Sweat, Booze, & A Lot of Heart: My Rock'n'Roll Weekend With The Yawpers & Blackfoot Gypsies

By: Zach Dahmen

A personal account of my two days with The Yawpers and Blackfoot Gypsies in Denver. It was a rock and roll blur of sweat, booze, and a lot of heart:

My weekend felt like this: Matthew Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies.

My weekend felt like this: Matthew Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies.

The Blackfoot Gypsies are a four-piece soul and blues rock’n’roll mashup of perfection. Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, BFG are the type of band that you can’t help but notice the minute you walk into the venue. With their long hair, bell bottom jeans, and wide-brimmed hats, you instantly know that they’re playing tonight, even as they casually order beers with you at the bar; they ooze American rock band. The only thing more prominent than their rootsy Southern influences injected into their wild rockin’ blues sound is their humility.

Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

The Yawpers are a three piece, and one of Denver’s favorite local acts. They are thumping rock and roll mixed with poignant lyrics. They are a non-stop manic roller coaster of rock with country/blues sensibility, and some heavy Americana touches.

Paige, Cook, & Dylan Whitlow.

Paige, Cook, & Dylan Whitlow.

My weekend with The Yawpers and Blackfoot Gypsies started a week before the show. I went online to purchase my tickets for the Saturday night performance, which had sold out. Luckily, there was a Sunday BBQ show still available, so I grabbed my tickets for the alternative option. I was not going to miss my opportunity to see Denver’s own Yawpers return. Days later, the Saturday show moved from the Lost Lake to Larimer Lounge, opening up over a hundred more tickets. Without hesitation, I grabbed one. It was time for a Yawpers/BFG double dip.

Zack Murphy of Blackfoot Gypsies.

Zack Murphy of Blackfoot Gypsies.

Upon entering the Larimer, anticipation in the crowd was bowling over with the threat of a true rock’n’roll show, and one which happened to be the end of a month-long tour for both bands. The room swelled as The Blackfoot Gypsies moved to take the stage. The four piece took little time to endear themselves to the PBR-swilling crowd. Frontman Matthew Paige’s slender body moved across the stage with the grace of a rock’n’roll royal, setting the tone for the entire evening. With Zach Murphy fitted in a flower-print button up and a leather hat banging on the drums with maracas and sticks, the crew launched into a gorgeous set of barn burners, landing one after another. Dylan Whitlow’s checkered pants swayed with his bass playing, forcing the crowd to move along with him, while Ollie Dog leaned into the crowd with his harmonica solos and generally hilarious personality.

Noah Shomberg & Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

Noah Shomberg & Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

The Yawpers took the stage to a sold out crowd with pure poetry and fury. With their alt-country and overdriven acoustic guitars, stomping drums, and one enthusiastic mustache, the trio commanded the crowd to do whatever they asked. Frontman Nate Cook made love to the microphone, enthralling the audience to fever pitches, minor bruises from stage diving, and a swirl of rock’n’roll debauchery. Jesse Parmet slid around his guitar like a master commanding the sound, his long hair shadowing his face with a perfect element of mystery. Meanwhile, drummer Noah Shomberg beat the hell out of his kit with energy, sweat, and the driving rhythm that carried every song. From the quiet moments where the group had us singing back “3 am”, to the numerous tracks where The Yawpers had a usually docile Denver crowd dancing, it was a sweaty, booze-soaked good time. Celebration and conversations lasted late into night, with the crowd eager to greet the bands like long lost friends.

Paige & Cook.

Paige & Cook.

As Yawpers’ Noah Shomberg put it, “You couldn't ask for more to come home to after a month away from family and friends. I was proud of this show."

Added BFG’s Matthew Paige, “This is one of the best nights we’ve had [on tour]. This was one of our favorites.”

The Yawpers.

The Yawpers.

If the Saturday night Larimer show was a boozed soaked barn burner, then the Sunday afternoon Lost Lake show was the hair of the dog. The afternoon started with Cook offering me shots of whiskey in the green room, and little did I know that moment would set the tone for one hell of a Sunday-funday BBQ. Venue doors opened at 2pm, when a shuffling crowd made their way to hear openers Mitchel Evan & The Mangrove and The Velveteers. Both bands came out hitting it hard, pulling energy out of people where it didn’t exist before. It was delightful mania, with older songs shared for die-hard fans. The Yawpers of course played another raging set, with the crowd wanting every last bit of what the band had left to give.

Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies. 

Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies. 

After three weeks and over 20 shows together, the Yawpers/BFG tour had come to its end. While both are glad to spend some much needed time off, we wouldn’t be surprised if these two groups joined forces for another round on the road again.

Said Shomberg, “We had camaraderie right off the bat. We drove each other to play better each night; it’s been fantastic.”

The Yawpers closing out their Larimer Lounge set. 

The Yawpers closing out their Larimer Lounge set. 

So what’s next for these rock’n’rollers?

They're gonna miss each other. 

They're gonna miss each other. 

The Blackfoot Gypsies are heading back to Nashville to gear up for a string of tour dates in Europe. From there, they have plans to release their next studio album in September.

The Yawpers will take some time to enjoy being home before touring later this summer; they’ll also make a return appearance at Denver’s UMS.

And as for me, I think I’ll be recovering from this weekend for awhile. While listening to “Doing It Right”, of course.   

-Zach

All photos per Hannah Oreskovich for BolderBeat. To see more of this show, follow her on Instagram. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.