Good Gravy!

Fort Collins’ Good Gravy! adds even more spice to the jamgrass mix

:: Good Gravy! ::

:: Fox Theater :: March 8 ::

:: Aggie Theater :: March 9 ::

By Vance Smith

There’s something in the Gravy.

Colorado-based bluegrass fusion band Good Gravy! is taking a familiar – and somewhat overdone – genre and bending and blending it any way it can into something innovative, exciting and tremendously entertaining.

Its five members have become virtual masters of using bluegrass instrumentation, along with percussion, to push its bluegrass roots to new musical horizons and create an innovative mix of bluegrass, funk, rock and psychedelic dance beats, complete with imaginative improvisational jams and intricate compositions. The group has been called “bluegrass-rooted, electronic, jam, dance music,” as well as “party grass,” but definitions can change throughout a show.

With surprises around every corner, phenomenal energy levels, and an uncanny ability to effortlessly and fluidly shift from one groove and genre to the next, the band is quickly rising from its humble beginnings.

Good Gravy!’s origins date back to 2007, when guitarist Jeremy Page and mandolin player Ross Montgomery started playing together at open mic and bluegrass nights at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins. The chemistry and quality of music quickly led to the formation of a full band and the addition of drummer Nick Deyo and, soon after, percussionist and trumpet player Kyle Vanbuskirk. After the original bass player left the act, bassist Evan Brenton joined the still unnamed group.

But it wasn’t long before the group got a name. An enthusiastic fan at early shows was fond of shouting “good gravy!” when they were jamming, and the name just stuck with fans and friends.

One of the attractions of Good Gravy! is its members’ ability to make acoustic instruments soar with such energy that electric instrumentation is not necessary, but used sparingly to create its signature sound and grooves. “Even though we still use electric instruments occasionally, we stay true to the roots of our acoustics,” Brenton said in a recent group interview with The Marquee. “By using acoustic instruments, they force us to think about what we’re playing more intelligently and how, for example, my sound is relating to what my bandmates are doing with their instruments. Instead of just beating you over the head with it, the subtleties and earthy tones provide for an exclusive sound that is hard to come by in the scene where electronic/computer music is dominating the market.”

Adding to the exceptional musicianship, the band has a penchant for good songwriting and regularly takes the act of acoustic songwriting to new and exciting realms. And they are fortunate to have multiple vocalists and songwriters to keep the tunes fresh, and provide a refreshing contrast to their peers.

But the band also credits a good deal of its success to its locale, and its role as part of the Colorado music scene.

“The local talent right now in Colorado is ridiculous,” Brenton said. “We get to meet so many influential people and are given such rare opportunities that it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else right now. I think being a band here is unique because we get exposed to so much good music and inspired by it, too.”

Drummer, Deyo added, “It’s one of the biggest reasons I moved out here. I think Northern Colorado is a great place for a band to reside. There is so much good music that comes through here and that has come from here, and it is a great community of musicians.”

While influences like the popular Colorado acts String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon are immediately evident in the band’s sound, unexpected inspiration from bands like STS9 and Disco Biscuits can easily be heard as well. Either way, the band’s members are equally as comfortable with a more traditional approach to bluegrass as they are with a jamband/rock-fusion approach to the genre.

“We like to take our music on a journey, as well as our audience,” Brenton said. “Some bands don’t realize how important it is to play quietly, leave spaces, and slow things down. When you can do these things and still make it interesting and danceable, it is even more of a success. Then when you transition back to the loud, fast, heavy solos and rhythms, it makes it even more intense and enjoyable. On top of this, when we have an audience that puts out as much energy as we do, we just start feeding off each other, and that’s where it all happens.”

Percussionist and trumpeter Vanbuskirk added, “I love looking out into the crowd and seeing someone I don’t even know loving our music, cheering for us and dancing their asses off. I love it when people get excited about what I have created personally and with the group as a whole. It’s uplifting.”

Following a strong 2011, in which the band was named “Best Jam Band” by the Fort Collins Musicians Association, Good Gravy! will start hitting the road even more heavily in 2012 than they already have.

Additionally, the group has released its music on a self-titled, debut studio album and on a live recording featuring recent live performances. Another studio effort is on the way in 2012.

 

:: Good Gravy! ::

:: Fox Theater :: March 8 ::

:: Aggie Theater :: March 9 ::

 

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