Listen to some Samples for school |

Listen to some Samples for school

BRECKENRIDGE – Guitarist Sean Kelly was a starving artist, but his plight inspired him – he named his band after food samples he scarfed from King Soopers and the Hare Krishnas in Boulder.

The Samples originated in 1986 and became one of the most popular touring bands out of Boulder in the early 1990s. Their relaxed, jazz-pop sound and hypnotic grooves have resulted in record sales in the millions and sold-out shows nationwide.

The band helped pave the way for the Dave Matthews Band’s success by letting Matthews open for the Samples’ biggest shows at Red Rocks and nationwide. The Samples signed to MCA records in 1996 to release “Outpost” and stayed with the label until about four years ago, when it was bought out.

The musicians began releasing their records independently and building support through a grassroots network of fans, but they ran out of money to tour. In January, Kelly sent an e-mail to his fans asking them to contribute money, ideas and support to help the band continue. He offered lifetime passes to Samples shows and sold more than 500, which gave the band enough money to tour and continue working on its next album.

Its 2002 release, “Anthology in Motion, Volume 1,” is a three-CD compilation of songs from 1982 to 2001. The collection includes a version of “Ocean of War” from 1983, when Kelly was just starting out as a singer, as well as “Last Summer,” a song about the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. Even with three CDs, Kelly couldn’t fit his vast repertoire onto the anthology.

“It’s still in motion because we’re working on another one this summer,” Kelly said.

Though the Samples have been criticized for songs that are virtually indistinguishable from one another (and often compared to Sting or the Grateful Dead), the band has maintained its reputation as a concert favorite across the country.

“We put a lot into our shows,” he said. “It’s a full multimedia experience, with movies going on behind us, ranging from nature programs like the Discovery Channel to artistic photographs. It’s very active. There are a lot of strengths coming from all directions.”

The local scene

Hours before the Samples take the stage, three local bands rev up the crowd. Each band plays a 50-minute set, with a 30-minute break in between each set.

The Kudzoos (originally the Kudzoo Brothers) start the jam at 2 p.m. Bill Sneed, Craig “Doc PJ” Perrinjaquet and Mike Frantin dropped the “Brothers” from their name last year after Stephen Kearley left the band. They added a “sister,” Beth Blunt, who adds strong harmonies and more funk and blues to the band, which originally focused on bluegrass.

After the Kudzoos, Blue Monkey cranks out its surf sets, Santana medleys and rhythm-and-blues covers. The band’s sole purpose on stage is to get girls dancing, because the way the musicians see it, if the girls are happy, the guys are, too.

The four musicians tweak their sound with conga player Saam Golgoon, who slaps out a hot Latin beat.

“Saam and I have this link where we can go percussively off and where we can play Latin rhythms together,” drummer Wayne Jones said. “That’s where we went off on Santana.”

“We’re not a loud band,” Golgoon said. “We play a lot of people’s favorite songs, and we play songs other cover bands don’t try.”

Right before the Samples play, the Newtones make their debut in Summit County. Drummer Andy Koppen, formerly of the Miltones, has put together a new band with members of Likewise and the Seventh Hour. The new jam band plays all original tunes.

The June Jam begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Tickets are $22 in advance and $27 the day of the show. They may be purchased by calling (970) 453-3187. All proceeds will help build the Little Red School House’s new Vista Point facility in Breckenridge. The facility will increase capacity from 30 to 70 children.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

Event: June Jam

When: 2 p.m. local bands begin, 7 p.m. the Samples begin, Saturday, June 7

Where: Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge

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