The Sam Bush Band Honors Leon Russell, Welcomes Guests At The Boulder Theater

first_imgAfter a lengthy break from The Boulder Theater, the Sam Bush Band made a triumphant, raucous return on Friday night, February 24th. The Energizer Bunny of bluegrass started things out in typical fashion, unleashing a pair of lively bluegrass tunes, “Play By Your Own Rules” and “Transcendental Meditation Blues,” off of his new album, Storyman, to get the crowd moving. With little to prove to his devoted audience, Bush sat back and let his band members shine during the first few songs, particularly banjo player extraordinaire Scott Vestal. Bush took a short break before the next song, introducing it as one of his favorite songs by the late Leon Russell, an early bandmate of his during New Grass Revival’s stint as Leon’s backing band. The band played “One More Love Song” beautifully true to the original, with Bush pouring his heart out in two particularly poignant mandolin solos. It’s often hard to recall all of the great artists Leon Russell collaborated with, but Bush made sure the fans remembered their work together, following up the popular cover with a lesser-known New Grass Revival song.The sprawling set continued with a loose, funky take on Allen Toussaint’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.” Made famous by Robert Palmer, and more recently, Phish, the comfortable and familiar groove launched the crowd into an all-out dance party. A couple songs later, the band dusted off the old fan favorite, “Circles Around Me,” leading a nostalgic, all-out singalong to a song that hits close to home for many Coloradans. Grinding on, Bush continued to stretch the boundaries of traditional bluegrass music, playing some impeccable slide mandolin on “Old Joe Clark,” an old mountain ballad made famous by Woody Guthrie, Flatt & Scruggs, and Ricky Skaggs among others. The traditional bluegrass tune quickly slipped into the hard driving newgrass that Bush is famous for, before morphing into an apparent, though elusive, Led Zeppelin tease. Using the heavy rhythm foundation provided by bassist Todd Parks and drummer Chris Brown, the band segued right into Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” and then kept on going straight into Rare Earth’s classic “I Just Want to Celebrate.” Finally, and flawlessly, the band returned to “Old Joe Clark” to bring the set to an epic, jaw-dropping close.For the encore, Sam brought out two additional friends, guitarists Chris Daniels and Steve Kovalcheck. Now largely electric, the group ripped through “Speak of the Devil” from the album Ice Caps, Peaks of Telluride, while also candidly reminding all of us to make the annual pilgrimages to Telluride Bluegrass and RockyGrass. Each guitarist, and of course Bush, took a handful of raw, bluesy solos, stretching the song well beyond its usual form. To top it all off, the band treated the audience to a rare cover of Bob Marley’s anthem, “One Love.” With so much doubt and uncertainty throughout the country right now, this seemed a fitting final song. Bush laid down a juicy, reggae-tinged solo before giving his guitarist, Stephen Mougin, as well as Chris Daniels, Scott Vestal, and Steve Tomalchek all one last chance to let it out, and that they did. All in all, the Sam Bush Band managed to deliver an absolute barn-burner to a town that had been itching to see the King of Telluride and his court of pickers for far too long. Catch the Sam Bush Band at the 44th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 15th-18th, 2017, and at Lyons, Colorado’s 45th Annual RockyGrass Festival, July 28th-30th, 2017. Check out additional tour dates below, as well a gallery of photos, courtesy of C.B. Klein.Sam Bush Band Tour DatesFebruary 28th Knuckleheads, Kansas City, MOMarch 1st    Old Rock House, St. Louis, MOMarch 2nd    Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, ILMarch 4th Denison Bluegrass Festival, Granville, OHMarch 17th The Lyric Theatre, Birmingham, ALMarch 18th Anastasia Music Festival (March 16-18), St Augustine, FLMar 31st WinterWonderGrass Tahoe (March 31-April 2), Olympic Valley, CAApr 20th Old Settler’s Music Festival (April 20-23), Driftwood, TXApr 22nd The Kessler, Dallas, TXApr 27th MerleFest (April 27-30), Wilkesboro, NCJun 8th Blue Ox Music Festival (June 8-10), Eau Claire, WI Load remaining imageslast_img

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