Tumbledown Shack | 830 North | 3/6/2024

Article Contributed by Backstage Flash | Published on Thursday, March 7, 2024

Tumbledown Shack is a five-piece band that has been recreating the magic of the Grateful Dead's music since 2019. Paying tribute to one of the most inspirational bands on the planet and covering one of the largest catalogs of music ever assembled is an arduous and ambitious task. Right off the top, many thanks to this band and many other bands around the world that focus on the preservation and presentation of the timeless music of the Good Ol' Grateful Dead. Tumbledown Shack continues to grow and evolve as a band by exploring many eras of the Dead's music. They explore the early sound of the band from the 1960s up until the untimely passing of Jerry Garcia in 1995.

Tumbledown Shack | Fort Collins, CO

For a young band, who were all in their very early stages of life when Garcia passed, they have great adoration and respect for the music of the Grateful Dead and the culture that came with it. When you stand back and take a look at the world of the Grateful Dead, it's a lot for the naked eye to digest. If you lived within the nomadic culture that followed the band, you know what I mean. There have been many opportunities for the next generations of fans after the Grateful Dead to taste the sweetness of the music. Dead & Company, probably being the biggest as far as longevity, as well as Phil Lesh & Friends, Furthur, The Dead, The Other Ones, RatDog, and on. The folks who weren’t around yet or not old enough to experience the Grateful Dead received the same but different experience from the surviving members of the band.

Luke Hahn-Zollo, Tony Bellucci | Tumbledown Shack

Grateful Web had a chance to talk with Luke Hahn-Zollo and Tony Bellucci, both guitar players in Tumbledown Shack, and here's what they had to say:

GW: What do you enjoy most about the Grateful Dead's music?

Zollo: The Grateful Dead have been one of my favorite bands since I was a teenager. Lyrically, the words are beautiful and timeless, while the music is inspired and full of possibility. The overall scene and community that followed the band were always interesting to me, and the music is simply a genre unto itself.

GW: What is the most rewarding aspect of performing the music of the Grateful Dead?

Luke Hahn-Zollo | Tumbledown Shack

Zollo: I am never bored performing these songs; they draw influence from blues, folk, jazz, and rock. The massive repertoire of songs is another huge appeal. There is so much music, and on any given night our goal is to make the songs sound fresh and fun for the audience. The Dead’s music is a celebration of community and spirit; its magic brings people together, and that's what makes me happy.

GW: Is Tumbledown Shack performing all eras of the Grateful Dead's music?

Bellucci: We cover most eras of the Dead's music, including early Pigpen songs like "Golden Road." The band generally leans towards the eighties era, but personally, I am a big fan of the seventies. The next goal of the band is to step into some of the later Garcia-Hunter, Weir-Barlow compositions, including "Lazy River Road," "Corrina," and "Liberty."

GW: What gives you the most joy from listening to and performing the music of the Grateful Dead?

Tony Bellucci | Tumbledown Shack

Bellucci: The universality of the lyrics is what grabs me the most. It takes a great deal of talent to encapsulate a human experience as it relates directly to the listener. The music dances and comes to life just like the pages of a good book. I get great detailed images in my mind from many of the songs, including "Black Peter," "Lady With a Fan," and "Wharf Rat." It really feels like the songs belong to the listener.

My favorite thing about performing the music of the Grateful Dead is the freedom and adventure it presents. There is so much space for interpretation and improvisation within the songs it never gets old. The songs are continually fun to play as they allow the musicians to inject themselves into the music. There are endless possibilities in the music. Bob Weir is a great example with his many different bands and interpretations of the arrangements, musically and lyrically, over the years.

Chris Bell | Tumbledown Shack

Last night, Tumbledown Shack played at 830 North in Fort Collins, Colorado. They have been playing there on the first Wednesday of each month for a few years now, establishing a great fan following. Opening the first set with "Sugaree" brought a great vibe to the room right out of the gate. On vocals and lead guitar was Luke Hahn-Zollo, Chris Bell on keyboards and vocals, Cragon Sims on bass and backing vocals, Tony Bellucci on rhythm guitar, and Joel Zeiner on drums. The rhythm section, provided by Sims on bass and Zeiner on drums, provided a solid, robust foundation for the music to take shape from. Zollo’s voice was strong and clear, his guitar skills and the tone of his instrument were very reminiscent of Garcia's playing style, and his improvisational instinct was clearly his own. Keeping the arrangements of the songs flowing with melodic adventure was Bell on keyboards and Bellucci on rhythm guitar working in tandem, providing cascading melodies of sound that had cool, flowing, highly danceable grooves.

Tumbledown Shack with Boots Jaffee on harmonica.

Zollo and Bell traded vocal duties on select songs, each bringing their unique vocal styles and ranges to the party. Their soloing abilities were also expressive and distinct, capturing the true essence of adventure through music. The set rolled on with "Ramble on Rose," "Golden Road," "Mighty High," "Row Jimmy," "Cassidy," and then a very special guest, Boots Jaffee, joined the band on harmonica for "Miracle" and "Easy Wind." If you are not familiar with Jaffe, he was a member of the Grateful Dead's road crew from 1968 through 1976. He was the pyrotechnics expert for the band and has stories to tell that will burn off both of your ears. "Easy Wind," "West L.A. Fadeaway," and "The Mighty Quinn" closed out a great first set.

Special guest - Boots Jaffee | Fort Collins, CO

Joel Zeiner | Tumbledown Shack

Each member of Tumbledown Shack has a great deal of passion for the music of the Grateful Dead. You can hear it in their voices, see it in their expressions, and feel it in your heart. They are all gifted musicians with great dedication to the preservation of the timeless music they play. Last night's show was a great example of cohesiveness, looseness, and the adventurous spirit these men have playing together. There was a lot of individuality as well as full band exploration happening, and that was cool to see. Bands like Tumbledown Shack are so necessary in providing the richness and colorful culture of the past to new generations of music fans. For us older folks, we couldn’t be more appreciative of reliving the memories of the Grateful Dead. I was not in attendance for the second set, but I am sure it was a ripper! (setlist included below)

last night's setlist at 830 North in Fort Collins, CO

Cragon Sims | Tumbledown Shack

Thanks to Tumbledown Shack, 830 North's production staff, and all of the guests that came out.