The music scene is a world in constant flux. Bands change members, people pass on, and some actually retire. Dopapod recently announced they will be ending a year-long hiatus while Genetics just let fans know they will be taking an indefinite break. The Dusters and The String Cheese Incident have a fairly regular yearly tour schedule allowing for unique collaborations outside of those projects. These factors played into the formation of an unlikely super group created by Jeremy Garret. This improbable Jamgrass crew included Garret at the helm on fiddle alongside SCI’s Billy Nershi on guitar, Genetics’ Joel Searls on bass, Dopapod’s Neal Evans on drums, and virtuoso Josh Schilling at the keys. This band came together ready to play and their show at the Aggie Theater would be the first of a barnstorm run that included a night in Avon and a night in Denver as well.
It was a frigid night with temps in the single digits prior to doors. Fans hurried inside to escape the cold. The Sweet Lillies got the night started correct with their brand of buttery bluegrass. This trio of multi-instrumentalists is made up of Becca Bisque on viola and percussion, Julie Gussaroff on guitar, upright bass and mandolin, and Molly Frances on percussion and kazoo. They called on Dustin Rohleder on guitar and Micheal Kirkpatrick on mandolin to fill out the stage for their hour long set. The Sweet Lillies opened with the arresting “He Caught Fire,” which featured some serious fiddle work from Bisque. The ladies rely heavily on beautifully intertwined harmonies and good old fashioned picking to create their sound. Their set flew by far too quickly for my taste. Kirkpatrick joined the band about halfway through their set, and they went into a version of his eloquent solo tune “Come Back Home To Me.” We were also treated to a ridiculous Americana take on the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic.”
Credit – Video by Power Em
They wrapped up their set with “All Night Long.” In just the few short years since their inception The Sweet Lillies have become a powerful musical force on The Front Range. With amazing harmonies and solid musicianship this band is poised to dominate the bluegrass scene far and wide.
Jeremy Garrett started the his portion of the evening completely solo. Utilizing a loop station and some serious chops Garrett wowed fans with a pair of tunes. The first was an instrumental fiddle jam followed by the new track “I Can’t Lay Your Lovin’ Down.” This song was just recorded days prior to this performance and Garrett looped in his acoustic guitar so he could solo on the fiddle. His first guest was Josh Schilling who performed “Soul Searching” a song he cowrote with Garrett which is featured on the Stringdusters album Laws Of Gravity. Billy Nershi emerged as Josh retreated for an acoustic duo on the bluegrass traditional “Long Journey Home.” The full band finally took the stage with Josh taking vocals on “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.” This band was not restricted by silly things like genre or tradition. We were witnessing the birth of a Funkgrass Movement anchored by the unbelievable rhythm section of Evans and Searls. Nershi treated fans to first SCI cover of the night in the form of a massive “Colorado Bluebird Sky.” They took a short set break around 11:45 PM.
Jeremy and Friends started the second set by inviting The Sweet Lilies along with Micheal Kirkpatrick back to the stage for a rowdy rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Big River.” Nershi retuned to the microphone on a stellar version of “Love Is Like A Train.” The band passed solos around like a hot potato most of the night. Jeremy invited his friend Andy Rider up for dueling fiddles during “Roswell.” Mr. Schilling channelled his inner Levon Helm for their cover of The Band’s “Ophelia” before they closed with a monumental “Jellyfish.” The whole gang returned to the stage accompanied by Rider, The Sweet Lillies and cellist Joy Adams to encore with the Bill Monroe standard “I’m Working On A Building.” This show was absolute fire and the reason that I continue to go and see live music. Prior to leaving the show I heard murmurs from the audience that this should be a full-time touring act. Garrett is certainly a talented musician and an accomplished bandleader. This show was memorable for everyone who attended and I would not be surprised if we start seeing more dates from Jeremy Garrett & Friends. Time will tell.