Whitewater Ramble starts residency at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco | SummitDaily.com

Whitewater Ramble starts residency at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco

Lynn Richter / Special to the Daily
Lynn Richter / Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: Whitewater Ramble begins winter residency with music of The Grateful Dead

When: Doors open at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3

Where: The Barkley Ballroom, 610 Main St., Frisco

Cost: Free

More information: Visit http://www.barkleyballroom.com

Fort Collins-based band Whitewater Ramble will be making a monthly appearance on the stage of The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco starting Wednesday, Dec. 3, as part of a winter residency running through the ski season.

“Whitewater Ramble has just a huge following here. People love them,” said Todd Altschuler, owner of the Barkley. “When we had the opportunity to have them do a whole winter’s worth of tribute sets along with their originals, you just had to jump at that.”

Each month, the band will play a set that follows a theme, ranging from the classic tunes of the Grateful Dead to the beloved beats of the 1990s. Mandolinist and vocalist Patrick Sites said the band’s management was kicking around ideas for something different for the group to do.

“They approached a couple of venues that we have good working relationships with, they loved it, thought it was great, and we took it from there and ran with it,” Sites said, adding that the themed shows will travel to venues in Denver and Boulder in addition to the stops in Summit County. “It’s a good challenge to work up and have an excuse to learn some more material.”


Sites, along with bandmates Patrick Latella, Howard Montgomery, Zebulon Bowles and Paul Kemp, compiled a list of themes that would be interesting both to the musicians and to their audience. The series’ opening concert on Wednesday, Dec. 3, will feature the music of the Dead.

“If we had to choose a collective favorite band of ours, it would be the Grateful Dead,” Sites said. “We cover it a lot anyways in our own repertoire. We’ve done Grateful Dead tribute nights before. That seemed like a no-brainer, easy one that we all liked.”

The Jan. 7 show will focus on the music of Old and in the Way, Jerry Garcia’s bluegrass super group from the 1970s.

“He was a very prolific, very accomplished banjo player, and his first love of music was bluegrass music,” Sites said of Garcia. “This was a side project band in the ’70s, with Richard Greene on the fiddle, David Grisman on mandolin, Peter Rowan on guitar. Jerry didn’t sing very much in this band at all, if you can believe that. …

“It bridges the gap between the Grateful Dead and bluegrass, where we kind of sit. We sit in this middle world of jam grass, using bluegrass instruments to play non-bluegrass music. We thought it would be a cool way to bridge those two worlds.”


For its Feb. 4 offering, Whitewater Ramble brings the music of Bob Marley. This genre might seem like a bit of a departure from the typical groove, but Sites said it really isn’t foreign or ridiculous for a band that loves reggae and has covered Marley’s music in the past.

“Our drummer is extremely fond of reggae, so we use those grooves and those beats a lot in our music,” he said. “That’s the wonderful thing about jam band or jam grass — just because I have a mandolin in my hand doesn’t mean I can’t play reggae. I can chop it just like Peter Tosh. … It’s definitely something that aligns better than you think.”

The music of Paul Simon gets its turn on Wednesday, March 4. Sites said Whitewater Ramble originally thought to do “Graceland” in its entirety but would have been excluding too much good material by just sticking to one album.

“As fun, late-night, after-party picking goes, we know and love lots of different kinds of music, songwriters and such, so we end up picking and playing on some of these songs late-night anyways,” Sites said. “We thought it would be fun to organize them and put them together in a band-friendly format.”

Wrapping up the series on April 1 will be a tribute to the music of the 1990s, from grunge to hip-hop to pop.

“This kind of is the alternative to what we feel is cliché, doing an ’80s night,” Sites said. “Our age group falls pretty heavily in the ’90s as far as formative times in our lives listening to music. We’ve got a broad gamut, and we could have a ton of fun goofing off with some of this material, a lot of sing-along stuff that I think everybody in attendance would know.”


Whitewater Ramble’s most recent album, “Roots & Groove,” featured a handful of special guests, and Sites said that collaborative spirit would spill over into the winter residency, though he was reluctant to give away all of the surprises.

“I know that our friend Rob Eaton will be joining us tomorrow night,” Sites said of the Dec. 3 show. “His dad is in Dark Star Orchestra, and he’s pretty well established and steeped in that. For Marley, we want some organ and keys, backup singers different nights. We’ll have different people involved, some great local bands that we like to play with and collaborate with and some larger, nationally touring guest-artist type people.”

Sites said the series is a great way for the band to play close to home, get a day on the mountain here and there and play music that has been influential in their careers.

“We’re super excited, and I think that people that know and love the band are going to be really excited about it too,” he said. “It’s an out-of-the-box thing, we’re really passionate about this, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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