WEEKEND MUSIC REVIEW NOV 17 2019

Friday night we attended the Whippoorwill album release show at Washington’s in Fort Collins.  The show featured recent North Carolina transplant, Courtney Hartman.  

Saturday night I emcee’d Strings and Stories featuring members of the Elephant Collective in Longmont, presented by the Future Arts Foundation.

After that show ended at a very reasonable 9:30PM, we drifted over to Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids for a late night dinner and to catch up with good friends, Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene. 

 We didn’t stay long at Oskar Blues.  As usual, the Crime Scene brought a full house, and a rockin’ band to the stage.  Despite a replacement drummer, the band continues to show why they’re one of the best blues based roots rock and roll bands in our scene. The driving energy that comes off the stage is palpable.

The Strings & Stories concert series features national and local musicians in a very intimate and stripped down atmosphere. Musicians will play songs from their catalog and tell their stories. Proceeds from each concert will provide an instrument to a local school in need.”

The Elephant Collective is a production house, artist development agency and music media platform founded by Dango Rose (Elephant Revival). They offer production, collaborative songwriting, and personalized coaching services focused on career growth for musicians. 

The Elephant Collective set featured former founding Elephant Revival members Dango Rose, Sage Cook and Bridget Law, along with two friends, newcomer Bob Berrick aka Kingdom Jasmine and Jonny Miller aka J Robert Miller from the Lonesome Days.

Dango, Sage and Bridget performed songs from the Elephant Revival catalog as well as songs from their own personal collections.  Each told stories behind their songs.  Sage’s often humorous off-tangent stories proved to be a hit with the sold out audience in the small Firehouse Arts Center performance room.

On the other side of the stage, the very pregnant (35 weeks) Bridget law owned the audience with an angelic (albeit breathy) voice, and stunning violin work.  Bridget also recently released an album with her husband’s Tierro Band.

Strings and Stories is one of the region’s rare actual listening events, and it’s all for a great cause.  Future Arts Foundation is also producing the Bluebird Music Festival next April.  The final S&S show is December 14th, and it’s SOLD OUT… sorry.

Album release shows are very often the most exciting shows a band from our region performs.  Typically, and the case here, it’s when the greatest number of local fans come out in celebration.  Whippoorwill’s crowd and a strong contingent of Courtney Hartman supporters nearly filled the nine hundred seat Washington’s FoCO (a Colorado Playlist sponsor).

Courtney did an adequate job as the opening act, her quiet presence on the stage and intricate compositions perhaps better suited for smaller, quieter, more attentive audiences.  She showed her admirable guitar skills also during Whippoorwill’s set.

Whippoorwill is essentially a trio, featuring Patti Fiasco leader Alysia Kraft (guitar, vocals), Staci Foster (guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocals), and Tobias Bank (drums, vocals).   The band was rounded out on stage with the album’s producer, J.Tom Hnatow from Kentucky on keyboards and pedal steel, along with the session bass player.

A seasoned leader of the high energy alternative country-rock band Patti Fiasco, that has opened for the likes of Bon Jovi at the Pepsi Center, Kraft’s presence dominates.  She prowls and stalks the stage with externalized emotional energy, throwing ball buster level kicks and holding her shimmering silver electric guitar like she’ll seriously mess you up if you try to take it from her.  Everything about Alysia screams “big stage persona.”

Her partner in music and life, Staci Foster, is the internalized muse – and the perfect quiet complement to Alysia’s highly kinetic stage presence.  Staci’s demurely reserved presence is amplified by an equally timid and delicate voice, contrasting suitably against Alysia’s upfront rock and roll attitude.

Drummer and vocalist Tobias Bank fills in all the required spaces, vocally and rhythmically.  Together with Kraft, the three core members of Whippoorwill presented themselves as one of the best country inspired vocal trios on the Front Range today.

There’s little doubt Whippoorwill will be one of the better drawing bands in Northern Colorado in 2020, with Alysia Kraft further cementing her legacy as one of the top female entertainers in our state from over the past decade, regardless of the band she fronts or shares the spotlight with.