I don’t know how much these guys make, and I doubt they are in it for the money at $10 a show, but man are they living the dream. I can’t even begin to imagine how their whole weekend went but I did get to spend some quality time with these Bluegrass renegades on Saturday evening. The night consisted of many good times including dinner and cornhole between sound check and showtime(Watch out Eli is a ringer!), turning one of the greatest deep cut albums of all time into a hopping mad dance party, and ending the night with a basement jam bash that you’ve only heard about and wish you were there. Denver imbibed Poor Man’s Whiskey on April 15th – 17th at Quixote’s True Blue and performed one of the coolest shows this audiophile has ever seen.
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.
The night began around 8pm when the band, after sound check, arrived back at good friend and local music promoter Paul Brown’s home in the Highlands part of town. They came in like they were comfortable and lined up to introduce themselves individually to the entire group of 15 or so friends and fans. They made themselves at home with a beer, some home cooked pasta, and a game of cornhole on the patio under a full moon. Every member of the group was as interested in the other guests as we were in them. Lead singer and guitarist Eli took what was a close game of bags to a quick finish with 7 straight bullseyes while drummer George scurried around the house making final arrangements for the bands departure for Quixote’s.
On this second night of a three day stint in Denver the bluegrass band from northern California’s bay area was getting ready to perform a set they have been doing sparingly over the last 3 years. A little ditty they refer to as “Dark Side of the Moonshine”, originally thought up by Mandolinist Jason Beard, was about to shine a light on the bluegrass scene unlike any the Mile High City has witnessed.
The Great Gig in the Mile High Sky.
Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is an epic album and to be honest was the eye catcher for me to attend this show. In fact, I had never even heard PMW’s music before but this genius idea had me feeling like the bands personal photographer and buying their cd by the end of the show. The band performed the album cover to cover with a bluegrass twist and twang that had one of the most thought provoking releases in decades causing concert goers, young and old, to kick up their feet and shake it like they were at a psychedelic hoe-down. To top it off, they did it all dressed as Wizard of Oz characters.
They played their first set in their normal hipster hippie garb before taking a break and returning to stage donning costumes. Banjo player Josh Brough(Scarecrow), mandolin player Jason Beard(The Lion), bassist Aspen(Tin Man), and drummer George Smeltz(The Wizard) played the perfect supporting roles to lead singer Eli Jebidiah(Dorothy with a beard) and wicked guest violinist Jenni Charles(The Witch) of the band Dead Winter Carpenters.
The music was a perfect blend of mesmerizing lyrics and heel kicking jam-outs that kept the whole crowd enthralled. One of the highlights is when, during “On the Run”, Jebidiah brings out the Theremin and has an ass smacking, tongue licking, dual with Charles’ violin and then proceed into the Kentucky backwoods version of “Time”. (Check out the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjufzoJB55Y)
There’s no place like home!
Most bands after playing back-to-back nights and with an impending show the following day would probably try and get some sleep, not Poor Man’s Whiskey. After quenching their palates at the bar afterwards, then returning to the house to continue the fun, these guys couldn’t wait to start jamming. In the basement it started off with a mix of band members and party guests jamming like they had played together for years. The band truly showed their talents in this guest bedroom when all the members were sporting all kinds of different instruments, they all played everything. And they wanted everyone in the house to play something, even I jumped in on the djembe for a song.
The jam session was anything but bluegrass, mixing in some long jams, a little electronica, and some old rock covers, the perfect way to end the night. Poor Man’s Whiskey is as entertaining as can be both on and off the stage and some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of hanging with. By the time that I left at 4:30am, the dancers were still bouncing, the Whiskey was still flowing. Put them on your musical radar and get drunk off their energy.