With a musical style known as Boulder-grown jamgrass, and a willingness to venture into any genre without pause, it’s no wonder that Shanti Groove will help to stir things up at Cervante's Masterpiece in Denver, following the Feb. 18th Phish show at the Pepsi Center.

Fresh off its first tour of 2003, Shanti Groove, made up of Jason Flournoy (banjo), John Heiland (mandolin), Jason Scroggins (flat-pick guitar), Juri Freeman (bass) and Chris Carland (drums), plans to keep the feeling of Phish rolling through the night. And with the energy that Shanti Groove has gained in recent months, and its ability to ride high on the crest of that wave, it might just be the band most suited for the job.

Since 2000, the band has played more than 100 shows in the front range of Colorado as well as many more throughout the country, and the goal for the band is 200 shows by year’s end. Many of the shows will of course feature friends that the band has played with before, such as Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, and other bluegrass legends like John Cowan and Pete Wernick.

Since mid-December the band has hired a new booking agent, changed drummers and is in high-gear with their work on a CD that is due out by the end of February. "I think we have some really good things happening already in the new year," says Scroggins. "We hope to have our first CD released by the end of February and hopefully that will put us up higher than we were last year. This is the third year of the band and I think it will be an even better year than the first and the second. We’ve put in the work and we’re still working hard to get our name out there."

Helping to keep things fresh is the fact that three of the musicians in the band, Flournoy, Scroggins and Heiland, are all songwriters turning out a wide array of compositions. "We have about 120 songs in our repertoire now. That’s cool," said Scroggins. One of the band’s newest songs, "Ross is Boss," pays tribute to Colorado picker Ross Martin and while each band member has written songs for the group, this is the first where the entire band shares authorship. The song, and its chorus — in fact its only vocals — also pay tribute to Jagermeister, and has caused the beverage company to take a look at the group as a possible member of the Jager Music Team.

Although Shanti Groove is deeply rooted in bluegrass, the band truly shines in its ability to take the listener on musical sojourns. When Shanti Groove is at its best, the band members each seem to be in their own world, but their incredibly respectful inter-communication is highly evident to the close watcher. The funny, often weird faces that the musicians make when they’re deep in musical thought and journey is a trademark that they are unknowingly beginning to gather. Asked about their faces, Flournoy says, "It’s like when you’re working on a car, when you have your head down in the engine and you just can’t reach the bolt until you make the right face."

And it appears that the band has been making the right face all along. For 2003, all of the members are set on a year that will include more than 200 shows and the release of two CDs. "This whole thing is totally addictive," says Heiland. "I’d probably ruin my life to play music, if I haven’t already. I can’t see giving up at this point."

The post-Phish extravaganza will begin right as Phish leaves the stage on Tuesday, Feb. 18th at Cervante's Masterpiece in Denver.

Brian Johnson
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 2/10/03]

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