Words by Kathy Foster-Patton :: Images by Tobin Voggesser

Drew Emmitt Band with Tony Furtado :: 11.25.05 :: Boulder Theater :: Boulder, CO

Drew Emmitt Band :: 11.25 :: Boulder Theater
The Boulder Theater pulled in a house full of fans for their annual post-Thanksgiving show on Friday, November 25th. Musical genres jumped around the stage throughout the evening, starting with country rock and Americana, then progressing on to bluegrass, blues, a little bit of jazz, some jamgrass, and even a Monkees tune. With the theater set up sparsely to accommodate a full night of dancing, those folks who didn't choose to check their coats worked up a sweat in no time flat. So did the guys on stage.

Self-described "pre-opening band" Buckskin Stallion warmed things up for the big guns with a catchy set of country rock, offering quite a different sound from what was to follow. Their tunes highlighted lead singer and rhythm guitarist Troy Schoenfelder's skills as a songwriter and a storyteller, primarily with tracks from the band's 2004 debut record Blue Ribbon Buzz. Schoenfelder had an entirely different band behind him on Friday from the group on the recording. His new crew consists of Dave Shapiro on lead guitar and harmony vocals, John Macy on pedal steel guitar, Scott Bugher on bass and Todd Moore on drums.

Tony Furtado & Matt Spencer
11.25 :: Boulder Theater

They kicked things off with the record's title track and enticed the first dancers to the floor with Schoenfelder's lyrics of "the last thing I wanted was the first thing I got," backed up with some old-time honky-tonk licks from the band. Following that, they turned the traditional bluegrass staple "Jack of Diamonds" on its head with their treatment of the song. Schoenfelder sounded like he was rapping a dirge, and the hard-core bluegrass fans in the audience were amused with his insertion of lyrics from another old time song — "The Cuckoo."

Buckskin Stallion followed with more originals, including an ode to the Pioneer Inn in Nederland, "P.I. Jubilee," and the infectious "New Town," both of which had saucy, electric licks that invited those who weren't already on the dance floor to get out there quickly. The abbreviated set left the audience wanting more and primed for the next act.

Former Boulder resident and favorite bluegrass son, Tony Furtado then kicked off the second act with a banjo solo, an appropriate choice considering the reputation he developed as a banjo player while living in a poorly heated cabin in Boulder County. He gave the audience a taste of the old days with that opener and was subsequently joined by his band for a wonderful version of the traditional old time favorite "Rove Riley Rove."

Tony Furtado Band
11.25 :: Boulder Theater
Originally known as a banjo player, Furtado is now a Renaissance Man and plays just as proficiently on the acoustic and electric guitar. He made all of his instruments wail and scream for this show. His music defies any set category, with unique takes on jazz, blues, rock, and traditional bluegrass. Sometimes the banjo is well integrated with the other instruments in the band; at other times, he brings it to the forefront and hammers home its power. He plays both the banjo and the guitars with banjo picks on his thumb and a slide on his pinkie finger. For the evening, he was joined by Ross Martin on guitar, Matthew Spencer on bass, and Christian Teale on drums.

Though best known for his instrumental work, Furtado has a great voice, which he used to his advantage in order to slow things down or change the pace of the set. In a change-up similar to what Buckskin Stallion did with "Jack of Diamonds," Furtado did the old bluegrass song "Stagger Lee" slowly and sweetly, like a ballad. This was the audience participation song of the evening. He next threw in a bluesy racehorse song, "Bet On the White Horse," and then slowed things way down with a lovely Monkees song, written by Michael Nesmith, "Some of Shelly's Blues."

Furtado's fingers were flying around so much in the jam song "Ruben's Train" that you could hardly see them move. He smoothly switched between his three instruments, moved around the stage to maximize the sound, and chatted with the audience, all in between singing and tuning and playing. They closed out the set with one last high-energy song full of electric guitar riffs and some hellacious drumming.

Drew Emmitt Band (l to r) Pandolfi, Emmitt, Nershi, Moseley :: 11.25 :: Boulder Theater

Pandolfi & Emmitt :: 11.25 :: Boulder Theater
The final band that made its way to the stage might have called themselves the Leftover Cheese Dusters. Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon fame was joined by Billy Nershi and Keith Moseley from the String Cheese Incident and Chris Pandolfi of the Stringdusters. The drums were gone; Emmitt wielded his mandolin like a weapon, with Nershi on the acoustic guitar, Moseley manning the electric bass, and Pandolfi on banjo.

All the instruments were plugged in and miked. In fact, there were microphones all over the stage, ratcheting up the sound another notch. They kicked things off with a jam song, "Move Right Along," where Emmitt chopped on his mandolin so hard the audience had to wonder how the strings could survive his solo.

Drew Emmitt :: 11.25 :: Boulder Theater
The next song was a crowd-pleaser with an old-time feel to it, "It's You That Makes This House A Home," featuring Emmitt on vocals. Then it was Nershi's turn to sing lead on "Restless Man," with harmony from Emmitt and long, accomplished breaks by the other musicians. Moseley took a turn singing with the traditional "Y'all Come," spiced-up and faster than normal. Pandolfi put on quite a show on the banjo with "Shenandoah Valley Breakdown," working up such a steam that he had to remove his outer shirt. Emmitt sang lead vocals for most of the tunes, often with a high lonesome sound, but twice as fast as one would expect.

The one drawback to this set of music was the sound. With the instruments cranked up into so many microphones, the vocals were muddy and hard to hear — not nearly as crisp or clear as it was during the Furtado or Buckskin Stallion sets. There were also instances of feedback for the first half of the set. That didn't appear to bother the audience though. Most of the folks on the dance floor didn't need to hear the words; they knew them by heart and sang along throughout the evening. The crowd didn't dissipate as the night went on, and most of the dancers never left the floor once they made their way there. Overall, it was a satisfying evening, with something to please everyone's musical tastes.

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[Published on: 12/7/05]

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