Monday, July 16, 2018

Ryan Adams & First Aid Kit 6.14.18 (Photos)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

4 Peaks Music Festival 6.21 - 6.24.18


Stevenson Ranch
Bend, OR

Words by Erica Garvey (Funk Fiend)
Photos by Jason Charme (Jason Charme Photography)

No matter which direction you come from, the journey to 4 Peaks Music Festival leads you through the rolling hills and dignified mountains of Central Oregon. As you drive through Bend, you are greeted with the charms of a small (but growing) town, which quickly give way to the bare appeal of the Stevenson Ranch, 4 Peaks’ home for the past two years.

From there, the festival continues the same streak of simple beauty. It is an authentic gathering of a tight-knit community, whether you have been a part of the 4 Peaks family for years or just hours. At the 2018 festival, the crowd was courteous, the staff was smiley, the vendors were attentive, and many times the bands brought other musicians on as guests. The artists themselves were each other’s biggest fans. I cannot think of one performance from which Scott Pemberton (of Scott Pemberton Band) was absent from the audience.

There were several notable collaborations: Josh Clark of Tea Leaf Green played with both Particle and Scott Pemberton, Sam Lax of Acorn Project added saxophone on multiple tunes with Poor Man’s Whiskey, Maxwell Friedman sat in with The New Mastersounds and Jupiter Holiday, Tyler Grant of Grant Farm joined Greensky Bluegrass for “Mr. Charlie,” and Scott Pemberton lent his sound to The Brothers Comatose.

Many people brought their children, and a few musicians took it a step further and put their kids to work on stage: Steve Kimock was joined by his son John Morgan Kimock on drums, and Hattie Craven sang with her dad’s group Joe Craven & The Sometimers, including a memorable version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”. (Fourteen-year-old keys phenom Maxwell Friedman had his own set on Sunday.)

4 Peaks is a four-day festival, though most of the action is packed into Friday and Saturday. There are only two stages, plus the child-centric venue “Kidlandia.” The Cascade Mountain Stage was set up like a main stage typical of a large outdoor festival, with giant sunshades set up to shield the audience from the heat. The smaller tent-enclosed venue, the Lava Rock Stage, lent itself to intimate moments, from “4 Peaks house band” Poor Man’s Whiskey closing a nighttime show from the middle of the crowd with an acoustic “I Shall Be Released,” to a raging afternoon dance party with multi-colored laser lights hosted by Portland’s Yak Attack.

Only one band plays at a time, so you do not have to miss anything. The only choices you have to make are which of the diverse array of food vendors to sample, which craft beer (or wine, or kombucha cocktail) to sip, and which color of Silipint will be holding said beverage. Speaking of Silipints, the festival is committed to eliminating waste, encouraging attendees to purchase this reusable silicone pint glass, which doubles as a souvenir you will actually use again offsite. All food vendors are required to use compostable service products, and the noticeable lack of litter on the ground was another small touch of 4 Peaks’ civil atmosphere.

4 Peaks is incredibly easy to navigate. Upon first arrival at the festival, we were checked in without delay and directed toward our temporary residence. My camping companions had used the festival’s new reservation system to hold a spot large enough for our group of 27 attendees, arriving in about 15 waves. Even though we were near the back edge of the camping area, it only took seven minutes to walk from tent to stage. When I say this festival is ‘manageable,’ I mean that with the highest compliments: if you need a satisfying alternative to the Bonnaroos and the Coachellas of the world once in a while, 4 Peaks may be your answer.

Friday’s highlights included a sunny afternoon guitar shredding from the always lively Scott Pemberton Band; driving southern blues-rock from North Mississippi Allstars; the dreamy yet somehow still rooted-in-reality sounds of Steve Kimock Band; the unifying horn-tinged performance of Nahko and Medicine for the People; and rock-grass outfit Poor Man’s Whiskey, who always shows up on stage with all of everyone’s favorite instruments and then some (melodica, anyone?).

On Friday night, back at the campsite when our whole group of campers was fully assembled, we took a break after our crawfish boil to climb up a small nearby embankment covered in lava rocks and desert sage bushes, looking through the juniper trees and beyond the mountains to watch the sunset (a backdrop that partially inspired Poor Man’s Whiskey’s latest album, Juniper Mountain). Once darkness started to fall, it was all about the music again. After the bands had finished for the day, I arrived at the Silent Disco too late to participate, but our camping group ended the evening by hosting a somewhat hushed performance by some friends of friends, who happen to be the band Cascade Crescendo.

Saturday morning started with a contrasting amplified Cascade Crescendo show on the Lava Rock Stage (except for those true morning people among us who started even earlier with the daily 9:00 a.m. yoga class). My favorite acts that day were Joe Craven & The Sometimers, the instantly impressive funk group Mojo Green, the Mother Hips flanked by their devoted fanbase, the aforementioned party that is Yak Attack, The New Mastersounds ripping through impossibly fine-tuned funk, and bluegrass superstars Greensky Bluegrass closing out the mainstage.

My vote for the best set of the festival goes to the Saturday evening Poor Man’s Whiskey mainstage show, during which the power went out. With barely a pause in the music, the band lined up at the front of the stage while the audience gathered closer in, and PMW switched to an impromptu acoustic set. After a few minutes, the members of The Brothers Comatose came to the stage with their instruments to help fill out the sound, and not far behind them came Greensky’s Anders Beck with his dobro. This unplugged 4 Peaks supergroup neatly plowed through crowd-pleasing classics like “Rocky Top,” “Ooh La La,” and “Wish You Were Here.”

Though I was a little tired from a night spent on a sleeping pad, I left Stevenson Ranch feeling rejuvenated. I do not know if I can name all four individual peaks for which the festival is named, but the whole 4 Peaks Music Festival experience burned a vivid, beautiful memory in my mind.

Jason's Photo Gallery

www.4peaksmusic.com

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Industrial Revelation with High Pulp & JusMoni 6.30.18


Nectar Lounge
Seattle, WA


Words by Maximo Menchaca
Photos by Phil Homan and Dan Cable


I need to tell you about this phenomenal evening I witnessed at a sold-out Nectar Lounge Saturday, June 30th. The blurb in the Stranger sounded simple enough: a line-up full of local flavor, with Afrofutrist singer JusMoni and funk band High Pulp opening for jazz group Industrial Revelation. But for the lucky attendees, each artist refused to fit in those predefined boxes.

JusMoni (stage moniker of Moni Tep)’s music immediately suggests strong ties to fellow Seattle-based hip-hop/R&B groups THEESatisfaction and Shabazz Palaces – no surprise, considering THEESatisfaction’s Stasia “Mehschel” Irons is the mastermind of the beats. She was camped behind a laptop and microphone on stage next to Tep. The last day of June was a classic example of Seattle’s “June Gloom,” that cloudy not-quite-warm not-quite-cool humidity that sticks to your skin. JusMoni’s music was the perfect cap as the day turned to night. The music drunkenly swirled, swimming from one song to the next. It was dance-y, but introspective. Irons and the crowd seemed to agree with me, as a lot of folks swayed and nodded their heads into their beers.

To a newcomer, Irons’ beats might sound a bit sparse – as if someone took Bernie Worrell’s more exploratory tones and put them over a drum beat. But as they flowed past, anchoring Tep’s lilting voice, I began to sense a current of warmth running through them. By the last song, the crowd was wrapped into a sample of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”… soulful. Perfect. JusMoni is described as Afrofuturism, yet she sings of rooted themes (spiritual growth and family trees), and hip-hop, yet her crooning is soulful. She isn’t quite either, instead blazing her own path.

After a duo, seeing the 10 members of High Pulp file on stage is almost jarring. It’s rare to see bands of this size – how often do you need to pull out the word dectet? And when a group walks on stage with an instrumentation of drums, percussion, keys, guitar, bass, and horns, one begins to assume the music will sound a certain way. Maybe a funk band á-la Earth, Wind, & Fire, or possibly more groovy á-la Turkuaz? Maybe something more conventionally jazzy? In all these cases, there’s an expectation: the rhythm section provides the foundation over which the horn licks fly. But right away, you realize High Pulp doesn’t fit into this box.

Not exactly funk, their music is heavy on texture, space, and suggestion. The group has been making noise throughout Seattle since their first show a little over a year ago, including a regular residency at the Royal Room and a blistering set during May’s Upstream Festival. Saturday’s show celebrated the release of their debut album, Bad Juice, and the buzz meant merch sales were already brisk before the band hopped on stage.

Drummer Rob Granfelt and frequent collaborator percussionist Walter Torres keep the group rooted, while the remaining eight members jump in and out, juking around each other. The other non-wind instruments are bassist Scott Rixon, guitarist Gehrig Uhles, and the dual keys attack of Antoine Martel and Rob Homan, while the horn section is made up of saxmen Andrew Morrill and Victory Nguyen, trombonist Isaac Poole (alum of Garfield High), and on trumpet, Alex Dugdale, although the album was recorded with Raphael Zimmerman (recent graduate of Lake Stevens High).

As a vocal-less group, Granfelt was the group member communicating with the audience during the show. He began the set announcing the band would help get the dance party started. The group kicked off into “Spacescraper” – an obscure cover of Japanese artist Toshiki Kadomatsu. The song began with funky, smooth riffing on the guitar, but gave way into horn blasts. It was a hell of an overture before they dropped into a tune featured on the new record, Ezell’s, named after Seattle’s favorite purveyor of fried chicken. (If you’re Seattle-based, I have to pull my soapbox out for a quick PSA: the founder Ezell Stephens currently slings his poultry at a chain called Heaven Sent Fried Chicken, having split acrimoniously with his ex-wife, who runs the eponymous chain. Support the actual Ezell by heading over to Heaven Sent. Also related: don’t get me started with Paseo vs. Un Bien.)

High Pulp might be the only band in the world where I wish the guitar would be turned up. Uhles’ six strings are played with heavy reverb, and would not sound out of place in a space or psychedelic rock setting. He and Rixon anchor my favorite song of Pulp’s, “Hookai” (also featured on the new album). The slinky, coiling riff is a memorable earworm. The band’s tightness is clear, as they built tension slowly and patiently under Homan’s keys solo.

After this, the band continued the dance workout with the athletic mid-section of their set: “Jason Williams” and “Serena Williams” bookended a tune called "Sport." This portion of the show helped to highlight one of High Pulp’s unique features that makes them “not quite” a funk band. For a dectet, the music feels vast and spacious. Rather than the conventional rhythm section foundation beneath horns you thought you’d get, often it was the horns that provided the grounded base beneath Uhles’ space-y guitar and ethereal one-two of Martel and Homan’s other-worldly tones. The last song on the sandwich featured tempo changes on a dime, yet another sign of the band member’s comfort with each other.

Granfelt informed us they would only have time for two more songs. After the slower, more introspective “Sermon” came “Smooth.” It’s a high-energy, fitting closer, so it’s no surprise that the tune usually finds its way towards the end of Pulp sets. It was extended, with solos passed around stage. The band built furiously to the end, but just when we thought the curtains were falling - a bonus! They surprised everyone with the outro to another staple, “Pushin’.” The group’s willingness to chop, mix, and play with their catalog is a strong tool in their arsenal. Consistent gigging has allowed them to craft “midnight” versions of many of their tunes. One, “Fishbowl,” a dreamy reworking of “Hookai,” is found on the record. Too spacey to be called just a funk band, too varied and tight to be called just a dance band, this group knows exactly the kind of ethos they are going for, with their second and third albums already outlined. I know I can’t wait to find out what they do next – and from the reaction of the crowd, so do many others. Pick up the record if you haven’t already!

I was particularly excited to catch Industrial Revelation. Finally catch. The quartet is imposing – Ahamefule J. Oluo on trumpet, Evan Flory-Barnes on the upright, Josh Rawlings on keys, and the indomitable D’Vonne Lewis on drums. Lewis comes from a long line of Seattle musicians - his grandfather Dave Lewis was the giant of Seattle R&B in the 1960s - but he’s made a name of his own in the city, including as the original drummer of groove-funk trio McTuff. Lewis isn’t a drummer that merely keeps time or fills in space. He is a giant on stage: his sticks dance on the cymbals, slam on the toms, and he drives his three band-mates on.

The group has been at it for over a decade, and their familiarity is obvious, as they oozed class and confidence. Not one note sounded out of place. And there were a lot of them. After seeing a 10-piece band sound expansive and spacy, it’s amazing that a quartet can sound so full. But with such agility! Just when I thought I could pin a label on a song, the group shifted, subtly, suddenly. The 90-minute set packed a lot of variety. Orchestral, legato passages gave way to wandering, brash Miles Davis-esque fusion. Tight bebop and loose avant-garde shared space with psychedelic, trippy keys workouts that would make John Medeski proud.

An Industrial Revelation show is like following a river from source to sea, then chopping it up and putting it out of order – offering a fast frothing torrent of notes screaming downhill; smooth, beautiful, and restrained vistas; and a murky turbulence pregnant with distortion. And the transitions were never jarring, bleeding into each other naturally. I’ve enjoyed the group’s studio work, but the band’s full-sounding repertoire seemed much more at home on stage, filling up a room.

The quartet can’t sit still. While Lewis glided effortlessly across his kit, Flory-Barnes’ fingers looked on the verge of bleeding. Rawlings and Oluo aggressively dug into their grooves. But one of the highlights of the set was one of the lightest moments – the band invited Darius Willrich on stage. I’ve been to many, many shows in the area, and I’m amazed I’ve never heard of this talent. His voice was a beautiful, soulful falsetto akin to Curtis Mayfield. (For reference: I LOVE Curtis Mayfield.) I closed my eyes and listened. I wish he could have stayed on stage longer, but soon enough, the quartet orchestrated another jaw-dropping solo section.

The show fit seamlessly with my weekend mood. A not-quite R&B band and a not-quite funk band opened for a not-quite jazz band, each bringing their brand of inquisitive exploration to their audience. Few lineups are as simple as their playbill, and this one was no exception. I got to see a new take on Afrofuturistic R&B, catch the album release of a band I’ve seen many times, and finally experienced the live thrill of a local giant. It was a quite perfect evening of music.


Phil & Dan's Photo Gallery

www.industrialrevelation.com

www.highpulpmusic.com

www.IAmJusMoni.com

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Widespread Panic 6.22.18 (Photos)

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO

Photos by Doug Fondriest (Doug Fondriest Photography)


View Doug's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.widespreadpanic.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

MusicMarauders Summer 2018 Playlist


Monday, June 25, 2018

Element Music Festival: A True Jam Paradise


Snug Lake Amphitheatre
British Columbia, Canada

Words by J. Picard


With Jam festivals becoming a thing of the past and event organizers going the way of the DJ, true jamband purists are left with increasingly less options for their summer escapes. Coming from the community that built and having attended events like Bonnaroo, All Good Music Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival, Rothbury, Wanee and so many other events that were merely an explosive blip on the radar, one thing is clear; A festival dedicated to one of our community's favorite genres is much needed. Element Music Festival has become the emerging centerpiece at a table set long ago...

In 2016, the water was tested with a small gathering. In 2017, intention was added to the mix as well as an infusion of cash from a man who loves both the genre and the community and was willing to take a risk to create something pure, something magical. Against all odds, death within the team, fires in the immidiate region and the reality of the event being a jam festival in 2017, what resulted was a festival of mythical status.

Now, I have never been one to struggle with words, but in attempting to describe what unfolded last year at Snug Lake, I am at a complete loss and feel my words couldn't possibly do the experience justice. Instead what I'll do is take this opportunity to mention some of my favorite memories and aspects of Element Music Festival, while hopefully adequately painting a picture of why this year's festival is not to be missed.

1. The Intimacy: Maybe I am getting old, but massive sites under mid-day suns with limited shade, no refreshing lake or river and heavy handed searches and security have lost their luster. I am looking for more of the summertime camp experience, where you reconnect with old friends, swim, hike and pet horses. Coupling that sort of experience with professional level production and bands that can be found performing at venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre, results in a dream.

At Element fans could catch Roosevelt Collier doing an unannounced beach set or wander over to the on-site dispensary and find Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers) doing dabs and hanging out. It wasn't out of the question to have Steve Kimock wander through the vending village or Fareed Haque (Garaj Mahal) roll into your camp on an ATV talking in a fake accent. These subtleties were in some cases intentional and in some random, but all-in-all help to tear down the barrier that most larger events put up between fans and musicians.

2. The Musical Approach: From the get go the EMF team has focused on live music, improvisation and collaborations. Last year we saw Oteil, Fareed & Alan Hertz sit in with The String Cheese Incident (a clear highlight), we saw Oteil and Michael Kang sit in with Steve Kimock during his latenight set and we saw Oteil and Roosevelt sit in with bands like Genetics, creating a dream scenario for the young jam up-and-comers.

The formula starts with bands that focus on live instrumentation and welcome guests. The line-up is spiced up with artists at large and it's then put in the artists' court to determine the outcome. This style leaves the door wide open for magical collaborations and one time only experiences!

3. The Adventure: Who isn't up for a summer adventure? Traveling vast distances to explore unfamiliar lands and meet new life friends... it's what we all lived for and that feeling still lies inside of us. Whether you're waiting for that bonus at work, waiting to sell that car that's been listed online for a while or waiting for that tax return, an adventure waits. What better destination than British Columbia, Canada? What better reason than an intimate music festival set on an incredible landscape?

Get your passport (if you're traveling internationally), secure your tickets or fill out a volunteer application, pack up the car with your camping gear, a cooler of beer (as it's BYOB), your best friends and head west, north or whatever direction leads you to Snug Lake!

4. The Line-up: Last year's line-up featured three nights/six set of The String Cheese Incident, as well as multiple performances by Garaj Mahal, Steve Kimock, Oteil Burbridge, Five Alarm Funk, Roosevelt Collier and more!

This year's line-up features three nights/six sets of Lotus, as well as multiple performances by Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Spafford, Particle, Genetics, Yak Attack, McTuff, Naryan Padmanabha, GD/BC, The Unfaithful Servants, Baked Potato and artists at large Jen Hartswick & Natalie Cressman of Trey Anastasio Band and Jason Hahn of The String Cheese Incident!

5. The Community: Canadians are already known for being very friendly, but what I found on my visits to Canada has been a welcoming party second to none. I feel closer to the folks in the north than I do with many folks that I have know for years. As soon as you hit the property, the staff makes you feel at home! Come enjoy a weekend of incredible music and make some lifelong friends!

www.elementfestival.info

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers 6.20.18 (Photos)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Conversation With Mike Gantzer (Aqueous)


Words by Kevin Alan Lamb

Aqueous (pronounced “ay-kwee-us”), like water, is as smooth and groovy as a Western wave at sunset. Since forming in Buffalo in 2006, guitarist Mike Gantzer, guitarist/keyboardist David Loss, bassist Evan McPhaden, and drummer Rob Houk have manifest “groove rock” stylings into the jam scene, developing a special sound characterized by meticulous compositions and rich exploratory jams that easily transition from laidback, in-the-pocket grooves to furious, high-intensity peaks.

Carving their way through their second decade of precision and technical prowess, Aqueous has emerged a shimmering star in the scene, navigating the constant conflict of the road on a foundation of honest music, made consistent with conviction and a positive attitude. Given his first guitar at 12-years-old, Mike Gantzer was given the blessing of music from his dad Doug, who has since left this realm, but not before bestowing such musical gifts as The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, and a passion for improvisation that connects Mike with his dad each time he and his best friends take the stage to do what they were put on this earth to do, jam.

When I woke up this morning I knew it was with a purpose, but I did not know that I would be interviewing Mike, or that after asking my first question I would learn of his dad’s passing as a result of cancer, or that I would be compelled to share my own internal fear and struggle resulting from my Mamyte’s diagnosis with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or that I would be so compelled by our conversation to let Mike know that I would be honored to include Aqueous as one of the 10 bands featured in my next book, This is a Good Sound; and though I never met his dad Doug, I am inspired by his relationship with his son, and feel like I know him a little better after reading Mike’s remembrance on the most recent Father’s Day.

“As the years go by, I seem to have a different perspective and feeling on my Dad’s passing. It naturally becomes a little more distant, but also as life moves on, I feel like he lives on more and more in ME as I lay out the framework for the rest of my own life with him in the back of my mind, ever present, in a different kind of way. Sometimes it’s simply a feeling of longing to share things with him when I make new music or reach some cool new achievement in my life that he would appreciate in a way that was very unique to who he was - this very intuitive, intellectual human that was an almost conflicting combination of heart, feeling and soul, and critical thinking and science - truly unique and special in every way.

His passing was a crash course in staying grounded to the concept of the finite, to recognize that our journey is short and to try to live our best lives and love strongly and stay off the fucking internet and see the world and explore and to do all those things that you would definitely do if you knew your time was near, which is kind of ironic because certainly, for all we know, it IS - but of course, it’s natural to get caught up in life’s complexities, and some days it’s easier than others to feel in touch with that side of it.”

While I rarely dwell over the possibility of life after death, or have any fear of where I may emerge if there’s another side, Mike’s relationship with his dad helps trade my fear for faith, and is a timely reminder to live with all of your fucking heart, be good to others, be grateful for all of our time, and leave behind a story worth telling that could one day be a story worth listening to frequently enough to birth hope into the hearts of those who use their energy to protect all that is sacred, honest, beautiful, and fascinating about life itself.

I don’t believe in coincidence and only serendipity could create the causality which gifted me the opportunity of sharing this love story in the three-day-window between Father’s Day and Electric Forest, which will be Aqueous’ first performance since the day this story will likely remind us all to hold a little closer to our hearts.

KAL: You’re gonna have a chance to both play weekends of Electric Forest, and honestly, I haven’t gotten a chance to check out the schedule, what stage are you playing?

Mike: We’re playing The Observatory.

KAL: Duuude, that’s my favorite stage!

Mike: Me too! It’s so cool. It’s right in the thick of it.

KAL: You’re blanketed in all those trees, guests are so close, it’s so personal.

Mike: Yeah the architecture is so cool and it’s such a unique vibe for a stage, I’ve honestly never seen anything like it, it’s sick!

KAL: I’ve been pouring through all your past interviews, this came up quick, and it’s cool learning about you in a crash course on your life. You picked up your dad’s guitar, and you thought he was gonna be upset because your fingers were covered in doritos, then he gave you your first guitar on your 12th birthday.

Mike: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

KAL: What’s your dad’s name?

Mike: His name was Doug. He passed away a few years ago… He lived in Florida, and I grew up outside of Buffalo and I live in the city now.

KAL: I’m sorry to hear about your dad, Mike.

Mike: It’s alright, it’s part of life unfortunately.

KAL: Yeah, it is. I recently learned that my mom has pulmonary fibrosis, which is a hardening of inside the lungs, which limits your oxygen. I remember where I was when I got the call… and you know people come and go, but you always have this feeling that your parents will live forever until one day you realize they don’t.

Mike: Yeah man, I’m sorry to hear that too, it’s definitely an intense thing to go through, especially the younger that you are, the harder it is. It’s interesting, because it was Father’s Day recently, I wrote this whole thing on my Facebook, kind of reflecting on my experience, how it’s really hard to let go, but it’s also a reminder that life is finite and it’s important to live, and be present, and with social media… everyone glued to their phones, that’s one beautiful thing about playing music festivals, especially in the jam scene, you feel so alive, and I think people are really connected in that atmosphere, and I feel like I need that more than ever, and other people do to, and a bit of my takeaway is that, you know as hard as it is to let go, it’s a good reminder that everybody is going to have their time so you really gotta make the best of it, you know?

KAL: Absolutely. What was the first show you played after Father’s Day?

Mike: We haven’t yet so this is gonna be it, man. Electric Forest, Weekend One is going to be my first one, and to give a little context, my dad was a jazz musician, an amazing piano player, so him and I were very, very connected through music, so for me, that’s how I keep his memory alive, and I think that vibe will definitely be going through me for the weekend. It kind of alway is, to be honest, I keep a picture of him and I on my guitar case to kind of always remember to play honestly, and with purpose, and passion. But I think those vibes will be with me a little more this weekend because I’ve kind of been reflecting on it, and thinking about him more.

KAL: That’s so special man, everyone goes to concerts and festivals, and everyone’s lost something, sometimes it’s a loved one, sometimes it’s a job, sometimes it’s… who knows. We all go to places like Electric Forest to be connected with others, to be vulnerable, to have the music mean something, and help fill us in places that are hurt, or fractured, or feel empty.

Mike: Absolutely.

KAL: That’s pretty cool man, I really appreciate you sharing that, it’s organic, and I think it’s a little better that I didn’t know because that might have felt a little weird.

Mike: No, and honestly I know a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about stuff like that, but I think it’s important to talk about shit like that. It’s an inherent part of life, and there’s no way around it, and I’m totally good with it, it’s alright.

KAL: That’s what’s real. Music is medicine and we have to face things; music builds community and we all are going through things and we have this way of alienating our feelings that make us feel like our struggle is original, but really - no struggle is original or ours alone to bear. There’s always someone else, likely thousands of people that have gone through the very things, and I think that is very freeing, even though some people might think that makes our experiences not special, I think that just connects us to one another.

Mike: I think that’s a great sentiment, like you’re never really alone and that’s important, and again, not to keep harping on social media, but in this world that we’re living in where we are comparing our own experiences to everyone else’s, and everybody sort of presents this best version of themselves, it’s not always totally accurate to the complexity of life’s difficulties, you know? It’s okay to be honest from that perspective that life’s fucking hard sometimes and everybody goes through it in their own way, and that’s okay, and I completely agree that it’s like a beautiful thing to know that other people have gone through something similar and can understand you and relate to that, people need that!

KAL: And it’s cool, while on this topic of processes and changes we didn’t expect, I got let go from work last week and it sort of came out of right field. I made the place my world, I think I did a pretty great job and most of the people, whether they were guests or artists that came through would probably agree with me, but it’s wild. Sometimes you need to be shown the door to realize it was a bit of a cage. I loved that place, but I was there for a year-and-a-half and I’m an artist like you in many ways, and this past week I’ve been working in Corktown, Ford bought the Train Station which is a historic and beautiful building in Detroit, and it feels really good to be back out into the wild. I’ve been helping with operations and running into so many people! I was a substitute teacher for a year-and-a-half and I ran into some of my students, running into all of these people who I haven’t seen in a while because I was serving another man’s dream, not my own, and I’d only see my friends when they came to shows, and it was amazing and I loved my time there but now every day I feel better, more alive; yesterday I had my next great book idea which is gonna feature 10 bands, and with the way this conversation is going, I think you guys just found your way into it.

Mike: Nice! [laughing]

KAL: It’s gonna be called This is a Good Sound, 10 bands. I’m going to have a brand or sponsor connected with each band so that sponsor can connect their brand with all of your community and I’m gonna let the bands have the book at cost so you could sign it and price it however you wish and make money selling it on your merch table, having our stories connect and it’s just really cool. I don’t think this would have come to me (speaking of social media) in the middle of running all the social media, doing all these things, but I got reminded that I have to live.

Mike: Dude yeah! And I guess in one way, congrats I think that’s amazing! Sometimes, I think a lesson that I keep learning in life is that sometimes that change that you fear so much is the light that you need, or the fire that you need to be relit, and sometimes it’s hard to see it from that angle, but I think that every time I emerge on the other side of something I thought was a negative change, it has lead me to somewhere much better. And you can resist those things but I think that after a while you have to kind of stop fighting upstream, and kind of just give into the current of life and I think you kind of heed those signs, and that stuff’s great. I’ve had that same experience to, and in regards to the book thing, of course we’d be honored and I appreciate you even considering us for something like that. Yeah man, good on you.

KAL: Thank you. I’m reading this JamBase interview and I’m seeing that you’ve been really excited about these 10 studio songs and you’ve been holding them back… are you still holding out?

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah! We have a whole release plan and everyone is going to see, but it’s awesome because we’re writing songs, and most of those are brand new, and never before heard or played, which is a really cool process but beyond that, we’ve had enough time while we had to finish post production on that to keep writing more music beyond that, so once our fall tour hits, once that’s announced we’re going to have a lot of cool shit to bring to the table for that, and add to the catalogue, and even do a bunch of older stuff, a ton of debuts and a ton of first time plays; we’re gonna really hit the ground running with so much new material for fall and that’s really exciting for me!

KAL: One of my favorite things in the past year-and-a-half of opening my home and heart to this is really building relationships and getting more familiar with the struggle. A lot of people really only see those shining moments, kind of like you said about social media; they see the performances, but I’ve learned that there is an infinite number of struggles that go on between maybe even a Tuesday night performance and a Wednesday night performance. Can you give me an example of one of the more difficult obstacles you’ve had to overcome while on the road between two different performances?

Mike: Yeah, I mean I think on any given night there’s so many variables that can change the way you feel, the mode that you’re in, or even just logistical stuff like your trailer breaking or the transmission going out on your overnight nine hour drive to a gig, which has happened many times. I remember actually, like a year-and-a-half ago we had this crazy run of shows with Dopapod, in Covington, Kentucky, which is basically Cincinnati, and actually to even go back further, we played New York City for a Phish after party with our friends Mungion, and then drove straight through overnight to go to Covington to play with Dopapod, and then drove straight back to play with Twiddle in Albany at the Palace Theatre on a New Year’s run, and it was already chaotic! It was already going to be a thing where like, this is pretty intense. It’s the dead of winter, we’re doing all this back and forth driving across eight or nine hour spans, and literally, at 6:00 AM on the second drive back towards Albany the transmission went out on the van and it’s like five degrees outside. We’re right outside of Erie, PA, still close to Buffalo but didn’t quite make it to Buffalo, and we literally had to just stay up. No one ever really slept other than the three or four hours while we're driving. Everyone stayed up and we pulled together, rented a U-Haul, got all of our gear there, borrowed some stuff from Twiddle and played the show! I remember sitting in with Twiddle that night and literally falling asleep side stage with my guitar in my hand, having to slap myself to stay awake to sit in in front of this huge crowd. It was one of those moments where you’re just like, “Man, you really gotta want it, [laughter], you know?"

KAL: [laughter]

Mike: But that’s just off the top of my head. We’ve been in bands long enough where if I sat down and thought about it, I think conflict is just built into this thing, you know? And for us, it’s been a lot of different learning experiences. Ultimately, we’re just good friends and I think that helps you navigate those issues, stay positive and do what you can. It’s kind of like a "what are you gonna do" type of scenario. All you can do is laugh, or smile, or make the best out of it while joking your way through it and try to just not go totally insane at some points. I think without the contrast of those difficult moments, the beautiful ones wouldn’t shine as bright.

KAL: Yeah. The only thing that you can control is your attitude, right?

Mike: Yeah, that’s a great way to put that!

KAL: On those nights, when you haven’t slept, and you have to pull through, can you talk about the energy the crowd gives you, and help make what you do possible?

Mike: I think that’s a factor almost every night, you know? I think the energy of the crowd can, honestly, it’s really profoundly powerful, and that’s what I’m drawn to about this; that reciprocal energy between the band and the fans. It’s a really, really, real tangible thing to me. I can think of instances where, I remember when we had a show in Rochester (New York) a few years ago and I had the flu, and I’m one of those people who’ll have to die to not play the show, like, "I want to play the fucking show." I was throwing up right before we went on, and I threw up between sets, but the second we hit the stage, I had sweat beading down my face. I normally don’t even sweat that much, but I was like dying as we walked on. I kept getting the chills and all of that stuff, but literally the second we hit and started playing music, I think it was a sold out show back then, and the energy was through the roof in the room! I don’t totally remember those sets directly, but I remember the sickness itself on hold almost, like, it’s fascinating on a physiological level. I don’t really know what happened, but music took over and got me through both sets and an encore. I threw up between sets, but I played the whole night and it’s fascinating and makes you wonder, the next time I’m sick maybe I should just do something else. I think the secret is there’s not that many things that are that powerful that distract me besides music, and I think there’s something to be said about that.

KAL: That’s pretty cool. I mean, more and more we’re hearing about these studies that come out documenting that people who attend live music shows live longer, are healthier, are happier… it’s real! [laughing].

Mike: Yeah, I don’t think there’s too many people out there that could really refute that at this point, and how many thousands and millions of people have had that experience, and even historically have had that experience? I think it’s definitely hear to stay, you know?

KAL: Can you think of a fan experience that has really stuck with you, and inspired you?

Mike: There’s a lot of that man, to be honest, people will sometimes reach out and share very personal experiences with me. I had a fan from Toronto that messaged us out of the blue about how I think he saw us at Peach Festival, or one of these music festivals, and it was fascinating. Earlier in this conversation you and I spoke about my dad, and things ending, and life and death, and this person had messaged the band saying, “Hey, your music has meant so much to me and got me through my dad’s passing and we shared all of this music together, and Aqueous was the first set of music that I saw after his passing,” or something to that effect. He said, “With your guys' band, and these songs, and these lyrics - I just wanted to thank you.”

And it was so interesting because so much of his experience mirrored mine, down to the fact that he was at Peach Festival, and my personal experience… my dad’s last time ever seeing us was at Peach Festival. He had grown up being a huge fan of The Allman Brothers and the Dead. He was super into that whole music scene and introduced me to a lot of that music. Even when he was really sick he flew up from Florida and came to see us at Peach, and it was actually the last year The Allman Brothers played as well. The last time he got to see me he was in the crowd, and there was just so much tied to that experience, but he was describing my own experience with my dad but through my music, and it was one of the most meaningful, full circle moments that I had in my lifetime. I messaged him right back and shared that with him and connected with him instantly! That’s just one example, but if I sat down, there’s been so many moments where I’ve been just floored by what people share with us, and how much our music has meant to them, and that’s like a pretty crazy thing to us. We never really set out, we kind of just try to write music honestly, and play honestly, and it’s beautiful that people can pick up on things that aren’t so overtly stated, but it’s there. Maybe a certain feeling, or pain, or sadness, or happiness, or whatever that’s in music, maybe there in a subtle sense, but sometimes people really pick up on those things. To be able to read into that on a really profound, and emotional level is a really cool thing for me.

KAL: That’s spectacular. If you and your dad could sit in with anyone, together, who do you think it would be?

Mike: Man, I think that would be a really tough trade off between Pink Floyd and The Allman Brothers. The Allman Brothers would probably be more fun because I think it’s looser, there’s more room for jamming, and maybe the whole vibe is a little looser. I think Pink Floyd, in my mind, I read Nick Mason’s (drums) biography (Inside Out) and the tension was always so palpable within that band and it was intense, and angry, and stuff like that, but it's some of myself, and my dad’s favorite music of all time. And I’d say if I wasn’t so intimidating, and I could really read music I’d say Steely Dan, but that also sounds like a really intimidating scenario, so I think I’d definitely go with The Allman Brothers now that I think about it. I think that my dad’s style of piano playing, he grew up playing classical music, really influenced by all of the improvisational stuff, I think that his style would really shine there and that’s one of his most important bands. I’m a huge fan too and even later iterations like Derek Trucks is huge for me, so I think that would be the ultimate scenario.

KAL: Can you give me your best story experienced when you had a day off while touring, in some city, in some place in the world?

Mike: Yeah, there’s a lot really. On our days off we [laughing], one of the most common things we do is we find a fucking put-put course in every city, I don’t know what the deal is but that’s just our jam. We’ll do a lot of put-putting, you know the past few years, I’ve definitely stopped as much now, but myself, our front of house engineer and light designer, Ryan, him and I both skateboard, so we would hit all these different parks. You know, find all these different spots and that was a really fun vibe, but to be honest, I kept hurting myself and getting closer to hurting myself and I kinda cooled it on the skateboarding. I’m still super into the culture and I subscribe to Thrasher Magazine, but I’m living vicariously through others because I can’t break my fucking wrist and throw away a whole summer’s worth of touring, you know what I mean? It’s not worth it so I pretty much just bring a cruiser board and kick it that way. I’d probably say the most common activity for us is low key drinks, and put put.

KAL: Who’s your favorite skater?

Mike: Oh my God, that’s a really, really good question. When I was growing up, all the heroes like Jeff Rowley was one of my favorites. Andrew Reynolds had a Birdhouse video, and mind you not just a Birdhouse video, but a Birdhouse VHS tape called The End. Most of my favorite skaters were in there, and actually the first video I ever got was this one called Fulfill The Dream, which was from Shorty. That was at the height of Chad Muska stardom, and there was a lot of skating in that that I really loved, particularly this guy. I don’t even know if he still skates, but his name was Steve Olson, and something that stuck out with me was that it was my first introduction to hip hop, too. One of the two songs that he had in his part was “Gangstaar Above the Clouds,” and it really floored me. I was like 11 or 12 and I didn’t know that much about hip hop yet, and that was my introduction, but it’s sick now because there’s all these skateboarders that are out who are just doing the craziest shit. One of my favorite dudes is Chris Joslin. He’s a younger cat but honestly, I feel like even if you’re not into skateboarding you could watch one of his newer parts and be so inspired. I feel like you can’t watch it, and even if you didn’t understand how fucking insane it is or what he’s doing, I feel like almost any person could watch that and be like, “Holy shit, that’s crazy!”

And it’s funny, because skateboarding really does inspire me, even musically, there’s a lot of similar risks associated with that lifestyle; a lot of travel, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of dedication to your art form, and a lot of stylistic choices, so skateboarding has always been something that’s a part of my blood.

KAL: When’s your birthday?

Mike: September 15th.

KAL: Alright, so for your next birthday I’m going to connect you, and get you a hangout with Chris Joslin, cool?

Mike: No way!? What!?

KAL: Yeah, why not? I’m putting it into the universe, I’m gonna make it happen, and you heard it here first.

Mike: [laughing] That’s my dream man. That’s my dream. I’ll put it into the universe too, hopefully we can make it happen.

KAL: Yeah, it all starts here right?

Mike: That’s true!

KAL: Yeah, I mean I’m sure Chris is going to be stoked to hear that it’s your dream, and you could be jamming and he could be skating and maybe we could even curate a cool video where two dreams combine, that type of thing…

Mike: Yeah! I’ve always wanted to connect the jam scene with skateboarding, because there’s a lot of music in skateboarding and it’s a huge part of it. I’ve discovered so much music and obviously there’s a lot of punk and hip hop, but I literally discovered David Bowie through a skateboarding video, and a lot of different skaters are into different shit. I know there’s this one cat who’s on the team with Chris Joslin, who’s in Plan B with him named Torey Pudwill. I watched one of his parts and it had “Fearless” by Pink Floyd in it, and I was like “What the fuck!? I get this guy.”

You know what I mean?! I always wondered, some of these cats, let’s get 'em out to some music festivals, or show them what this whole scene is like, and maybe they’d be down to collaborate somehow? Another thing that I’ll kind of giveaway here, on our new album, there’s this track that’s an instrumental thing that’s more hip hop leaning, and I want that to be in a skateboard video more than anything in the whole world. And also the other thing, there’s some local skateboarders from Buffalo, Dan Plunkett is this one dude, I went to the same high school as this guy, but he’s maybe five or six years older than me, and he was like a local fucking hero! I used to go to this Fleet Bank, that was like this skate spot, and watch him crush it. And there’s this other cat, Jake Donnelly who skates for Adidas crushing it out there. I actually hit him up once on instant messenger and was like, “Yo, I’m a fan, and I play music,” and he got to me and was like, “That’s cool.”

And I think that’s the case of skateboarding as a community, a lot like the jam community; a lot of that building each other up and supporting each other, and being homies, and getting out, and representing, and there’s definitely some commonalities, so it could be a good hang with a bunch of skate cats, and musicians.

KAL: Mike, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I believe the universe provides for us, as we need it, and talking to you today has been the highlight, absolutely, and I’m gonna cook this up and get it out. I’m going to be at Electric Forest Weekend Two, and I’m stoked to at least say "What’s up" and give you a hug, alright?

Mike: Yeah man, let’s definitely hang there for a minute, that’d be great, and I appreciate you having me man.

Mike Gantzer is an eloquent, humble, and hopeful human who shines brightly amidst a sparkling, summer sky. He can do things on a guitar that most only dream of, but it is his insightful, gracious, and honest way of being that I am fascinated with and drawn to. I hope you all will join us at Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan on Sunday, July 1st, at 11:00 pm at The Observatory for Aqueous' set and a spectacularly Phun Photo. Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound.

www.aqueousband.com

Friday, June 22, 2018

Barenaked Ladies, Better Than Ezra, KT Tunstall 6.19.18 (Photos)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Amyl & The Sniffers 6.19.18 (Photos)

The Denver Deluxe 6.16.18 (Photos)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fareed & His Funk Bros. 6.16.18 (Photos)

Rhythm & Rye
Olympia, WA

Photos by Eric Willacker (Willacker Photography)


View Eric's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.fareed.com

Bill Frisell Trio 6.13.18 (Photos)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Chuck N' Tha Boyz feat. Members of Lotus & Genetics 6.14.18 (Photos)

The Sweet Lillies and Part & Parcel 6.15.18 (Photos)

The Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Photos by Ryan Fitzgerald (Jarred Media)


View Ryan's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.sweetlillies.com

www.partandparcelband.com

Monday, June 18, 2018

Steamboat Stringband Jamboree 6.14 & 6.15.18 (Photos)

Prosperity Grange
Olympia, WA

Photos by Eric Willacker (Willacker Photography)


View Eric's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.steamboatstringjam.com

The Grant Farm & Musk N' Boots 6.14.18 (Photos)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Aqueous & Evanoff 6.9.18 (Photos)

Atomga & Los Mocochetes 6.8.18 (Photos)

Stoney's Bar & Grill
Denver, CO

Photos by Ryan Fitzgerald (Jarred Media)


View Ryan's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.atomga.com

www.facebook.com/losmocochetes

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Playing For Change & Coal Town Reunion 6.7.18

The Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Photos by Charla Harvey


View Charla's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.playingforchange.com

Silver Cloud Campout 6.8 & 6.9.16


The Homestead Events Park
Haugan, Montana

Words & photos by Brad Hodge


In this day and age of complete music festival saturation there are a handful of festivals you could chose from every weekend. Many are massive conglomerates of multi genre, mass marketing and fields full of people. These mega festivals are exciting, but seem to all play out with the same lineup, 4-8 stages to sort thru and more emphasis on the festivals overall profitability. However, there are still many family run, grass roots festivals all across the country that offer up a unique experience; this is where Silvercloud Campout enters.

This family run festival that happens on farmland nestled in the Silver Valley of western Montana offers up a music festival that plays out more like a family reunion. Dogs are free to roam the grounds, slack lines, fire pits and dream catchers fill the space in front of the stage. The food is sourced locally, as is the beer, liquor and many of the bands. It just so happens that the local bands this year included national touring acts like The Kitchen Dwellers and The Lil Smokies. Joined by friends and family like Leftover Salmon, Jelly Bread, Fruition (a repeat performer from years past), Dead Winter Carpenters and many more. As well, the not as well known locals like Dodgy Mountain Men, Cole and the Thorns put forth a great sets of music.

Throughout the day you could find the artists roaming the grounds, hanging out with friends, watching sets of music and greeting fans. This is the type of place where everyone feels comfortable, and the artists spend as much time out in the crowd as they do tucked away behind the fences of separation. There were sit ins like when Emily Clark jumped out of the audience to join Jelly Bread, and when Andy Dunnigan (The Lil Smokies dobro player) jumped in to mix it up with Leftover Salmon. Music went late with the Kitchen Dwellers playing on Friday night until after 3:00 AM and then the fields proceeded to ring out to sunrise with campsite pickin' parties.

If you wanted to fill your day with activities other than music, there is world class fly fishing, hot springs and one of the countries premiere bike parks within a 45 minute drive of the festival grounds. So you could easily pursue other passions and still make it back in time for the evening’s music lineup.

It really is hard to beat Montana in the summertime, and with the addition of great music festivals like Silvercloud Campout not sure you should even try. This event continues to grow, as this year they doubled their attendance from last year. Yet, no matter how far the word reaches of the festival it will always continue to be put on by a family of music lovers, on their farm and filled with people they consider friends. Which in my most humble of opinions is exactly how it should be.

Brad's Photo Gallery

www.silvercloudcampout.com

Friday, June 15, 2018

Dead Funk Summit 6.8.18 (Photos)

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 6.7 - 6.11.18 (Photos)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ween 6.5 & 6.6.18 (Photos)

Red Rocks
Morrison, CO

Photos by Blake Barit (Direct Attention)


View Blake's Full Photo Gallery Here!


www.ween.com

Summer Camp Music Festival 5.24 - 5.27.18 (Photos)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Coal Town Reunion & Playing For Change 6.8.18 (Photos)

A Trip To Meow Wolf


Meow Wolf
Santa Fe, NM

Words & Photos by J. Picard


You've probably heard of Meow Wolf. Those two words are typically used in a sentence alongside words like "incredible," "psychedelic," "stunning" and "indescribable." I reflected on how to describe our experience as I picked up the pieces of my mind in a parking lot on a Sunday around sunset in Santa Fe, NM. "I have to tell people about this place. But how...?" My wife Carly, who had been encouraging the conversation to head south from Colorado suggested we go sit on the patio of a brewery just a few blocks away to collect ourselves. We sat across from one another sampling a variety of craft brews, laughing about the alternate reality that we had just crawled into and managed to crawl out of. We had been to a variety of art museums, music festivals, Burning Man... but this was something different. This was a complete playground for the mind, funded by none other than George R.R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. We bought the tickets, heightened our experience and walked down a dark hallway where we were greeted by a video letting us know that we were being watched. We opened the door and on the other side, "The House of Eternal Return."

The door shut behind us as we stood in what felt like the outdoors in front of a large Victorian house. Adjacent to us was a lamp post and a mailbox. As our "enhancements" kicked in, we made little sense of the underlying plot. We approached the porch and could see into the house where other guests were digging into the experience. Glancing down passing through the threshold, a door mat read "beyond here there be dragons." Inside and to our left there was a small front room with a chair and an easel and people sorting through what felt like clues. To our right was a large open living room with a couch, chair and coffee table... all of the normal furnishings. In the corner sat a young man in a white coat, which signified a staffer. Through the living room was the dining room that output an eerie vibe. For instance, the wainscoting was taking on a wavy shape and the chandelier was melting as if were in a Salvador Dali painting. I pulled out the chair at the head of the table and sat down triggering the lights to flicker and dim as a bassy, bottoms out noise overtook the room. We hadn't been in the house more than a couple of minutes and shit was getting weird. Behind me a face appeared in the mirror.

We sauntered through the kitchen knowing full well that we would return to explore the room and headed upstairs past photos of the fictional family, who at the moment felt real, immersed in their home among their belongings. We passed a group of guests hard at work on some sort of puzzle on a computer. We entered a child's room that had bunk beds, art projects, toys, a model of a woolly mammoth and everything else that would be found in a kid's room. I glanced out the front window and the bright light of what appeared to be the moon glowed across my face. Carly was going through different items on a book shelf. It felt weird to be going through someone's room, but little did we know how weird it was about to get. I walked across the room and opened the closet door to reveal a magical land. I grabbed Carly's hand and pulled her in.

The best way to describe what we experienced was like a sort of fairy land with glowing vegetation and vibrant colors surrounding us. We proceeded down a corridor which opened up into a glowing green room. Down below people were playing the neon pink rib cage of what appeared to be an enhanced woolly mammoth from the small child's model in the room. This was our first foray into the alternate realm and it was a dead end. We turned around and headed back through the closet door into the normality of the room. Immediately, I wanted to go back, so we continued down the hallway of the house to another room. This time it seemed it was the room of an older, maybe college level student, with more science oriented objects. A group of people were working on some sort of audio device, as they listened to headphones and made adjustments to some sort of science project. The room felt a little crowded so I made my way towards a bookshelf that must open, right? Indeed it did and we were on our way into a circular room that felt like the inside of a spaceship with LED lights streaking down the ceiling. We sat briefly and then continued through another door into the room of another teen. By the looks of it, it was a girls room with posters of 90's kid idols hanging on the wall. I pulled the curtains back and it revealed an insane scene of colorful chaos on the other side of the wall.

We exited the room and squeezed through a small crack into a small space with mirrors, lights and an upright piano. We continued down a dark hall until we realized that we were in a closet alongside hangers and shirts. We opened the door and re-entered the room in which we had just left through the bookcase. And though it felt like forever since we had been in that room, the people looked at us surprised as we exited the closet and then looked over their shoulders at the shelf. It was pure madness and we had yet to truly dive in. Across the hall we entered the bathroom. The floor rippled like waves of water. We glanced at the clawfoot tub and pulled back the curtain to nothing out of the ordinary. I opened the medicine cabinet to find a never ending hole.

Back downstairs in the living room an odd glow emitted from the fire place, so of course, we climbed through. On the other side we found ourselves in the room of the glowing mammoth skeleton, so we grabbed mallets and began to play its ribs, which were very responsive. After losing track of time, we climbed back into the living room where the TV was showing static and entered the kitchen where all seemed semi-normal. Around the corner we located the famous washing machine and I opened it up and dove in head first. Inside was a room of mirrors and flashing blue lights. I rolled out of a side door into a full on experience. There were lights, trees, owls, stuffed animals, TVs, LEDs and an overwhelming Dr. Seuss feel. We wandered aimlessly, satisfied, fulfilled. I crawled into another small space and opened a triangular door which came out from under the stars back in the house. A couple looked at us puzzled and then crawled through the same door that we came out of, trading realities. The complexity of the exhibit hit me. All of the passageways and intertwining of different realities was staggering, especially in our state of mind.

We returned to the kitchen where Carly rummaged through the cupboards before opening the fridge, which shined an almost blinding white light. We walked into the appliance and the fridge door closed behind us. We made our way down a white hallway and into a room with a sign on the wall that read "Bermuda Portals, your gateway to the multiverse." It felt like a scene out of Star Trek or Star Wars. A hologram of a woman on a console in the center of the room directed us to room 4. We exited the room into a wrap around hallway and put our hand on a panel with a hand print, clearly marked to open a door. Through it was not room 4, the door opened and in we walked to a small glowing red room. Our eyes adjusted and we were standing in an outdoorscape with glowing blue cactus in front of a small camper trailer. We wandered in and sat at the table. In the windows were scenes of expansive deserts and arches. Carly turned the dial on the radio and the station playing in the camper changed.

We passed through a small opening into a room with carpet all over everything and a couch that appeared to be melting into the ground. Around the corner and we were fully engulfed in psychedelia. We crawled in and out of openings and up stairs to the upper level where it felt like we were walking among the tree tops. We came upon a group of people with a kid in front of a bunch of colorful, illuminated squares. The kid had taken a photo of some pictures hanging on the wall in the house and they were using it as a guide or key to change the colors of squares with corresponding shapes on the squares to match the photo. When all of the squares were correct, the lights went out and came back in full color with another clue indicating a number sequence. The kid and his father then took the code and entered it into a safe on the wall. Though a white coat confirmed the code was correct, she also confirmed that the safe was not operational at current. Though it was disappointing, it eluded to more happening than just the flashing lights.

Just when we thought we must have seen all there is to see we would find a door, a ladder or an opening to crawl through into a whole new world of chaos. In the middle of it all we found a four hundred person venue, surrounded by stimuli. We stumbled into a dark room with a smoke machine and lasers from floor to ceiling. We ran our hands through the lasers and they acted as a harp. After that we found an unmarked door that led us into a colorful room with animal heads constructed of colorful shapes hung on the wall. Just outside of that room we found an all white room with a giant white rabbit staring down at us from the upper corner of the room. We wandered inside of the rabbit and when we came out there was an older couple, maybe in their 70's or 80's with a cane and a walker smiling at us. It must have been crazy to live through all that they had lived through to end up at a place like Meow Wolf.

At some point we wandered out, through the gift shop to the concession area where we bought beers and sat at a table in front of an enormous tree designed by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, titled "The King's Mouth." The tree was constructed with silver balloons, mylar and foil and had a face with an open mouth and rubber tongue protruding onto the floor, as well as a solid backstory. Carly climbed in and lights started streaming down ropes inside of the tree. It was bright in the lobby area and as I took the last couple of sips of my pale ale, I got excited to step back inside. We headed back down the dark hallway, through the door and into the front yard of "The House of Eternal Return." As it was later in the day on a Sunday, we had the place almost all to ourselves and we took our time with wide eyes. We entered the house and it was oddly quiet. I could hear guests upstairs and there was a white coat sitting in the chair in the living room, but that was about it. We did a deeper scan of the items on the desks, tables and fridge and took our time taking in the artistic embellishments of the house itself. It was clear that there was something deeper going on. There was the obvious story line, as well as what seemed to be clues... everywhere.

After poking around for a bit on the main floor, we made our way into the fridge and back to the portals where we explored additional rooms that we had missed prior and tried to paint as complete a picture of the experience for our minds. After another hour or so of discovery and enjoyable repetition, we returned to the gift shop, feeling out of it from all of the stimulation. We exited Meow Wolf and stood in the parking lot, catching the tail end of daylight and trying to sort our next move. No matter where the path lead from here: To the brewery, to our hotel, back to Colorado... It would definitely bring us back to Sante Fe's (and maybe the country's) most impressive immersive art dream. Stay tuned for Meow Wolf Las Vegas in 2019 and Meow Wolf Denver in 2020! In the meantime, head south to Santa Fe...

www.meowwolf.com