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

“Fort 20”

Ah, yes. 4/20. What better way to spend the evening with some high quality grass. No, not that kind of grass. I mean bluegrass! The night was cold and rainy, a perfect reason to be inside warming the body and the soul with the heartfelt sounds of strings. I had been looking forward to this show for a while and was excited to see what the Kitchen Dwellers were all about. I hadn’t seen them before nor had I listened to much of their music but I kept hearing positive reviews about them from others.

My girlfriend and I got there around 10 so we missed the River Valley Rangers but we were able to see some of Part & Parcel’s set. I’m pretty sure I have seen them before in the past opening for another group. They were solid, played with a lot of energy, and really belted out the lyrics.

Dancin’ to the Dwellers

According to their website, the Kitchen Dwellers met at Montana State University just three years ago and they have been captivating bluegrass fans ever since. Their rise on the music scene was rapid, playing with big name groups like Railroad Earth and getting spots at major festivals around the country. Fans have dubbed their genre “Galaxy Grass” and I think this is a fitting description. Their sound is unique, ambitious, and pushes the boundaries of what traditional bluegrass usually sounds like. With the somewhat recent addition of Torrin Daniels on banjo, the group is able to take jams out into orbit with the help of several funky sound kits. Daniels’ banjo seemed to be engineered with technology from a distant galaxy because one moment it would sound like any old banjo but then the next it sounded like Jerry Garcia’s guitar or even like a Moog synth. It gave their entire sound it’s distinct personality.

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Kitchen Dwellers: From Left: Max Davies (guitar, vocals), Torrin Daniels (banjo, vocals), Joe Funk (bass, vocals), Shawn Swain (mandolin, vocals).

Rowdiness Ensues

The Dwellers got the crowd worked up in a hurry. People were stomping their feet, spinning around, dancing, and hollering up a storm. They somehow managed to maintain a near constant level of energy throughout their entire long set, taking only a couple 2 minute breaks in between some of the songs. I was really impressed by their range of vocals, harmonies, and overall rhythm they had together as a group. It seemed like they had their sound figured out and could lock into some deep jams. After this show, I’m definitely a fan of the galaxy grass! Next time they come around, I’ll be seeing them again.

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Shawn getting a solo

Goodbye for now!

I can’t believe it but this is my last blog post! (at least for now). The semester has come to a close and I have reached my 10th posting. It’s been a lot of fun getting to write about something I love and sharing it with you all. I hope you have enjoyed getting to read about my live music adventures and who knows, if you check back at some point I might post again just for the heck of it. Thanks to everyone who left me nice comments and took the time to read what I had to say, it meant a lot! I’ll see you around and don’t forget to keep on jamming!

Check out the setlist below as well as some links to the Kitchen Dwellers media if you are so inclined.

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Kitchen Dwellers Setlist (Encore was “Deal” by the Grateful Dead)

Link it up

Kitchen Dwellers Main Website: https://www.kitchendwellers.com/

KD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kitchen.dwellers/

KD Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/kitchen-dwellers

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Review: The Grass is Dead w/ Boris Garcia Feat. Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) @ Hodi’s 4/4/18

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Flyer found on campus

All The Way From Philly

My excitement for this show had been growing for several weeks due to the fact that I was going to be able to see a musical legend, Tim Carbone, play in such a small venue such as Hodi’s Half Note. Tim is known for playing the fiddle and guitar with the jamgrass group called Railroad Earth. Railroad is a well known group in the jam scene and they have sold out Red Rocks before. Just getting to see him play was awesome and Grateful Grass was icing on the cake! I got there in plenty of time to see Boris Garcia, the opening group that Tim was jamming with. Boris Garcia is a jamgrass group with Americana and progressive overtones. They fuse a really cool mix of strings with percussion and a tendency to explore many different musical styles. Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, the six man group has been playing for a little over 10 years. Their sound reminded me a little of Railroad Earth but that’s probably because Tim was playing with them. This was the first time I have seen them and I was thoroughly impressed. It felt like a real treat to see such a talented group of musicians playing for a total of about 12 people including myself.

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Cool Shot of Mr. Carbone
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Boris Garcia: From Left: Bud Burroughs (Mandolin and keys), EJ Simpson (Bass), Jeff Otto (Vocals, guitar, ukulele), Leonard “Boots” Jaffee (Harmonica), Tim Kelly (Drums), Tim Carbone (Fiddle, guitar), Bob Stirner (Guitar, vocals)

A surprise guest appearance was made by a man named Leonard “Boots” Jaffee. I recently learned that he is the head chef for the Newsom Dining Hall right here at CSU. His background in music extends back to the 1960s where he did pyrotechnics for the Grateful Dead. During the show, he played harmonica alongside Boris Garcia and The Grass is Dead. Truly amazing!

Grateful For Grass

After Boris Garcia’s excellent performance, The Grass is Dead took the stage. They play a wonderful blend of Dead favorites but they put their own flair on the classic songs. Sometimes they might speed up the tempo of Fire on the Mountain or play a more uptempo version of Easy Wind. I did my best to take note of all the songs they played:

Alabama Getaway, Viola Lee Blues, Candyman, Mama Tried, I Know You Rider, Ramble on Rose, West L.A. Fadeaway, Samson and Delilah, Dark Star, Easy Wind, Feel Like a Stranger, Stop That Train, E: Ripple

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The Grass is Dead: From Left: Steve Pruett (Mandolin, vocals), Billy Gilmore (Banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, Dobro, pedal steel, vocals) Brian Drysdale (Drums, vocals), Jared Womack (Dobro, vocals), Jon Murphy (Bass, vocals)

Coming out of the gates with Alabama Getaway got me pumped because one, I love this song, and two, it’s been stuck in my head for a while. A great version of Candyman came after Viola, and the guys just kept it rolling. I thought they might take a break at some point but they decided to play one long set. I was impressed by their stamina to be able to play with a high amount of energy for so long. “Boots” joined them for a couple jams as well, which was fun to see.

The highlight of the night, however, was after the show ended and the guys decided to come down on the floor to play an acoustic version of Ripple as their encore. I got to stand two feet away from them as me, the band, and the other dozen or so people all sang along. It was a one of a kind experience that I won’t forget.

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Ripple Encore

More Grass On The Horizon

Next Friday, I’ll be going to see another bluegrass group called the Kitchen Dwellers playing at Hodi’s. I’ve heard good things about them but I have not been able to catch one of their live shows yet so I’m excited. As usual, check below for some links to the artists discussed in this post.

Boris Garcia Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Boris-Garcia-187834267930391/

The Grass is Dead Main Website: https://www.grassisdead.com/

 

Review: DeadPhish Orchestra w/ Taylor Scott Band (ft. Todd Smallie of Derek Trucks band, JJ Grey & Mofro), STIG @ The Aggie 3/29/18

Starting the Night Out Right

I arrived slightly later this evening, thinking that the opening bands would take their time getting out and would be playing a while. I hadn’t heard of the Taylor Scott Band or STIG before so I wasn’t feeling super compelled to get there early. However, once I got there at about 9:40, STIG had already finished their set and TSB was on stage. I was surprised, they must have gotten out in a hurry and played a quick set. I liked what I was hearing from TSB though and was glad I could catch some of their performance. It was also a treat to see Todd Smallie playing bass with them. He is incredibly talented and playing with the Derek Trucks Band is no small potatoes.

At first I thought his last name was “smiley” and I thought that was hilarious because the entire time he was playing, he had the biggest grin I’ve ever seen. How fitting that last name would have been. His enthusiasm for music transferred to his playing. After an insane bass solo, Smallie blew the crowd away with his skills. Their performance was a great way to get the crowd ready for DeadPhish.

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Taylor Scott Band – From Left: Todd Smallie on bass, Taylor Scott on guitar, Larry Thompson on drums, and Jon Wirtz on keys

Bring Out Ya Dead! Bring Out Ya Phish!

After TSB’s high energy set, it was time for DeadPhish Orchestra to take the stage. I was really excited to hear them play. I had been listening to some of their past shows recently and was impressed by their ability blend the folksy, mellow sound of the Dead with the fast-paced and progressive sound of Phish.

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DeadPhish Orchestra – From Left: Ted Tilton on keys and vocals, Paul Murin on guitar and vocals, Chris Sheldon on drums and vocals, and Brian Adams on bass and vocals

The guys started out with a nice version of the Phish song “Buried Alive.” It got the crowd moving and was setting the scene for what was to come. They transitioned into the Dead’s “Let it Grow” next. This back and forth style is how they structure their shows, a 50/50 blend of the two bands’ music. Coming out of “Let it Grow” were the opening chords to “Sample in a Jar” and this really got me hyped. I love “Sample” and apparently everyone else in attendance did too. We all sang along and rocked out to Murin’s epic solo. While it isn’t officially listed on the setlist they posted to their Facebook, the group went straight into the jam section of “Split Open and Melt” and skipped the opening.

After a while, I was starting to wonder when they would take a set break. Almost an hour and 40 minutes in and they were showing no signs of stopping. Eventually, Paul told the crowd that they had originally planned to take a break but decided to just play one long set. I thought it was pretty cool of them to stay out and keep jamming for us.

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Paul Murin Doing Some Anastasio-esque Jedi Guitar Tricks

What followed was an awesome string of Phish and Dead songs:

Feel Like A Stranger, Wolfman’s Brother > Friend of the Devil > My Friend My Friend > Here Comes Sunshine > Golden Age > Here Comes Sunshine, Mike’s Song > Black Peter > Weekapaug Groove, Bertha > Bug. E: Attics of My Life > Harry Hood

I felt really glad to have heard some of the lesser played Dead songs like “Black Peter” and “Attics of My Life.” DeadPhish did a great job nailing the emotion in these songs and the harmonies between them sounded nice.

Overall, I felt like DeadPhish Orchestra’s sound resembles Phish more than the Dead because number one, it’s a four man group like Phish compared to a 7 person group like Grateful Dead, and number two, Murin’s guitar playing sounded more like Trey’s than Jerry’s. When they did play Dead songs, it sounded like a funkier, more experimental version. I would compare it to how Joe Russo’s Almost Dead sounds. Of course, no one will EVER sound exactly like the Grateful Dead or Phish. This is just fine by me. I think it’s fun to see groups channeling the sound of these jam legends while at the same time making something their own.

Stayin’ Grateful

The Dead vibes continue this week as I will be attending the Grass is Dead at Hodi’s on Wednesday. I’m excited to hear some more Grateful Dead in bluegrass form. Plus, Tim Carbone, the fiddle player from Railroad Earth, will be there. A review of that show will be up sometime next week. Thanks again for reading and help yourself to some links below!

DeadPhish Orchestra Main Website: http://deadphishorchestra.com/

DeadPhish Orchestra Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeadphishOrchestra/

DeadPhish Orchestra Archive: https://archive.org/details/DeadPhishOrchestra