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Lowlands’ Last Waltz

By David Goe

Where most bands fizzle out, over stay their welcome, or break up over petty issues, a few manage to go out on top, ending things on their own terms.

The Band did that with its farewell concert “The Last Waltz” and if you’ve seen the film think back to the title card, “this film should be played loud!”

Well, if possible, this column should be read loud, Lowlands would prefer it that way.

Lowlands, Grand Junction’s favorite adopted sons, is calling it quits, staging its own last waltz tonight at Sabrosa. With lead singer and guitarist Jeremy Rizer moving to Big Sky Country, it’s a bittersweet goodbye for a band at the top of its game.

“It’s the celebration of a fantastic time we’ve had together, but I for one am terribly sad about this band going away,” Willie DeFord said.

DeFord, who contributes on guitar, lap steal guitar and fiddle, isn’t the only one feeling that way. There’s no way around it, Grand Junction is losing a really good band after Friday, March 7, night’s final Colorado performance. The band will reunite for one more show at the end of the summer in Minot, N.D., but for all intensive purposes this is your last chance to see Lowlands play live.

Since 2011, Lowlands has been a group of friends bonded over country, Americana and rock ‘n’ roll music. With members from all corners of the United States, the band combined everything from Southern blues and Texas swing to bluegrass and fuzz rock into a sound uniquely its own.

“As a band, we never really set out to be anything really,” Rizer said. “This band exists because Willie wanted to play loud. I think we have succeeded.”

If Lowlands is anything, it is a perfect example of balanced energies working together as one focused force. Never once could you detect a hint of individual ego from any band members on a record or at a live performance, and that is very appealing. Even when DeFord shows off with a screaming fiddle solo or Rizer steals a song with a grizzly vocal, Lowlands never takes the excess to the point of rock ‘n’ roll ridiculousness.

Clearly each band member is self-aware and plays while knowing the strength of the group is greater than any individual performance. They don’t seem to crave the glory that comes with being in a successful band and definitely don’t seek that attention.

In talking to the group about this article they seemed more concerned with thanking all the fans who showed up to every show and danced the night away with them, than gushing over personal achievements.

“It’s just the coolest thing to start out loving to make music in my basement and then get to where people know your songs, and come to get down at your shows, and have as much fun as us. It blows my mind,” Rizer said.

For Rizer, DeFord, Dick Sterling (bass, harmonia, vocals) and Alex Slorby (drums, banjo) Friday night’s show is a last chance to be selfish and play music with each other and for some great people, and enjoy one last Lowlands’ tradition: a post-gig, Village Inn visit.

Lowlands is a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit honky tonk and a whole lot of humility. The converging talent of these four musicians is ideally suited to play anywhere from a block party to a dive bar, and for anyone willing to come down and listen.

It is as close to a perfect band Grand Junction has ever seen and it is unfortunate Lowlands only has one show left to give to the Colorado faithful.

 

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