Review: The Werks @ Hodi’s Half Note 3/24/18

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From Left: Chris Houser on guitar, Dan Shaw on keys, Rob Chafin on drums, and Jake Goldberg on bass

Skip The Gym, Get A Werk Out

I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t really familiar with The Werks prior to attending this show. I had heard of them but I had barely listened to them and I had never seen them live before. Boy, was I missing out. These guys have been killing it in the jam band scene since 2005. Consisting of members Rob Chafin on drums, Chris Houser on guitar, Dan Shaw on keyboards, and Jake Goldberg on bass, The Werks creates their signature psychedelic dance rock sound. They have a big following in their home state of Ohio and they have even been hosting their own festival there for the past 9 years called “The Werk Out.” Playing alongside them at their festivals are big name artists such as Umphrey’s McGee, Papadosio, Eoto, Lettuce, Turkuaz, Lotus, and many others.

Thanks to The Werks page on phantasytour.com I was able to get the setlist. The group started out the night with a cool song called “Inside a Dream” which featured the lyric “Your dreams are calling out your name.” I liked this song a lot for its musicality as well as its inspiring message. This jam led into “Game Plan,” “OG,” and “Slab.” Even if I was an avid listener, I’m not sure if I would have noticed these song transitions. They played with such intensity and energy that it was easy to get lost in their sound, unaware that they are actually playing more than one song. To close the first set, they invited Jaden Carlson, an incredibly talented young female guitarist, to join them in playing the song “G-Funk” on stage. She spent a considerable amount of time shredding. At one point, Jaden also showcased her skills on the keyboards. It was an impressive way to close the first set!

 

Werkin’ Hard Or Hardly Werkin’

Set two opened with the song “Find Your Way.” Before I explain what happened, I should say that by this point I had figured out how goofy these guys are. Watching them interact on stage I noticed they were constantly smiling at each other, laughing at mistakes, and messing with the crowd in various ways. At one point, Chris started waving hello at Jake and then Rob and Dan joined in. The crowd caught on and started waving back for a moment. Funny stuff.

Anyways, part way through “Find Your Way” Dan switched instruments with Rob. While it was a humorous move, I don’t think these two practiced each other’s instruments enough. Rob fumbled on the keys and Dan kept losing rhythm on the drums. I found it ironic that the song was called “Find Your Way” because this jam definitely needed directions after getting lost due to Dan and Rob’s switch. I could tell each of them knew it was full of flubs and they looked slightly embarrassed but were still having fun. Eventually, they switched back to their appropriate spots and it became very clear that this is where they belong. I noticed how during this song and a couple others that they do a good job of bringing a jam to a climax but sometimes struggle to find a satisfying way out of it. There would be a huge amount of buildup for a slightly disappointing resolution. But I’m probably being too picky. After almost losing the audience to their disorganization, they managed to get locked back in during the next song, “Going Round.” They closed the set with “Rollin” and came back out for an encore of “Duck Farm.” Whew! That was a doozy!

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Instrument Swap Antics

Let There Be Jams

Musical mistakes and silliness aside, I really enjoyed this show. These guys have great stage chemistry and most of all, they seem to really like what they do. I can see why they have such a loyal fan base and are able to host a festival every year. Their music is fun and exciting to listen to and their shows ensure a rowdy, unpredictable experience. I would definitely see them again in the future.

The shows keep coming and I’ll keep reviewing them. Up next is the DeadPhish Orchestra at the Aggie this Thursday. I’m pumped for this show because, obviously, it’s a group that plays the music of two of my favorite bands, The Grateful Dead and Phish! Check out the links I have posted below in regards to The Werks and more information about them!

Heady Links

Here’s a link to The Werks “Phantasy Tour” page. I used this to reference the setlist. Phantasy Tour gets made fun of in the jam community for various reasons but it can be a good resource. It’s meant to help fans follow their favorite bands, track stats, and interact with others: https://www.phantasytour.com/bands/the-werks

The Werks Official Site: https://thewerksmusic.com/

Link to The Werks Bandcamp. You can stream all their live music and albums for FREE!: https://thewerks.bandcamp.com/

Jaden Carlson Video (Credit goes to the Jaden Carlson Band):

Stay groovy, folks!

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Review: Spafford @ The Old Town Pub, Steamboat 3/15/18

One Big Jam

When I arrived at the Old Town Pub to see Spafford last Thursday, I knew I was in for a real treat. The show had sold out about a week before and my friend who lives in Steamboat said that it had become the talk of the town. People were scrambling to find extra tickets because word was spreading that Spafford was about to burn the place down. I felt really lucky to be there and I couldn’t wait to hear one of my favorite bands lay down some serious grooves. When they took the stage at about 10:30, my expectations were blown away within a few minutes.

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Spafford – From Left: Andrew “Red” Johnson on Keys and vocals, Jordan Fairless on Bass and vocals, Brian Moss on Guitar and vocals, and Cameron Laforest on drums.

They eased the crowd into the evening with some relaxed, ambient jams. I didn’t recognize what was being played and thought it might have been an intro to something. But they just kept playing and playing, transitioning from one jam into the next with such fluidity and synchronicity you would think they could read each other’s minds. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could, honestly. This group has been getting so tight and they create a sound that is entirely unique, I don’t know how they do it, it’s pure magical wizardry.

For the next 57 minutes, we would be spoiled with a musical feast, an improvisational masterpiece, that would go down in history as the “Old Town Jam.” Finally, to end the first set, Spafford led the jam into their original tune “It’s A Bunch.” The crowd erupted in cheers as they stepped off the stage. We all just had our collective minds blown to a TWO song set. I turned to my friend and we both looked at each other with our mouths open and eyes wide. Second set here we come!

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Second Set Vibes

Shakin’ It Loose

The guys came back out for the second set and after what just happened it was anyone’s guess for what they had planned. They opened things up with a high energy “Ain’t That Wrong” followed by “Plans” and a very appropriate “Mind’s Unchained.” These three songs fit very well together and kept the continuous jam theme going. A funky version of “Shake You Loose” came next and then an excellent “Windmill” that topped out at almost 15 minutes. To close the set, Spafford gave us another jewel, a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Feel Like A Stranger.” My friend and I jumped for joy and there was nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile. They took a bow to the wild applause, whistling, and cheering from the crowd. After a few minutes of uninterrupted coercion, they came back out for an encore of “Backdoor Funk.” It couldn’t have been a better night.

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What a show!

What’s Next?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a setlist at this show. However, the good people at Spaffnerds posted the song list for this night as well as every other show Spafford has played. They also post links to recordings and other information about the band. I’ve used them as a reference for this blog post and I think it’s a great resource for any Spafford fan.

I will be going to see The Werks w/ Maxwell Mud and Special Guests at Hodi’s this Saturday the 24th. The following Thursday I’ll be at the Dead Phish Orchestra at the Aggie. Stay tuned for reviews of these shows! Later on, Phriends!

 

 

News and Updates

The Week Ahead

Greetings jammers! This was a show-free week for me, surprising I know, but I’ve got some music news and details about my plans for next week and the months ahead.

The first announcement relates to my previous post about Kyle Hollingsworth. The String Cheese Incident sent out an email today detailing two new dates for their summer calendar and it’s here in Colorado! Cheese will be coming to the Dillon Amphitheater on Tuesday, July 17th and Wednesday, July 18th. Presale tickets go on sale this Friday and the public sale will begin next Friday, March 16th, at 11 am. Below are some links that provide more information about the event.

JamBase Article: https://www.jambase.com/article/string-cheese-incident-adds-2-2018-summer-tour-dates

String Cheese Official Website: http://stringcheeseincident.com/

I’m excited about another date that was added recently to the Aggie as well. On Thursday, March 29th the DeadPhish Orchestra w/ Special Guests will be performing. The group is from Colorado and you guessed it, plays a mixture of Grateful Dead and Phish songs. Here are some other upcoming shows in Fort Collins I will (most likely) be attending:

TAUK w/ PHO @ The Aggie 4/6/18

The Werks w/ Maxwell Mud and Special Guests @ Hodi’s Half Note 3/24/18

The Grass is Dead w/ Boris Garcia feat. Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) @ Hodi’s Half Note 4/4/18

Kitchen Dwellers w/ Part & Parcel and River Valley Rangers @ Hodi’s Half Note 4/20/18

 

Spaffnerd

Next week on Thursday, March 15th, I will be seeing Spafford at The Old Town Pub in Steamboat Springs. I’m really excited about this show not only because Spafford is one of my favorite bands but because I will be skiing in Steamboat as well. The ‘boat is one of the coolest places in Colorado in my opinion and they have been getting a lot of really great live music lately. I haven’t been to a concert at The Old Town Pub yet either so that should be interesting. Check the links to Spafford’s website and their YouTube page below. If you haven’t heard of them, please give them a listen. They remind me a lot of Phish and have tremendous musical talent.

Spafford Official Website: http://www.spafford.net/

Spafford YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SpaffordMusic

 

That’s all for now, I’ll see you all swimming by!

 

 

 

Review: Kyle Hollingsworth Band w/ Hot Buttered Rum – Kyle’s 50th Birthday Party & Album Release @ The Aggie 3/1/18

Good ole’ HBR

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From Left: Bryan Horne (Bass & vocals) James Stafford (Drums) Erik Yates (Banjos, guitars, woodwinds & vocals) Nat Keefe (Guitar & vocals) Zeb Bowles (Fiddle & vocals)

What’s up Phishy people?! I apologize for the slightly late post but I was seeing Kyle Hollingsworth and Hot Buttered Rum last night! This was a special show indeed, not only were two of my favorite groups playing, but when the clock struck midnight, Kyle celebrated his 50th birthday. In addition to this, his group released a brand new studio album entitled “50.”

Before Kyle took the stage, however, the improvisational bluegrass group from San Francisco, Hot Buttered Rum, got the crowd grooving. I was proudly wearing my HBR t-shirt I got at a past show of theirs and the band members took notice, smiling in my direction. The group added a new member since the last time I saw them, Zebulon Bowles. He is a fantastic fiddle player and really contributes a lot to their band’s overall sound.

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Hot Buttered Rum

Opening up with a strong version of the song “Busted in Utah” and then transitioning seamlessly into a number of other long jams, the guys had me lost in their trademark groove. Their music truly warms the soul. It’s got humor, soul, strong vocals, brilliant rhythm, Americana roots, and a genuine spirit. Check out the setlist below and give them a listen on Spotify or another streaming service. If you like bluegrass, you won’t be disappointed.

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Setlist for Hot Buttered Rum

Happy Birthday Kyle!

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Kyle Hollingsworth

Many of you probably know Kyle from his work with the String Cheese Incident as a founding member in 1993. Kyle is a keyboard legend and has exceptional skills with the organ, Rhodes, and synths. When he isn’t touring with Cheese, Kyle leads his own group. I had seen them once previously at a small festival and was thoroughly impressed. Since then, I think they have improved significantly and their playing has gotten tighter. They also had a guest vocalist playing with them who had a tremendous range. During their performance, they invited Erik, Bryan, and Zeb back on the stage to join them in an epic group jam for a couple songs.

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Kyle Hollingsworth Band
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Group jam with members of Hot Buttered Rum

Playing a mix of old and new songs as well as some String Cheese classics like “Let’s Go Outside” and “Rosie,” the crowd was treated to an exciting and varied night of music. Everyone was having a lot fun, dancing the night away, and joyously singing along. At midnight, the band came out for their second set and got everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to Kyle. It was a special moment and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.

The encore was a highlight as well. Kyle started in on what sounded like something very familiar. It was the opening chords to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley!” Kyle then suddenly dropped into the start of “Rosie” and everyone lost their minds. I think we all had been wishing they would play that song all night so it was pretty awesome to get it in the encore. Finally, Rosie melted into the bass-line of “Short Skirt Long Jacket” by Cake. This concluded another incredibly fun night at Aggie, one that will be remembered for a long time to come.

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Setlist for Kyle Hollingsworth. Charmingly, on a paper plate.

Thanks again for reading, everyone! Check back next week for more!