It had been way to long since I last saw Leftover Salmon play together as a band. I recall the last time, way back in 2004, driving to the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York, destined to see the band play as a festival headliner in one of their final gigs before ‘hiatus’.
Do you know that feeling of wonder and amazement when you return home from a long road trip? The rotating miles still in your head mixed with the relief of stability and security are a sensation hard to translate into words. The home town Thanksgiving show of Umphrey’s McGee and Cornmeal recreated that feeling for me. The Spanish Harlem setting of the Aragon Ballroom shook with more than the juice of the worm. I
With a guy like Stephen Stills, an icon of 60s folk rock and roll, you can’t help but wonder how the passing of time might figure in to a live performance. Decades after his heyday, Stills still came in with his A-game at the Ogden Theater in Denver on Sunday.
Since the The Kinks last played together in 1996, their music has been used in movie soundtracks (i.e., Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited) and commercials, and has been cited as influential by rising pop bands like Oasis (who have since imploded.) This exposure has turned a whole new generation of fans on to The Kinks’ extensive catalogue of pop hits and guitar driven mash-ups.
I first heard of Elephant Revival when I met Bridget Law at a fiddle contest five years ago. She had a magnetic personality and played the fiddle with the best of them, so I made sure to look up her band when I got home. The first Elephant song I listened to was "Ring Around the Moon", and it was stuck in my head for days. Since then I have seen them play many times.
Nobody needs to remind any live music goer how active of a place Colorado and its Front Range are for seeing concerts. Intimate or gigantic, we have as much of a draw for jazz, rock, hip-hop, bluegrass, blues, indie, classical or pretty much anything else you could think of. People come in hordes from all around the country to see their favorite acts at our one-of-a-kind venue scene. Something about the Colorado attitude meshes well with hassle-free lot scenes, and of course the most important part, the concert.
With so many bluegrass offshoot outfits actively touring in the States, sometimes it’s hard to decide whose show to go to on a Friday night. Especially in the bluegrass supported state of Colorado, where fans cannot get enough of its dance-ability and energetic tempo, its one of the most popular options for the live concert-going scene. While longer existing outfits have the option at playing large seated venues, most fans seem to come to dance.
I had never seen Elephant Revival before tonight. And sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and the best way to see a live band. Having no expectations or prior convictions of how a show will sound or make you feel is liberating. After all, music is foremost an innate emotional reaction to rhythms, melodies, and lyrics, and when you have no existing mental model, your mind is forced to make one, which, in its synthesis, is one of the best parts of man’s love affair with music.
When Polytoxic and the Denver Horns come together every year to perform the Last Waltz Revisited, they remind us of the difference between going to a show and going to a SHOW. Everything was in place- a food drive to support a local charity, a brilliant parade of local talent, non-stop entertainment, and an energy that danced through the ears of everyone nearby.