Fox Street Allstars climb out of the primordial stew as masters of adaptation

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:: Fox Street Allstars ::
:: Post-Black Crowes show ::
:: Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey :: Dec. 13 ::
::Non-denominational Holiday Party ::
:: Herb’s Hideout :: December 26 ::

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By Brian F. Johnson

Adaptation may be one of the most crucial survival skills necessary, and it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Darwinian theory or life in the music industry. Either way, without the ability to morph and change to fit its circumstances, no creature, band or otherwise, can flourish.

It was with that unique perspective in mind that Denver’s Fox Street Allstars — named after Fox Street in the Baker neighborhood of Denver — formed late last year. On the surface, the group is a trio of two guitarists and a drummer — all accomplished musicians on their own who’ve known each other and made music with each other on and off since middle school. But under that cursory facade is a revolutionary adaptation which sets the Fox Street Allstars apart from other forms of band species. See, the Fox Street Allstars were set up by their very design since their inception to be an ebbing and flowing creature that can adapt to anything from a small, intimate stage, to a huge blowout band replete with a horn section and enough musicians to qualify for group status on even the most stringent of insurance policies.

While many bands operate under a loose umbrella like this, the Fox Street Allstars are one of the very few acts to actually have gone into it with the mindset of utilizing the incestuous nature of the Colorado music scene not only to their advantage, but as the very foundation of the group.
“That was the original concept — to be able to switch it up and do different songs and with different people at different shows for different vibes,” said guitarist and founding member James Dumm in a recent interview with The Marquee. “As musicians, we’ve all sat in with different people and we started to realize that we have a lot of really good connections. And we thought we could use those relationships so that we could tailor our shows to suit the gigs that we booked.”

Dumm, who two years ago released his own solo album Leave My Guitar Alone, where he played nearly every instrument, teamed up with childhood friend and drummer Eric Low, with whom he had started his musical “career” at the age of 12 in his basement. Through Low, they found guitarist and vocalist Jonathan “Skippy” Huvard, and the core group was solidified.
“We wanted to get out gigging and our first one was at Herb’s Hideout in Denver, and that almost became like home for us,” Dumm said. “We started playing a bunch of covers that nobody plays, you know, from Motown and Staxx, and then we started to get different people to make that sound evolve.”

Any band trying to be all things to all people is in for a lesson in futility, and Dumm and his counterparts were aware of that from the outset as well. But that wasn’t really their intention. What they wanted was to be able to be a group that could just as easily play Herb’s as it could a large club, to be able to switch genres and lineups as the venue they were playing deemed necessary. “We try to incorporate a bunch of different genres from rock, jazz, blues and all of that good stuff and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a smaller show, let’s make it an intimate blues thing,’ or, ‘We have this massive party, let’s get 10 or more people onstage,’” Dumm said.
That concept has also lead to a seemingly endless repertoire that ranges from a whole host of originals which fit with covers of everything from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to The Black Crowes and The Flying Burrito Brothers. “We can do the guitar overkill show, or a big band, funk and dance thing,” Dumm said.

With fellow Allstars that include Bill McKay of Leftover Salmon, bassist Dave “Pump” Solzburg, singer Vanessa Simmons, members of Denver’s Kinetix, Denver musician and teacher Jonah Wisneski, and countless others at the ready, the band has reached deep into the Colorado scene and the nature of the band makes it that more connections will occur and more musicians will be given the nod to join for gigs.

:: Fox Street Allstars ::
:: Post-Black Crowes show ::
:: Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey :: Dec. 13 ::

:: Non-denominational Holiday Party ::
:: Herb’s Hideout :: December 26 ::

Recommended if you Like:
• Wilson Pickett
• Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
• Gov’t Mule

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