By David Goe
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Holy smokes. It's time for another Country Jam. While I'm not planning a trip out to Mack this year to see Lady Antebellum, Kellie Pickler, the LoCash Cowboys, or even Britney Spears' little sister, I do have a lot of fond memories of being out at Country Jam. For some reason my publishing schedule with the Out and About has never synced up with Country Jam weekend so I haven't had the chance to write about it as much as I'd like. Nonetheless, here is the last story I filled about Country Jam. It's not so much about the music, rather the people that make the Jam a memorable experience.
Originally published June 15, 2012
It’s been six years since I last worked backstage at Country Jam.
On summer break from school, I joined my best friend Tate, several career roadies and the Stage Pro team to form the “local crew.”
We were a band of grunts assembled to build the stage, move sound equipment and change gear between sets. Basically, we did the jobs nobody else would do.
It was hot, exhausting, backbreaking work. Road managers for the performers verbally lashed us without mercy, calling out orders all day long. They sent us up the vertical scaffolding to adjust lighting and secure monstrous speakers that could crush us in an instant.
Generally, it was an awful, weeklong nightmare job. But we put up with it for one reason: the coveted all-access pass.
For music nerds such as Tate and me, nothing beats being part of a big show. Country Jam 2006 was a big show. Anyone who has been out to the fields of Mack for the Jam knows it is more than a series of concerts. It’s an experience perfectly designed to share with your best friends.
Country Jam 2006 was my first year out to the festival. Looking back on it, getting to meet Sugarland, learning insider secrets from Terri Clark’s guitar tech, or watching Alan Jackson’s massive headlining set from stage left wouldn’t have been nearly as special without someone to share it with.
The true greatness of Country Jam is not the performers. As long as you’re not blacked out from a SoCo Hurricane or suffering from exposure, Country Jam is a memory waiting to happen.
One evening, Tate and I were sent over to run spotlights for Carrie Underwood’s set. Essentially, we were getting paid to ogle the newly crowned American Idol. It should have been the best gig of the festival. It wasn’t.
A tyrannical monster from Team Underwood who was charged with lighting and directing the stage show criminally abused us for close to two hours.
Someone had failed to mention that we had no experience running spots and that we had only signed up for the job immaturely hoping Underwood would recognize our natural talents and somehow fall in love with us.
The show went live and we operated the hot spots as best we could. The stage director, particularly upset with the spot operator following the lead fiddle player, unleashed a creative and profanity laden monologue and dismissed the poor kid mid-show. He was unjustly fired.
In the moment, I remember looking at Tate. In his eyes I could see we were thinking the same thing. “This guy is the biggest ... ever.”
Country Jam 2006 will always be special for me, and not just because Gretchen Wilson sang “Barracuda” note-for-note.
At that time, Tate had moved to Bozeman, Mont., to become a fighting Bobcat at Montana State University. For that one quick, summer week, we were back together, being bored kids geeking out over live music. It was how it used to be, before I became this “grumpy” columnist.
Experiencing the Jam both in front of the stage and behind it, I’ve seen and felt firsthand how music can bring people together. This year’s Jam will be no different.
You better believe Trace Adkins or Blake Shelton’s 90-minute set will last eternally in the hearts of a group of close friends.
But the secret truth is, it doesn’t matter who plays Country Jam. It only matters who you are with.
By David Goe
Friday, June 13, 2014
The live music scene is only as good as the people directly involved in booking concerts.
For example, take a look at what the Mesa Theater and Lounge has done with the metal scene. Since Eric Psikotky Smith has started booking metal bands for the theater we’ve seen a steady stream of relatively big name performers making tour stops in Grand Junction.
Just last week, Havok thrashed the main stage. And with the likes of Wayne Static of Static X and Black Flag lined up for future shows the metal scene in Grand Junction is alive and well.
While that genre of music has enjoyed an incredibly consistent run, other genres have not shared the same level of stability. Fortunately, it looks like that is about to change.
Building off what EDM promoter Cody Jacobs started with Fix Your Face Radio, Lime Street, a new local production and promotions company, has big plans to transform the local music scene.
Familiar faces Chad Harris and Laura Courtney, also known as the local DJ duo Chamber Bot, are fronting this new venture with the goal of doing for electronic music what Smith did for metal.
Lime Street talks a big game. They want to bring in big name electronic artists on a regular basis to the Grand Valley, and after talking to Harris and Courtney about their project, it looks like they can back up that talk.
“I used to do promotion for large events in Albuquerque, and we have talked about bringing artists to Grand Junction since we first moved here two years ago,” Harris said. “We both collaboratively felt (Lime Street) was needed in Grand Junction.”
Considering Grand Junction has a small but dedicated music community and that it is moving closer and closer to turning into a full-blown college town, the timing seems right to start expecting more from the live music scene.
With Lime Street, Harris and Courtney are laying the ground work to satisfy an underserved community.
What’s really impressive about Lime Street is the capital they’ve already built up to make this new venture work. Harris and Courtney have invested heavily in DJ equipment (mainly a pair of Pioneer CDJs, the industry preferred DJ hardware and key piece of equipment needed to attract a higher level of performer) and professional lighting rigs to ensure every show they produce is of the highest quality.
Saturday, June 14, night is the first test for this young startup. Protohype, a dubstep DJ and producer who pals around with the likes of other DJs 12th Planet, Datsik and Skrillex, will perform live at the Mesa Theater and officially launches the Lime Street project.
For those unfamiliar with the world of EDM, Protohype is another young stud DJ trending in the community. Fusing hip-hop drum beats with the insanity of dubstep, Protohype has garnered enough praise from fans and DJs alike to earn a slot playing the biggest party in the world later this month, Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas.
“Protohype is a well-known name and has a sound that is appealing to many people in this region,” Courtney said. “His music speaks to hip-hop fans, EDM fans and dubstep fans.”
Aside from bringing big name performers to Grand Junction, part of the goal of Lime Street also is to highlight local talent. Opening for Protohype are area DJs Chris Epic and Sobear.
“It is awesome that there is such a strong local music community in Grand Junction and there is so much support for the artists here. We are excited to showcase Grand Junction’s local music scene alongside the larger artists that we bring,” Harris said.
This Protohype show marks the first of many to come for Lime Street. Although Courtney wouldn’t tip her hand as to what is next, she did hint at a big show coming our way in August.
Only time will tell, but it looks like Lime Street is here to stay, which is good news for Grand Junction.
By David Goe
Thursday, June 12, 2014
While most of the hype around this year's Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival focuses on headliners the Infamous String Dusters, don't over look these performers.
We Speak Imaginese - 6 p.m., Saturday
Our very own local group We Speak Imaginese leads a Suppertime Sing-a-long show in the festival Family Area. Featuring mandolin, double bass, piano and acoustic guitar, the band sounds great playing folkgrass grooves about everything from budding romances to fly-fishing. We Speak Imaginese has great cross over appeal and is one of the very best local groups performing at the moment.
Chatham County Line - 1 p.m., Sunday
Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, Chatham County Line has released a string of excellent bluegrass albums including 2014's "Tightrope." The band are as much storytellers as they are musicians. Chatham County Line's music is imaginative and honest, and worth suffering the mid day heat for.
The Wood Brothers - 5:30 p.m., Sunday
Originally from Boulder, festival closers The Wood Brothers have released their last two albums through the famous jazz label Blue Note Records (most notably the home of Norah Jones). Not always a duo, brothers Oliver and Chris came together in 2004 and have performed steadily since. Now based out of Nashville, The Wood Brothers fuse a number of roots music styles together together to create a sound that is equal parts blues, jazz, folk, and bluegrass.
By David Goe
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Jack White's ultra lp version of his new record "Lazaretto" is unbelievable. The vinyl version of "Lazaretto" has locked grooves, hidden tracks, dual groove track intros, reverse playback, and floating holograms. It's an insane piece of vinyl engineering. Watch the video and prepare to throw money at Third Man Records.