances have sequentially moved up the venue chain, with a show at Red Rocks this summer and a killer surprise set for thousands in downtown Denver a few weeks ago. His country-blues influenced rock is defined by an earnest growl in his voice and his lilting, syncopated fingerstyle guitar. Some of his most popular songs on his most recent record feature Denver’s Esme Patterson. As of now, her tour schedule indicates she might be around. One can hope.

One-time Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell will surely be a highlight of the festival. Isbell can most accurately be described as a country artist, though his most recent album spent time at number one on the folk, rock, and country charts. Isbell successfully avoids the pitfalls of what Isbell’s friend and contemporary Sturgill Simpson recently and properly described as “the formulaic cannon fodder bullshit they’ve [the mainstream country music establishment] has been pumping down rural America's throat for the last 30 years.” Isbell’s songwriting is expert and opens a direct window to the underlying emotion in the stories he tells. He’s also no stranger up the neck of a guitar, something I’d expect to be highlighted at a festival like Blues & Brews.

Keeping with tradition of having big headlining legacy acts, Friday night ends with Joe Walsh. Walsh, rated one of the greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone, has a number of hits as a solo artist, as well as being a contributing member of The Eagles, James Gang, and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. In recent festival dates he’s been playing a mix of Eagles hits as well as classics like “In The City,” “Rocky Mountain Way,” and “Life’s Been Good.”

Continuing the list of guitar greats, is Gary Clark Jr. who will be making a return to this year’s Blues & Brews. At only 32 years old, Clark has played alongside Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy, BB King, Mick Jagger, and several other icons of blues guitar. His gritty driven blues guitar connects his mixture of Chicago style blues, smooth R&B, and pop. You can hear hints of Albert King and Hendrix in the chaotic extended solos Clark tends to go to on stage.

As though the lineup isn’t reason enough to make the six hour drive from Denver, there is also the brews component of the festival. Saturday afternoon boasts a beer tasting featuring fifty-six different microbreweries. The lines are reasonable and if you’re feeling ambitious, you might find a handful of new favorites and definitely a buzz. As the Grand Tasting wraps up, festival-goers will be treated to sets from North Mississippi Allstars and Anders Osborne, which will seem all the more special with 56 five ounce beers in the stomach.

2016 is set to be three long days and late nights filled with music and beer in the gorgeous setting of Telluride. I can think of no better way to spend the last weekend of the summer.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Yonder Mountain String Band 9.4.16 (Photos)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Larry Keel Experience 9.2.16 (Photos)

Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Asheville, NC

Photos By J. Scott Shrader Photography

View Scott's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Monday, September 5, 2016

YarmonyGrass 8.18 - 8.21.16

Rancho Del Rio
Bond, CO

Words By J. Picard
Photos By Elliot Siff Photography, J. Picard & Carly Picard

There were pirates, floating unicorns, fat guys riding slices of pizza, multiple sets played on floating stages and some of our favorite musicians to boot. The 11th annual YarmonyGrass took place as it has for six years now at Rancho Del Rio in the Colorado Rockies on the Colorado River. The fest has become sort of an anomaly as more festivals come and go on a scene dominated by an increasing volume of large scale giants. The core of Yarmony is fueled by familiar faces, passionate music fans and vibrating strings. Our arrival on site meant that our phones would refuse us service and we were committing to a weekend of unplugged face to face conversation, laughs without the term "lol" and unforgettable life experiences.

Thursday, August 18:

We made the two and a half hour trek from Denver up the I-70 corridor to Rancho Del Rio in Bond, CO. Our arrival on site was almost cathartic. We obtained out bracelets from Pam and her team at the box office and no sooner than we arrived I was situating incoming vendors in the venue which was taking shape. Our friends Matt and Teri arrived just minutes before us, topped off their gas tank at double the going rate on site and got situated adjacent to the river where their 2017 Winnebago would rest for the weekend. As tents were erected in the campgrounds, so too they were raised in the venue for the bars, children's area and backstage for hospitality. I became acquainted with some members of the team who were already operating at 110% to prepare for the influx of music fans.

Back in the camps we set up our humble abode for the weekend including our new canvas tent and EZ-up. Our friends were slowly rolling in when a call came over the radio, "J, your parents have arrived!" I had been waiting for six years to show my parents my favorite festival and it was finally time. I made haste to the front where my folks already had beers in their hands and smiles on their faces as their accommodations of an on-site cabin were indeed to their liking.

The first of the weekend's bands, Timber, hit the Saloon Stage as the first of the meats hit the grill backstage at Matt and Teri's camp. The smell of bacon hamburgers filled the air as friends settled in and staff grabbed their food on the go. As the sun tucked behind the mountains, the music of Hog MaGundy could be heard from atop the hill. A short time later Whiskey Tango took the stage for what would be one of their last shows as a band for the foreseeable future. The evening concluded with a set from The Grant Farm before the action shifted backstage and to the campgrounds. There were campfire picking sessions, miscellaneous mortars fired off and more whiskey than a pirate ship in circulation. It was the rowdiest Thursday that I had experienced at a festival in some time and would set the pace for the weekend.

Friday, August 19:

I awoke no worse for wear and switched on my radio to an enthusiastic response and some German chatter. Coffee and breakfast burritos would realign my meat chakras as a couple of the weekend's headliners, Roosevelt Collier and Andy Hall wandered into our camp for some coffee and hilarious banter. I presented Rosie with a sticker of himself playing frisbee at Yarmony 2014 as my folks and some other great friends came to. The majority of the day for the staff was spent in the river, which was frigid cold from the water being released in one of the high up alpine lakes. With my floating slice of pizza inflated, I made my first attempt at the river, before circling back for a bottle of Milagro that my parents brought. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get me into the water on what was a bit of an overcast morning.

Early in the afternoon, I made the trip up to the box office to greet Jeff Austin who was clearly excited and all smiles. I had a great conversation with Jeff before heading backstage for the smoked brisket alongside two beer can chickens. But first, the Michigan Coney dogs were up with National Coney Island chili and fried on-site french fries. Folks gathered and a line took shape for a true mid-west meal. Mile High Express kicked off the scheduled events at the Saloon Stage with a sparse crowd, as most were still in the river following the day's floating stages.

Over at promoter Chris Thompson's motorhome, he picked out a tune first with Roosevelt, then with Andy. The thought of picking with players of that caliber at random had my stomach in knots. The Main Stage opened with The Kitchen Dwellers who sounded great! Liver Down The River kicked off the first of two sets on the Saloon Stage that would sandwich Dead Winter Carpenters' set on the Main Stage. At some point both the brisket and chicken came off of the grill and yet another line formed as a drone flew overhead. The Railsplitters were up next and didn't disappoint as the crowd for the evening truly began to take shape.

Caribou Mountain Collective output a great set on the Saloon Stage sandwiching Coral Creek featuring Andy Hall on the Main Stage. Coral Creek's set was the best that I had seen the band play since I have been seeing them over the course of a few years. Bill McKay adds so much to Coral Creek and during the set began his takeover of YarmonyGrass! In addition to Andy, Roosevelt was called up to guest, taking the music to new heights as evident by Chris Thompson's big smile and sway.

Following Coral Creek's set the festival took a breather with folks heading back to camp to layer up and regroup. The evening's headliner, The Jeff Austin Band, hit the stage around midnight. What followed was fantastic as Jeff dove into old material with banjo player Ryan Cavanaugh assaulting the audience with some of the best banjo playing that I have heard recently. I looked over to my left and Roosevelt had his phone out, recording, with a big smile on his face. Roosevelt was called to the stage shortly to follow for some blissful output.

The Main Stage came to a close for the day as the Saloon Stage came back to life once more with one of the weekend's hosts, The Drunken Hearts! Up on the deck we danced, drank and solved the world's problems. To my right was Roosevelt, to my left Andy Hall, my wife and my friends were all around us and in that moment, nothing else mattered but the present. Both of the aforementioned slide gurus sat in with the Hearts and the set in the end was one of my clear highlights of the weekend. Upon it's conclusion, we made our way back into the camps and held a board meeting of epic proportions. All was right with the world.

Saturday, August 20:

I came to in my tent, sore and dehydrated. I crawled out of the tent, switched on my radio and immediately began consuming water and electrolytes before coffee. The group slowly came to and gathered under the EZ-Up. Rosie and Andy returned for what was becoming the daily routine. By the time the coffee was gone I was dancing in place and ready to hit the river! Our camp grabbed our nonsensical floats and some drinks and made haste to the river where the first of the afternoon's floating stages would be departing the shore to circle in the eddy. It was a very special moment for me. With a beer in my hand, bluegrass music being picked from a raft and my folks and friends present, we floated along under the afternoon sun, eventually rowing out of the eddy and down the Colorado river. The party concluded on a sandbar/small island near the entrance to Rancho Del Rio. There were EZ-Ups set up, coolers of beer, an older gentleman in a full on cow costume with utters and all sort of fun to be had. It was this type of experience that sets Yarmony apart from most other festivals. The line "How do other people live?" was tossed around a few times.

We returned to Matt and Teri's backstage set-up and dove into some burgers and a reapplication of sunblock. Cosmic Mesa opened the afternoon's programming on the Saloon Stage with Missed The Boat to follow on the Main Stage. Whiskey Tango, on the Saloon Stage, bookended Uptown Toodeloo on the Main Stage who featured members of Coral Creek with an added front man in Michael Kirkpatrick. The group executed the music of The Grateful Dead well and made for a great segue from afternoon to evening. Andy Hall's Joint Set kicked off with Andy and Roosevelt who announced that they would be releasing a duo album this Fall. Andy was joined by a solid core band made up of members from some of the festival's other performers, which complimented Andy's sound perfectly.

The evening's brisket and beer can chicken came off of the grill as the Kitchen Dwellers hit the Saloon stage for their first of two short sets. The Drunken Hearts took the Main Stage for their final set of the weekend and what a set it was! Take all of your pre-conceived notions and memories of The Drunken Hearts and throw them out the window. What the band is doing currently will catch you off guard and potentially melt your face. From start to finish the boys dug deep into a groove that featured ample shredding and beautifully poetic lyrics. It was easy to get lost in the music, only to find yourself again with a classic riff or sweet lyrical sentiment. The Drunken Hearts were firing on all cylinders and it was clear, YarmonyGrass was their party.

The Kitchen Dwellers hit once again and dazzled the wide-eyed crowd before the Main Stage concluded with headliner Roosevelt Collier's Colorado Get Down. This Get Down would differ from most in that Roosevelt welcomed a core band featuring members of The Drunken Hearts, as well as members of various bands in which Rosie had yet to play with. It was loose in theory, but tight in the pocket. The rhythm section of Jon McCarten and Alex Johnson made for a groove so deep that Rosie had to dig out with ripping progressions shared with guitarist Rob Eaton Jr. Towards the end of the set the stage was flooded with guests and whiskey. At one point Roosevelt called me to the stage to dance, which was super weird.

Upon the conclusion of the set, the crowd shifted once more to the Saloon Stage for the final set of the early morning with Whitewater Ramble. Our group caught a bit before heading back to the campgrounds and getting close to a fire. We were joined by the older Santa Clause looking gentleman who was in the cow suit a couple of days prior. I aptly named him "Utter Clause," to his delight. The conversation around the fire descended into discussions of beer, shitty beer, dabs/concentrates and the density of geothermal features in the northern states. At one point towards the end of the evening I turned to "Utter Clause" and asked "how long have you been a cow?" He laughed a deep laugh, much like I would think Santa would. A short time later, I was on my back in my tent, with the night fading into the following morning.

Sunday, August 21:

Before I knew it, it was morning and our canvas tent heated up like an oven. I crawled out and realized I was the early bird, however, their would be no worm, just a hangover and an attempt to pick up the pieces of the weekend. I switched on my radio, which was silent. I made my way the quarter to half mile walk to my parents' cabin at the front of the property where I would be welcomed by two caffeinated individuals, as well as a flushing toilet and a shower. I sat on the front porch with a coffee in hand feeling refreshed before Carly showed up. We purchased ice from the general store next door and headed back to camp. Slowly the group came back to life. I made my way over to the festival grounds to connect with the vendors.

In the distance I could see hippies scurrying towards the put in with floats in hand. Music had begun on the Saloon Stage for a short morning/afternoon with The Robin Davis Duo, Lonesome Days and RapidGrass Quintet. Just prior to RapidGrass' set, festival promoters Chris and Susannah Thompson made their way through the camps ringing bells and shouting that RapidGrass was taking the stage. It made me proud to see the folks that I work with so enthusiastically rallying the troupes for one of the final sets of the weekend! For the final set, which was a "Super Pick," Chris Thompson called an audible and moved it to the river. Fans were pumped as they ran back to camp and reconvened at the eddy for a massive group float to close out an incredible weekend!

The weekend sealed the deal on YarmonyGrass remaining my favorite festival. From the incredible team to the passionate attendees, from the solid line-up to the picturesque setting, nothing could compare to the way YarmonyGrass unfolded. I was grateful to have been a part of it, both as a coordinator and as a music fan. The conversation about 2017 began before the festival concluded. It's time to see what all of the excitement and folklore is about. It's time to head the short distance to Rancho Del Rio, to refresh your soul in the Colorado river, surrounded by pirates and some of your favorite music. It's time to finally experience everything that makes YarmonyGrass so special and one of the most unique festivals in the country. Yar!

Elliot's Photo Gallery