The 10th annual LoDo Music Festival turned into a funk explosion as three of the top bands in the funk/ soul scene took the stage Saturday night. The Lower Downtown Music Festival was enjoying its 10-year anniversary and celebrated with a jam filled lineup. Set in the heart of Downtown Denver the festival featured four stages, a massive drum circle, street entertainers, and some of the scenes top acts.
First up was New York’s Soulive at 6:15 p.m. The Blue Note Recording Artists did not disappoint as their set was musically tight and got the crowd going. The band was forced to play with an extremely stripped down drum and keys setup, which led them to an intense set of jazz, soul, funk music. The band, Alan Evans on Drums (and MC), Neal Evans on Keys, Eric Krasno on guitar and Sam Kininger on Sax, was joined by a guest sax player from the up and coming band Lettuce. A great way to start off the Funk Fest!
Second in line was Robert Walter's 20th Congress on the Chipotle stage. The band featuring Robert Walter on Electric Piano and Organ, Cochemea Gastelum on alto sax and flute, Chris Stillwell on bass, George Sluppick on drums, and Chuck Prada on percussion, plays a funk-based jazz style that keeps you shakin’ on the dance floor. The band’s set was extremely tight and the interplay between keys and sax was fun to watch. The beauty of this band is its incorporation of different sounds into the mix, a funk band with a hand drum setup is hard to visualize but it works out perfectly. The band had the crowd really moving and as always draws very well in Colorado.
The final act for this Festival was Galactic, the leaders of the new wave of New Orleans funk-based groove. The band came out and rocked the crowd right from the very start. The crowd was frenzied for their entire 2 hour set. Very early in the set they brought out Robert Walter and Cochemea on sax to help with the jam. The crowd seemed to be in Stanton Moore’s hands as he would lead them to higher and higher ground with every drum solo. Quickly becoming the most recognized drummer on the scene, Moore pulled out all the stops. Whether it was his patented jump drumming or the blow tube drum Moore had the attention groovin’ at large. Jeff Raines and Robert Mercurio have coalesced into a tight electric and bass guitar duo that have fed off of each other since high school. Ben Ellman, leads the way with several different saxes, harmonica and backup vocals all of which help fill the tight jams of Galactic. Rich Vogel strains his face to keep the keyboard fills at top form, and the Houseman comes and goes and brings a lot of energy with him. Highlights from the set were the well-crafted covers of "Whole Lotta Love" and "My Generation," featuring Cowboy Mouth’s lead singer on vocals. The band rocked the festival and continues to impress me as they enter the upper tier of big drawing bands in the scene.
This festival highlighted the beauty of the scene as well as the beauty of Colorado’s music sense. The oft collaborations between artists and the tight sets are a tribute to the scene and the environment of the crowd. The city of Denver put together a festival that could fit any and all music fans with a multitude of different musical genres and musical opportunities to check out in the 2-day festival. The crowd seemed to be headed wherever the funk was and all were satisfied as downtown Denver was turned into the funk capitol of the world, if even for one day.
JamBase Denver Summer Correspondent
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