Cajun Festival Cooks It Up with Papa Mali, Lukas Nelson And then Papa Grows Funk Returns for TCTV Fundraiser
by Rebecca Thoreson
Jul 30, 2009 | 705 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – It's gonna get downright swampy around here with the return of Papa Mali for the Telluride Cajun Festival, and this year, fans are in for a treat, as Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann will appear with Papa Mali for the big shindig Friday night.

No stranger to Telluride audiences, Papa Mali has appeared at the Blues and Brews Festival, and is known for his colorful collaborations, such as his teaming with Kirk Joseph, Henry Butler and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux on the phenomenal Do Your Thing release in 2007.

Now Papa Mali has joined forces with the one of the best drummers in the biz, and the result will undoubtedly be cosmic, as Papa Mali's psychedelic space blues can only be further enhanced by Kreutzmann's famous chops.

As the drummer and cofounder of the Dead, Kreutzmann played every show in that band’s kaleidoscopic 40 years-plus voyage, and although he has his fingers in a pile of pies, Kreutzmann recently hooked up with Papa Mali, AKA Malcolm Welbourne. “We first met at the Oregon Country Fair last year. He was the headliner on the Main Stage, and I sat there and watched him and went, 'This guy's for real man, I like this guy.'” recalls Kreutzmann. “Then we met. After that, he came over to my trailer, and you couldn't separate us; we talked for hours. It was just one of those natural things, you know. You can't plan it, you can't make it happen. And then we started playing together.” 

Since that meeting the two have played numerous shows, much to the delight of fans. Now they’ll make waves across Colorado with this weekend's Telluride appearance, with dates in Boulder and Denver slated for next week.

Joining Papa Mali and Kreutzmann are bass virtuoso Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green plus the tremendous multi-instrumentalist Matt Hubbard of Willie Nelson and Friends.  Look for this band of prolific players to span the musical spectrum, from Papa Mali's electronic voodoo to doses of the Grateful Dead repertoire. There's a hint that a new Robert Hunter tune may pop up, and there’s sure to be a good dollop of New Orleans' blues, funk and soul thrown into the spicy mix.

As if that weren't enough, the Cajun Fest this year also includes a terrific opening act, with Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real.

Son of Willie, there’s a distinct similarity in vocal timbre, but Lukas Nelson is carving out his own niche with a delicious infusion of guitar-driven Texas-tinged rock, drawing comparisons to such greats as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Nelson gets help from his kick-ass band, which has recently unleashed their brilliant debut Brando's Paradise Sessions. By the way, Nelson et al will be returning for Blues and Brews in September – yum!

This tremendous double bill may well be one of the best shows of the summer. Get downtown and groove with the swampy, funky fun at Cajun Festival, y’all!

Saturday, the New Orleans' vibe will continue to roll when Papa Grows Funk returns for the TCTV Fundraiser on the Sunset Stage in Mountain Village.

One of New Orleans' funkiest acts, PGF boasts an all-star line-up, firmly anchored around the slinky Hammond B3 grooves of “Papa” John Gros, well known for his work with George Porter, Jr.

Gros has surrounded himself with heavy-hitters including the incredible June Yamagishi on guitar, Marc Pero on bass, Galactic's Jason Mingledorff on Sax, and drummer Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander. “It’s been the concept from day one to play off the cuff, and these guys are all great musicians, so it’s a treat every night to get out there and go for the unknown,” says Gros. “We’ve been doing this for nine years, and it’s still a blast!”

Gros adds that the globetrotting PGF has just returned from a stint in Japan. “It’s our third trip over there,” he says. “We did four shows, including at a small club in a fishing village, and they all went great. In Japan, they sit down for concerts, but about halfway through the set they threw the chairs off to the side and everyone started dancing. They didn’t know what to do with themselves!”

Telluride audiences know that Papa Grows Funk throws down, and Gros notes that the band has kicked it down for good causes here before. “Last summer we did the show at the Conference Center for TCTV, and we’ve done some things with KOTO. We love throwing out lifelines in real towns, rather than doing the corporate thing. Plus we’re looking forward to hanging out for a few days and chillin’.”

By the way, there’s free admission to the Telluride show, although donations are encouraged for TCTV. Also, Papa Grows Funk will be playing a string of shows in Colorado, including the Mountainside Mardis Gras Music Festival at Red Rocks on August 8.

Of course, The Fly Me to the Moon Saloon will be sizzling throughout the weekend, and prepare to rock after Cajun Fest with Beyond Society plus opening act Intertwined.

Beyond Society's progressive metal style is dank, and this show is not for wimps, as the Grand Junction powerhouse gets in your face with screaming guitar licks, ripping bass and heart-pounding drums.

Intertwined is another hard-edged Junction group that emerged in 2004 from the band Tesseract. The band has unveiled its sensational Shameless and is gearing up to kick it down at the Battle for Rock Jam next month.

Saturday, the Discovery Zone will take the Moon by storm, with its fab infusion of edgy styles (that sound something like early Pink Floyd meets Tool).

Monster vocalist Jamie Landau wails, and the Moon will be screaming this weekend, too!

At the Bubble Lounge, get warmed up for Cajun Fest with the Taylor-Pale duo during Friday happy hour on Friday. Later, drop in and groove with Back of the Bus.

On Saturday night, it's the return of the Turkey Creek Ramblers, and this may be one of their final shows (really), as Adam Pace is moving soon. Catch 'em on the fly.

If you can, get up and over to Silverton this weekend to hear Todd Anders Johnson and Salem, who will be tearing it up at Pride of the West on Friday night.

Happy Cajun Fest, and laissez les bon temps rouler!
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