Sam Bush Band | 3.10.04 | Gothic Theatre | Denver, CO

If you've ever been to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival you know that Sam Bush is not just a headliner who has been playing the legendary high altitude musical gathering since its inception in 1974. He acts as a kind of unofficial master of ceremonies for the annual summertime revel. He's all over the place, sitting in with other bands, performing at workshops, and entertaining the festival crowd with his unique brand of humor. Since you usually have to fight the crowds to get a taste of his presence, it's definitely a treat when he brings his band to town for a "private showing" at a small indoor venue. So it was with pleasure that Denver music fans took in Sam's early March show at the Gothic Theatre, where the focus remained on the antic vibes and tasty pickin' that have come to define his act.

For all their good ol' boy charm and down-home attitude, Sam Bush concerts are an exercise in cultural diversity, as he forces you to open your mind and to accept all manner of styles. He is equally adept at regaling the audience with the stories and music of Bill Monroe, changing gears by whisking you off to the Caribbean with a Bob Marley song, or segueing into a classic rock riff. This amalgam of styles serves not only as a means to showcase his songwriting and instrumental proficiencies, but also creates the framework in which the audience can just have some good, clean fun.

Even his trademark anthem "Same Old River" took on new life this night, and for a second I thought I was back in that old familiar box canyon in southern Colorado. While the repertoire covered familiar ground, The Sam Bush band had two new members to introduce. Newest addition Brad Davis put down some very skilled country guitar he undoubtedly learned at the Grand Ol' Opry while with Marty Stuart's band, and drummer Chris Brown kept a workmanlike beat all night. All the while Byron House, one of the most sought after session players in Nashville, kept the low end movin' and groovin'.

Highlights at the Gothic included "A Better Man," "Eight More Miles to Louisville," "They're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone," the Afro-pop Johnny Clegg and Savuka cover "Spirit is the Journey," a "Back in Black" (AC/DC) tease, his new and very fine instrumental "Bananas," "King of the World," "Is This Love," "I Wanna Love You," "Howlin' at the Moon," "Bless His Heart," "Same Old River," and "Lively Up Yourself" (with Chris Daniels of Denver's Chris Daniels and the Kings).

Look for Sam's new Sugar Hill release King of My World, available April 13.

Words by: Nick Hutchinson
Images by: Tony Stack
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 3/24/04]

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