Denver, February 6: Dave Watts’ Birthday Bash at So Many Roads
The original plan, from back in November, was to head to Denver for a week to celebrate Dave Watts’ birthday week and catch some music, including his birthday show Zepp is Funk.
That was before the Marshall Fire ravaged Superior and other communities in a hurricane wildfire that leveled more than 1000 homes and structures, destroying everything most of those people had. Suddenly, that birthday show became a benefit show, and dozens of other benefits popped up in an uplifting response to the tragedy.
We arrived February 1, just in time for 6-8 inches of snow to dump on the area. Our musical adventures began February 3 and ran through Sunday, February 6. We will divide this run into four chapters.
February 3: The TMRRW PPL and Ramakhandra at Cervantes’ Other Side; DJ Williams’ Shots Fired at Your Mom’s Place
February 4: Meow Wolf Denver; Music for Marshall at Boulder Theatre
February 5: Zepp is Funk & Change Station at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom
February 6: Dave Watts’ Birthday Bash at So Many Roads
One other item that applies to all four nights: the sound engineers at each venue did masterful jobs of letting us hear the music without cranking it up to ear-splitting volumes. Additionally, they kept the set break music at a reasonable volume so patrons could hold actual conversations. BRAVO!
We finally got to Dave Watts’ actual birthday gig. Danielle Nicole Gregory had worked so hard on all these plans, coordinating meals, rides, tickets, and everything else, especially for those of us from out of town (and state!). It was rewarding to see the remarkable week all tied up in a bow on Sunday at So Many Roads, an absolutely mind-blowing room for those of us newbies.
Once everybody was in and settled, Watts took his seat at kit with Todd Smallie (JJ Grey & Mofro) on bass, Joe Marcinek (Joe Marcinek Band — all of k’em) on guitar and vocals, and Tony Tyler (Tony Tyler Trance) on Hammond B3, keyboards, and vocals. All were up to their ears in that Zepp is Funk set the night before.
They opened with Marcinek’s signature jam “George Washington,” which burned red hot. Not bad for the first tune on the night! Watts invited Dan Soto up to play guitar on “One-Track Mind,” Tyler on vocals. Linda Ann Kiley sat at the B3 for a fine romp through “Franklin’s Tower,” with solos from Marcinek and Soto and fine B3 and electric piano work from Kiley.
Tyler grabbed a guitar, and Cass Clayton came up to sing “It Ain’t No Use.” She TORE THE ROOF OFF! DeShawn Alexander, much better know as D’Vibes, came up to sing with her. And, to make it even more righteous, Tyler and Marcinek played some magical twin guitar leads. [I wish Clayton had sung again. WOW!]
What else could they do at that point but jam into “Liz,” aka “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Smallie, who had been crushing all set, blew this one up. Kiley had a great solo, and Watts took an extended drum break. The video is too long for our website.
More changes. D’Vibes took over on keyboards and drove the jam straight into “One Nation Under a Groove.” He is a superb player and vocalist, and the jam twisted and turned under his direction. Tyler added some deluxe vocalese plus guitar, and D’Vibes teased Weather Report.
Tyler took over for Watts at drum kit as Danielle Mohr (HoneyWhat) played guitar and sang a rockin’ “Crossroads,” followed by “Dreams” (FMac), with Marcinek on B3. She was superb on both. And we hit set break.
Set two opened with Kowan Turner on drums, D’Vibes on keys, and Small, Marcinek, and Tyler, who sang “That’s Alright, Mama,” throwing in teases of “Immigrant Song” from the previous night plus “Volunteered Slavery.” Aaron Schwartz with trusty harp dug in on the blues. Tyler next offered up “She Caught the Katy.” What followed was a long deep dive into “Hang Up Your Hang Ups,” Dylan Teifer on keyboards.
After another short respite, they kicked into set three, Watts back on drums, Teifer on keys, and a new bass player and guitarist. We were beginning to fade, but we enjoyed hearing “They Love Each Other” and “That’s What Love Will Do for You” before we split.
As good fortune would have it, there was a photographer on hand. It turned out not to be a coincidence. Ed Spenser (Sandhill Images) and his wife, Linda Ann Kiley, are friends of Tony Tyler, and they live on the east coast of Florida. I am indebted to him for archiving the night (videos, too)!