On the Record with Zach & David: The Red Petals

By: David Landry and Zach Dahmen

Colorado's newest blues band sat down with us for records and a chat.

On the Record: Where David & Zach sit down with musicians, listen to records, and bring you their conversation.

The Red Petals choices for this session were: 

  1. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deju Vu
  2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
  3. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves
  4. The Everly Brothers - The Very Best of
  5. The Band - The Band

House Choice:

  1. Ryan Adams - Rock n Roll

Newly formed blues band The Red Petals walked through the door and went straight for the records; that’s JC McKim, Matt Lowber, and Austin Pacharz. Their story goes likes this: JC and Matt both grew up in Alaska and played in rival high school bands before they both ended up in Boulder. The two played together in a local project, Slanted Jack, but that eventually came to an end.

The Red Petals.

The Red Petals.

In late 2015, JC wanted to start a new project and Matt was itching to play more after a stint of shows playing percussion for Na’an Stop. And that is where Austin (Cold River City) comes in. Na’an Stop happened to need a temporary bass player for a couple of shows and Austin got the gig.

One night, while loading gear, Matt was talking music with the guys and that’s when it happened, the “Hey Austin, want to start a trio with JC and I?” And Austin, “Yeah!” So the three met up in Lyons, the mountain town that Matt calls home, and started to jam old blues and soul standards. It was fluid from the start, and not a lot of questions were asked.

From the beginning, Austin and Matt locked in playing together, and that’s a good thing because it allows JC to dance. JC plays a red, semi-hollowbody guitar, which drives the sound of the band. JC describes the guitar as “flashy blues”, and it’s made him want to play just that.

The three-piece are influenced by 50s and 80s blues, but still allow pop elements to fold in. Each member has their own influences too:

“Funk, jazz, reggae, and hiphop [are] a huge part of my drumming, and my musical approach to drumming.” said Matt.

Austin, on the other hand, is more into the great Pino Palladino (JMT, D’Angelo) and Chris Wood (Wood Brothers). Said Austin, “They know when to hold back and when to push the music further out into space into something cohesive.”

With all of these influences, The Red Petals form a blues power trio, like the greats Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and even the John Mayer Trio. Being a three-piece lets every instrument have its own space, but blend well together, giving the guys a rich, full tone.

Watch a video about The Red Petals formation:

After their experiences in other projects, the guys decided to go into this one with a different approach: have a solid foundation and act like it’s a business. Which is why they went straight to the studio to record singles before playing shows.

“Knowing we want to approach this professionally means that we have more than just the music to worry about,” said Matt.

And so the guys went to Andrew Oakley’s (WWO, A Shadow of Jaguar, Cold River City, BANDITS) practice space, a spot well seasoned and setup for recording. After tracking their first single, “Ruby Sky”, and an old Robert Johnson tune, “Come On In My Kitchen”, The Red Petals headed to Coupe Studios, where Greg McRae helped engineer and mix their sessions. The trio already has plans for more recordings too, and music videos to help push their vision forward.

Currently, The Red Petals are gearing up to play their first live show in Boulder at the Bohemian Biergarten this Thursday, March 31st, with a hometown show for Matt the following day in Lyons at Pizza Bar 66. In the meantime, keep up with the band here and get a taste of The Red Petals' music on their website

-David and Zach on the record

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

D'Angelo & the Vanguard: You Will Melt & You Will Love It

By: Hannah Oreskovich

D'Angelo killed it, but would you expect anything else?

D’Angelo strolled out onto the Ogden Theatre stage Wednesday night & melted his audience in one of the most incredible performances to ever grace my eyes. Truly.

D’Angelo and his current band the Vanguard played an almost three hour set that felt like a 1920s supperclub show, a harmonic worship service, a rockin’ metal production, & a sexy R&B swoon all in one.

How often do you see all of the stage security smiling and bopping their heads along to the beat with you? And how often are you at a show where everyone is dressed to the nines in heels, collared shirts, and dresses? D’Angelo and the Vanguard brought an infection of movement, music, and mirth to Denver this week.

D'Angelo & the Vanguard - Ogden Theatre. Photo Credit:  Hannah Oreskovich

D'Angelo & the Vanguard - Ogden Theatre. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

The musicianship of the Vanguard is incredible. Let’s talk Chris “Daddy” Dave first. His spiral trash cymbals fascinated me from the moment I walked in. When Dave tapped the bottom of the stacks, the metal swirled upward toward the cymbal on top and reverberated in a smooth, jazzy timbre. Daddy Dave was locked in tight to D’Angelo’s direction the entire night, slamming out beats whenever D’Angelo held up his hands. At one point D’Angelo yelled into the mic “45 & Goodnight!” and Dave proceeded to hit us with 45 consecutive strikes before D’Angelo’s first of three exits (they played double encores). Awesome.

Guitarists Jessie Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey were equally badass band members. They bumped funk, they spewed rock, they fingered jazz, and they straight shredded at points. Johnson (who brought more rock vibes) literally sparkled under the stage lights- the gleaming diamond watch on his strumming hand was only out-shined by his glittering guitar and perfect playing. Sharkey’s style was injected with jazz-fusion; he and D’Angelo jammed back to back in a synchronicity so strong that it was impossible to look away. Flawless.

Sharkey & da D. Photo Credit:  Hannah Oreskovich

Sharkey & da D. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

And who was holding down bass? The legendary Pino Palladino, who grooved us into oblivion with three different Fender basses. When you have a former member of The Who in yo clique, you’re bound to create an inconceivable performance. And they did.

Also of note was backup singer and dancer Kendra Foster. Kendra had power behind every move she made. Whether it was commanding the microphone with smooth vocals, her choreographed movements with the other two (male) backup singer/dancers, or her solo ballet performance when D’Angelo made one of several outfit changes, Kendra’s energy was unparalleled. She never stopped moving. And I didn’t want her to.

The Vanguard also boasted the talents of keyboardist Cleo “Pookie” Sample, a two-manned horn section, and the male backup singers I mentioned. All were incredible performers.

Rock on D. Photo Credit:  Hannah Oreskovich

Rock on D. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

And then there was D’Angelo, who was so great it’s almost hard to write about. For someone who had a fourteen year hiatus, you’d never know he left the stage. Whether he is crooning you on keys, sliding you around his extensive vocal range, or making you jump up and down with his guitar bridges, D’Angelo brings you into his musical creations and makes you an active part of his show. You want to be, because everything he does is contagious. He claps; you clap. He jumps; you jump. He sweats; you sweat. Seriously- you and everyone around you are drenched by the end of the show. The air is charged by the D. The air is charged by D’Angelo.

D’Angelo felt like a powerful amalgamation of musicians before him. There’s a little Jimi in there, there’s an element of Brian Wilson’s genius composition skills, there’s a piece of Prince’s stage presence, and of course there is a noticeable influence of James Brown. D’Angelo is one of the greats. His soul feels like it’s in every note.

So what did they play? You can see the setlist here. But it didn’t matter. You didn’t care because this performance was so much more than just hearing your favorite D’Angelo song.

Bonnaroo, you’re next in line for the amazingness that is this collective of souls. Don’t miss it.

See D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s entire tour schedule to get yourself to a show here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.