Cabinet & Horseshoes and Hand Grenades 11.18 & 11.19.16
Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Friday, November 18:
The Fox Theatre
For their current tour, the band was paired with Wisconsin pickers, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. I had no expectations going in, but immediately found myself marveling as they gathered around a single mic (donning a grenade), each stepping up in time to wow the foothill venue. The singer rotated as often as the soloist, and they appeared to be having more fun than Mike Pence has ever had in his life. Particularly guitarist, Adam Greuel, who's smile was infectious and ever-present. Adam's vocals sounded effortless, neighborly, and poised. Russell Pedersen provided a lot of impressive vocal harmony in addition to his banjo mojo. Sam Odin slapped an upright bass like it had done something to deserve it. And fiddle player, Collin Mettelka, was the lighter fluid that set the group on fire. It didn't hurt that Jake Jolliff of YMSB sat in for a chunk of their set. As if their pickin' skills didn't impress enough, they ended their set with an a capella ditty that was blistering in speed, intricacy, and talent.
For the encore, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades joined Cabinet on stage for Little Feat's, "Willin'." The vibe turned to that of a camp fire sing-along with friends, and the camaraderie that existed between the members was obvious, and the affection bled onto the floor. I left the theatre happy that I had another night of Cabinet so close. And close counts with Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.
Saturday November 19:
The Bluebird Theater
As Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (HaHG) took the stage in Denver, I was excited. The prior night's show had been phenomenal. The Wisconsin-based group was giddy with excitement to play in Denver, and took no time to rip into a set of relentless jug-band magic. The harmonica playing of David C. Lynch was simply stunning. His melodic choices were ambitious and his tone was superb. He wowed me vocally and on accordion as well. This band was rich in talents. I thought (much like Cabinet) the band had paired their sound with their subject matter, singing songs of farming, fishing, and life in the country. They just seemed like a bunch of good kids who love playing music. Horseshoes undoubtedly made a fan of me over the course of the weekend.
By the time Cabinet took the stage, the theater was swelling with a boisterous crowd. Once again, Pappy led the team on to the field, and was gradually joined by the whole. With a larger crowd on their hands, Pennsylvania's Appalachian gold peeled back the amplification and romped through a much more traditional sounding set than the night before. Mickey stuck with an unfettered acoustic clarity to his tone, rarely using pedals to manipulate his timbre. While Pappy did play his electric banjo, the song choices maintained an antiquity that limited reverb and distortions.
In their natural state, one that could have practically gone unplugged, the band was left to rely on their impeccable mechanics. The set was sincere, engaging, and laden with riffs that left me laughing in wonder. Having watched them develop over years has been truly amazing. Each year their craft has a bit more polish. A few more intricacies and nuances.
As the fans turned to friends, we realized that the 2 bands had formed a bond as well. The encore featured members of both bands, and HaHG guitarist, Adam Greuel asked us to give them a moment as they exchanged gratitudes and appreciation for their new found friendships. Then they played "Ripple," "Shady Grove," and a unique take on "We Bid You Goodnight." The camaraderie, song choices, musical integrity, and sentiment made for one of the most tingly, feel-good, and happy musical moments I've ever experienced. Truly a joy to watch. I look forward to seeing both of these bands grow through the Colorado venue ladder, as neither one seems to be stopping any time soon.