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The Year of the Ride

The Year of the Ride

The Year of the Ride The Band of Heathens


Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:30 am

The fourth annual Ride Festival will go down as the year the event blasted into the stratosphere. Top to bottom, the acts in the two-day rock ‘n’ roll music festival were outstanding. What made the festival so memorable was not just the headliners, who everyone knew were going to be great, it was the bands who no one had ever heard of that really carried the day (or the weekend, as it were). So, here are my top seven moments of the fourth annual Ride Festival:
7. The Temperance Movement was one of the bands on the undercard that made the biggest impression on Ride audiences. The British band started their weekend Friday at the Sunset Concert Friday night in Mountain Village and absolutely rocked that venue as hard as I have ever seen. Guitarists Luke Potashnick and Paul Sayer traded ferocious leads. Lead singer Phil Campbell bounced around the stage like a puppet held by a mad puppeteer, gyrating and spinning while delivering powerful vocals that recall Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes and early Steven Tyler.
When the show was finished Friday night, the crowd let out a thunderous roar that has never been heard at that venue. They continued their two-day, Godzilla-like rampage through Telluride Saturday on the main stage, leaving audiences thinking, “I may have just had one of those ‘I saw them when they were just starting out’ moments.”
6. The pinch hitter award goes to The Band of Heathens from Austin. They were scheduled to play High Pie Saturday night but the gig had to be moved to the Elks Lodge for noise reasons. Then, in the middle of their set at the Elks, there was another noise issue, so the band played their second set acoustic. On Sunday, the band Baskery had to cancel their main stage performance and The Band of Heathens was asked to fill in. This laid back and malleable band from Austin happily obliged and proceeded to crush their one-hour set. The Heathens have had some personnel changes since their fantastic records “One Foot in the Ether” and “Top Hat Crown and the Clapmaster’s Son,” but the band played material from their new album “Sunday Morning Record” that was equally stellar.
5. Mike Farris kicked off the Sunday line-up with an hour-long set of music that recalled the old gospel tent revivals. But it’s a good thing there was no tent because the band would have simply blown it off.
Farris and his band had an extremely dicey flight into the Telluride airport. The shaky landing had to be aborted and the band diverted to Montrose. Farris said the experience put extra emphasis on his frequent calls for thanks and praise to the heavens above.
Their set was the musical equivalent of a triple shot of espresso with some Praise the Lord half and half.
4. The “Can’t find my way home to the sandwich shop” award goes to Widespread Panic. A stellar Saturday night set concluded with Warren Haynes joining the band for a stunning version of the Blind Faith classic “Can’t Find My Way Home.” It was one of the great moments I have witnessed on that stage.
The Sunday show was cooking along nicely when the band kicked into overdrive and delivered a double sandwich that looked something like this (in Panic speak): Driving>Papa’s>Drums>Papa’s>Driving>Arlene>Red Hot Mama. While that might look like gibberish to most people, to the Panic faithful it says one word: HEAT. Needless to say, the Panic fans were ecstatic.
3. Gov’t Mule’s set Saturday was musical butter. In addition to Mule classics like “Railroad Boy” and “Captured,” the Mule went on a Beatles kick and played “She Said,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Working Class Hero” (John Lennon) and a Reggae version of “Love Me Do.” And they brought out Widespread Panic’s Jimmy Herring for a fantastic version of the Allman Brothers classic “Dreams.” Warren Haynes is a musical monster.
2. Trigger Hippy and the North Mississippi All Stars played Saturday and Sunday nights at the Sheridan Opera House and both shows were arguably the best two shows of the weekend. Trigger Hippy is Jackie Green and Steve Gorman from the Black Crowes, Joan Osborne, bassist Nick Govrik and guitarist Guthrie Trapp. The band plays greasy southern blues rock backed by great vocals by Greene, Osborne and Govrik. In addition to songs from their eponymous debut (which I put in my top 10 records of 2014), the band played back-to-back JJ Cale songs “Clyde” and “After Midnight” that were over the top.
The All Stars lived up to their name by playing two and a half hours of high octane North Mississippi Hill Country Blues. The All Stars seemingly do something I’ve never seen every time I see them play. Brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson are now joined by fellow Mississippi blues slinger Lightning Malcolm on bass. Each member of the band is a multi-instrumentalist and at one point Luther and Malcolm switched guitar and bass in the middle of a song without missing a beat. Ever seen that before? Me neither. Cody Dickinson won the Iron Man award of the festival for playing four gigs in 24 hours.
1. The best moment of the weekend did not happen on the Fred Shellman Memorial Stage. It did not even happen on any of the Night Ride stages. It happened back stage at the Sheridan Opera House. Zella Day, the 20 year-old rock ‘n’ roll chanteuse, was told there was a developmentally challenged young man in the audience who wanted to meet her because she was his favorite singer.
Day agreed and the young man was escorted backstage where she greeted him with a hug, sat him down on the couch and talked with him for 20 minutes like he was the only man in the world.
On the way out of the theater, the young man stopped, turned to his mother and said, “This is the best day of my life.”
It doesn’t get better than that.

        Good ol’ rock and roll from Austin, TX