This weekend will be rockin' in Telluride, as the winter music scene keeps rolling along. Live shows at the Sheridan, the Moon and a freebie at the Conference Center offer a variety of beats to satisfy any and all itchy feet. Get ready for some straight-ahead rock, Afro-beat and true sounds of New Orleans.
Rose Hill Drive
Rose Hill Drive is a power trio made up of the Sproul brothers, Jake on bass and lead vocals, Daniel on lead guitar and harmony vocals, and their friend Nate Barnes on drums. Their combined ages make them younger than Keith Richards, but their sound is as old and as big as the hills.
The three members met during high school in Boulder, and the band soon came together, with their practice sessions practically blowing the door off of the garage of the Sproul Family home, located on Rose Hill Drive.
RHD quickly developed and built a reputation on the budding Colorado music scene as something off the well-beaten track of hippie jam bands for which Boulder was known.
In other words, they rocked!
Raised on a steady diet of blues and rock Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Robert Johnson along with more contemporary bands such as The Black Crowes and Stone Temple Pilots RHD learned their musical lessons quickly and adeptly.
Today, Rose Hill Drive is a critically acclaimed live band putting on a show that harkens back to the renaissance of rock. Their performances leave the boomers satisfied and younger fans with mouths agape after finally experiencing what they've only heard about in stories from older rock fans. RHD has been referred to as "the next Led Zeppelin," and they have generated more excitement than any band I have come across in a long time that is still working on their first album.
RHD is on a path that is turning out to be as big and bad as their wildest dreams. A couple weeks ago, while on the road somewhere in Texas in the midst of a tour playing five nights a week, Daniel explained those dreams.
"When we were in high school, my bro and I would sit around with my dad talking about how rock was going to make a revival," he said. "We didn't know how, or how we would be involved. It was all kind of a pipe dream. But it was in our sights, and it has always been our vision."
From what I have seen in Telluride, this town is wildly ready for the revival. The Black Crowes rekindled a flame smoldering underneath the acceptance of New Orleans funk and Colorado jam grass. Lez Zeppelin fanned those flames this winter when they engulfed the Opera House. This Saturday night, Rose Hill Drive will ensure the fire and passion of true rock and roll never dies when they play the Opera House.
What is exciting about Rose Hill Drive is that they don't simply pay tribute to an art some thought lost they are fully part of it. They own the creativity of the writing and the power and emotion of the sound. They are not reinventing rock they are defined by it.
When I asked Daniel if it was fair to keep comparing RHD to Led Zeppelin, and if they minded the reference, he explained, "Zep is maybe the biggest influence we have. They wrote the book as far as I'm concerned."
At this, I had to mention Steph Paynes of Lez Zeppelin, who broke out the double neck, 12- and six-string electric for the "Rain Song" from The Houses of the Holy. Daniel simply blurted out, "that's the best album ever," a testimony for both bands that it is not about gimmicks, it is about playing the music they love, spreading that love and letting the flames take over.
The Saturday, March 18 Rose Hill Drive show in the Opera House is at 10 p.m., doors open at 9:30 p.m.
With drummer-songwriter Dave Watts at the helm, The Motet continues its tradition as one of the most eclectic bands on the scene today. The Motet's unique blend of Afro-beat, Afro-Cuban, Latin, funk and jazz traditions defies categorization. Drawing on the wealth of musical inspiration in the band's hometown of Boulder, The Motet always raises the bar on musicianship. Their music is a grooving improvisation that awakens and stirs the soul.
The Motet continuously explores an unparalleled depth of influences. They have played Cuban folkloric music, frenzied samba rhythms and straight-ahead funk. The latest Motet material draws on Afro-beat, a genre inspired by the legendary Fela Kuti. These instrumental compositions encourage listeners to redefine the way they look at jazz, and enhance The Motet's reputation as a world-class ensemble.
They play the Moon Saturday, March 18.
JoJo and His Mardi
Widespread Panic decided a sabbatical from their widespread touring was a good idea, but the members just couldn't stop playing music. Dave Schools put together Stockholm Syndrome, which rocked through Telluride a couple of times, and keyboard player John "JoJo" Hermann formed the Mojo Mardi Gras Band, and will be visiting Telluride on March 23 as part of Mountain Village's free concert series at the Conference Center. Like so many other musicians and bands, the Panic has a lot of friends here and is eager to come back to town. (Rumor has it that they would love an excuse to visit this summer.)
JoJo's band is made up of Max Abrams (saxophone), Johnny Few (bass), Hunter Williams (percussion), and Kevin Mabin (drums). The band focuses on the sound of New Orleans, pioneered by artists like Professor Longhair, Dr. John and The Funky Meters, all of whom were a huge part of JoJo's musical background. JoJo and His MoJo Mardi Gras Band have performed at festivals like Bonnaroo and Nashville River Stages. In capturing the quintessential sound of New Orleans, the Mojo Mardi Gras Band will be sure to provide a night of dancing, partying and great entertainment.
Michael Franti comes the Michael D. Palm Theatre next Friday, March 24. He is bringing his new documentary, I Know I'm Not Alone, and will introduce the film, host a question and answer session and give a solo acoustic performance. The documentary follows him though the Middle East as he explores the cost of war while packing a guitar and video camera.
The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $20. Franti presents the film and plays solo the night before in Crested Butte (for $30, by the way). That show is sold out. Friday's show is a fundraiser for KOTO and you can find tickets on their website, www.koto.org, or by calling the station at 728-4334.
Also kicking off next Friday is the Plunge Festival featuring some of the most cutting edge musicians in the country, including Tre Hardson, DJ Logic, Rahzel, Adam Deitch, Enon and The Slip.