Forward Funk: The Runnikine Release Debut Single + Hit Cervantes' with Joey Porter’s Shady Business

By: Will Baumgartner

Denver pop/funk/hip-hop fusion trio The Runnikine are something of a local “supergroup.” Keyboardist/vocalist Eric Luba plays with local funk/soul stars Analog Son, drummer Will Trask is in Great American Taxi, and bassist Jon McCartan is with rising Americana rock stars The Drunken Hearts. All of these bands are making a name for themselves nationally, and if there’s any justice in the music world, The Runnikine will soon follow in their footsteps.

The Runnikine. 

The Runnikine. 

For now though, the group is focusing on building a strong local following- and they’re doing that quite nicely, thank you. It doesn’t hurt that the members are gregarious fellows who, beyond their main gigs, play with anyone and everyone they can on the side: most music fans in the Denver/Boulder area know of these guys having seen them play at some of the area’s biggest all-star jam nights. The word is spreading among the musical and fan community that The Runnikine are a group to watch, and for good reason: Their music is powerful, innovative, and driven by solid grooves.

Laying the foundation for a move beyond local popularity requires coming out with a great recording, and The Runnikine are doing just that. “They Walk Among Us,” the first single from their upcoming debut EP (which is slated for a May release) is a gem. The song starts with block chords on the keyboard and kicks in with a solid hip-hop feeling backbeat; then Luba’s laid-back, pensive vocals reel out a picture of fearful mistrust and jingoism that, while it’s not overtly political, certainly speaks to the current political climate in Trump’s America. When I spoke with Luba about the song, he said it was actually written before the election and the anti-Muslim travel ban, making it an eerily prescient bit of songwriting.  

The verse moves through a couple of key modulations and more potent imagery before hitting the stark, simple chorus of the song’s title. I place a lot of stock in well-written lyrics, and have to say that the words to this song are very impressive with lines like, “They can’t see where they’re going/When their eyes are closed,” “It’s too late to run/They’re already here,” and “You tell me where we’re going/Just don’t say the war.” These words are carefully-chosen, chilling, and affecting. Musically, the song also bears the hallmarks of craftsmanship and thoughtful use of harmonics, dynamics, and melody. And the production, which was done by Josh Fairman of the local treasure of a recording studio known as Scanhope Sound in Littleton, is superb.

A song as well-crafted as this has me eagerly anticipating the release of the band’s full three-song EP, and fortunately I won’t have to wait long: May is just around the corner! In the meantime, we all have the opportunity to see The Runnikine live when they open for Joey Porter’s Shady Business this Friday, April 7 at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver. And speaking of supergroups, Shady Business features Porter, Garrett Sayers, Lyle Divinsky and Drew Sayers of The Motet, Kris Myers of Umphrey’s McGee, Jennifer Hartswick of Trey Anastasio Band, and Adam Smirnoff of Lettuce.

Aside from their hook-driven songs, The Runnikine are also highly adept at exciting live improvisation. That, after all, is how the band started- as a no-pressure side project for Luba and Trask when they were both in the Jaden Carlson Band. That was just a couple of years ago, and look how far they’ve come in such a short time. How far will they go? Hop on board with me, and let’s find out. Tickets to their Cervantes’ show are right here.

-Will

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

Chris Robinson Brotherhood Are Bringing The Love to Denver This Thursday

By: Will Baumgartner

A consciousness shift is happening around the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. A handful of years ago, the most common response to hearing the band name might have been, “Oh, you mean the guy from The Black Crowes?” But today when I say, “Chris Robinson Brotherhood is coming to The Ogden this Thursday, February 2nd, and of course I’ll be going to the show,” I’ve been met with responses like, “I love that band! Can I go with?” or “I’ve heard their shows are great, I should get tickets to that too.”

Yes you should. CRB, as they’re affectionately known by fans, consistently deliver rousing and inspiring performances rich with not only high-level musicianship and song-craft, but also a sense of family, belonging, and welcome with every show. This spirit of openness and warmth is reflected in the titles of their two nearly back-to-back 2016 releases, 'Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel' and its companion EP from the same recording sessions, 'If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home by Now.' Released on July 29th and November 4th of last year respectively, CRB painted a two-paneled picture of a group of musicians and songwriters who manage to be hard-grooving, thoughtful, and fun all at once using a varied palette of musical styles and influences. Who wouldn't want to be in on one of their concert experiences and feel like they’re a part of that family?

Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

CRB have been around since 2011, but the feel of their most current records, their first self-produced releases recorded on the side of Mount Tamalpais near San Francisco, are of a family that have grown together through extensive touring, collaborative songwriting, and endless conversations around meals cooked by band members. They visit record stores everywhere they go and stack their newly-purchased vinyl on their tour bus turntable every night. The group’s core: Chris Robinson on vocals and guitar, lead guitarist Neal Casal, and keyboardist Adam McDougal (who stepped over from The Black Crowes) have been together since the beginning, and are now all involved in the songwriting process. Drummer Tony Leone (Ollabelle) brings a touch of his jazz background to the grooves, and has also joined in on the songwriting, and bassist Jeff Hill holds it all together with a deeply soulful pocket.

Watch CRB play "Narcissus Soaking Wet" live:

The band’s latest recordings also show a group that has grown beyond its former identification as a Deadhead-type act into something richer and more difficult to pigeonhole into any simple genre classification. The cosmic funk of 'Anyway You Love...'’s opening track, “Narcissus Soaking Wet,” lets us know right away that the vistas have widened for CRB with echoes of Sly and The Family Stone and early Funkadelic wafting through the grooves. The lyrics, too, are far from simplistic, revealing a sociological awareness, an artful use of stream-of-consciousness imagery, and a sly humor that outstrips most jam-band lyrics by miles. Listening all the way through 'Anyway You Love' is a trip that takes you through a mid-60s-Dylan-esque time (think Highway 61 Revisited / Blonde On Blonde) with a stint into The Band-style Americana on “Ain’t It Hard But Fair,” more groovy and variegated scenery on “Give Us Back Our Eleven Days,” “Some Gardens Green,” “Leave My Guitar Alone,” and “Oak Apple Day,” (which is actually a song about CRB). The record then ends with the heartfelt, Gospel-soaked “California Hymn,” and as any good trip should always stop with near-religious feeling of wholeness and peace, this one certainly does.

If 'Anyway You Love' is an extended trek, 'If You Lived Here...' is a day trip into side roads and lesser-known destinations, some of them practically off the map. “New Cannonball Rag” has a swinging, rolling feel again reminiscent of some of The Band’s best stuff, “Roan County Banjo” goes from country-ish to almost discordant craziness at the end, and the jaunt continues through a few more changes in scenery to end on the gentle empathic kindness of “Sweet, Sweet Lullaby.”

Neal Casal. 

Neal Casal. 

In anticipation for this Thursday’s Ogden show, I recently got the chance to ask CRB guitarist Neal Casal some questions about the band, life on the road, and music in general. His answers shed more light on CRB’s latest sounds, and the inspirations behind their newest music:

It’s easy to see why the word “brotherhood” is part of your band name; there’s a clear feeling of love and community in your music. Do you feel that’s been growing the longer you’ve played together? 

The sense of community that The CRB promotes is definitely growing the longer we play together. We’re entering our seventh year as a band, and the seeds we planted back in 2011 are definitely showing flowers now, and it’s a nice thing to see. We have a great group of fan/friends/family across the country and we’re looking forward to another year of touring and visiting everyone. 

How do you feel that the in-studio writing process of 'Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel' affected the way the songs on the album turned out? 

It brought more immediacy to our process and applied some pressure to us, which turned out to be a good thing. Everyone hates deadlines but sometimes they can be good; they can force you to do things that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise. 

I’d imagine that working with the relatively new rhythm section of Tony and Jeff has brought about some changes in the band’s overall feel. Has that felt like a pretty organic process? What do you think these guys have brought to CRB’s sound and vibe? 

Tony and Jeff have changed the sound of our band dramatically and brought so much musicality, fluidity, and versatility to our sound. I can’t say enough great things about these guys and how important they are to the sound, but also to the vibe of the band. With them, we can explore any kind of music we like, and there’s a sustainability to our future that we had never felt previously. 

I’ve seen some hopeful signs among the music community that people seem to be rediscovering a respect and appreciation for the album as an art form unto itself, and there’s definitely a feeling of intention in the way 'Anyway You Love' and 'If You Lived Here' are put together. Did the band spend a lot of time just looking at these releases as whole documents and shaping them accordingly, or was that more of a quick, intuitive thing? 

We’ve always approached records as complete documents because that’s how we grew up thinking of them, and that’s how we’ve always worked and always will work. There’s no rediscovering anything for us: this is our way of life.

I hear so many different possible influences in your playing that I’m not even going to bother speculating- so who have some of your biggest influences been on guitar? 

Malcolm Young, Magic Sam, Dickey Betts, Blind Owl Wilson, Robert Nighthawk, Mick Taylor, Ry Cooder, Clarence White, Nic Jones, Ollie Halsall, John Renbourn, Doc Watson, Scott Gorham, Julian Bream, Baden Powell, Leo Nocentelli, Randy RhoadsFreddie King, Mississippi John Hurt, Jim Hall, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and of course, the great Gabor Szabo.

On an average afternoon, or an evening off, what might be a handful of albums you’d be listening to? 

Incredible String Band - The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
Magic Sam - Black Magic 
Charlie Rich- The Essential Charlie Rich
Ronnie Lane - Anymore For Anymore
Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
Bobby Hutchinson - Components
Kacy And Clayton - Strange Country
Eddie Bo - Hook And Sling
Kimono My House - Sparks

CRB. Photo Credit: Stuart Levine

CRB. Photo Credit: Stuart Levine

Your songwriting relationship with Chris has clearly grown over the years. When you first joined, was it more of a thing where he brought in the songs and you just played leads, or have you worked together on songs since the beginning? 

We worked on songs together from day one and have always cultivated our writing partnership. He had some songs he’d written on his own and will always do that, but we really enjoy writing songs together and it’s a big part of our work flow. 

There’s a quote from Chris I read recently, “These are our services when we play our music.” I love that because it evokes a church-like atmosphere, and while I’ve never been “religious,” there’s an undeniable power in church services- a sense of people collectively reaching for some power bigger than themselves, and a joyousness in that collective effort. How does The CRB engage and work with the audience to get that feel?

Human beings are made of music; it’s as ancient and innate in us as anything can be. So we’re just taking part in this time-honored ritual of invoking it, and stirring it in people. We’re just a reminder to let you know that’s it’s there inside, and needs to be related to. The muse is not something to be ignored, in anyone, ever. It needs expression in the form of dancing, singing, or just hanging out and listening and being a greater part of your community. So we’re just here to help that process along. 

Any special treats or surprises planned for this Thursday? Have have you guys ever played The Ogden before? 

We’ve never played The Ogden, so we’re really excited about that. Denver was one of the first cities that really took us in during our earlier years, so it’s always a special place for us. 

After you wrap up your current tour in New Orleans on March 31st, what’s next?

More touring throughout the year, and we’re releasing a new record later this year as well. Looking forward to it all!

CRB tour often and are well into their latest journey, so this Thursday is a great time to catch them live and join the party! They hit The Ogden Theater in Denver this Thursday, February 2nd (I’ll be there!), and continue on to The Center for the Arts in Crested Butte this weekend, The State Room in Salt Lake City next week, Sheridan Opera House in Telluride 2/10-2/11, and The Belly Up in Aspen on 02/12. Their tour will continue through New Mexico, Alabama, California, Nevada, and West Virginia, wrapping up at one of their favorite gatherings, Hogs For The Cause, in New Orleans on March 31st. Stay tuned because CRB are already recording a new album, and I, for one, can’t wait to hear it.  

-Will

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

Why You Should "Ship It" Tonight at The Lazy Dog With Boulder's Envy Alo

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Ship it. Ship it good. 

If you take a smack of Booster, a sprinkle of Tenth Mountain Division, and toss in an accomplished guitarist who’s new to the Boulder scene, what Boulder band do you have? Envy Alo. Formed just a few months ago, members Aaron Pettine (keys) and Kevin Hinder (guitar) have actually known each other for years. They met while attending James Madison University in Virginia and then both moved to Boulder in the years following to pursue music. The two had wanted to form a project together for quite some time, so after linking up with Tenth Mountain Division’s Tyler Gwynn (drums), Envy Alo was born. The group has quickly become known for their “old-school organ-trio jazz funk and newer, heavier rock and fusion stylings.” And tonight, they’ve got a sweet gig at The Lazy Dog! So before you catch their funkadelic show this evening, read our chat with EA’s Aaron Pettine for the deets on the band:

We know that your trio formed last October, and that this is a new project for all three of you, so tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on since your inception.

We are so new that pretty much everything we are doing right now is a ‘new project’. [For our live shows] we are continuously writing new material while also coming up with our own takes on our favorite covers. We are very excited to be heading over to KMG Studios Boulder at the end of the month to record a 4-5 song EP. Because a big part of what we do is improvised live and in the moment, taking away that element and compressing things into this neat studio version is going to be a challenge. But it’s one that we are very much looking forward to tackling.

Righteous. When are you planning to drop that?

We are hoping to release that sometime in March or early April. We’ve got a lot of plans and goals for 2016 and are looking to expand our music and fan base while also performing as much as possible. We are in the early stages of planning a summer tour on the East Coast as well; roughly ten dates in late summer from VA to VT.

Kevin, Tyler, Aaron.

Kevin, Tyler, Aaron.

On the road is always a good place to be. That’s great! And we’ll keep an ear out for the EP. So we’re curious- what’s up with your name?

The short story is that it’s basically a play off of the Spanish word Envialo, which means ‘Ship It’. This has been a saying among the three of us, whenever we need to rock something or get something done, we’ll say “Ship It!”

Nice. Lots of plans to “Ship It” tonight we’re guessing?

Yes- The Lazy Dog is one of our favorite local venues and really a staple here in Boulder for the type of music we play, so we are beyond excited to play our first show there tonight. We’re also excited that we’re supporting a very badass Denver band, Cycles.

Sweet! So head over to The Lazy Dog tonight and get weird with Boulder’s Envy Alo! Keep up with all things EA here.

Watch Envy Alo perform their track "Hottentot" live:

-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.

The Pamlico Sound: Get Baptized in Funk This Saturday at The Lazy Dog

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Boulder's TPS are back in the game. 

Funk, soul, and psychedelia. That’s what Boulder’s The Pamlico Sound is all about. Formed in 2010, TPS has shared the stage with acts like Orgone, Kung Fu, Rowdy Shadehouse, The Magic Beans, and Technicolor Tone Factory. The eight-piece outfit have played The Fox, The Boulder Theater, The Bluebird, The Oriental, and many other local favorite spots. In 2014, the band took a hiatus as members worked on other projects, but they want you to know something Boulder: They’re Back! The Pamlico Sound will be throwing one crazy dance party at The Lazy Dog this Saturday, complete with a new killer rhythm section, an explosion of energy, and their “Jive Church” experience (just keep reading and it will all make sense soon young ones). In anticipation for the show, we sat down with the driving force behind the band, Will Baumgartner (vocals/baritone and soprano sax/flute/harmonica) to chat more about TPS and their plans for a 2016 takeover! Keep reading:

So Will, talk to us more about the “Jive Church” concept that TPS and their fans have been raving about since the band’s reformation. We’ve heard good things.

Glad you asked! The Jive Church basically turns our shows into an interaction between Pastor Will B (aka me, The Reverend Ever Ready), the Deacons (band members), Ghana Queen (our female vocalist), and the Congregation (audience) like so: As the pastor/reverend, I ask emphatically, “Can I get a ‘Hell Yeah’ from the Deacons?!”, to which the people onstage reply even more vigorously, “HELL YEAH!” Then, I turn to the audience: “Can I get a ‘Hell Yeah’ from the CONGREGATION?!” This often escalates to urgent calls of “Can I get a ‘F*CK YEAH?!’” And so on… Then, at least once during the show (usually toward the middle and the end), we offer a Funk Baptism, which consists of encouraging members of the Congregation to come to the edge of the stage (or up onto the stage itself), to be sprayed with Funky Holy Water (it’s a lot more sanitary than it sounds) while they writhe and contort in the Holy Spirit of the Funk. Our shows are also spiced up by brief “sermons” from me, Pastor Will/Reverend Ever Ready.

Wow. You literally spray people with Funky Holy Water and they love it?! I’m intrigued and impressed. Are you planning a lot of Funk Baptisms for Saturday’s show at The Lazy Dog? What else are you guys excited about?

Dang, that’s a GOOD QUESTION! In no particular order: Returning to our favorite small club in the homietown; our first show with new member (on trombone and vocals) Thom Holum; our second show with new drummer Curtis Collazo; the great likelihood of having some old friends/local luminaries sit in with the band; periodic stage diving into the arms of our beloved homiefans…

The Pamlico Sound bringing a funkadelic party to any show almost feels like an understatement for the picture my mind is making from all of this…

Yeah- we started out playing rager parties on the Hill to delirious hordes of sweaty wild-eyed lunatics, and that’s still how we approach every show: if you’re not sweaty, wild-eyed and delirious, you’ve mistakenly wandered into another show by a band of impostors. We are here to make you (and ourselves) feel ridiculously happy and free. And aside from the Jive Church shenanigans mentioned above, we always do things like sending the horn players out to wander amidst the crowd and play directly to them, “walk the bar” and so on; we also are known to frequently leap offstage and dance with crowd, and invite audience members to come onstage to sing and  dance with us.

The Pamlico Sound. Photo Credit:   Miles Photography

The Pamlico Sound. Photo Credit: Miles Photography

It sounds like to get the full TPS experience, we’ve got to come to a live show. We can’t wait! Beyond the insanity planned to rock the LD, what’s on deck for The Pamlico Sound in 2016?

We plan to give up sugar and coffee, participate in beauty pageants, and save kittens from trees. After we’ve done all that, we are planning to record all our new songs with Josh Fairman at Scanhope Sound (Josh has recently recorded/produced/mixed/mastered albums by The New Mastersounds, Atomga, and Analog Son, among others.) We’re also in the planning stages for our next Funkstravaganza, which is where we choose our favorite local funk bands and throw a big fat dance party with them at Cervantes’ in Denver. That will probably be happening in March or April. We’re also looking at festivals and regional tours.

Awesome! Anything else you want to tell us before Saturday, Pastor Will B?

Bring us your wired, your floored, your hugging bastards longing to be Flea.

Funk yeah. See you there Beaters.

Join the FB event here.

Watch The Pamlico Sound perform in the Radio1190 Studio 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.