Yesterday was the inaugural event in the RiNo district of Denver, known simply as The Denver Deluxe. It is a one day festival put on by Park Burger to raise money for a community garden, with some serious assist by 10 Barrel Brewing Co. The festival featured food from Park Burger, beer from 10 Barrel and glorious music, both internationally and from our neck of the woods. The folks at Park Burger wanted to start off, what hopes to be an annual occurrence, with a bang, so they enlisted the help of The Original Wailers, which includes Al Anderson, who did perform alongside Bob Marley, back in the day. Besides these legends, Florida’s own tropical jammers, The Hip Abduction, were making a stop in Denver, on their first tour to Colorado, or even this far west. Louisiana blues bomb, Jonathon Boogie Long was also on tap to tear it up under the Colorado sun. The day would also include some of the area’s favorite hometown acts, such as Rob Drabkin, Musketeer Gripweed and Technicolor Tone Factory.
Regrettably, my family and I missed the first half of the day and sets by Technicolor Tone Factory, Musketeer Gripweed and Jonathon Boogie Long. However, we did show-up in time to catch a majority of Rob Drabkin, who was in the middle of his moving original “Down To Fate”, when we got there. He and his band, which included a sharply dressed trumpeter pulled-off a tremendous exploration in the middle of the traditional “Lil’ Liza Jane”. The covers of Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” and Paul Simon’s “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes” were both exceptional and crowd pleasing. The well-played set ended with another fantastic Drabkin original, “She Comes & Goes”.
Florida’s newest highly sought after export, The Hip Abduction made a worthy first impression with “Before We Lose Our Minds”, off of their latest album. The reggae flavor of both “Live It Right” and “Children Of The Sun” were perfectly welcome under the sweltering yellow ball of light. The asphalt became electric with the live sounds of “Come Alive”, which seemed familiar to several of the attendees, probably due to being played on the Jam On station on Sirrius Radio. This was followed by a humongous version of their world-beat instrumental “La Resaca”. “Stand Up For Love” brought more of a catchy unity vibe to the already stupendous set. They introduced a new tune that was world-beat meets jamtronica, which I later discovered, had been named “Sinte”. Everyone was a Hip Abduction fan by the time the band broke into the tropical jams of “Holiday”, from their 2013 self-titled release. The sextet finished up their first-rate set with a rousing version of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”, which was probably the first time any of us had heard a kora used in a cover of the song.
The crowd had grown to a decent size, by the time The Original Wailers took the stage. They opened with a choice version of “I Shot The Sheriff”, with Chet Samuels showing amazing skill on lead vocals. “Stir It Up” and “Three Little Birds” kept the party rolling and had the crowd singing every line. The band played a few unfamiliar tunes, that were probably originals, but the festive vibe wasn’t impacted in the least. “Could You Be Loved” definitely got the attendees back into a singing mood. The Original Wailers went a little psychedelic on the classic tale of oppression, “Buffalo Soldier”, which contained a mind-blowing guitar solo by the true original Wailer, Al Anderson. They played a few more original tunes for the masses and then got them dancing with the heavy bass of “Jamming”. As the headlining set came close to the end, they gave the audience what they wanted with a remarkable “No Woman, No Cry”. A phenomenal improvisation gave “Exodus” the power of true emancipation to conclude the outdoor portion of the day.
Though we only heard three of the six acts playing on The Denver Deluxe stage, yesterday, those were a spectacular four hours. The music was eclectic and wonderful, bringing a nice spectrum to the first year of this city festival. I have to admit that I have experienced at least a few infant festivals, over the years, but The Denver Deluxe was well organized and didn’t seem like it will suffer much from growing pains, except for where to put all the people as the crowd grows from year to year, especially if the musical performances are as good as this year’s. The food and beer for sale were pretty tasty, but it might not hurt to have some fries or chips on the menu and a darker beer selection. These are minor details compared to the success of the overall experience, so I tip my hat to Park Burger and all of the folks that had a hand in making such a terrific day. I am extremely excited for next year’s Deluxe, but for a quick flashback, go to my Facebook page and check-out a couple videos of The Hip Abduction’s set at The Denver Deluxe. That’s What I Know, So That’s What You Know!! Enjoy!!
HAPPY LISTENING!!!! 😉