There was a night full of good 'ol Americana here in Boulder last week.
Last Thursday night, I hit up a show on The Hill. This was my first time covering any show at The Fox, and the venue’s reputation precedes it. I took in the scene, listening to openers Caribou Mountain Collective, a tight-knit quartet from Nederland. From any angle, it was clear that the behind-the-scenes crew helping to make the show were as much a part of it as the performers, and that made the initial connection between audience, musicians, and crew all the more open.
Then Grant Farm took the stage. The progressive Boulder-based roots rock group showcased pristine three-part harmonies and a rotation of vibrant vocalists. Tyler Grant brought his National Flatpicking Champion status to the stage, and at one point, I caught keyboardist Kevin “Money” McHugh mimicking drummer Sean “Magic” Macaulay by beating on the keyboard, creating a rhythmic echo. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was fascinating to listen to.
Watch Grant Farm's official music video for "Fill Your Cup":
On songs like “Get In Line” and “Fill Your Cup” from last month’s LP release Kiss the Ground, Grant Farm payed tribute to working class folks. The whole set had strong socioeconomic undertones impossible to miss. One of the more notable songs was “I Wish That It Would Rain”, where the lyrics speak, “It just don’t seem fair that to make ends meet/You’ve gotta work over 48 hours a week and pray some day for a living wage/God I wish it would rain”.
Another tune of note was “Monarch King Meets His Maker”, where the roots rock players called for the crowd to “Wake Up!” The crowd did as they said, with a man in a paisley shirt leading the pit’s movement toward nirvana. The local Americana outfit then closed their set with the lyrics, “I’m gonna cash that check like it’s the last day on the job.” And that’s one feeling I think we’ve all had after a hard week on the job.
Like Grant Farm, Tahoe's Dead Winter Carpenters presented a progressive vantage point for concurrent Americana. Jenni Charles, with her dangling American flag print earrings, was nothing short of charming with her starlet voice and sharp fiddling techniques. Dave Lockhart chimed in on vocals too, matching Charles’ intensity, while alternating between rocking out on electric and upright bass.
With songs like “Midnight Ghost” and “Love Amongst Thieves” from the Americana band’s latest LP release Washoe (2016), Dead Winter Carpenters incentivized the people in the pit to dance through exhaustion. Each song was a controlled burn, and their Californian twang ignited The Fox and set the show ablaze.
Finally, the evening’s finale was reminiscent of a Grant Farm webisode, where the house band, which in this case was the local band, joined the out-of-towners onstage for a fulfilling collaboration. A Dead Winter Collective player addressed the crowd: “We’ve never had two drum kits onstage before.” And the show then ended with a fiery performance of talent, sweat, and amazing instrumentation.
Grant Farm and Dead Winter Carpenters elevated newgrass to a new level in Boulder last week. Learn more about these bands here.
All photos per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.