Billspeering’s electronica-charged jam sounds |

Billspeering’s electronica-charged jam sounds

Andy Stonehouse

BRECKENRIDGE – Here’s an observation of a recent transplant to the bucolic shores of Lake Dillon: When most Summit County residents hear the phrase “born and raised in the Vail Valley,” a certain sneer almost always materializes on those normally laid-back faces – that “oh-Vail-where-the-billionaires-outnumber-the-millionaires-and-people-use-Veuve-Cliquot-champagne-to-wash-their-Ferraris” sneer.Unfortunately, popular local opinion about the inherent evil and avarice of our mountain brethren in the Vail Valley is almost completely unfounded. If you must sneer, however, Aspen’s totally open territory (where they really do use Cristal champagne to wash their Lamborghinis).Anyhow … all that is a roundabout way of saying you should in no way fear (or pelt with rocks and garbage) the groovy foursome that is billspeering, a live techno/jam act whose members got their start while attending high school in (gulp) the Vail Valley.Technically, they’re now a Boulder act, and a project that continues to grow as the quartet finishes school at CU. And if you have yet to experience the band’s wonderfully original mix of electronic and organic sounds, don’t worry about that Vail musical heritage: Jimmy Buffett covers are the last thing on billspeering’s mind.Mike Caccioppo Jr., the group’s bassist, said the group’s currently in the enviable position of being a bit too busy, especially as the quartet tries to balance school with the music business.”It’s really become a full-time thing – we’re averaging between one and three gigs a week, all across Colorado … and we just played for 600 people at a show in Jackson Hole,” Caccioppo said. “We’ll all be done with school by next spring and we plan to just hit it then. Right now, we’re staying really busy.”What began as a high school garage band project has morphed into an act that straddles the line (and attracts a fan following that’s also split) between the techno and jam band camps.Caccioppo, guitarist Ryan Bailey and drummer Nick Gulizia square off with the Hammond B-3 organ and synthesizer sounds of keyboardist Spencer Blair, producing a mix of jazz, rock, funk and electronic beats they call “hallucinatory-embryonic-meditation with a charismatic unconventionality.”And that seems an apt fit for an act that’s performed at venues as wonderfully disparate as the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder and the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.”That was an amazing show we got through a connection with our guitar player. We ended up being the cocktail band at a big party – Hef was there – but most of the people were just schmoozers who looked at us like `who are you and what the hell are you guys playing?'”Billspeering’s found a more receptive audience at Boulder spots like Tulagi’s on the Hill and the Fox Theatre, although Caccioppo said the competitive nature of the Front Range music scene may predicate the band’s collective relocation when college is completed … perhaps to San Diego.In the meantime, the group continues to work on new songs and a small but suitably eclectic mix of cover tunes.”We’ve got a constantly growing list of material, a lot of which is improvisational. We end up composing stuff during the shows and using it. We also do a few covers by Ween, Phish and Pink Floyd, but that’s only a small percentage. Whatever the case, we’ve always got people left over at the end of our shows, saying `don’t stop.’ And we’ve also got a lot of people trading our live shows already.”Once the band’s finished what Caccioppo calls “the longest pre-production planning stage in music history,” the group’s also hoping to record its debut CD. The musical adventure continues until then.billspeering plays at 10 p.m. Saturday at Sherpa & Yeti’s.

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