CURE FOR THE COMMON

Montana-Grown Electro Thunder Funk

Bozeman, Montana grown Electro Thunder Funk Band

Recap: Contour

It's hard to know what to expect from the inaugural year of a music festival. If the high-caliber line up wasn't enough of an indication, we knew this was going to be a serious event when we got our first glimpse of the grounds on Thursday afternoon. The main stage was set, large decorative shade canopies were going up, and volunteers and staff with radios and clipboards were hustling around to get the place in shape before the guests arrived the following day.

Our first set wasn't until the next day, but parts of our lighting rig were being enlisted at the Pink Garter to augment our show with Papadosio the next night, so Frank set out a plan of attack with their LD and we were off to make ourselves at home in the Teton Valley.

Learning our lessons from Wakarusa, we spent the next day in our hotel rooms, doing our best to stay out of the blazing Rocky Mountain sun. The load in at the Pink Garter is notoriously long and tiresome, requiring us and our crew of homies to drag our gear through a serpentine maze of hallways, stairwells and dumbwaiters to get to the second-floor theater. We didn't know what to expect for a crowd, since our set began at the exact same time The Polish Ambassador finished on the main stage.

At 10pm we were off to the races, playing our hottest hour of electro funk as folks streamed in from the main stage. We were thrilled to be entertaining a rowdy crowd of show goers by the middle of our set, and the energy kept building from there! Late Night Radio took over as we shuffled our gear off the stage, and Papadosio threw down a fire set to close the first night's festivities. Despite a little obligatory stress and chaos, I'd call night one a complete success.

Cure for the Common - Late night at the Pink Garter - Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Neubauer - Neubauermedia.com

Matt Rogers

Garrett Rhinard

The next day was an early one given the late night we had just experienced. Before Noon, Frank and I hustled down to the main stage to load in my drums for our boys, Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons to back line. It may go unnoticed to most festival goers, but change overs take up a bunch of time and energy for bands and stage crews, so whenever there's a possibility of sharing (back lining) equipment like drums and bass amps, it's much appreciated by all involved. Plus, it usually gets the next band going in much less time!

We were up next and my work was already mostly done, so I set out working on a set list, slamming water, and again, keeping my freckled ginger ass out of the heat. We played another strong hour, this time of much more laid back mid-afternoon summer timey tunes to suit the laid back atmosphere in the main festival grounds. It's interesting how much our approach to a set can change between two different settings. The way the sound compresses in a room versus booms off of a large outdoor stage impacts the way we feel our music, and the way the crowd reacts in turn. Adapting to these changes is one of the most entertainingly challenging parts of playing in diverse environments.

Cure for the Common - Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Neubauer - Neubauermedia.com

Steve Brown

Steve Brown

Weston Lewis

Jordan Rodenbiker

After the set, our work for the weekend was officially done, so we cracked into our cooler full of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and started the party! We were stoked to hear and meet The Congress from Denver for the first time after our set. They're a bunch of cool dudes with a killer sound and tight songs. We'll be working on getting them up to our neck of the woods soon.

Later that night we had the pleasure of splitting our attention between four amazing acts. Moon Taxi was blowing the roof off the main stage when we decided we had to bolt to catch Quixotic at the Jackson Performing Arts Center. Our good buddy Jason Meyers had recommended them highly, but we were still shocked to walk in on what I can only describe as a multimedia-infused performing arts spectacle of electronic dance music, accompanied by live drums, violin, dance, film, and acrobatics... all in a pristine experiential environment. It was a trip, and definitely not what any of us expected to see.

We left there wide-eyed and ready for the next treat of the night: a Steely Dan tribute performed by The Nth Power featuring the Orgone horn section. As huge Steely Dan nerds, it was everything we hoped for and more... They played a bunch of our favorite tunes, including Peg, Black Bow, Kid Charlemagne, The Fez, an obligatory Reelin' In The Years (meh), and a kick ass Aja (complete with Nikki Glaspie-meets Steve Gadd drum solo) to end the set. It was absolute fire! Orgone closed out the night with their high-powered, latin groove-driven LA funk. Day two: success.

The next day, about half the band took off for home. Right on the heels of Wakarusa, it was clear they had seen enough fun for one weekend. With home so close, I can't blame them for getting in a little extra home time. Myself, Frank, Jordan, Weston, and Steve stayed to experience the third and final day, and I'm damn sure glad we did.

Roosevelt Collier's Gospel Brunch kicked off our day, which got off to another late start after the previous night. Roosevelt is a master of the pedal steel guitar, and he serenaded our souls with some heartfelt gospel blues. Of course, he was backed by none other than The Nth Power's Nikki Glaspie on drums, Nate Edgar on Bass, and Courtney Smith on Hammond B3 organ. It was one of those sets that legitimately brought tears to my eyes, just like the West African music of Benyoro from Purple Hatter's Ball. Truly beautiful music that brought a continuous stream of tingles to my spine.

We returned to the main stage an hour or two later for The Nth Power's original set, which was equally as impressive as their tribute the previous night. Charles Bradley brought some serious funk and soul to the stage after that, and one of my favorite bands of all time, Thievery Corporation, closed the main stage down with a fiery two-hour set of dance music performed (mostly) by their extensive live band. Their array of six amazing vocalists brought each song to life just as they sound on the albums. It was by far the largest crowd of the weekend, and my favorite main stage set that appropriately drove the contour of intensity to its peak.

We boogied back down town to catch the final late night sets, featuring our Seattle friends, McTuff, and the new British funk of The New Mastersounds. If that wasn't the perfect way to end a great weekend, then a Monday-morning drive through Yellowstone Park was. The five of us who had stayed were clearly in that conflicted state of being where exhaustion meets the emotional recharge of a powerful weekend of music and great company.

We got home in high spirits, just in time to crash out and prepare for another weekend on the road. Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? I can almost no longer tell. Thank you all for allowing us to continue to do what we love. We can't do it without you! Oh, and biiig props to our booking agent, Matt Donovan (Matty D) for mastering minding this festival into existence. It was an ambitious endeavor, and we were privileged to have been their to see the staff and volunteers pull it off in grand fashion. I can only hope we get invited back next year.

Up Next on #CureTour:

Thursday, June 18 - Alive After Five - Billings, MT

Friday, June 19 - The Sickhouse - Idaho Falls, ID

Saturday, June 20 - Snowbird Resort - Snowbird, UT

Recap: Wakarusa

There was a bit of confusion when we made our inaugural ascent to the grounds at Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, AR. It was profoundly hot and humid, we had driven 10 hours a day for the past two days, and our crew of Montana Family had grown to a staggering 22 people in the process. For the band and many of our crew, it was our first Wakarusa ever, so we wanted to do it right. Jason, our Waka veteran, helped make sense of it all so that eventually, everyone got in the gates together to camp as a tribe. 

Waka credentials. Legit.

Waka credentials. Legit.

Once inside, the band separated from the crew to go find artist camping, trailer parking, credentials, and the stage we would be playing for the pre-party that night. We hustled to set up our camp so we could grab a bite in the main lodge before our set. When we first got the stage a kick ass Nashville band called Koa was playing some soulful horn-infused rock to kick off the day.

This was of course only Wednesday, technically day one of our five-day festival experience.

We were up next, second of three bands on one of two active stages that night. In typical festival fashion, we showed up early and started setting up our gear side stage so the change over would be lightning fast. Just as we suspected, the stage crew was a well-oiled machine, and before we could blink, we were on stage, set up, sound checked, and ready to shred. We had written a fiery set list for our only nighttime set of the festival (and first of two sets with our two-piece horn section), and let it rip as the sun set and the crowds came streaming in. We played really well, and by the end of "Pinnacle" two thirds of the way through our set, the roar from the crowd was deafening. It sure was a surreal way to kick off the weekend!

Our next set was in the afternoon the following day on the second largest stage on the grounds. The Revival Tent, as it's known, would come to host bands we've admired for many years, so it felt crazy that we were invited to play that same stage on our first outing. In the spirit of throwing down as hard as they would, we crafted our strongest 90 minute set, featuring zero repeat songs from the previous day's performance, and got to work slamming water and trying to stay cool in the 90 degree heat. Go time rolled around and we piece our stage together as quickly as ever. The amount of space up there was enormous, and a far cry larger than the stages we're used to playing on. The heat made it's mark on the midday set but didn't dampen the intensity of our effort or the spirit of those in attendance. Once again, the Montana Family was there in force to support, along with a few hundred other festival goers scattered about under the tent, just trying to stay out of the oppressive heat.

Talk about heat! Amidst the temperature, I had neglected to eat lunch, and that lack of fuel weighed on my ability to concentrate and execute as well as I have come to expect from myself. It's one of those things that was (hopefully) more apparent to me and the band than to the crowd, but in the middle of our longest set on our largest stage of the weekend, I felt it as one of those learning moments I would remember from "my first Wakarusa." One of those moments where I promised myself I would never make that mistake again.

With our first two out of three sets in the books, we returned to the regular daily regimen of trying to stay hydrated and cool so we could make it through the three remaining days on the Mountain. Somewhere along the line, one of us located the artist lounge and we realized that there was more to this whole "festival band" thing than we first knew. Air conditioning, bathrooms, showers, shade, cold water and beer? Hey, we could get used to this.

Midday on Friday, we made our way out of the main venue and down to the Riverside Stage, where we would play our final set the next day. This section of the festival was a whole new world in and of itself, complete with camping, facilities, and a shuttle to traffic festival goers up to the main venue and back. It was its own little outpost, with the stage facing the beautiful green body of flowing water known as the Mulberry River. When we arrived there were a few hundred people out there enjoying its ice cold relief from the intense Arkansas sun. Needless to say, we were excited to play our final set in such a laid back setting where we could really let it all hang out. 

Galactic + Macy Gray on the Waka main stage

Galactic + Macy Gray on the Waka main stage

The rest of the day flew by as we skipped from stage to stage watching some of our favorite bands, catching up with old friends, and making many new ones. Despite the desire to party all night and see all the incredible talent, we were finally figuring out that we had to get to bed at a reasonable hour because the morning sun would sweat us out of our tents by 8am.

Saturday rolled around and the hot, clear weather had turned to spotty cloud cover. The forecast was threatening thunderstorms in the afternoon and we were crossing our fingers that our last set wouldn't be the victim of Mother Nature's whim. After all, we had lucked out immensely thus far. The entire region had been storming and flooding for two or three weeks prior, and while some of the grounds were a little soggy, there was hardly a sign of Mother Nature's wrath all weekend. As we made our way down to the Riverside Stage for our final set, the clouds rolled in. Thunder began to boom in the distance, and our fears were becoming closer to reality. With the threat of lightning, the operations staff had chosen to evacuate everyone from the beach only two hours before our set. As we came rolling in to set up and sound check, we witnessed the exodus of thousands of people that would have otherwise been our audience. We reached the stage to park and to our surprise, sitting there defiantly undeterred by staff or weather, was our Montana Family. What a welcomed sight to see.

After a little waiting around, the weather cleared in plenty of time for us to set up and get ready to play. The stage staff bumped set break music as loudly as they could to try to coax people back from the campsite and the line for the shuttle, but to little avail. As it happened, we ended up playing a great set to just our Montana Family plus a few dozen others. We even had a special guest, Alex Steele, formerly of Roster McCabe, come up and sit in on Jamiroquai's "Black Capricorn Day," which was a great tune we hadn't played for some time.

In an effort to return the favor and loyalty our friends had shown us by sticking it out to see all three of our sets, we crammed all 20+ people into the van and trailer to avoid the immensely long shuttle line, and made our way back up the mountain to the main venue. Our sets were done, and we spent Saturday night celebrating a successful first Wakarusa.

On Sunday, we ran around to catch the last of the bands we wanted to see before splitting early to get a jump on the travel back to Montana. After a brief sleep over at Cousin Ryan's house and a straight shot 24-hour drive back to Bozeman, we're all home safe and sound, resting up for this weekend's outing to Contour Music Festival in Jackson Hole, WY. Can't wait!

Day 4/31: Fargo, ND

Today was a fine day in Fargo, ND. It was cold and drizzly with mixed snow and rain all day which was part of what made it an ideal Monday to chill inside, set up our gear, get comfortable, and play some casual music. We broke it down to the details and packed in a lot of material for one session. We fired up some old originals, breathed some new life into a few stagnating sections, and blazed some new trails through improv with the help of some fresh new hand signals. Needless to say, we were firing on all cylinders and letting the improv roll. Spirits we're high.

 

#CureTour rolls on tomorrow. We'll be up before the sun once again for a nice little jaunt down to St. Louis, MO, where we will be playing 2720 Cherokee tomorrow night. Better get some sleep! 

Day 2/31: Grand Forks, ND

Last night was our second trip to El Roco in Grand Forks. Last summer it was a part of a 3-night run from Bismarck to Grand Forks to Fargo, which ended in a hometown throw down in front of Jordan's family and old high school friends. Unfortunately, we're not playing Fargo on this go-round, but the bright side is, a big group of Jordan's friends made the hour trek up to Grand Forks to catch the show. A bunch of them rode up in a stretch limo. One woman at the bar even saw our name on the Wakarusa line up poster and came out to see us as we came through. 

It was great to see our old friends and make some new ones! As always, a million thanks to Hal and Bonnie Rodenbiker for their gracious hospitality! Look out for some audio and video of the show coming soon!

 

Set I:

Shake & Bake

First Light >

Backbone >

Shark Sammy

The Squeeze

Sledgehammer

Gas Can

I Want A New Drug >

Cure The Snucka

Feel Like A Stranger

Big Brother

Digital Blackout

 

Set 2:

Let's Dance

Get Some >

Sammy

Crosseyed & Painless >

Como I

Debra

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

Pinnacle

 

E: Rock The Casbah >

Sammy

 

NEXT UP: Tuesday, 4/21 at 2720 Cherokee, St. Louis, MO