Winter Park / Live Music: Pub packs ’em in for free concerts
February 1, 2008
Without fail this winter, the Winter Park Pub has hosted regular live music, usually for free. This weekend, they offer two bands.
Head for the Hills is heading up from Fort Collins for the first show, offering roots-feel Americana and progressive bluegrass described to be a “high-energy mixture of homegrown compositions, traditional harmonies, and an innovative approach to improvisation.”
The quartet, which likes to push the boundaries of traditional bluegrass, comes together through the talents of Mike Chappel on mandolin, Adam Kinghorn on guitar, Joe Lessard on fiddle, and Matt Loewen on upright bass.
Inspirations for Lessard, who is going to school for music business at CU in Denver, include simple pleasures, “home-cooked meals, beautiful women and Miles Davis.” He said his favorite pieces to play are those that have compelling melodies and chord movement and that the band’s style of bluegrass is considered progressive because it can move in any direction. He’s working on a country waltz at the moment and said it’s “chock-full of misery and heartache, just as it should be.”
Lowen said he draws inspiration as a musician from other art forms and pop culture and that he likes “the interpretive aspect of music and art, and how different people can take different things from the performance interests me.” Music-wise, he’s influenced “by everything from big band to avante garde jazz to progressive rock to olde-time banjo music.”
Kinghorn said he realized he wanted to pursue music as a career when he began to play and sing his own songs “and I loved doing it.” His mother, who lived in Boulder in the ’70s, used to sing folk songs and wrote as well “and passed down her love for songwriting to me.” He said being in nature inspires the majority of his songs. “I love to be outdoors and I love the way bluegrass coincides with that value. What turned me on about it is the rustic sound and feel of the fiddle. Yet, I soon learned how much precision and vigor was being used as well and I began to appreciate it on a much higher level musically.”
The band has shared the stage with acts like David Grisman, Sam Bush, Nickel Creek, Emmitt Nershi Band, Pete Wernick of Hot Rize, Hot Buttered Rum, and members of the Yonder Mountain String Band. They also performed at the Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition last year and are on the road in celebration of their debut album “Robber’s Roost.”
Although this is the fifth or sixth time the band has had the opportunity to play in Grand County, this will be their debut show at the Pub and Lessard said they’ve got “lots of cool stuff planned for this one.”
The Empty Suits, which consists of local guys Tom Camillo (bass and vocals) and Tony Rosacci (guitar and vocals), as well as “Barefoot Johnny” Minardi offering vocals and electronic drum samples; celebrates their first full show in Grand County.
An “empty suit” is known “in the mobster world as someone who thinks they are a made man, and act that way,” Camillo said. “This seemed fitting for three musicians with Italian surnames looking for a band name.”
It defines a guy who dresses “like and wishes he was connected but ain’t,” Rosacci added, “a wanna-be wise guy.”
Minardi and Rosacci (who lives up here part-time) knew each other from playing together in the Denver classic rock band Thick as Thieves and Rosacci and Camillo knew each other from working together in the Grand County real estate scene.
The trio is fairly new on the music scene, encouraged by the great response it got opening in December for local band One Time, in which Camillo is also a member.
They play cover songs mostly, he said, “that are a good fit to throw a party and get people dancing.” Covers includes tributes to such artists as Jack Johnson, G-Love, Sublime, The Police, Dave Matthews, Talking Heads, “and even some Incubus, Wezer, Green Day and ZZ Top to keep it interesting for the crowd.”
“This is just the start for the Empty Suits to take Grand County by storm,” Camillo said, “so be sure to come out to the Winter Park Pub (Feb. 2) for a fun-filled night of dancing and song.”