Papadosio - Halloween Run - 26-28 October 2017 - Colorado

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Papadosio - Halloween Run - 26-28 October 2017 - Colorado

Papadosio - Halloween Run

26-28 October 2017 - The Belly Up, Aspen, CO & The Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO

for The Lot Scene by Chris Kemp

2017_Papadosio_BellyUp-172-Pano-Edit.jpg

     Halloween is that rare and special event in which we shed our everyday selves and become what we truly want to be for a night. For some reason as we age, this changing of character almost becomes more significant. For my Halloween celebration I decided to check out Space Rockers, Papadosio. I was able to catch three of their five Colorado shows. I had an introspective experience at these shows.  While I will offer my thoughts around the technical aspects of the show, I feel it’s important to touch on my personal experience.

     My run started in Aspen and ended in Boulder. Having been following Papadosio on social media I was excited to glimpse this tour’s stage setup. The Belly Up was the perfect setting for an intimate Papadosio set and the band did not disappoint. I was stoked to catch Biolumingen’s DJ set as I knew him in a previous life as Chris Cabbas (forgive me if I spelled your name wrong brother). I’m super critical of DJs and Biolumigen was both original and inspiring. A solid mesh of world sounds and deep electronic beats. Good to see an old friend on stage.

     Jam heavy Papadosio classics like “You and Yourself” lined both sets. The lighting design was well executed but felt cramped on such a small stage. Composed of the standard movers and several diamond projection screens, the show was dark, earthy and organic. The crowd was pleasant, energetic and full of dance moves but lacking in costumed hijinks.   

     The Boulder Theater shows were billed as “Rave from the Grave” and did not disappoint. The Theater had the space necessary for both the band and the lighting. Costumes abounding, Halloween in Boulder was in full effect. In rare form I did not dress up or this event. I came in my typical all black show gear so I could photograph more easily. In years past I would’ve focused on getting shots of costumes and people but for some reason when Daft Punk’s “Da Funk” began to play I was transported to a unique place. I found myself thinking about far off memories. Where did I hear this song first? Who introduced me to this music?

     The rest of the shows was spent reminiscing over the many steps and events that led me to this place and time. When did my brother get his first Crystal Method tape? How old was I when I first heard Nine Inch Nails “Head like a Hole” or “Into the Void?” Papadosio did a stellar job covering many classics that stirred genuine emotions in me. For the first time ever I just wanted to be me on on the one day you’re supposed to be someone else. I relished in my own memories, an unusual thing on Halloween in Boulder.

     More and more I applaud artists who can breathe life into someone else’s work. I saw some music that I never expected to hear live at the “Rave from the Grave.” This wasn’t just a Halloween party, it was a reverence for art that matters and that begs to be heard. The setlists, lighting and mood of these shows was near perfect. Papadosio will always have a loyal Colorado audience if they continue to play at such a standard.         

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Fruition - 08 October 2017 - The Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH

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Fruition - 08 October 2017 - The Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH

 

FRUITION

08 OCTOBER 2017 - THE BEACHLAND TAVERN - CLEVELAND, OH

for The Lot Scene by Will Huston

    Every year like clockwork around October and certainly by November the majority of festivals are over and all of our favorite shows and touring acts come back indoors to our local venues and bars.  One such venue and my second home in a sense is the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio.  An old Croatian club turned music venue in 2000, with one side holding a 500 capacity ballroom and the other being a small tavern stage. The venue is independently owned and operated by people who really have a passion for music and making sure that everyone involved has a great experience, from the staff, to the bands, to the crowd. Throughout the years I've been fortunate enough to see some fairly large acts in the tavern before the explosion of popularity hit. I'll always look back to these shows and feel privileged to have seen them with close friends. There is really something special to be said about seeing an act in a small, intimate setting and having a closer connection to the music.  This past week I was at one of these intimate tavern shows seeing Fruition. I learned about Fruition from my friend, Amy years ago who was roommates with members of the group. I was told I would enjoy them, and I can say that I have had a blast watching them perform all over the country these last few years. Last Sunday night they came to my town. This was not the first time Fruition had been to the Beachland; in fact they were here within the past year, traveling all the way from Portland Oregon where the bands resides when not in tour mode.  Shows here at the Beachland often feel like house parties in a sense. The Tavern does not have strict rules, time guidelines or early curfews allowing bands the freedom to move at their own pace, have a few drinks and have a good time.  Fruition is a band that has no problem having a good time with their sets and throwing back a few with the crowd. Since the venue is so nice and Fruition is cool I was able to record a portion of the show to share with you all here on The Lot Scene.  If you enjoy what you see, give Fruition a like, buy some music or a ticket to an upcoming show. Be sure to tell others about "The Lot Scene" and help us grow and provide even more media news, music and photographs to music fans everywhere.  

Hope you enjoy and many thanks, William Huston. 

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Sunday

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Sunday

WinterWonderGrass CO 2017

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Sunday Highlights

Elephant Revival - Railroad Earth - The Infamous Stringdusters

    If Saturday had been about snow and cold and wind, then Sunday Funday proved itself more about sun and warm and shine.  Ah, Colorado…where, if you don’t trust the weather, then don’t come to WinterWonderGrass unprepared.  People were resplendent in their funwear, ready for a Sunday full of amazing music, just like the two days previous.  I love my people, it must be said.  Our community is so strong and so passionate and so compassionate…I’ve really come to rely upon the foundation of this core grass fan base over the years.  And why shouldn’t I?  After incredible experiences such as WWG amongst so many other amazing festivals throughout the year, it has become apparent just how special this whole situation really is.  And I am most certainly grateful for it.  You bet your boots.  Speaking of boots, let’s get back to those snow boots in Steamboat for a little Elephant Revival time!  They opened things up with Daniel Rodriguez on the lead vocals for “Home in Your Heart” with light and lovely backing vocals from Bonnie Paine.  A wonderful way to start things off, especially with the polished banjo stylings of Charlie Rose there to augment the floating and delighting vocal melody.  Dango Rose’s baller bass playing, as always, providing the backbone of each piece, this one being no exception, was laying down a textural foundation upon which the entire rest of the ensemble was building.  “Light as a feather and you’re homeward bound…”  There is no doubting the beauty of Elephant Revival’s poetry through song.  You’d be hard pressed to find a fan that didn’t agree — they write some seriously moving pieces, it’s true.  The vocal ensemble of Daniel, Bonnie, Charlie, and Darren Garvey back on his drums was gorgeous in the frigid air…yet another strong hallmark of this band’s appeal and abilities.  The song ended to uproarious applause and cheers to which Bonnie replied into the mic, “We love you guys.”  This only elicited at loud, raucous, and awesome “We love you more!” from the crowd.  You cannot create moments like that, you just have to be there in them.  And what a moment we were all sharing!  Daniel led things off for the next piece on guitar, joined quickly by Bonnie on washboard and the remainder of the band moving quickly into their signature sound.  How great a sound it is, too, my friends.  So unique.  “Remembering a Beginning” is a Bonnie lead on vocals and is a journey through music and mystery.  Bridget Law’s solo on fiddle a few minutes into things was haunting and a perfect counterpoint to Bonnie’s mesmerizing vocals.  Suffice it to say, this band is a well-balanced, finely tuned magical musical machine.  They way they all play so well together is really a treat to behold.  And we cannot forget Charlie’s monster of a banjo breakdown, can we?  No, we really cannot.  So far this show was delivering on so many lovely levels.  But, then again, that is what we all have come to rightly expect from a band that makes such lovely music.  Third up out of the gate for us was a lively fiddle tune from the amazing Bridget Law.  Nothing like watching someone with chops such as hers evoke the most marvelous strains from her chosen instrument.  It was more like seeing her dancing with the fiddle as the rest of the band played for their benefit.  Some really fun stuff was coming from the Garvey at the rear of the stage percussion-wise to bolster the highly enjoyable dancing rhythms of the tune itself, Bonnie’s washboard zipping along to the beat in a bright and bold fashion.  Shame I don’t know that name of this one…I’ll certainly be listening for it in the future.  Man, what a set so far and we were just three songs in!!  A little further along we were able to capture some video to give you a feel of the sights and sounds of WWG care of Elephant Revival.  Please enjoy “Spinning”, my friends.  I know I sure did!! 

Kinda makes you want to go to Steamboat in 2018, huh?  I know the feeling.  Trust me.  It gets in your blood…he said after having gone three times.  Guess some things can’t be helped.  Not that I’d want to.  But, back to the music!  Their penultimate song of the evening was “Drop”, with it’s percussion-heavy intro and intense lyrics.  Dancing in and out of mellow, this is a masterful piece of music with some extremely gorgeous parts.  One such part is Law’s expert fiddle work throughout, both in ensemble and solo.  Bonnie’s oh-so unique and diaphanous voice, perfectly suited to the vocals of this one, rang out into the still of the air, coming to rest lightly and sweetly on our ears and hearts.  And there was another incredible Charlie Rose solo on banjo.  Wow.  Just wow.  After a supremely wonderful set, things heated up even further at the end as many, many friends joined ER on stage for a their final number.  Members of Fruition, Gipsy Moon, and even festival organizer and visionary Scott Stoughton crowded around the various mics on stage to join Elephant for a big, bad WWG version of “Grace of a Woman”.  Daniel Rodriguez led things off on vocals quickly supported by the many voices on stage in a big chorus of amazing harmony.  The chorus was a brazen and ecstatic celebration of voices, countless united in cause, both on stage and off.  What a party!  This one was a seriously good time, there can be no doubts.  I mean, how much fun were all the musicians having?  Those smiles were as real as can be.  Truth.  Mimi Naja of Fruition unleashed a beast of a mando solo…so good!  And then there’s Andy Goessling from Railroad Earth out of nowhere on sax just killing things.  Amazing.  And then, an a cappella ending?  Really?  So freakin’ good!  What a fabulous show it had been.  What a way to Sunday, no doubt!  So many thanks to Elephant Revival for a simply delightful time at WWG CO 2017!!  Let’s do it all over again next year!!

Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival

Authors’ Note

    My apologies for not providing further reviews of Railroad Earth and The Infamous Stringdusters.  Due to a personal emergency on Sunday of WinterWonderGrass, I was not able to cover these events.  All’s well that ended well, so no worries, just that it interrupted my journalistic goals for the day.  I have included some RRE images for you as well as a video of the final song of the fest that night at ISD’s late night show.  Please enjoy, friends!!  Again, my apologies!!

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Saturday

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Saturday

WinterWonderGrass CO 2017

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Saturday Highlights

Fruition - Sam Bush Band - The Infamous Stringdusters

    WinterWonderGrass, indeed!  What a wintry day was Saturday this year, friends…cold and snowy and windy.  The trifecta.  Everyone was donning multi-layer outfits to combat the elements successfully enough so that they could soak in some hot, hot grass music on the main stage.  Steamboat looked a mysterious blur of white and muted sunlight all around us as the mountains wavered in and out of view.  However, if the sheer numbers of people present were any indication, then I’d say the indomitable human spirit was the winner that day as we all overcame the cold and snow in favor of some seriously amazing music awaiting us.  Like Portland, Oregon’s own Fruition, for example.  Their last performance of a six week tour, this sizzling hot ensemble was certainly ready to bring it to Colorado and then some.  Kicking things off just right, the band opened with “Somehow, Someway, Someday”, Mr. Jay Cobb Anderson at the mic for lead vocals.  Of course, like with so many favorites from Fruition, this vocal solo quickly turned into a multi-voice harmony adding Mimi Naja and Kellen Asebroek to the mix.  Tyler Thompson established an early prominence on drums that would continue throughout the set, his metronomic beats keeping the band moving ever forward as the winter winds whipped into their faces, freezing fingers and voices alike.  Jay’s bright and boisterous guitar solo around three minutes in most assuredly helped to keep the crowd a bit warmer in front of the stage.  And, just like that, Fruition were off to an incredible start ready to warm our hearts with more of their phenomenal music.  A little ways down the line they gave us a fantastic WWG version of the title track of their latest album, Labor of Love.  Speaking of albums…this number sounded pretty darn album perfect, my friends.  Seriously, the harmonies were so tight, the ensemble sound so polished.  What a rendition of this delightful song about friendship and relationship and life.  Mimi was all over that mandolin of hers like a magical madwoman of multiple notes, the unmistakable tone shining out into the cold air like a beacon of love itself.  Jeff Leonard’s bass was nothing short of the perfect foundation throughout “Labor of Love”, each note shoring up the texture around it in an expert and heartfelt manner.  And, if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you know I am a sucker for great musical texture.  And what provides the root for so much of that?  Great bass work.  Cheers to Jeff for the very same!  Later still, Johnny Bones of The California Honeydrops joined the band for a couple of numbers, the first of which was “I Should Be (On Top of the World)”, a mellow, soulful number sung by Mimi.  Luckily for you, my friends, we captured that very song on video amidst the driving snow.  Just for you, friends!!  Please enjoy!! 

What a crazy day for some music, no?  All told, it is a super fun way to hear some great string band grooves…awakens the senses.  Just after “I Should Be” they went into one of my favorite Fruition songs of all times:  “There She Was”.  Funky, fresh, fun, fabulous, this song never fails to excite and delight.  Seriously groovy and filled with fantastic musical attitude, “There She Was” is a journey through funk and freaky music fantasy that takes you on a ride of pure enjoyment.  Kellen was up to the mic for the vocal lead and he crooned the lyrics in a mesmerizing sort of way as the rest of the band provided a rich backdrop of vocal harmonies, varying tempos, guitar solos, running bass lines, a chorus of drum energies, and lots and lots of rock and roll marvel.  Johnny Bones was a beast on his horn, too, really adding a nice flourish to this song and throwing down one mean, mean solo — certainly grateful to have him on board.  And the breakdown surrounding that horn solo?  Exquisite.  How can’t you just madly adore this band?  So many thanks to them and to Johnny for an incredible WWG “There She Was”!!  Bravi!!  Wow.  Whew!  The very next song in line that day was a cover that instantly whipped the crowd into an appreciative frenzy.  And what a great cover for this band, too.  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” featured Kellen and Mimi kicking complete and total ass on the vocals as the band put together a monster version of this one behind them on their chosen instruments.  Short and sweet, this one was a nice surprise and apropos given the mountains surrounding us on all sides.  I love it when things line up like that.  Right?  Quite the crowd pleaser, to be sure.   A bit further on, we were presented with the lovely and soul-gripping “The Meaning”, a song filled with emotion and mellow intensity.  Kellen took the lead on the vocals for this one as well, singing sweetly out to the snow-covered audience huddled in their winter coats and hats and gloves.  “I was born to love you, I will die and go back to stardust…”  What poetry, no?  And this song is just chock full of the same.  Definitely a favorite of this writer.  Some really incredible vocal harmonies here as well…something this band has down pat.  And the breakdown about three minutes in?  Yeah, it was pretty super duper, I can tell you that.  These guys most assuredly know how to jam with one another and do it very well.  From Mimi killing it on mando to the two gents on guitar and all around the ensemble, it sounded just superb.  Finally, they closed things down at the end of their set with “The Way That I Do”, Jay Cobb Anderson back to the mic for lead vocals.  What a voice on that man!  My goodness!  Wouldn’t it be cool to have him sing you to sleep for a week?  I smell an auction somewhere in there!  Ha!  Jay, you know I think you are amazing, good sir!  What a percussion breakdown from T. Thom as well.  So much rhythm all in one place.  Fun times.  Oh yes, such fun times.  What a fitting way to finish up this fiery hot set from Fruition!  It’s no secret these guys are pretty damn stellar, however, after a show like that, there could be no doubt whatsoever.  So many thanks on behalf of Colorado and WWG for granting us such a marvelous set!  Phenomenal, through and through.  Cheers to the lass and lads of Fruition!

Fruition

Fruition

    Sam.  Bush.  Band.  Need I really say anymore?  I mean, as you well know, I could leave it right at that.  But am I going to?  You know me better than that!  Saturday was still aswirl with bright white flakes whipping to and fro as the weather kept the spirit of this festival alive and searing hot in the spirits of those gathered for some great and gargantuan grass grooves.  And, believe-you-me, Sammy and his band did not disappoint.  They started things off with a nice little, building intro into Sam leading things forward on his magic mandolin, the band churning stronger and stronger in support as the song took shape settling into the familiar chords of “Play By Your Own Rules” to the utter delight of the crowd.  Uncle Sam lit up the microphone with the vocals as we all sang along under the snowy skies.  Scotty Vestal sounded crisp and polished on his banjo as always, nailing down note after perfect note either soloing or in support of Sam’s mando.  Then you’ve got Stephen Mougin on guitar and vocal harmonies…just the kind of man for such a job as well.  That gent can play, my friends!  And sing.  And make the best faces in photos by Will Rawls.  Seriously.  He is an all around talent.  And one cannot fail to mention Todd Parks on bass, the cornerstone of every good Sam Bush Band number.  Foundational and expert in every way, Todd’s proven himself the consummate member of the band.  Of course, such exquisite bass stylings go hand-in-hand with the drumming of Chris Powers.  Driving force and rhythms, time and again.  And what a complete ensemble sound!  Love this band!  Off to a very strong start, Sam and the fellas were not going to sit on their laurels.  To the contrary.  They followed “Play By Your Own Rules” up with an old SBB favorite, “Transcendental Meditation Blues”, with Sammy up to the mic to deliver the lyrics in his signature vocal style.  It’s a lot like having your favorite uncle singing you tale after incredible tale all while jamming like a gifted madman on mandolin.  Not bad, right?  Not bad at all!  Scott threw down a solid banjo solo about two minutes into things which he traded right off to Sam on mando, melody from one instrument to the next seamlessly and professionally.  Watching musicianship of this high caliber is always such a treat — certainly one of the reasons so many of us have flocked to the bluegrass genre and sub-genres.  Hot on the heels of the previous song, it was time to “ride the bluegrass train” according to Sammy.  Which is probably why they played “Riding That Bluegrass Train” immediately after he said that.  Or it was just a weird coincidence.  Either way, we all found ourselves hurtling along the musical tracks with this one, at the behest of the Sam Bush Band.  Things got nice and funky in the middle, with a jam led by Sam on mandolin, really getting nasty up in there…nasty good, that is.  Vestal answered with some well-placed, tasty notes of his own only to hand things back to Sam who, in turn, traded off to Mougin who unleashed a torrent of notes on his guitar.  What a round robin…that kept on going!  Incredible music to stupendous music to marvelous music and back again.  These guys are pretty good, you know?  Yeah, more like grass gods.  A little down the set, they played a personal favorite of mine, a chill and happy-making one called “Everything Is Possible”.  Why not get into music with a good message, right?  Nothing wrong with that.  And this groovy selection is most certainly is that in spades.  I mean, with a line like “Who’s to say something wonderful won’t happen to you?” in there, how can’t you feel a bit better just for having heard Sam and his Band lay this one down for you?  Great central jam in this song, too.  Just some seriously good music going on.  Lucky for WinterWonderGrass, right?  A little further down the set came a tune from the Band’s Storyman album which was co-written by Sam and Scott.  This sizzling hot one called “Greenbrier” is a rocket ship ride into the outer reaches of bluegrass badassery, to say the least.  So many notes coming from the entire stage:  mandolin and banjo and guitar and bass and even those drums, all engaged in the mystery and sorcery that is incredibly awesome string band music.  What a journey to go on with this band!  Rich in texture and in melody and in energy, “Greenbrier” is an all-around bluegrass feast, with more than enough for everyone to leave sated, happy.  One of the things I love most about a tune like this is just how it showcases the musical acumen and skill of these heroes of ours, these legends of the stage.  Watching Mougin’s hands move like wildfire over the strings of his guitar; seeing Vestal’s calm, collected, measured approach to killing on banjo; observing Sam in all his glory and majesty…these things are so special to witness.  “Circles Around Me” is a consummate Sam Bush song known far and wide in the grass community.  It is almost synonymous with the King of Telluride himself.  Please enjoy this video we captured this special WWG moment with the Sam Bush Band!! 

Amazing that they can play in such harsh conditions, right?  I really felt for their poor fingers on that blustery stage.  My final memory of the show was Sam and the gents covering “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers.  Not a bad parting shot, right?  And, damn, did it ever sound fantastic!  Suffice it to say, SBB brought it to the very end.  So much energy and so much superb music shared with the chilly crowd of WonderGrass.  It really is hard to say enough good things about this group.  I have seen them many times and have loved every minute of every show.  Just goes to show that worthy music moves the soul…it’s almost impossible to stop it.  Just like the music of Sam Bush and his Band.  Just like that.  Thanks so much to all the fine fellows on stage who made such a cold night so hot for us all!  Bravi to the Sam Bush Band!  

Sam Bush Band

Sam Bush Band

    Main stage, big time, big band, big expectations.  And, what did the Dusters open with?  None other than “Big River”.  Yeah, that’s right.  “Big River”.  And what a way to walk back into the venue after a quick condo run!  The air around me thick with the sounds of The Infamous Stringdusters, their mad good vocal harmonies and madcap antics on stage coupled with world-class musical skill and talent, a spring in my step as I wandered ever onward through the snow towards the stage…and then, bam.  Music.  Certainly one of my favorite bands to see live, the Dusters clearly came correct that night and ready to wow the hell out of us and reanimate our cold bodies with some searing hot grass music.  And “Big River” proved to be one perfect opener per the crowd’s very positive reaction.  Great song, played well.  Why not go nuts with excitement?  Off to a very promising beginning to be sure.  Let’s keep this thing going, boys!  Just a tad into the set, they played a song of theirs that’s been getting a lot of radio play on SiriusXM’s JamOn station and as well it should.  “Black Elk” ripped open into the night taken at a quick clip, melting the gathered ice as well as the gathered faces in the crowd as one.  Jeremy Garrett threw down some crazy tasty fiddle work only to be followed by Andy Falco on guitar with some string-ninja moves of his own.  Chris Pandolfi wasn’t to be left out either, raining down note after precious note from his banjo onto the souls of the audience huddled in the freezing dark.  Wow, what a rush!  I’d never heard that one so intense and so fast before.  Really changes the fabric of the experience…I dug it. 

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

Sam Bush joined them for the next couple of numbers, starting with “Get It While You Can” and did Sammy ever get some while he could!  Let’s see…put one of the finest mando players on the planet in to guest with one of the tightest and most polished ensembles in grass music?  OK, yes, I’ll have some of that, please!  Two helpings, if I could!  And just how much do I love Andy Hall’s dobro playing?  Seriously, that man is a wizard on his instrument, one of my favorites to be sure.  Both instrument and player.  This excellent standard from the Dusters’ catalogue augmented by Mr. Bush proved to be quite the powerhouse to great approval from the crowd.  What wasn’t to love, right?  A little further into the set they gave us a fine WWG version of “A Hard Life Makes a Great Song” which should be of some hope and inspiration to us all.  When you are feeling a bit overburdened by this life, maybe this particular song could be of assistance?  I mean, at least your hard life would make a great song.  Now, if you could only get the Dusters to write it up!  So much tasty dobro in this one, too!  And where would the band be without the stalwart bass amazingenss of Travis Book?  I love the way he hauls that thing all over the stage, too.  What a workout that must be!  Not to mention his harmony work…stellar.  Certainly makes for a great grass band show, for sure!  Garrett and Falco made some supremely fine contributions of their own throughout the song, dancing in and out of the texture to take melody only to weave their way back into things as if nothing had changed.  Expert work and a pleasure to witness.  Finally, to close things down, we got some more Allman Brothers!  Indeed, so, good friends…what were the odds?  First Sammy then the Dusters?  Excellence!  The oh-so familiar strains of “Jessica” echoed out to the mountains and through the minds and joys of the crowd and we all began to dance and revel in our luck and laughter.  Nothing like hearing that well-known melody coming from a dobro, right?  Damn, Andy Hall!!  How incredible could you possibly make this one?  Pretty damn incredible as it would turn out.  Jeremy’s fiddle was afire with all sorts of insanity too, rounding things out in a delightful fashion.  And did they band jam this song, too…wow!  Everybody took a good chance to get down here, and get down they did.  A helluva supreme closer for this wonderful show!  So many big thanks going out to the band and their folks for helping to make WinterWonderGrass so amazing for its first year in Steamboat!  Loved it, guys…thank you a million times over!!

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

Sunday coming soon, friends!!

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Friday

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Friday

WinterWonderGrass CO 2017

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Friday Highlights

Cabinet - Gipsy Moon - Leftover Salmon

    It was a partly cloudy sky overhead as we made our way to the festival grounds proper.  Ticketing and security flowed really smoothly and, before we knew it, we were inside and heading up to the rail for some heady Pennsylvania grass with Cabinet.  And, for those that know their Cabinet, you’ll know that we were in for a real treat, and a chilly WinterWonderGrassy one at that.  Of course, it was to be high energy, dancin’, twirlin’ stompgrass from the very beginning with them.  After a slow, building diversion of a beginning, “Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow” developed with Pappy Biondo at the mic for lead vocals.  But this was just the start of one helluva fun ride into a fantastic set.  Everyone would get their chance at soloing, ’tis true.  And solo they did.  From Micky Coviello spicing things up with some seriously tasty guitar riffs to Todd Kopec on fiddle, shredding some strings with his fiery hot bow, things got down and dirty in the best way possible.  Of course, we can’t forget Pappy and his ninja-like banjo skills, playing deliberately in and out of tune throughout the song to match the lyrics.  I mean, that some pretty incredible stuff going on right there!  And what about that breakdown at the end?  The whole thing put us all in the perfect mood for dancing underneath the wintry Colorado skies to some seriously amazing string band music!  Bravi to these PA boys for bringing such heat to warm up the audience!  Off to one superbly good start, I’d say.  A little into their set, the band delivered up a great “Arco Arena” into “Diamond Joe” combo that continued to bring some staunchly excellent energy to the stage.  “Arco” is a brooding and intense instrumental which features the ensemble sound of this unique band in an exemplary manner.  Effect heavy and electrified, this tune is more journey than destination, exploratory…  Some great fiddle work from Kopec was counterpointed by Coviello on electric guitar, both weaving in and out of the fabric of the band’s overall texture.  Then they took this directly into “Diamond Joe”, a clear crowd favorite, putting the mic back in Pappy’s adept hands.  This also meant that the mando was firmly in JP Biondo’s hands, which is precisely where you want it to be.  He adds such flourish to the framework of every song, his style so distinctive.  Pappy crooned out the story of Diamond Joe in his hallmark manner, the band behind him forming a wall of sound and action in perfect support.  Definitely found myself loving Dylan Skursky’s bass lines during the ending jam alongside Jami Novak’s solo drumming (Josh Karis couldn’t make it this fest).  Those two really held things down while the rest of the band wailed overhead.  Great stuff, boys!!  Excellence!!  Further on down the set, we managed to capture a little video of this poetry-in-motion with Cabinet at WWG CO 2017.  Please enjoy “Po’s Reel” my friends!! 

Pretty cool stuff, right?  I mean, the entire experience…the snow, the weather, the music…so amazing!  Just after “Po’s” the band took things in a happy, reggae-feeling, groovy direction with “A Smile”, JP on lead vocals bringing this joyful vibe to one and all.  The band matched his tone, keeping things light and bouncy.  Perfect music for dancing, which is precisely what every person there was doing.  We couldn’t help it!  Not sure I’d ever actually heard this one live before.  A new favorite, absolutely.  Thanks for that, fellas!  Finally, it was time to close things down for this sweet, sweet set.  The choice?  Why, “Susquehanna Breakdown”, of course!  And the apropos closer I would have to say, friends.  Quick, fun dance music, this instrumental featured every member of the band in some form or fashion before things were all done.  JP’s mando solo melted so many faces medics had to be called in.  That’s only before Kopec melted all the remainder with his sizzling fiddle stylings.  Crazy good!!  But do you think that Pappy or Mickey would be outdone?  Not whatsoever.  Banjo and guitar going nuts respectively, so many notes coming out of that stage.  It was almost too much.  But not quite, if you know what I mean.  What a marvelous set, everyone!  It really felt like WinterWonderGrass now, now that I’d stood out under the winter weather and seen some hot, hot grass music.  Yeah, I was back.  And how phenomenal it was so far!  A huge thanks to Cabinet for making the trip to Colorado and for bringing the noise.  Cheers!!

Cabinet

Cabinet

    Dropping back to the Soapbox Stage after Cabinet, it was time for some home-grown, Colorado gypsy grass with Nederland’s own Gipsy Moon.  If your eyes and ears aren’t on this band yet, then you might want to lend a couple of each to the cause.  Interesting and unorthodox instrumentation, fantastic song-writing, phenomenal musicianship and singing…all these things characterize GM but they are so much more as well.  I’ve had my eye on this group for awhile now and I have witnessed nothing but wonderful things and a meteoric rise towards success.  I was definitely excited to have them at WWG this year and proud of them for snagging three sets throughout the weekend, this Soapbox set being their second following another performance the day before.  We spent the first few songs up front in the crowded tent until it just got too warm and we needed to fade to the back…but the place was packed.  Good for Gipsy Moon!  And as well they deserve it.  The band took the stage and quickly got things going with “Right Kind of Crazy”, Mackenzie Page at the vocal helm as always, her unique and delightful voice crooning out into the crowd.  Matt Cantor, on bass and vocal harmonies, stood like a mighty tree, instrument in hand to her left, Andrew Conley on cello to Matt’s left.  Omar Mansour was arranged in the rear of the group this time, his fantastic drumming chops such a wonderful addition to the already singular and fabulous sound of this band.  That percussion brings such a lovely drive and added emotion to each and every piece.  It’s always so magical to watch a new recruit jive so very well with an ensemble to the point of making it that much better as a result.  Loving it!  I really like Andrew’s lines at various points in this one…they provide so much movement and character.  Of course, so much of that has to do with the timbre of his chosen instrument.  In a genre heavily populated by fiddles, it takes guts to don a cello and rock it the way Conley does.  And does he ever rock it!  Some of his solos are face melters to be sure.  What a start to what would be a marvelous set!  Silas Herman wrote the second number they played that evening, a lively tune with a lovely mandolin and cello intro called “Daybreak”.  The duet that Andrew and Silas play throughout most of the song, the melody, is just breathtakingly pretty.  And Mr. Herman definitely lets loose on that mando of his, killing it with note after amazing note.  A happy tune, a dancing tune, a tune full of joy and merriment.  But, isn’t that Silas in a nutshell?  I just love it when an instrumental takes me somewhere…someplace as I have my eyes closed…a place far away and magical…a place of pure music.  That’s precisely what this WWG version of “Daybreak” did for me that Friday.  Lovely playing, just gorgeous.  Especially Andrew and Silas.  Thank you fellas immensely!!  Next up, they played their song “Skeleton” which we were able to capture on video for you!  Please enjoy this bit of the Soapbox Stage experience at WinterWonderGrass!! 

I mean, how can you not just love this band?  And see how packed the place was?  Not bad, right?  Then, talk about being whisked away somewhere…!!  The Greek song “Misrilou” always seems to do that to me.  Between the gypsy sounds of the band and Mackenzie’s mesmerizing and exotic vocals, I felt again transported by this song to a distant land filled with bazaars and spices and interesting foreign languages.  Man, do I love this band…have I said that already?  Omar was the man in this one, too!  Why?  Well, he kicked things into super double overdrive at one point pounding away like an ecstatic beast on his drums and whipping the band into a magical frenzy.  What a ride!  Holy goodness!  I mean it!  Wow.  Had to sit down after that one.  Finally, the band closed down their short set with “Gin”, an old and great standard from Gipsy Moon’s catalogue.  The slow and mellow opening most certainly belies the party flavor of this song once it gets going properly.  An anthem to drinking the finer things in life, this one never fails to satisfy a music-loving crowd.  Excellent work from everyone in the band forming some really fine ensemble sound.  Silas had his own moments to shine to be sure as did Andrew and Omar, but always seeming in seamless support of Mackenzie’s dulcet vocal lines.  And then, sadly, it was over.  Another fantastic set from this fantastic band.  Really make time to see them if you haven’t — time spent with Gipsy Moon is so very worth it.  So much thanks and love going out to the band from this journalist.  You guys are phenomenal and we thank you for it!!

Gipsy Moon

Gipsy Moon

    And then, just a little farther into the cold Colorado night, it was time for some red hot vibes from everyone’s favorite polyethnic cajun slamgrass band, Leftover Salmon!  What would a festival like WWG be without Salmon?  I’m not sure I want to find out.  But, luckily, for us that night we didn’t have to because LoS brought some serious intensity to the main stage.  Opening things up with a fantastic WinterWonderGrass version of “Lonesome Weary Ramblin’ Highway Man” the band showed from the first instant that they meant some serious musical business that night.  Lucky for us in the crowd, no?  And, lucky for you, we just happened to nab this opener on video for your viewing delight!  Please take a gander and enjoy, friends! 

And, just like that, bang!  We were off!  What a great way to start a show!  Further into the set, the band brought a little sunshine to the chilly WWG stage with “The Sun Dog” with a blazing hot intro from Andy Thorn that bled right into the tune proper.  This was a new instrumental to me and I really got into it — excellent for dancing, no doubt.  So many notes from that Thorn character, too.  Just so many.  That is, until Drew Emmitt got ahold of things on his mando offering a sortie of countless tones of his own.  “And Vince Herman?” you ask.  Well, he was busy shredding things up complete on guitar in that classic Vince style.  Man, do these fellas know their way around a fret board!  So much respect for the musical acumen of this super fun band of delightful crazies.  Talk about not feeling the cold anymore!  My blood was on the rise from all the blazing hot music coming from the stage.  It felt fantastic, my friends!  A little bit later on came an LoS classic:  “Down in the Hollow”.  Drew was up to the mic for lead vocals on this one, the man ready to croon his heart out as always for the adoring audience.  And did he ever!  Vince threw down a tasty solo a short ways into the song, pushing the whole thing ever onwards at full speed ahead, the steamboat that is Leftover Salmon chugging merrily along.  Erik Deutsch brought out some nasty good work of his own on the keys giving us a super sweet melody run jammed out as only this talented man can.  This was, in a nutshell, quite the musical rush.  And what a set so far.  But wait, there’s more!  Like the “New Speedway Boogie” that happened next for instance.  Yes, you read that correctly.  With a super bluesy opening, this one took form and we all recognized just how lucky we all were in that moment.  Vince laid down the lyrics like a champion bard doing this one a service for one and all there that evening.  Alwyn Robinson brought some funky goodness on the drums making this one pop out into the cold evening air.  Greg Garrison and Deutsch also shared a little funk of their own, bass and keys shining out respectively.  Holy Dead, Batman!  How good was this??  They took “Speedway” directly into “Powder Day” and Andy Thorn jumped up to the mic for this apropos song for the snowy setting.  And, from all the reports from those who had ventured up the mountain that Friday, it had been a great “powder day” for one and all.  As it should be, right?  Fresh pow pow on the mou mou, brah?  Bingo.  Drew had pulled out this flying-v electric he’d been playing all night with a look towards getting down — and get down with it he did, my friends.  Andy killed the lyrics, clearly singing about something he knows well.  He does live in Colorado after all.  Pretty incredible banjo solo from that same man as well a couple of minutes in.  A mighty fine selection for this WinterWonderGrass.  Great job, fellas!  The whole thing wound down with a jumping version of “Get No Better”, Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass joining them on stage for a bit of the fun.  Vince was the lead man on this one, although Bruzza jumped up to duet with him pretty soon in.  The ensemble sound of the band was on point throughout this one, a magic wall of slamgrass sound sweetly serenading all of us, filling our hearts with joy and merriment enough to make it to and through the impending late night after the show.  And what a show it had been, thanks to the gents of Leftover Salmon!  So many huge thanks going out to the band and their folks for helping to make Friday night at WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 so special.  Always an amazing time with this band and this night had been no exception.  Certainly made me hungry for more incredible grass music all weekend long at WWG.  Thank you, Salmon!  Thank you a million times over for what you do!

Leftover Salmon

Leftover Salmon

And, Saturday?  On its way, friends!!

 

 

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