Note: This review was lost in transmission so let revisit a moment in Fox history while celebrating the venue’s reopening. Tonight at the Fox check out the West Water Outlaws. This also officially ends the Fox Photo of the Day project.
By guest writer Patty Malesh
WhiteWater Ramble is just that. They are an ample ramble of newgrass jams, white people funk, and bluegrass pickin’ that defies designation. Without doubt, it’s their ramble, jamming this way and that, playing songs nearly as long as sets, that continues to earn them their spot amongst the progressive Jam Band company they keep. Their heavy bluegrass keeps their audience bouncy. Their humility keeps them in our hearts. They ooze Colorado. But don’t let my comments here lull you into thinking you know what you are in for. Just when they settle into that familiar sound, they amp their umph and bring it! This self described “High-Octane Rocky Mountain DanceGrass” act takes audiences in through bluegrass, out through funk, and back again with a wink and a smile. Their sound is so rich, so rhythmed, I almost don’t miss the absent banjo. Almost.
Ramble‘s brand of heavy is not of the Trampled by Turtles variety, though this is respectable in its own right. Their brand of clusterpluck is Memphis heavy, sweaty and solid, funked up and low down. Or at least it was this past “Fat” Tuesday at the Fox Theater in Boulder when we all came to get our last bit of sin on, Colorado-style. They had no problem filling the historic Fox with sound right up to the rafters where they’d stashed a galaxy of balloons that fell upon us sinners, out so late on a school night, like stardust on fallen angels tempted to earth by the devil’s fiddle! On Tuesday, it was played by Joe Lessard from Head for the Hills. Ramble tends to adopt fiddlers, and other local all-stars, for their live performances. When they do, they groove a wall of sound so ticklish that a body can’t help but respond. This time, they set loose a pair of dueling keyboardists–Joey Porter of Motet fame and a younger, shaggier fellow that attacked his keyboard like Animal did his sparkling drum kit in that Muppet band of yore. But it was the big sound of a borrowed brass section that took their fans down to New Orleans by way of Nederland with their home cooked version of When the Saints Go Marchin’ In. In
moments like these, Ramble tears the roof offa’ cozy midsized venues like the Fox. But they do their best work outdoors. They stole the show mid-day at Nedfest last August and could easily own Mishawaka on the Poudre and the Wildflower Pavilion in Lyons. I bet their brand of “Dancegrass” could even vibrate Red Rocks if they committed to an act with laser lights and more exaggerated showmanship. Already, their upright bassist leads the way, a jester hopping on and off his muse like Woody Guthrie on a train car. The rest of the band relies more on their fast and focused stringwork to keep their audience enthralled.
I’m not one to tour with the band, to follow an act from show to show (except for that year with Andrew Bird, but, really, who could blame me?). And I get bored
watching even my favorite bands more than four or five times. All acts get stale and rehearsedness starts to dull around the edges. The Fox show marked my fourth encounter with WhiteWater Ramble, and I have to say that they have yet to disappoint. With each successive show, they seem to push the limits of pizzazz and bring me back for more. I am not alone. WhiteWater is feel good music and their joy is contagious. The corners of my mouth ached from smiling as the lights came up and I looked around to find that familiar permagrin on the sea of sweaty fans that make up Ramble’s loyal base.
And if live music’s not your thing, their studio album, All Night Drive (which can be downloaded for free at www.WhiteWaterramble.com), is guaranteed to have you dancing ‘round the living room Tom Cruise style, undies a wigglin’, scientology be damned. Their picked over soul takes yours on that Great Space Coaster of boogie down and sets it free to spin and twinkle in the dry Colorado air. Sensible footwear strongly suggested.