Campfire Caravan featuring The Lil Smokies, The Brothers Comatose & Mipso
204 South College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO, 80524
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM (event ends at 1:30 AM)
This event is 16 and over
The Lil Smokies
With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil’ Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own. The quintet, from Missoula, MT, has been hard at work, writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past 6 years. The fruits of their labor recently culminating with wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. In 2013 the band also won The Northwest String Summit Band Competition. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, innumerable unique originals, sheer raw energy, and exquisite musicianship, The Lil’ Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving behind melodies you’ll be singing to yourself for days and a jaw you’ll have to pick up off the floor. This five-piece bluegrass ensemble features Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).
The Brothers Comatose
The Short Bio:
Literal brothers, Alex (banjo and vocals) and Ben Morrison (guitar and vocals) of The Brothers Comatose grew up in a house that was known for its music parties. “The Morrison house was a gathering place for local musicians – everyone would bring an instrument, call out tunes, call out changes, and just play for hours” says Brothers Comatose bassist and Morrison music party goer, Gio Benedetti. “I learned more in that living room than in any class I ever took.” The brothers took this generous, inclusive and rowdy attitude and brought it to stages all over San Francisco. With the addition of members Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) the string quintet brings their original string music and the feel of an intimate music party to audiences all across the United States.
The environment the band creates with their music and their live shows isn't the exclusive band vs. crowd world of rock and pop, but rather the sing-along, stomp-along, inclusive world that gave birth to string band music. The band – while playing festivals like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Strawberry, High Sierra, Outside Lands, Kate Wolf, and SXSW, - has not lost sight of their roots, their fans and the relationships that have brought them where they are.
Despite their name, the band is anything but Comatose. They toss alligators (inflatable) into the crowd, they hand out chopsticks for audience-percussion-participation, and are known to jump down and play acoustic encores in the middle of the crowd at the end of a set. It's just one, big, extended Morrison music party. Only now, the living room travels via Chevy G20 Conversion Van from state to state.
The Long Bio / Respect The Van Press Release:
“The good thing about a string band, is that things tend to culminate with dancing rather than elbows flying in a mosh-pit,” says Gio Benedetti of the Brothers Comatose. The original members of the quintet with brothers Alex and Ben Morrison, bonded at the Morrison family acoustic music parties before taking a youthful foray into punk and rock bands *and ultimately* before circling back to the music they learned in that living room. They credit both beginnings for the attitude of their current music. and As a testament to their skillful energy; they have already played the major festivals including the esteemed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, The Strawberry Festival and High Sierra.
On the new album, Respect The Van out May 22, their music is not a wavering mélange of assorted styles, but decided and strong bluegrass-influenced folk rock. With the addition of members Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) the band aims “to offer a damn good time, with a no-bullshit style that we found in those original living room parties and our live shows,” says Ben. “We tracked everything for the album live in one big room – treating the studio like a stage,” he explains.
As for the name, only a brother could pick it out by observing his sibling. Guitarist *and vocalist* Ben said when brother Alex Morrison *(banjo and vocals) * goes into a trance-like state while playing his banjo, “his eyes roll back in his head like he’s in a coma.” It’s certainly not indicative of their music, which doesn’t have any of the indulgent noodling breaks characterized by other string based bands – though the musicianship is solidly there, it’s given with a communal and inclusive spirit to sing and dance along to. Now, at live shows, the San Francisco band is known for handing out chopsticks to the audience for participatory percussion on whatever surface is closest.
And while the music is strong and clear, there are some serious themes as in the lead track “Modern Day Sinners,” a Guthrie inspired populist sing-along with shades of 50's R&B and doo-wop in the harmonies and feel. “I wanted to call ‘bullshit’ of the type of politician or fat radio host that’s giving advice while living a terrible and shameful life,” says *bassist and* vocalist and banjoist Gio.
“Scout” was written by Ben as part of “The 52 week club,” a songwriting group that sends out theme a week as a writing prompt. “It my first contribution. I wrote it from an autobiographical perspective of a young boy scout hanging out with his grandpa,” shares Ben. “My grandpa was a nice man some of the time, but could also just be bitter and I always wondered what he was so angry about. This song is about the young scout hanging onto his youth and and hoping to keep that spirit at the end.”
“120 East” is a harmonic ode to the brotherhood of a band, written about The Brothers Comatose's journey to and from The Strawberry Music Festival. “I wanted to capture the sense of being with your best friends, of being willing to trust them and follow them anywhere,” says Gio.
The band wrote a raucous, fiddle tune ode to their 1988 Chevy G20 tour van and called it, fittingly, “The Van Song.” “Phil wrote all the instrumental melodies and it didn't have any official lyrics for a long time,” says Gio. “It saw two rowdy live performances where we all just made up verses on the spot. We finally wrote some real lyrics, and had to record it - we love our van in a way that is border-line obsessive.”
“Morning Time” is Ben’s folk-country duet with breakout artist Nicki Bluhm. “It tells of the ever present struggles between man and woman – the guy wants to maintain his life in the big city with all of its late nights, bustle and craziness and the woman is ready for a mellower life. It’s a compromise and ultimately setting aside some quality time in the morning to spend together,” shares Ben
“Feels Like The Devil” is a drop-tuned, resonator-driven shit-kicker that would be at home on any bluegrass stage, while “Pennies are Money Too” is an old-timey instrumental that well illustrates the band’s musicianship.
Despite their name, the band is anything but Comatose. “It's just one, big, extended Morrison music party,” they say. The Brothers Comatose will be playing all spring and summer including April dates in Boise, Portland, Eugene, Washington State, North Carolina and all thru California, including appearances at the Banjo-B-Cue festival, and the Kate Wolf Festival. More dates and new videos will be announced soon.
When Mipso’s 2013 debut, Dark Holler Pop, rose to #8 on Billboard’s Bluegrass charts, the success surprised a lot of people – Mipso’s four members included. “Well, we didn’t know so many people would buy it,” laughs mandolin player Jacob Sharp, “and we definitely didn’t know we were a bluegrass band.”
Since then, Mipso has performed over 300 shows and welcomed frequent collaborator Libby Rodenbough’s voice and fiddle to the fold – and has continued to grow as musicians and songwriters, while drawing continual inspiration from their rich North Carolina roots. Their new album, Old Time Reverie – produced by Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin – is a reflection of that musical and personal growth: a gripping, mature sophomore release that finds the quartet expanding their sonic resources while doubling down on their experimentation with string band tradition.
While the instrumentation on the acclaimed Dark Holler Pop embraced North Carolina’s bluegrass heritage head-on, Old Time Reverie finds Mipso shifting their focus away from bluegrass, introducing new instruments and textures to create a distinctly different sound. Clawhammer banjo out of 1920s early country music meets atmospheric electric organ (played by Josh Oliver of The Everybodyfields) more native to 1970s pop. Add imaginative songwriting and a group cohesion gained from two years of near-constant touring, and the resulting sound is powerfully rhythmic, lyrically sharp, and woven with beautiful four-part harmonies.
Before forming Mipso, Jacob Sharp (mandolin), Joseph Terrell (guitar), Wood Robinson (bass), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle) were just classmates at UNC-Chapel Hill, where the experience of singing together in harmony drew them together. The sound of their blended voices remains one of the band’s hallmarks. Since those college jam sessions, the four have entered a new phase of life, one where the work of making music – and the work of living – has become a more complicated affair. Many of the songs on Old Time Reverie grapple with the moral ambiguity that comes with keeping hope in a difficult world and making sense of its contradictions.
These songs, after all, were born in the South and reflect its modern day complexity. “Our progressive college town shares a county with lots of old tobacco barns and farms and churches from the eighteenth century," guitarist Joseph Terrell said. "We've chosen to stick around in this place where we're rooted, to reckon with and learn from its contradictions.”
At times, the task seems doomed: “Everyone Knows” grapples with a world that is essentially “cold and dark,” “Mama” explores the enduring scars of loss; “Marianne” follows an interracial couple’s struggle to love one another against their community’s disapproval. But if Old Time Reverie conjures a dark vision of the world, it also meditates on points of radiance. Even the wary narrator in “Father’s House” can see “a light on the porch.” The album closer “Four Train,” too, is a crinkled smile at the end of a weary day, describing love as “like a stain that won’t come out” or “like a flame that won’t burn out” – or perhaps as both.
In both theme and temperament, the album finds an interplay between the sunrise and the twilight – a tug-of-war that’s itself an old-time tradition. From “Eliza,” a lively waltz-time romp, to “Bad Penny,” a surrealist dream sequence with an Abe Lincoln cameo, the album revels in the seesaw spectrum of experience and memory, where technicolor carnival hues blend with grown-up sadness and the whispers of ghosts. Mipso’s color palette, like its soundscape, is radically inclusive.
“We come from a place where traditional music is a living, changing thing,” fiddle player Libby Rodenbough said. “So we feel like having an ear for all kinds of stuff is not only true to ourselves, it’s a nod to the tradition.” Call it what you will – to listen is to understand: it’s either unlike anything you’ve heard before or effortlessly familiar. By digging deeper and expanding further, Mipso have created their own dark daydream of Southern Americana: Their Old Time Reverie.
$15 Early Bird / $17 Advance / $20 Day Of Show
Sat, August 19
Thu, August 24
Sat, August 26
Thu, August 31
Fri, September 1