Monday, July 31, 2017

Burning Can Beer & Music Festival 7.22.17 (Photos)

Friday, July 28, 2017

The String Cheese Incident & The Grant Farm 7.23.17 (Photos)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

PREVIEW: YarmonyGrass 8.10 - 8.13.17

Rancho Del Rio
Bond, CO

Get your tickets now for the 12th Annual YarmonyGrass at Rancho Del Rio in Bond, CO! This year's line-up features Railroad Earth, Vince Herman & Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon, Todd Snider, Head For The Hills, The Grant Farm, Magic Beans and more on the banks of the Colorado River! Enjoy four days of music, camping, floating, rafting and campfires!

Tickets & More Information:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The String Cheese Incident & Analog Son 7.22.17 (Photos)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The String Cheese Incident & Jyemo Club 7.21.17 (Photos)

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Interstellar Boys 7.21.17 (Photos)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Conscious Alliance Allstars 7.16.17 (Photos)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

LOHI Music Festival 7.15.17 (Photos)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume 38 (7.19.17)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Keller & The Keels 7.14.17 (Photos)

Monday, July 17, 2017

YarmonyGrass Allstars 7.13.17 (Photos)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Wood Brothers 7.11.17 (Photos)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

PREVIEW: Summer Meltdown 8.10 - 8.13.17

Darrington Bluegrass Park
Darrington, WA

Words by Mitch Melheim
Photo by Coleman Schwartz Media

Summer Meltdown returns to beautiful Darrington, Washington on August 10-13 and once again boasts an impressive line up for this rapidly growing festival. Two nights of the String Cheese Incident lead the bill followed by Nahko & Medicine for the People’s conscious, feel-good brand of roots-rock. The diversity of the festival begins to shine through with electronic acts The Floozies, The Polish Ambassador, G Jones, Boombox, and Opiuo countering the acoustic sounds of The Infamous Stringdusters and Elephant Revival.

The Shook Twins, World’s Finest, and Polecat also provide a bit of a string band feel, but excel well-past the boundaries of the genre and all feature drums. Tauk will bring their heavy brand of instrumental electro-prog to the festival for the first time just like reggae legends, The Wailers, who are also making their Meltdown debut. Tons of Pacific Northwest jam talent make up the rest of the lineup as well including Acorn Project, Flowmotion and Polyrhythmics.

Aside from a great schedule of music, expect lots of time spent enjoying the wonderful river access or even exploring one of the festival’s many “adventures” which so far include helicopter rides and a two-hour rafting trip down the Sauk River in the gorgeous North Cascades. Weekend passes are currently $235 and that includes your camping for the weekend. The adventures are purchased separately, but affordable ($40 per raft trip) with more options expected to be announced as the festival nears.

Five Must-See Bands at Summer Meltdown:

Yak Attack - Anybody like to dance? This is your band. The Portland organic electronica trio has captivated the Pacific Northwest for the past couple years, but this will be their Summer Meltdown debut. Live-looping master Dave Dernovsek is one of the more impressive keyboardists I’ve ever seen play live electronic music, and exuberantly explores the pocket that bassist Rowan Cobb and drummer Nick Werth keep so prevalent. Expect the set to touch on everything from funk, jazz, and house, to breakbeat and trip-hop. Thursday: 9:25-10:25 PM (Garden Stage), 1:30-2:30 AM (Forest Stage)

The Infamous Stringdusters - I don’t know that there’s another string band more talented than The Infamous Stringdusters right now. Watching them chase each other around the stage when a jam gets going will never get old to me, especially when it means I get to watch Travis Book run around the stage with his huge upright bass like it’s a normal thing to do. Fiddle player Jeremy Garrett, obviously no slouch on his instrument, also possesses one of the better singing voices in all of bluegrass. Thursday: 8:20-9:20 PM (Main Stage)

Elephant Revival - I think this band is one of the most dynamic and beautiful groups playing music right now. Comprised entirely of multi-instrumentalists, there is no easy way to describe their music, but the emotional depth and purity of their sound is one aspect which you can always count on. Gorgeous harmonies, inspiring songwriting, and subtle yet striking instrumentation can be expected as well. Sunday: 6:30-7:40 PM (Main Stage)

The Main Squeeze - One of the funkiest new bands on the scene, The Main Squeeze, bring a louder rock & roll approach to the genre that when paired with Corey Frye’s soulful vocals create the unique combination of heavy shred and soft soul that comprise the band’s sound. The shred comes courtesy of the afroman, Max Newman, who's sure to leave you speechless at least once during the set. Originally formed in Bloomington, Indiana, but recently relocated to Los Angeles, expect to see a lot more of these guys on the West Coast from now on. Saturday: 12:35-1:45 AM (Garden Stage)

The String Cheese Incident - This one was so obvious that I almost left it out, but after further thought, I realized how blasphemous that would be. The String Cheese Incident doesn’t just play at a festival, they are the festival. Expect to see hoards of cheeseheads ruling the campgrounds with smiles, tequila, and hula hoops. The band themselves, well, they’ve transcended description for almost 25 years now and have only become harder to peg. Prepare for anything from a jammed-out fiddle tune like “Orange Blossom Special” to a whompy original such as “BollyMunster,” which feels kind of like square dancing at a rave. Saturday: 10:30 PM - 12:30 AM (Main Stage), Sunday: 2 sets 9:00 PM - 12:00 AM (Main Stage)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Umphrey's McGee 6.30 - 7.2.17

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO

Words by J. Picard
Photos by Doug Fondriest Photography

Not many bands are at a level where they get a crack at three, let alone two or even one night at the fabled Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO. For many musicians, Red Rocks is the pinnacle of the live music experience. The weekend leading up to July 4th, we had the privilege of attending three nights of Umphrey's McGee in Colorado and watching a couple of our friends perform on the edge. That weekend we would be joined by my brother-in-law, Jeremy, who was just getting into the jamband scene and the weekend would mark his first three night run. We would experience the spectrum of Umphrey's, party in the parking lot for hours and catch an after-show a short distance down the road. The weekend would encompass so many aspects of the live music scene and would continuously remind me of the magic that we're so often chasing!

Friday, June 30:

The Jeep was loaded with beer and with a quick stop for shitty tacos and no wait at will call, we were on lot early getting after it. Some kind folks asked for a couple of beers and proposed a trade we couldn't refuse. A line slowly began to take shape, but disappeared as soon as the doors opened and tickets were scanned. As we had never seen Stick Figure and it was our first Red Rocks show of the season, we headed in for the opening act. Laid back security was met by smiles from our team and inside we emptied and purchased beers prior to the hike down to fifty center. For the "white boy" reggae format, I dug Stick Figure. It was by no means complicated and potentially an odd fit for UM support, but had a roots vibe that translated beautifully on the rocks. At one point the band's dog wandered out onto the stage and chilled, prompting the crowd to cheer.

The venue filled in as the opening set came and went. Before we knew it, the space was just over three quarters full, which was a great start for the weekend! Many of the usual characters gravitated toward the meeting point and we were surrounded by friends by the time UM hit the stage! Intro music played through the PA and the seated crowd arose to greet their eventual slayers. UM lead off with "Prowler" and worked their way into the song before starts and stops turned into precise shredding guitar. The shred eased and the band went into the Brendan Bayliss ballad, "Upward." The mid-section opened up and a jammy, less structured section followed.

"Red Rocks, we missed you and you are beautiful. Thank you all so much for giving us this opportunity to play for you tonight..." Brendan said in appreciation.

"Higgins" entered the picture with its dub swagger, Bayliss up front on vocals and Jake Cinninger filling the spaces with more notes than there seemed to be room for in the measures. A variety of stylistic embellishments followed on the classic track that went into "Make It Right," with spacey affect. Kris Myers' heavy hands took center stage, complimented by Andy Farag's auxiliary percussion. Verses and choruses concluded with peaking dual lead from the front line and a shout out to one of their crew members on his thirtieth birthday. The slightly heavier "Phil's Farm" ascended, descended and resolved with some improvised riffs and chicken picking. The building process started deep in the valley, climbing back and forth along switchbacks before leveling out with a sort of electro-metal jam that dropped all of the way to the bottom landing on the beat for "Triple Wide" A danceable vibe overtook Red Rocks and as the sky grew darker, Jefferson Waffle's lights grew brighter. Joel Cummins' synth playing explored a couple of crunchy patches that appeased the youthful base. The song was a clear highlight of the first set, which concluded with Kris hitting some impressive notes on "Forty-Six & 2."

The lights came up on the energetic crowd and setbreak was under way. A conversation that began during set one, resumed with our friend Josh comparing the UM Red Rocks shows to the HBO series, Westworld. He expressed that I had been to the center of the maze and demanded that I tell him what was there. So I said "disappointment and broken egos." He smiled and accepted my answer. A short time later the house lights dimmed and the band returned to the stage, much like robots within' the park.

They worked their way into "Nothing Too Fancy" with Ryan Stasik digging into some heavy bass, at times leaning back into the groove. The energy built and built, arriving quicker at the rage than some of set one's endeavors. The music soared and became "Divisions," with Bayliss returning to the mic. An open drum section went back and forth with percussive guitar work before teasing The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," another verse and turning towards a piano-laden valley heading into "Ringo." Jake handled the vocals with Bayliss getting his back. What followed was ten plus minutes of the more jammy side of Umphrey's McGee mixed with a little Satan. "Ringo" became a disjointed "Believe The Lie," that leveled out quickly with Bayliss' sweet vocals.

After the only stop in the second set the band punted with "Spinal Shaft," another jammy song. A series of peaks and valleys thrilled the crowd for the next ten minutes on a roller coaster that wouldn't let up. As the vehicle pulled into the station, it passed through and returned to the ride with the previously unfinished "Phil's Farm," that deserved its due proper execution and conclusion, or transformation into the touched on "Nothing Too Fancy" to end set two. The encore began with a solid "Resolution" that featured a "Norwegian Wood" tease and transitioned into the unfinished "Divisions" to wrap up the evening. It was a beautiful conclusion to a solid start on the weekend.

We headed out of the venue past illuminated massive red rocks and returned to our chariot. We pulled off of the lot through smooth traffic and I reflected on how the show we had just witnessed truly hit on the jammier aspects of Umphrey's McGee. I was excited for the next two nights, specifically to see my friend and client, Roosevelt Collier, perform his first Red Rocks show!

As we entered the freeway, a strong smell of gas overtook our vehicle and our fuel level began to drop rapidly. "We're losing fuel," I exclaimed passing one of the last exits before a wall-enclosed portion of the freeway. I calculated my options as I lost power, much like I assume Sully did as he landed the plane on the Hudson. As we approached the end of the freeway, we chugged along almost landing in a donut shop parking lot, thinking better of it and the possible tow that would result. A residential side street came into site and I made the turn pulling right into a spot with no time limits or residential permit requirement. We grabbed our belongings, I re-downloaded the Uber app, recovered my password and no sooner than I had ordered the car, it arrived. The gentleman drove us home and sitting on my couch I laughed about how no one got hurt, we didn't have to involve the authorities or a tow, the Uber costed us $9.80 and that our mechanic would fix the car in the AM. We dodged a bullet and ended night one at home safely in our bed...

Doug's Friday Photo Gallery

Set One: Goonville > Prowler > Upward, Higgins > Make It Right, Phil's Farm > The Triple Wide, Forty-Six & 2

Set Two: Nothing Too Fancy > Divisions[1] > Ringo > Believe the Lie, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft > Phil's Farm > Nothing Too Fancy

Encore: Resolution[2] > Divisions

[1] with Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve) teases
[2] with Norwegian Wood (The Beatles) tease

Saturday, July 1:

... I awoke a few hours after we passed out, with a headache that wouldn't let up. I drank water and communicated with my mechanic, Van, who joined in on breakfast and drove me over to my car to sort the situation. It was a big day for our team and that was not how I pictured the day starting off, or unfolding, but I smiled and was grateful and experiencing a sort of feeling of euphoria. Roosevelt arrived in Denver and shot me a text. He seemed very excited! Van sorted my car and I repaid him with a ticket for the evening's sold out show, as well as some cannabis. I headed home with our operational vehicle and re-iced the cooler for round two! We arrived at Red Rocks and waited at will call for a short time before the guestlist arrived and we obtained our credentials. We smooth talked an employee blocking the Upper North lot and pulled up to find our friends Matt and Teri cooking crab legs in a big pot, with Jeremy and Carly's sister, Jackie. A short time later Van and his father arrived with MusicMarauders contributor, Nicholas Stock, and the party was in full effect. A glance at my phone revealed that we were running short on time and Bokante' was about to hit! We made haste around the side entrance of Red Rocks, which dropped us at the bottom, where we dipped backstage to give Rosie a big hug!

We found a centrally located spot down towards the front in VIP for Bokante's set. The band hit the stage with smiles on their faces and what a site it must have been to look up at the filling venue. The set was short, though in the thirty minutes the band made quite an impact, with driving drums and African rhythms. The interplay between vocalist Malika Tirolien and the group assembled by Snarky Puppy's Michael League was nothing short of stunning! Roosevelt glanced up at us towards the end of the set and made a face, triggering Carly and I to grin from ear to ear. We headed to the top to spend some time with our friends at fifty center and catch a little bit of Snarky Puppy. A couple of songs in I got a text from Rosie and headed down to do a Facebook live session with him for Element Music Festival.

Backstage was a who's who of the Colorado music scene and as Snarky Puppy ended we made our way back to the top, where the air felt a little bit thinner. Some of our favorite people were collected at fifty center and as the lights came down, Umphrey's McGee hit the stage to "Le Blitz." The powerful synth and guitars subsided to precise riffs in "40's Theme" and it was full steam ahead! The crowd sang along with Jake, throwing their hands in the air at the thought of picking up a couple of 40's. The jam was spacey and lent credence to the possibility of the night being jammy like night one. The classic "Wappy Sprayberry" came next with Stasik's bass leading off. The drums were tight and Bayliss' vocals carried. Joel output some enjoyable effects on keys and right off the bat Waful's lights were captivating! "Wappy" went into "Crucial Taunt" with Bayliss remaining on the mic for the short track.

"Yoga Pants" was dedicated to the band's children, with the shared sentiment of how good they have it to be at Red Rocks. The song was short and potentially the most mellow of the evening transitioning into "White Man's Moccasins" with enough tap and hammer-ons to appease a Chapman Stick player! Vocals subsided to some cool instrumental tones and shred. Bayliss once again thanked the crowd before "Remind Me." Even Brendan's vocals felt precise before the band began to pick up the pace and the tempo increased! The bottom dropped out and shit got intense! I looked over at my friends, most of which had their eyes closed. Joel called out the Snarky Puppy horns for "Bad Friday" to close the first set. The mid-section opened up the stage to the horns, which impressed from start to finish, as one would expect. Eleven minutes later the song peaked, concluded and the lights came up.

Following what felt like a solid set break, the band returned to the stage and kicked off round two with "JaJunk!" I headed down stage side. The peaking dual lead was pitch perfect and the drums and percussion of Myers/Farag joined by Sput/Werth of Snarky Puppy covered a lot of ground! Shredding guitar rained supreme as the crowd lost its collective mind. Bayliss wanted to "keep the party going" and called Roosevelt to the stage, who walked out with a big smile and hugs for the front line. Rosie plugged in, took a seat and the sold out crowd erupted with excitement as fireworks exploded above Red Rocks.

"This one's for all of our Canadian friends!" Brendan said.

"Hajimemashite" sweetly took shape as Brendan fielded the vocals on the vintage UM song. Explosions of color opened up in between Waful's lights and Jake shifted focus to Rosie who's tone poured out onto the rocks. He slid between notes with a clear command of his instrument before he and Jake traded notes. Bayliss stepped back to the front for another verse before Jake, Rosie and Brendan soared and peaked wildly. I climbed back to the top, snapping shots of the madness along the way. "Push The Pig" triggered Jake to take residency next to Joel behind his keys. The song opened up in the middle, though not much came out of the section. "Push The Pig" transitioned into "1348" that built and dropped quickly. I returned to Bokante's dressing room where I found Rosie on couch tour watching UM's set live. I sat with him and we talked about how great of a band Umphrey's is.

Umphrey's gave a shout out to a fan from the fan's wife, who was home on their anniversary with the kids and Bayliss let him know that he would be "changing a lot of fucking diapers when he got home." It was a hilarious moment that I am sure shocked the shit out of the fan at Red Rocks! A bluesy "Mail Package" came with Joel on the organ and Stasik's bass nailing the low end. Jake yelled into the mic wildly and shit got goofy. Bayliss acknowledged the moon, Kris Myers offered up a sub-par Harry Carey impression and the set closed with a fifteen minute "Draconian." The composition felt like an epic story that built and introduced an array of musical characters and plots. As the band exited the stage, we slipped out of the venue through the side entrance to Upper North. As we climbed, UM returned to encore with "The Floor" to my delight!

We hit the lot with Rosie's steel in tow. We loaded up and headed a mile down the road to a bed and breakfast, where we pulled in to near silence. I poked around for a minute until we located a small dimly lit corridor that lead to a courtyard where folks had collected, waiting to see Genetics. We greeted everyone and headed down to a basement that felt like almost any college party that I had ever attended in Ann Arbor, with black light art covered walls. I was taken aback by the extensive collection of Scramble Campbell art. In the corner I saw Chuck Morris (Lotus) and gave him a big hug. A short time later, with a 2/3 MusicMarauders camera crew in place, the band took the stage (floor) and threw down harder than any Genetics show that I had experienced to date. After a few songs they called up Rosie and shit got wild. Following Roosevelt's performance, we snuck out of the cannabis filled room and delivered him safely to his hotel in downtown Denver for a 5:30 AM bus call to head on to High Sierra. We returned home to rest for one more day of rage!

Doug's Saturday Photo Gallery

Set One: Le Blitz > 40's Theme, Wappy Sprayberry > Crucial Taunt, Yoga Pants > White Man's Moccasins, Remind Me, Bad Friday[1]

Set Two: JaJunk[2], Hajimemashite[3], Push the Pig[4] > 1348, Mail Package, Draconian

Encore: The Floor

[1] with Chris Bullock on saxophone and Mike Maher on trumpet
[2] with Robert "Sput" Searight and Nate Werth on percussion
[3] with Roosevelt Collier on steel guitar
[4] with Jake on keys

Sunday, July 2:

We were haggered from all of the climbing to get our UM fix, but managed to peel ourselves off of the mattress and caffeinate heavily. We picked up Jeremy at his house and made the final trek to Red Rocks. We arrived in the Upper North lot and had a couple of beers as we watched a park ranger walk around and lecture folks about having glass, liquor, etc. MusicMarauders photographer, Doug Fondriest, joined in on the fun and before we knew it, it was time to head in to catch Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers! The venue was about half full during Bruce's set and it appeared much of it was an older, more contemporary crowd. The band was fantastic across the board and their guitar player ripped at calculated intervals, turning the head of early arriving UM fans. Bruce's singing and fantastic work on the keys made for a great opening set that included some fan favorites.

Up at fifty center, a portion of the usual suspects turned out for evening's entertainment and geared up for one last ride. We settled in with a few joints and a short time later Umphrey's McGee took the stage for one last punch! "Nipple Trix" was called for the intro and a couple of minutes later they went into "Get In The Van," a strong start for the night! There was a lot happening, including Jake scratching on his guitar's strings with a pick, outputting a similar sound to turntables. The tension built and released, though still felt like it was building before concluding. Bayliss once again expressed the band's gratitude. "Speak Up" began, slinked along and included Bayliss' vocals. The song had the feel of a newer UM composition and reflected a refined track that turned it up to eleven before becoming "Booth Love." The song was wide open and translated nicely in the open-air venue.

Bayliss wished America a happy birthday and the band launched into "Wizard Burial Ground!" I clinched my fist and leaned into the music, getting smacked in the face by ripping instrumentation. At one point, I feared for my life. The song was one of the clear highlights of the evening. Stasik stepped up to the mic and mentioned that UM would be turning 20 next year, and that the "heavy metal tune" was for his parents on their anniversary. "August" began with some pretty bass harmonics and opened up to some Bayliss vocals and solid work from Joel on the keys. Arpeggio after arpeggio came from Jake's guitar, and not a note was missed throughout the run. Brendan asked the crowd who's first time it was at Red Rocks and surprisingly, there was a big roar, followed by a congratulations from Bayliss.

"Cut Off" came next with riffing guitar work and holding synth notes the slowed to the sound of beeps before going directly into "Ocean Billy" to conclude set one of night three. It started at the bottom and grew with fierce building. The song was heavy as hell for the duration and had the crowd amped for one last set from the machine that was Umphrey's McGee. The lights came up and a short time later went back down with UM's return coming in the form of "Attachments" to start the final set of the weekend. The song was rockin' and vocally driven, as almost always by Bayliss. "Day Nurse" was welcomed with wanking key and staccato notation on the guitar that dug through six minutes of noodling instrumentation before heading into "2nd Self." The UM throwback was flawlessly executed and created a nostalgic feeling in the crowd that was shared through smiles and dance.

"So, we're going to bring up a good friend of ours. She's probably like my 24th or 25th favorite person in the world. Her name is Jen Hartswick..." Bayliss exclaimed.

"It's cool, you're way lower on my list..." Jen replied, as Kris hit the drums to signal the joke.

The band debuted and took a shot at Rush's "Red Barchetta." Jen belted, nailing the notes and as I looked down, the hair on my arm stood straight up. Upon the song's close, I texted Jen to tell her how awesome the song was. She texted me back "there's more." "Mulche's Odyssey" started heavy and built to an all out auditory assault, with ups and downs and highs and lows that bent the mind. Waful brought up the house lights to a full house at the 9,000+ capacity venue followed by "Slacker." The song featured some fantastic screaming organ work from Joel and Stasik in the pocket. Another classic, "Plunger" came down the pipeline with Bayliss' voice competing with Jake's guitar and a lot of sound coming from the stage. During the fifteen minute exploration, the band went to one of the lowest valleys of the show to start the slow climb to the top. That process was why many of us were present.

Bayliss thanked their fans again and said, "We thought that you deserved a little more Jen Hartswick cause you guys earned it," as Jen returned to the stage for "Electric Avenue To Hell." Bayliss began with "Electric Avenue" and Jen swung back with "Highway To Hell" in a stunning mashup from a band that does it better than most! The highlight came when each vocalist sang their respective songs at the same time as the band played a mix of the compositions. The crowd absolutely went wild, throwing their hands in the air, jumping and screaming in appreciation at the conclusion of the song and set! The band exited and returned to encore with "Puppet String." The verse and chorus went into a jam that transitioned into "Glory," leaving "Puppet String" unfinished. "Glory" became the vehicle for the mid section of the song and ripped prior to finishing "Puppet String" and concluding three nights at Red Rocks.

The weekend featured a true powerhouse band ascending the metaphysical mountain to the top of their scene, with three extremely successful nights of high level output in one of the country's premier markets. The catalog of songs, the incorporation of guests, the risks the band took and the precision of what the band does is reflective of an incredible product that seems to always surpass its ticketed value. When we think about Umphrey's McGee, it's time we see them on the level of the tier two bands, such as The String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic. It's now the era of Umphrey's...

Doug's Sunday Photo Gallery

Set One: Nipple Trix > Get In The Van, Speak Up > Booth Love, Wizard Burial Ground, August, Cut Off > Ocean Billy

Set Two: Attachments, Day Nurse > 2nd Self, Red Barchetta[1], Mulche's Odyssey, Slacker, Plunger, Electric Avenue to Hell[2]

Encore: Puppet String > Glory > Puppet String

[1] debut, Rush; with Jennifer Hartswick on vocals
[2] with Jennifer Hartswick on vocals

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Yonder Mountain String Band & Tyler Childers 7.8.17 (Photos)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume 37 (7.12.17)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Breckenridge Brewery Hootenanny 7.8.17 (Photos)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hootenanny Allstars 7.7.17 (Photos)

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Photos by Nancy Isaac Photography

View Nancy's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tnertle EP Release w/ Jeraff 6.30.17 (Photos)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dead & Company 6.9 & 6.10.17

Folsom Field
Denver, CO

Words by J. Picard
Photos by Doug Fondriest Photography

Airplanes full of people in tie-dye streaked across the sky on the same route as more VW Buses than a Boulderite could shake a stick at! Colorado was the destination and the main event, two nights of Dead & Company at CU Boulder's Folsom Field! The band that started the scene kept it rolling with Bob Weir and golden boy, John Mayer, at the helm. I awoke Thursday to a missed call and text from bass player, Oteil Burbridge, and bailed on any hope of preparing for the weekend, instead opting to spend the day with one of my favorite humans! That evening my wife, Carly, and I packed and came morning, we hit the road towards Boulder for what would be a peak summer experience!

Friday, June 9:

We took a left turn about halfway down the Front Range at Coal Creek Canyon and headed to the canyon's top to join our friends Matt and Teri, as well as the Chets (Mike & Stephanie)! We powered down a blunt, boarded the motorhome and rolled down canyon to Boulder, stopping first at our friends' eventual flop house for a quick miracle. From the flop house we headed to CU's Space Science building where to our surprise we not charged the anticipated $150.00. Instead the lot was used to park staff so we pulled in, put up the awning and set up the grills. To our dismay, Matt had forgotten to grab the meats/grillables. Luckily, I am a hefty cat and brought enough to basically feed the party of six.

The sun beat down on the motorhome as the day grew later and it was time to board the shuttle for Folsom. We loaded up a Gatorade and off we went to celebrate! The bus ride over saw the Gatorade bottle passed around more than a field bracelet among wooks! By the time we stepped off of the shuttle, it was clear that "maybe we had too much too fast." Our brows grew sweaty, the crowds grew thicker and our eyes wider than a silver dollar. Our group broke up and headed in different directions as we acquired our all access passes. As I looked down at the passes I was overtaken with appreciation and emotion. This life is indeed weird.

Dead & Company Live at Folsom Field on 6.9.17

Set One: Dancing in the Street > Cold Rain and Snow, Hell in a Bucket, Big River, Althea, New Speedway Boogie, The Music Never Stopped, Ripple

Set Two: St. Stephen, Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World, Deal > Let It Grow > Drums > Space > The Other One > Morning Dew

Encore: Touch of Grey

We hit the concourse where we greeted friends, acquired tall boys of Dale's Pale Ale and headed down towards the field. We stopped at the same section as the previous year's adventure and parked ourselves as our friends slowly gathered around us! A short time later the crowd roared and the band hit the stage to kick off their first of four sets over the next two days. They began with a Dead & Company debut, "Dancing In the Street" that went into "Rain & Snow," transitioning from Bob Weir's vocal lead to John Mayer's. The crowd was receptive and participated in the chorus'. "Hell In A Bucket" brought Bob's return to the vocals as John dug into some fantastic tonation. Our group was on fire, taking up most of the space in the section as we danced wildly. Johnny Cash's "Big River" hit the paper and a sweet "Althea" followed with John at the mic and Oteil Burbridge contributing some beautiful bass.

A Bob-lead "New Speedway Boogie" came next as the crowd sang along and spun wildly before fading with the "one way or another" line before "Music Never Stopped," with Bob and John sharing vocal duties. The band closed the first set with an acoustic "Ripple," with Jeff Chimenti filling the spaces sweetly on keys. The isles became full of people like a water from a breached dam. We stayed put, giggling and yucking it up for the duration of setbreak. A bunch of familiar faces passed by and several smiles were exchanged!

Dead & Company returned and began with "St. Stephen," full steam down the track! Shared vocals and sweet guitar tones filled the air! "Estimated" came next with a slinking quality that spelled Bobby weirdness. "Ha! ha! ha!," Bobby screamed into the mic as the spaceyness grew before transitioning smoothly into "Eyes of The World!" Oteil thumped away and Bob took the vocals as John reflected a deep study of Jerry Garcia's tone and sound on the guitar. "Deal" followed quickly with Bill Kreutzmann hammering away on the cymbals and John near flawlessly executing the vocals in a way only a pop star could. Chimenti plowed through a fantastic solo with Oteil punching the bass. The song ended with a vocal improv that turned into a Bob-fielded "Let It Grow" that featured another great Chimenti section towards the middle/end. Slowly, the song faded into "Drums."

Mickey Hart's Beam (A low end string instrument) sounded out and Billy K ventured across his kit as some electronic sounds came from Mickey's side of the stage. Some of Mickeys' drumming sounded disjointed and off tempo, but the duo powered on. Not much happened through the duration of the five minute segment, outside of some string instruments plucking without order. "Space" took over with other-worldly sounds and huge drums beating heavily. Mickey returned to the beam and a short time later the band returned and began noodling for an extended improvised section that turned into "The Other One." Bob screamed into the mic with heavy echo on his voice. The composition slowed down and transitioned into "Morning Dew" with Bob remaining on vocals to end the second set.

The boys returned to the stage and launched into "Touch of Grey," which received mixed excitement from the beginning and kicked off with some rough Bob vocals. John took over vocally and traded with Bob prior to everyone jumping in on the chorus. With that, night one had come to a close and the houselights came up triggering a massive outpouring of people into the stands. We remained for a bit before the crowd became too heavy and we made our way out of Folsom with the group, back to the shuttle pick-up point. Boulder was flooded with hippies! Back at the Space Science building we loaded into the motorhome and headed back up a very dark and winding Coal Creek Canyon to our mountain abode! Early morning we fell asleep with setlist hopes on our minds...

Saturday, June 10:

Ample cannabis and coffee was needed to jump start the day as the sun beamed down on the pines in the canyon! One by one, our party came to life just in time for a big breakfast and a sweep and repacking of the motorhome. We joked about the previous day's follies as we repeated our mistakes with another blunt. Slowly we loaded the motorhome and achieved liftoff for Boulder. Down the canyon we went, re-stocking on beer and ice before our arrival in Boulder at a very strange and entertaining house. Long story short, there is a group of middle aged folks who love the Grateful Dead and love to get weird! The bulk of the group met at Jam In the Sand, a Dark Star Orchestra festival in Jamaica. Yeah, you heard me right. We arrived at a house in a residential neighborhood being rented by said group of hippies. What translated was a double-booked house, with randoms showing up for the potluck. It was a hodgepodge of hippies and burners who didn't know one and other, coming and going and made for a wild pre-show happening.

With the motorhome remaining in place down a side street in Boulder, a couple of us decided to walk the mile to Folsom, which turned out to be quite enjoyable! Through the town we went, intersecting with gathering tribes and running into familiar faces along the way. The scene outside of Folsom was a mad house, with bands, burritos, and fingers in the air. We made a quick stop at the church parking lot across the street from the venue, where one of the most massive shakedown streets was unfolding, with $10.00 Boulder priced balloons and all. We crossed the street, dipped through a opening in the fence manned by a security guard and headed in.

Dead & Company Live at Folsom Field on 6.10.17

Set One: Truckin' > Smokestack Lightning > Spoonful > Bertha > Ramble on Rose, Friend of the Devil, Loser, Brown Eyed Women, Turn on Your Lovelight

Set Two: Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower, China Doll, Dark Star > Drums > Space > Stella Blue > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider

Encore: One More Saturday Night

We met a couple of friends on the concourse and made our way down to the field to start the evening's show. Dead & Company took the stage for one more Saturday night and began with some noodling on a composition that quickly became "Truckin'." Mayer dug in from the get go and the crowd was moving as Bob and John shared vocals. "Truckin'" became "Smokestack Lightning" and two minutes later, "Spoonful." Bob belted, John noodled and Jeff filled beautifully on the keys as the band transitioned into "Bertha!" John assumed mic responsibilities and as I looked around, our group was losing its mind. "Bertha" slowed and became "Ramble On Rose," with Bob stepping up and the band executing a sweet version of the Dead classic!

A short breather came between songs before DeadCo kicked off with an acoustic, "Friend of The Devil." I used the opportunity to hit the bathroom and concourse for a beer prior to the setbreak rush. I returned to our section as Bob and company kicked off "Loser." The song's mid-section was filled with soaring guitar and keys as the sun set. John led the "Brown Eyed Woman" sing along to the delight of the massive crowd. The first set of the evening closed with "Lovelight" and as Oteil thumped away, I couldn't help but think of Col. Bruce Hampton for the duration of the song. I smiled and felt extremely grateful in that moment for having seen the Col. as many times as I had.

The lights came up and madness ensued as we hunkered down for the duration of set break. Conversations were boisterous, excitement was high and there was still a full set that remained! DeadCo returned and with their return came "Help On The Way!" Mayer handled the vocals and the song transitioned smoothly into "Slipknot" with some heavy bass from Oteil. The jam was psychedelic and loose, building and peaking a couple of times over before diving into "Franklin's Tower." John returned to the mic and the band followed down the track! "China Doll" followed which meant it was time for Colorado to experience the vocals of Oteil Burbridge! The crowd roared as soon as Oteil sang the first words of the song. Chimenti's keys rang out beautifully in between vocal lines. During the song, people high-fived me and came over to communicate how awesome it was that Oteil was taking a lead position. It was bizarre, but sweet none the less.

"China Doll" took a turn towards "Dark Star" that featured fifteen minutes of fluid guitar and reflected the risk that the Dead was willing to take on their jams. The result was powerful and even Bob's vocals fell right into place! The composition dissolved and the front line dismounted for "Drums," which started off typically, but dove into a more tribal groove, that meandered. "Space" was airy and felt distant with what sounded like bells ringing. The band returned and noodled for a few minutes before the disjointedness became "Stella Blue." Bob nailed the vocals and created a very sweet moment in the set, where once again, the "Golden Boy" output some spot on Jerry tone and musical approach.

The set picked up steam and turned towards its eventual close, but not without one last transitional segment in "China Cat" and "I Know You Rider!" The jam started with Bob up front before he was joined by John and Oteil! The middle of "Rider" packed a powerful punch, as it often does, with the lyric "I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain!" The set concluded and for the next two minutes the crowd clapped and cheered for one last hurrah! As it was Saturday, it was no surprise that the hurrah came in the form of "One More Saturday Night." The encore was much more enjoyable than the previous night. I looked around and some of my favorite people were getting down one last time for the weekend before they ventured off to get their Dead through other avenues until Dead & Company hits the road again.

The band took a bow, the crowd showed their appreciation, the lights came up and the slow crawl out of the venue followed. Up to the concourse we went, then down the stairs to street level where a large crowd had gathered around a marching band. The crowd, though still thick, thinned out as we ventured away from Folsom. We passed bands and musicians set up on the street and law enforcement smiling and waving on traffic. Slowly the crowd became non-existant as we made a couple of turns into a dark neighborhood lit only by streetlights on each corner. I reflected on how solid the weekend was as a whole. The entire experience from start to finish is what music fans like me chase. Following several minutes of quiet wandering, I turned to our small group and said "does anyone know where we're going?" A look of confusion came over the faces who had been following me for some time. I winked and we made a turn onto the street of our destination. Folks gathered at the house as we hopped into the motor home and climbed back up into the Rockies.

Thank you to the Grateful Dead for starting this party a long time ago and thank you to Dead & Company for keeping the party alive in 2017!

Doug's Photo Gallery

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

PREVIEW: Northwest String Summit 7.13 - 7.16.17

Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR

Words by Mitch Melheim
Photos by Coleman Schwartz Media

Northwest String Summit will make it’s return to Horning’s Hideout this July 13-16 for the sixteenth year in a row. Also in their sixteenth year “in the bowl” is perennial host band Yonder Mountain String Band, who will again play three nights, this time with a mysterious cover set on Saturday that fans suspect to be Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” based off of clues posted on the band’s Instagram page.

Thursday, once just a pre-party, has blossomed into one of the more action-packed days of the festival with two sets of Greensky Bluegrass, Fruition, Shook Twins, and Lil’ Smokies all gracing the main stage before a true “choose your own adventure” late night option presents itself. Split Lip Rayfield’s aggressive brand of string music runs alongside the beauty of Elephant Revival which may become a game-time decision for most, depending on how much gas is left in the tank.

Friday, like the rest of the weekend, begins with an 8:30 AM “coffee talk” for those who actually got some sleep, followed by yoga in the festival’s newly added movement area. The heavily-wooded Cascadia Stage, which also hosts late night acts each night, happens to be where most people’s mornings will begin as well. Both Brad Parsons and Kitchen Dwellers play sets there before noon and the stage’s schedule doesn’t necessarily let up from there.

After the band competition opens the main stage, mandolin virtuoso, Sierra Hull, takes over for a set that I’m sure will be as beautiful and captivating as the one I caught from her at 4 Peaks Music Festival a couple weeks ago. In true Northwest String Summit fashion, there are no breaks from that point on. California Honeydrops, more Elephant Revival, more Greensky Bluegrass, and two sets of Yonder round out the main stage schedule while acts such as The Last Revel and Left Coast Country play “tweener” sets on top of the Furthur Bus. But don’t think you can run off to bed that easily, folks. Both Fruition and Dead Phish Orchestra will be rocking their late night sets until 3 AM.

On Saturday, the Cascadia Stage is right back at it again. This time with rising Portland band, Cascade Crescendo, opening up the day’s music with a 10:00 AM mimosa set. Last year’s band competition winners, Ginstrings, open up the main stage music for the day. Blitzen Trapper, Del McCoury Band, JJ Grey & Mofro, two more sets of Yonder, and some Turkuaz for thy booty round out the main stage schedule that is perhaps even rivaled by its Furthur Bus “tweener” set counterpart which features two respective sets from Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Kitchen Dwellers, and Rumpke Mountain Boys. More Horseshoes can be found late night at the Cascadia Stage or if you’re in need of some Bay Area soul head over to the Kinfolk Revival Tent for another California Honeydrops set.

Sunday’s schedule is as close as this festival gets to mellowing down, but it once again starts off strong with a 10:00 AM Rumpke Mountain Boys set that knowing those guys, I’m sure will be treated more like a late-late-night set than a morning set. Talented local acts, The Good Time Travelers and Crow & the Canyon, follow on the Cascadia Stage while more fun workshops such as Pickin’ On Phish and Farm To Table Flatpickin’ take place in the tent.

The Travelin’ McCoury’s will be performing a special “gospel hour” set Sunday afternoon before Dave Simonett’s (Trampled By Turtles) project Dead Man Winter makes their String Summit debut. Todd Snider & Great American Taxi follow and bring us to the final, and often times best, Yonder set of the weekend. Funky Portland jammers, Asher Fulero Band, then take over the tent stage before the Shook Twins round out the weekend’s music.

Interview with Northwest String Summit Promoter Skye McDonald:

Mitch Melheim: When did you get involved with Northwest String Summit?

Skye McDonald: Before the first String Summit, when it was Dexter Lake Music Festival near Eugene. At that time it was promoted by another promoter who eventually turned it over to my business partner and myself in 2003.

MM: Who played that festival?

SM: Yonder was the headliner. It was Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, The Slip... Umphrey’s McGee was there. It was a cool location with the lake in the background. We had a ski boat there for the hospitality.

MM: How did that relationship with Yonder come about?

SM: I started working with their management company at the time called Partners in Music in Boulder, Colorado and my business partner (Greg Friedman) at the time was Yonder’s business manager so we teamed up to help curate the first String Summit.

MM: Does the band have any role in the curation of the festival?

SM: They’re the hosts. I think curation has been thrown around a lot, but misused in the sense that they aren’t selecting the talent or the activities, but they do hold the stage and maintain the kinfolk vibe. Long story short, they are the perennial hosts.

MM: Can you explain the evolution of Thursday a little bit? I know, at first, it didn’t exist. Then it became a pre-party of sorts and now it’s just as action packed as any other night of the festival.

SM: I couldn’t have said it better myself. I can tell you from my perspective. It started out for the first five years just being three days with arrival gates opening at 10 AM on Friday, but at that time we were lucky to hit maybe 2,000 or 2,500 people tops. So then what we saw, was that it would’ve been easier to let people in Thursday night and have more time for programming and other things on Friday. So Thursday started out just inside of a beer garden because of OLCC regulations and we would just have smaller bands play in the garden. That eventually turned into a walk-around permit as we established ourselves and the OLCC trusted us more so that we could move eventually the music to the main stage. That took us from small groups, duos, and singer-songwriter sets to full bands, which then turned into Greensky Bluegrass, and then “three-band Thursday,” all the way to where we are at now.

MM: How has the fest grown over the years?

SM: Year one there were maybe 1,100 people total. Including artists. It was brutal. It rained, and it rained, and it rained. People huddled under the merch tent, all wet and muddy. We learned a valuable lesson not to print white t-shirts again. It’s since grown to the point where we’re at near capacity every year.

MM: What is capacity now?

SM: We can call sold capacity 4,500. If we can move cars to another parking lot off-site, we can fit more bodies. That’s paid. We’ve also got 1,000 children under the age of 10, 400 volunteers, 100 people on staff, 150 vendors, another 100-some artists, and then the guest list which is approximately 10% of all that. So we’re up to 6,500 people on site. 85% of that expected by Thursday.

MM: Where did the idea for the Saturday funk set come about?

SM: As the event has evolved, our allowance by the county has also evolved. We do a good job of policing ourselves but most importantly our patrons are super-chill and respectful. There’s not much riff raff. With that, they’ve granted us later play times and noise variances on the stage so Saturday night the noise variance goes until 1:30 AM. What we found is that some people by that time of the night are tired of the plucking and are ready to shake it and get down. The funk started in 2012 with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and it was such a natural fit, like ying and yang. It’s been popular and we will continue it.

MM: When you’re putting the lineup together, how much weight do you put into a band fitting into the “bluegrass” description?

SM: Well, it’s kind of based around the history of Yonder. Yonder’s influences, where they’ve come from, and where do they go. I didn’t mean to quote "Cotton Eye Joe" there. All the guys in Yonder, all the guys in Greensky, many of the guys in Salmon, so on and so forth all come from more of a rock & roll background. They were turned onto string music through other means. I grew up in North Carolina and while I heard bluegrass at events, I didn’t get into it until I was a full-fledge deadhead and found it through the “Jerry doorway.” Having that entry point into the scene is common. There are so many new bands, as you’re probably well aware, who have the same sort of foundation where their entry points are the Yonders, or the Salmons, or even Greensky or the Punch Brothers today. That’s their entry point into the music. Then from that point they go backwards to the Monroes, and the Country Gentlemen, and the Stanley Brothers. What we try to do is straddle that in the same capacity and bring in what we believe to be up-and-coming string music while highlighting the influences of those people. Having some traditional, as well as some not so traditional. It’s the progressive nature of music in general. Homogenization if you will. The blending of all genres.

One of our struggles year after year is finding that balance between maintaining our core bands and inviting those bands we love who come back every other year or so, finding the new music coming in and where to fill it in, and then finding that up-and-coming music that we want to present to our attendees from the Midwest or the Southeast that don’t have the ability to tour and sell tickets in the Northwest which leads to them then getting the offers to play the small rooms around here or maybe finding a local band to link up with for a tour.

MM: The band competition has always been one of my favorite parts of the festival. I’m curious, who judges it?

SM: Other musicians. There are members of Fruition, members of Greensky, members of Yonder. I think there’s an odd number so there’s never a tie. One year it was a tie between Steep Ravine and The Lil’ Smokies and we went into a playoff which was really cool and the Smokies won, but we learned for the sake of timing and stage production, we need to have an odd number. Pastor Tim, my partner, and I select the contestants, but recuse ourselves in the judging process.

MM: Do you have a favorite participant from the band competition over the years? Somebody that really blew you away and let you know that they were a force to be reckoned with.

SM: Wow. Um, I love the Lil’ Smokies, man. They’re a force to be reckoned with. I love Pert Near Sandstone. They took our model and started their own thing which has been successful. Ginstrings are pretty solid too. I enjoyed seeing them last year.

MM: I’m always surprised by how many local and regional acts play such a huge part in this festival. Has that been a conscious decision to keep it that way or is it just a testament to the strength of the string band scene in the Pacific Northwest?

SM: I believe it’s a symbiotic relationship. We have to highlight that scene. This whole region’s string band scene. It’s such an organic area of the country where people have a great quality of life and it shows in the music. That’s part of the reason why we developed the Cascadia Stage, to showcase a lot of regional talent that we may not have space for on the main stage, as well as some of the national acts who also fit into that description.

MM: Should we expect more Tyler Fuqua Creations this year?

SM: Yeah, for sure. He’s putting together another Saturday night spectacle. I’m not sure everything he’s got in store for this year, but there’s going to be a lot of cool installations on site throughout the weekend from him as well

MM: The lineup has become a brotherhood of musicians that see each other year after year. Not just at String Summit, but at other festivals like Delfest and Blue Ox as well. Has that been done on purpose or does that just have to do with how small and tight-nit the progressive bluegrass scene is right now?

SM: I’ve got to admit, this is our sixteenth year of doing the String Summit, and we’ve kind of created a formula that has kept us all afloat. We’d like to take a little bit of credit in that there is a brotherhood of these artists that have been straddling the genre, never fully immersed in the bluegrass scene. On the fringe, if you will. So they stick together. But they also have an incredible following. Grassroots scenes, marketing, touring, etc. And it’s way more pronounced than most of the traditional acts. So it’s deliberate on many levels that they’re paired together, but it’s a proven formula that we’ve been working with. Many of these other events that have popped up since we’ve been around have seemed to notice that as well and continued the trend.

A lot of our planning and modeling comes from what Planet Bluegrass does with Telluride for example. It has a lot of the same people year after year. They leave some flexibility for new acts, and different acts, and different genres, but it’s one of those things. There’s going to be people who want to see the same acts every year. It’s what brought them there and why they keep coming back. Then there are plenty of people who think, “I already saw that last year. I want to see something else.” So we listen to everyone and while we can’t please everybody, our model is to have that core and have those invitations recirculating, but also leave plenty of space for new and different music to create a full-spectrum event.

MM: Alright Skye. That’s all I’ve got for you. Do you have anything else you’d like to mention?

SM: Thanks Mitch. Yeah, I do actually. We’re adding a movement based addition this year. Yoga, meditation, and breathing will be another arm of the event, if you will. It’s not another stage, but there will probably be artists playing music during some of the sessions. It’s a time to take care of yourself and nurture yourself so that you can sustain the entire event.

And secondly, because it is such a family friendly event. We’ve brought in a new children’s village curator and they’re bringing in a whole other stage for the kids area where other acts will be playing such as members of World’s Finest and Banana Slug String Band. It will be a festival within the festival.

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume 36 (7.5.17)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Queen Ifrica 6.25.17 (Photos)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tangled & Dark: A Tribute to Bonnie Raitt 6.22.17 (Photos)