Folk country & Americana hit the High Country
Ryan Summerlin December 1, 2011
Who: Joe JohnsonWhen: TonightWhere: Alma’s Only BarWhere did the band’s name come from? I moved to Colorado from my home in Hattiesburg, Miss., about eight years ago in search of inspiration and change of scenery. In Colorado I found unbelievable opportunity as an original folk country and country blues singer-songwriter, a genre I found was not (at least at the time) well represented in the Colorado Springs area or the Front Range in general. After my decision to stay here a while I began meeting various musicians in the area that I enjoyed hearing and playing with, in particular Jason Gilmore who is a rare and gifted talent on the mandolin and one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met. He and I have played together in a couple bands and as an acoustic duo for most of my eight years here, touring and recording with each project. At the beginning of this 2011 and on the eve of my new solo release “A Time To Dance,” I decided to take the true roots sound he and I had cultivated over the years and add the only element really missing in the upright bass skills of Sean Fanning. Sean has dedicated most of his life to his craft and is one of the most exciting and talented bass players in Colorado. As a trio we have spent the last year playing all over the state, enjoying a welcoming reception at every turn.Home Base: Colorado SpringsWho are you? I feel I stand in a long line of folk country traditionalists who try to keep to the original spirit of the genre and the music. This spirit includes heartfelt and truthful lyrics and a simple brand of music that identifies itself with the listener on a practical and emotional level. I also respect and emulate my favorite form of traditional music, the “country bluesman,” which is (for anyone not familiar with this almost forgotten and often co-opted form) the very basis of country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass and most other forms of American roots music. None of this should indicate a lack of modern approach or “rock ‘n’ roll” energy and entertainment. What I and the band try to do is bring all these together in a way that remains true to the folk art form while at the same time embracing the bluegrass and country “dance-ability” of a good live show.If your music were a tangible item, what would it be and why? A rocking chair, for obvious reasons. All kidding aside, a rocking chair. It can be easy and relaxing but it also moves you. It makes you feel at home while also entertaining. Well, maybe it’s just me that’s entertained by a rocking chair.Why do people love ya? Because I’m real. I put up no fronts, and our band doesn’t hide behind any frills. I think most people, no matter their background, enjoy this music because it’s honest and energetic and we enjoy doing it. When you dig what you do, it’s contagious, you know.How do you keep it fresh? I always strive to be a balanced writer and performer. Our original songs include rock, soul and other modern sounds and elements that complement the heavy bluegrass, country blues sound prevalent in most of the show. We don’t do a ton of covers, but you never know what you might get in that department. We rarely work with a set list or song order, so most of the time the feeling of the crowd or room dictates the feeling of the show. No two rooms or crowds are ever the same, so that helps keep it fresh as much as anything.What’s the craziest thing you’ve done/weirdest experience? Wow, well to protect the innocent I’ll have to choose carefully this answer. There was the hair-raising experience about four years ago of driving over Wolf Creek pass on the way to a gig in Durango during a blizzard in my old pickup truck, no heater and iced over windshield save a 1 x 1 foot space on the passenger side that I literally had to lean over to in order to see. That was pretty scary for an old Southern boy like me. Yeah, let’s go with that one.
Who: Nathaniel Rateliff When: 10 p.m. SaturdayWhere: three20south, BreckenridgeWhere did the band name come from: My parents gave me the idea for the name.Home Base: DenverType of music: Americana, folk and some other stuff mixed in.If your music were a tangible item, what would it be, and why? If it were tangible, it wouldn’t be music. But maybe some sort of melon – who doesn’t like melons?Why do people love ya? CapesHow do you keep it fresh: I keep chilled. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done/weirdest experience? I worked at a trucking company for nine years. More info: Nathaniel Rateliff has been making waves on a national level as a frequent collaborator with Mumford & Sons, so much so that no less than Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant has taken notice. Plant fondly describes Nathaniel’s sound as “empty, fragmented and poignant,” and he also notes that Nathaniel’s music is at the top of his playlist. Such overseas acclaim is unsurprising for a musician who’s honed his chops on the European festival circuit. Now he’s ready to make a splash stateside.Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door, available at Space Cowboy, Affordable Music and RMEntertainment.com