Josh Moorehead & the Guestlist want you to forget the past and make new memories with them and their new music.
No more nostalgia.
That was the theme of Friday night’s show at the Oriental Theater and subsequently the name of Josh Moorehead and the Gueslist’s recent LP release. After launching their first EP Rest Assured just last January, this seven piece self-described “western-swing” band spent the past few months writing and recording songs in their living room (bassist Cameron Wyman, drummer Tate Ignelzi, and guitarist/frontman Josh Moorehead lived together). And I mention the living room because for JMATG, the living room sounds like it was that space where things clicked creatively for the band. It’s where Moorehead spent time writing lyrics, where Eric Estrada (trumpet) crafted horn parts, and where Zach Holcomb (piano) brought forth the keys. It’s the space where the guys tell me, “we wrote all of the instrumental harmonies together.” Nirvana had a garage; Josh Moorehead and the Guestlist had a living room. You get the idea.
But that living room is about to be no more. Their old house is set to be demolished any day now. And so the band decided, what better time for a tour? They bought an old party bus, packed up their lives, and are headed for journeys through the Southwest, Tijuana, and along the West Coast. Hence No More Nostalgia. This Denver crew has been rising to the top of the local music scene without much time to reminisce; they’ve got to venture on.
JMATG’s sound definitely has that western kick they claim it does. But since several of its members met in jazz school, it's got a powerful swing to it as well. They play around with polyrhythms, Ignelzi uses what look like double-stick mallets for impressive cymbal swells, and Estrada fronts some seriously cool trumpet solos. At times, they even boast a fuller horn section, with a French and a sax.
Their original tunes lyrically craft imagery of a time past. A few of them remind you of what might have played on an old Bush radio outside of a lonesome highway gas station; tumbleweed rolling by to your left, sun blaring on your right. But they also bring a modern, bluesy sound to their catalogue. Their finesse at combining the old with the new was evident in their cover/mash-up of the Everly Brothers “All I Have To Do Is Dream" with the Pixies “Where Is My Mind”. Super f*cking cool.
When the groovin' came to an end for the night, one mystery remained. What's with the name?
“Funny story!” smiled Ignelzi.
Moorehead laughed, “Ok yeah. So basically I was playing solo shows with my name and I would have guests come up on stage and join me for parts of my set. So I’d say ‘It’s Josh Moorehead and the Guests.’ But then to get friends to come to shows, a few of us got together and started telling people- ‘Hey you should come by tonight! We put you on the guestlist!’ And so they would show up and tell the door guy ‘Hey we’re on the guestlist!’ and he’d be like, you know, ‘There isn’t one, but come in.’ It turned into this whole joke and then it just stuck. I never meant for my name to be in what is now the band. But that’s just how it happened.”
The Guestlist guys all start to laugh, and I do too. Well done dudes.
Great release party. Great tour kickoff. And no more time for nostalgia: Their ‘Chevro-let Your Hair Down’ tour has begun! Check out Josh Moorehead and the Guestlist here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.