I moved to Colorado in 2010 to pursue my Masters degree in education. I chose CU because it had a strong program for my discipline, but I’d be lying if I said the town of Boulder, itself, held no sway in my decision. Having wandered in a proverbial desert of live music for five years, I was a deeply dehydrated Deadhead who needed an oasis to slake my thirst. Occasionally, a noteworthy band played at The Santa Fe Brewing Company or an hour south at one of Albuquerque’s few ramshackle venues, but these were rare occasions. I came to Boulder because I was sick of sonic deprivation – I knew The Fox and The Boulder Theater would host more first-rate shows in a month than the whole of New Mexico would in an entire year.
What I did not anticipate, however, was my second musical epiphany. The first came in 1998 when I discovered that The Dead and Phish made me feel more “Alive” than Eddie Vedder’s lyrics ever could. I shed my allegiance to the grunge rock of my first love, Pearl Jam, and began a long exploration into the jamband scene. My second epiphany arrived on Halloween night, 2011. I came to hear a band called The Motet play a musical costume of Grateful Dead songs and left The Boulder Theater, around 2 a.m., completely proselytized to the ass-shaking, rubber-burning magic of funk. On that same evening, as chance would have it, I also met the person who founded this website and he offered me a chance to review shows for The Grateful Web.
I began writing later that year and have enjoyed every minute of it. Apart from reviewing shows, I feel it my duty to champion the most worthy local bands that are either trying to gain a more widespread fanbase (like The Motet) or garner regional attention as a startup. Analog Son is one such group.
Guitarist Jordan Linit and bassist Josh Fairman met at DU’s Lamont School of Music and play together in the renowned funk-rock collection, Kinetix. After eight years of touring, recording, and learning the music business, this super-duo began building Analog Son from the ground up. Their eponymously titled debut album blew my mind and I am in eager anticipation to see the live incarnation of these funk-fusion pieces at Cervantes on October 19. If you are a Deadhead, a funk enthusiast, or as Linit so aptly puts it, a fan of “uplifting music that makes you want to shake your ass and have fun with your friends”, you should be there as well.
Apropos to this gig, in which the band opens for Maceo Parker, the final track on Analog Son’s album is entitled Swervantes. Since the song is purely instrumental, I inquired as to how this portmanteau came to be. Linit explained thusly:
“When I am writing an instrumental tune, while it doesn’t have lyrics, it is coming from an emotion I have been feeling that day. Swervantes started with a carefree emotion reminiscent of arriving at Cervantes – one of our favorite venues – for a funky show and seeing many familiar faces. The tune morphs through many feels and ends up in a psychedelic jam section, one that attendees of Cervantes can clearly associate with the shenanigans they’re likely to see on a happening night in this great venue. What begins as a nice carefree show can lead you to a psychedelic circus of alternative culture that many Denver residents have come to love.”
What else can be added to such a beautiful and fitting description? Earlier, I proclaimed my unabashed love for Boulder’s musical houses of worship: The Fox and The Boulder Theater. If I were making a list of comparable venues in Denver, Cervantes would undoubtedly be at the top of it. It combines the intimacy of The Fox with the history of The Boulder Theater. As The Casino Cabaret, it hosted everyone from James Brown and Ray Charles to B.B. King and Muddy Waters. Every time I see a show at Cervantes, the energy is palpable and, once a band begins to let it rip, I can actually feel the building vibrate.
When I begin to really sink my teeth into a new band, I like to understand musical signposts and anchors. So I asked which musicians have influenced the sonic dynamics of Analog Son. Fairman and Linit both list jazz guitar legend John Scofield and master keyboardist Herbie Hancock as prevailing guides. They also see Jimi Hendrix and Jaco Pastorious – arguably the preeminent guitarist and bassist in their respective genres – as musical compasses. What’s even more interesting, though, is when a musical influence becomes a peer. Linit explained:
“The Meters have been one of our favorite funk bands for some time. I remember being in College, years ago, when my friends in Fox Street gave me a New Mastersounds record and Josh and I loved the music. It reminded me of The Meters and other funk bands that had influenced us. To be making music with members of both of those bands now feels surreal.”
Indeed, keyboardist Joe Tatton of The New Mastersounds played on six tracks from Analog Son’s debut album. Furthermore, Linit and Fairman have been able to contribute to their musical heroes’ studio repertoire and live performances. Fairman elaborated on the relationship with these two bands and a couple of its key members:
“George Porter Jr. is one of my favorite bass players. I really like how he plays around the funk while making it sound effortless. He always plays a sick bass line. I have had the pleasure of sitting in with him at Cervantes and Jordan has played with him as well. So I’d say The Meters have had a big influence on us growing up and still today. The same rings true with The New Mastersounds. We've been listening to them for years, and as time went on I have gotten to play shows, sit in, and make records with them."
In fact, Fairman assisted in engineering The New Mastersounds last studio album:
Making their last record “Therapy” was one of the biggest learning experiences in my lifelong pursuit of the funk. Watching them write and record in a manner that is true to the sound, style, and soul was very inspirational. At one point Eddie (Roberts, guitarist/producer) says, “Hey, let’s mix this one Mono.” I was like, “Whoa, I’ve never done that. Let’s give it a shot.” And having such a heavy hitter like Pete (Shand) in the studio was like bass lessons everyday. Those guys are awesome.”
Linit brought the idea full circle when he stated, of Porter Jr. and Tatton, “Eight years ago they were funk musicians on a pedestal we looked up to and now they have become friends that we get to make music with. Unbelievable!”
Linit and Fairman are currently working on their second Analog Son album, which will feature Nigel Hall (Lettuce, Nth Power) and drummer Benzel Baltimore (P-Funk), along with many of the other world class musicians who sat in for the band’s debut offering. Given the natural state of curiosity and reciprocity that seems to follow Linit and Fairman around, I wondered if a collaboration with Maceo Parker was in the works for Sunday night at Cervantes. “We are definitely going to give it a shot and ask him. Wish us luck,” Fairman stated.
Whether Parker sits in with them or not, I have little doubt that Analog Son’s gig will be overwhelmingly successful. I expect to be dancing like a dervish as Cervantes begins to hum, vibrate, and transform into its funkified alter ego, Swervantes. I hope you’ll be there too.