Steamboat 2011 – An Eye Opener

At this year’s MusicFest in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the musical bar was set very high for any festival that wants to host this Texas Music/Americana/Indie Country genre of music. I’ve been going for 7 years and this festival doesn’t get bigger by adding more and more bands, but rather adding the right bands. And that’s not to say that if a band wasn’t present, then they aren’t worthy… I know plenty that weren’t there and are phenomenal. But Dickson crafts the schedule very carefully to make the bands work together and after it’s all over, I’ll say with great confidence that it was damn near perfect.

There’s absolutely no way I could cover every show and every artist there. I quit trying to do that a few years ago. Instead I went to see a few new bands, got front row on a few others and dropped to the back to listen when needed. During our drive home I found myself drifting back to several performance and bands that I wanted to tell people about and I subconsciously kind of put them into categories for how they hit me. So here you go.. a trip into Tank’s brain.. it won’t be as scary as you think and hopefully you’ll come away with some music to check out.

Influenced Me The Most – Kevin Welch
I first saw Kevin 2 years ago at MusicFest when he was the tribute artist. Since then I’ve seen him produce Jason Eady’s last & upcoming album, play a few shows, and watched his kids grow into common names around the scene. But most of all I’ve been sideswiped by his songwriting and I can’t seem to quit listening to him sing every word. His influence has always run deep and now it’s spreading to more fans including myself. It’s still early in the year, but if I had to guess I’d say that Kevin Welch will be the guy I spend the most time trying to get out and see this year. If you haven’t heard him, you can check him out on The Drop

Best New Band – Uncle Lucius
Even though these guys have been rocking for a few years, it was their first to play in Steamboat. And… they played in The Grand which is fairly unheard of for a first timer that isn’t a proven crowd draw. I’ve seen these guys play in Austin and Houston so I knew what to expect going in, but I was still floored at how they worked that stage. With their long instrumentals, they could be considered a jam band on steroids, but don’t let that cliche’ stray your opinion. These guys rock and they rock hard, which is why it’s easy to see how the most often mentioned phrase was “did you catch that Uncle Lucius show?” Well done boys… you had one chance to get on base and you knocked it out of the park.
Listen to them on The Drop

Most Impressed With – Turnpike Troubadours
Another band that has fans that have been burning up every outlet available talking about them. I’ve seen the Troubadours play a few times, but always seemed to have other things going on while they have been on stage. No this time. First show was stripped back acoustic with an upright bass/washboard and they owned that stage like the South Austin Jug band used to… only better. I couldn’t sit in the back so I had to get up front for these guys to see what it was all about. The next show was “plugged in” to a packed house at Bear River and it took all of 3 songs before I couldn’t take it and led the charge back to the front. And… for the record… it takes a lot to get me up front anymore. And… this was the ONLY band where people blew by the sit down crowd in chairs. Only other band to have that happen recently that I know of was Bingham a few years back. They are the real deal and legitimately the next band to cause a stir. Check them on The Drop if you haven’t.

Surprise! – Cody Canada & The Departed
“What do you think it’ll sound like?” was the question on EVERYONE’s mind going into this show. Well if you know what badass sounds like, then you have a pretty good idea what this show sounded like. I expected great things from The Departed but I was still very much surprised at how well these guys played together and how good the music was. Transitioning from one band to another and adding in new players has got to be one of the toughest thing for a musician. Most people used the word “different” to describe what they saw and I would agree. and that by no means a slam… with anything new it takes a bit to understand what you’re listening to and I can’t wait for these guy to continue to push music to places none of us have heard before.

There were tons of bands and shows that I just don’t have time or the words to explain how great they were. And there are shows like the Walt/Eady shows where everyone got on stage to sing, that just can’t be described… it has to be felt. This year was so much more about the music…. There is literally no other festival or concert like it and I hope all of you make an effort this year to come be a part of it!

Ryan "Tank" Hargrave

I'm a husband, father, traveler, a Light in the dark, lover of photography/film and I believe that good music can change your life.

22 thoughts on “Steamboat 2011 – An Eye Opener

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  • January 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! Great job putting it into words Tank!

  • January 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I still can’t get Jack’s acoustic set out of my head. Forget best show of Steamboat…probably my favorite show period.

    That and Uncle Lucius killing it @ the tribute to Rodney Crowell.

  • January 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Great Post… I must also add that Jonathan Tyler and the boys brought an amazing amount of energy to their set and in the MF Jam!

  • January 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I agree with most of the review. Happen to catch Uncle Lucius in the Grand. It was my first time seeing them and WOW!! Bought the CD right after their set and listened to it most of the week and on the way home. They were damn good! Wanted to see the Turnpike Troubadours, but missed out. Guy in my condo bought the CD and it sounded great. Was not super impressed with The Departed. The show/band seemed a little awkward. It was the 3rd time playing a show, so I understand everything might not be together yet. Curious about the new CD coming out. I think they have promise, but just not there yet.

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