No matter your method of rocking out, Warren Station in Keystone has something to satisfy your musical cravings this weekend.
It all starts with bluegrass on Friday, March 14, when The Travelin’ McCourys, featuring Bill Nershi of the String Cheese Incident, take the stage along with Pert’ Near Sandstone, and continues Saturday, March 15, with funk rock from The Motet and special guest Euforquestra.
Keeping it fresh
Sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo, join fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram to form Travelin’ McCourys, a group that pays homage to old-school bluegrass in their instrumentation and song selections.
“We do give a nod to the traditional bluegrass,” Bartram said. “We do some of those old songs as covers, and we do them pretty close the originals. We do a fair amount of our own material, as well, that we have written ourselves or other people have written for us. We may stretch out a little bit on certain songs, but we never really get that far away from traditional bluegrass.”
The McCoury brothers have been playing music together all their lives, Bartram said, and Carter at one time was a member of Del McCoury’s band. But rather than using their comfort with one another to fall into mundane patterns, the band has a few tricks to keep their music fresh.
“We don’t use a permanent guitar player,” Bartram said. “On this tour, Billy Nershi is the guitar player for these shows in Colorado. Next month, we’ll have Keller Williams. We do a collaboration with him, and he’s known as a one-man jam band. That’s one thing that keeps changing a little bit; even as we stay the same, we kind of rotate different guitar players in and out of the group.”
Bartram said because of the rotating guitarist slot, the Travelin’ McCourys are always working on new songs or learning new songs that are specific to each strummer.
“It definitely injects some more vigor into the band,” he said. “Instead of having the same guys all the time, it’s exciting. It can be a little scary — well, really it’s not that scary, but it’s exciting — you have that little bit of anxiousness. You get to play these songs again that you only get to play with this particular player.”
It’s better when it’s live
Dave Watts, drummer for The Motet, describes the band’s music as club with a little bit of Afro beat and a lot of improvisation.
“It’s hard to describe your own music sometimes because you feel like you’re putting yourself in a box,” he said. “Club music is a great sort of answer to a lot of (electronic dance music) that’s happening these days. It’s really come around; people are really responding to it.”
People love to dance, and there are a lot of DJs in the recent music scene who are catering to those audiences, but few live acts, Watts said.
“It’s sort of exceptional to see dance music that’s focused on that aspect of the show,” he said. “It’s something that really gives people an alternative to that whole style, that genre. … I think people really respond well to those moments where they see that music is being created onstage and they are part of it.
“The energy of the room has a lot to do with the music we create, improvised music or a solo. At the EDM shows, the DJ has to rely on lights to satisfy what’s happening on stage. To have a band up there, the audience wants that, to see it created in front of them instead of being pre-recorded.”
The Motet just finished a stint in Mexico with The String Cheese Incident — “five days of going to the beach all day and playing music at night,” Watts said — and is preparing for the shock of the Colorado winter with gigs in Telluride and Durango. The band just released a new self-titled album, and their show in Keystone will be a mountain CD-release party.
“We’ll have our new CD available at the show, and we’ll be playing a bunch of tunes off that,” Watts said. “Radio stations in the area have been really responsive, it’s been playing a lot around town, so that’s really the focus of the show.”