Soulive was in Boulder, at the Fox Theatre, all weekend long! "Snowlive," a three-day event, presented by KGNU, KGNC, and The Colorado Daily, featured mid-day workshops and three nights of shows. The workshops were run by the members of Soulive and focused on songwriting, expanding musical vocabulary, sound engineering, and the art of being a band. I stopped by one of the Saturday workshops to check everything out. The three members of Soulive were hanging out in the middle of the room, surrounded by the few dozen people who were lucky enough to make it onto the free workshop list. The intimate setting gave the audience a chance to gain a rare insight into the process of making music from start to finish. Brothers Neal and Alan Evans and Eric Kranso each took turns interacting with fans and showcasing their individual specialties.
The concept of "Snowlive"(specifically named for our snowy Boulder atmosphere) was inspired by "Bowlive," a similar Soulive event in Brooklyn. After enjoying the success of Bowlive, the band decided to extend their idea to other parts of the country. Friday and Saturday night, Soulive was accompanied by JJ Grey & the Jennifer Hartswick Horns. I attended the show on Sunday night, where Soulive performed songs from their 2010 studio recording, "Rubber Soulive", playing music by The Beatles. There was a super mellow vibe in the theatre. The first half of the show, Soulive played a variety of original songs and took requests from the audience. A lot of Soulive shows are really fast-paced and energetic so it was was a special treat to watch them play in a relaxed and laid back mood. Everyone was still dancing and having a great time and it was easy to feel the bond the band had formed with the Boulder crowd over the past few days. Because the theatre wasn't as crowded as the other two nights, we all had the chance to feel like we were at a special, private event. I loved being up close to Neal Evans and watching him play the keyboard. His ninja-like hands move so quickly that it doesn't even look like he's touching the keyboard sometimes.
Their second set started out with a cover of The Beatles, "Come Together," and they continued to play Beatles songs for the rest of the night. Their unique instrumental interpretations of classic Beatles songs was so refreshing and fun. Almost everyone has a connection with Beatles music in some way, and Soulive has a way of renewing the energy of their songs, while still maintaining the soul and original artistry of their own band. When they played, "Something In The Way She Moves," it sounded like Eric Kranso's guitar was singing. Alan Evans shined through on the drums, during a funky rendition of "Elenor Rigby." Even though you could hear the crowd singing along to the tunes, the absence of vocals really highlighted the musical talent of the trio. Hearing familiar songs in a new way, we were able to reminisce and form a new attachment to the fusion of classic rock with modern funk.
Soulive are far from rookies in the music industry though. The band emerged in Woodstock, New York in 1999 as a funk/jazz trio and has worked with many musicians on many different projects. The trio has recorded with an array of musical powerhouses like Dave Matthews, Chaka Khan, and John Scofield, opened for the Rolling Stones, and have played onstage with Stevie Wonder. Neal Evans and Eric Kranso also perform with the Boston Funk Band, Lettuce, alongside Adam Deitch and several other renowned musicians. Both Lettuce and Soulive play at various festivals, such as Bonnaroo, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and Jamcruise. Soulive's "down-to-earth" meets "cool cat" demeanor makes them widely accessible to both fans and music moguls. Who wouldn't want to show up at a party with these guys?
Soulive has recorded over a dozen studio albums and it seems like they have recorded or played with almost everyone in the music industry. Now a part of "Royal Family Records," I would expect to see a lot more Soulive events showing up across the country, and I hope they come back to warm up our snowy nights very soon!