Musketeer Gripweed

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Fort Collins’ Musketeer Gripweed ready to set things on fire with potent live energy

:: Musketeer Gripweed ::
:: Quixote’s True Blue :: May 6 ::
:: Odell Brewing Company :: May 28 ::
:: Capitol Hill People’s Fair :: June 4-5 ::

By Jeffrey V. Smith

 

Jump up and testify, Musketeer Gripweed is in town!

The Colorado-based, blues-fusion band simply explodes onstage with the energy and fervor of a revival preacher out to save a filthy sinner’s soul. This group of musicians, however, isn’t about pushing religion, unless your religion is drinking, dancing and some damn good music. They are all about creating what they call “American revival, stomp-ass, shake and holla” music.

With a passion directly influenced by modern and classic soul heroes like Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, The Allman Brothers Band, Otis Redding, and The Black Crowes, Musketeer Gripweed creates an extraordinarily powerful live energy. The band’s vibe manifests in spontaneous, uncontrollable dancing — like a physical manifestation of speaking in tongues — and anyone within earshot could find themselves with a compulsion to stand up, run to the stage and testify.

“We are pure entertainment,” guitarist Ehren Crumpler told The Marquee in a recent interview. “We want everyone to walk away from a Gripweed show — regardless of their musical tastes — feeling like they saw something good.” He added, “I also love to make people smile and dance.”

Crumpler, who played in Colorado-based jam-band Wasabi for eight years, believes Gripweed “has all the components” that create a superior rock and roll band. “There’s a little blues, a little soul, a little ’70s-style Zeppelin, coupled with a whole lot of foot stomping, revival-style gospel,” he said. “You can hear touches of jazz and jam on the right night as well, but most of all, I think we are just a good old rock and roll band.”

The band’s sound is “rooted in the blues, touched by Bob Dylan and The Band and born out of being on the bottom,” the band’s frontman and soul-soaked vocalist Jason Downing explained. “It’s American, not Americana. It has to do with blues roots and attitude.” Listeners will also immediately notice the music is steeped in R&B, rock and “gut-busting soul,” as well.

Labels aside, Musketeer Gripweed is all about the energy of the music and its message of positivity and community. Its goal, “is to create a happening, a time and place for all of us there to really get ‘real’ and in touch with music, each other, and positivity,” explained Downing, a CSU sociology teacher — who looks like he stepped out of a revivalist tent in the deep South. “It’s more about having a meaningful musical experience with the audience than creating a certain style of music — it’s not one music for one people.”

“[At our shows] we intend to get everyone involved — to share an important musical moment in time,” Downing said. “We are not afraid to ask people to make this a better world, and they respond. It’s a revival of sorts, where we channel energy, create goals and manifest through music. We want to create something intense that resonates with a lot of people and inspires them to be better, and change the world.” It’s like truth set on fire.

At most — but not all — Musketeer Gripweed shows, Downing expands on the revival energy created by the band and its highly-praised songwriting, and transforms into Rev. Monkey Paw Patterson. “He’s a preacher armed with music, a straight razor and gasoline,” Downing said of his alter-ego. “He intends to get people worked up, touch a nerve and dance their asses off.” As if in some sort of groove-induced trance, audiences can expect the Reverend, as Downing says, “to hang from the ceiling, run into the audience, invade space.” No matter what — like some sort of crazed psychedelic preacher — he creates a frenzied, “gasoline intense vibe” and truly engages and engrosses anyone in the room.

While it’s not religion, Downing explained a Gripweed performance can be deeply spiritual. “This show is designed to get people worked up, with a raw and real vibe that makes the whole place connected,” said Downing. When the music is as good and the vibe as incendiary as Gripweed’s, that feat is easily achieved.

Drummer/percussionist Stu Crair, who also shares his talents with The Grippe and Dead Floyd, sums it up best: “We bring the heat every time. More importantly,” he said, “I am also trying to connect to the audience with rhythm and the delivery of the songs in the best way possible. That changes from night to night, song to song, but that’s always my goal.”

Musketeer Gripweed has been working the Colorado music scene from its Loveland/Fort Collins home base for the past six years. It began when Downing and bassist Ben Hockett moved in together and began to search out “good people” to create music with. “The relationships in this band, as humans, come first,” Downing said. “Ehren, [keyboardist Matt]Goldberg, and Stu finished the perfect combination of players, for us. I’m up front, but when I join the audience, this band is as strong or stronger without me. We are a ‘team game,’ building family at our shows and with each other onstage.”

Years of working on the band’s sound, and chemistry, resulted in last year’s self-released Dyin’ Day, a critically acclaimed, seven-track conceptual album relaying the ruthless and bleak life at the “Parchment Farm” prison plantation, set in Mississippi during the days of segregation and Jim Crow laws. The album — which features the band’s exceptional songwriting talents, musicianship and band dynamic — was recorded, mixed and mastered at Backbone Studio in Loveland and named a top Colorado release for 2010.

The act is also a central part of the blossoming Fort Collins music scene and is creating a loyal, ever-growing base of believers. Gripweed was recently voted Best Blues Band for the third year in a row by the Fort Collins Music Association and is poised to break out this year as one of Colorado’s most notable live acts. “The band is on a great path to play to bigger audiences and really stand out while doing it,” Crair said.

 

:: Musketeer Gripweed ::

:: Quixote’s True Blue :: May 6 ::

:: Odell Brewing Company :: May 28 ::

:: Capitol Hill People’s Fair :: June 4-5 ::

 

Recommended if you Like:

• The Black Crowes

• Sonny Boy Williamson

• North Mississippi Allstars

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2 Comments

  1. Mary Pat Bares on

    Keep e’m rockin, J.C. :) Sounds like you’re doing great! Hope sometime we can actually see a “show.” Doubt we’ll get there this year though….both unemployed now!! I know, bummer, right? Can’t even afford the damn gas now!! Hang in there & keep e’m dancin! Love ya Aunt Marp

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