HENRY DILTZ, AFP/Getty Images When Rhode Island's Newport Jazz Festival…
- Posted on Oct 10th 2010 2:30PM by Charley Rogulewski
But this Rocky Mountain wind was also responsible for bringing together the evening's jam band elite -- the String Cheese Incident, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon and members of Phish standing in with various acts -- for a six-and-a-half-hour jam session.
Last month's Fourmile Canyon Fire was the most destructive in Colorado history, incinerating approximately 169 homes in the foothills directly above Boulder, Colo., an outdoor utopia that thrives on its surrounding pristine scenery. Fourmile Canyon, home to friends and family of many of the bands on the benefit's bill, was left looking like a desolate war zone. While the Rocky Mountain wind was heavily responsible for fueling the fire across 6,100 acres of brush, it also shifted at the last minute sparing the town of Gold Hill, an area that revered songwriter Stephen Stills even once called home. Music's ties to the area are undoubtable, with many of the folk and jam bands playing the benefit also referencing the area in their songs and lyrics.
Boulder-based Leftover Salmon would play their nod to the town, 'Gold Hill Line,' during their set, which kicked off the evening early, sharply at 6PM. For a band who went on hiatus in 2004 after losing their banjo player Mark Vann to cancer, Leftover Salmon set a high standard for the rest of their evening with the tropical bluegrass of songs like 'Everything Is Round' and 'Muddy Water Home.' Phish keyboardist Paige McConnell stood in on the Zydeco-influenced 'Mama Boulet' and remained on stage for the Del McCoury cover 'High On a Mountain.'
Yonder Mountain String Band, who formed in the Fourmile Canyon-adjacent Nederland in the late '90s, followed and invited Phish drummer Jon Fishman, who toured with them briefly in 2007, to join the four-man finger-picking ensemble. The hourlong set included 'Steep Graves Sharp Curves,' a cover of Talking Heads' 'Girlfriend Is Better' and toker-friendly jam 'Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown.' "Ladies and gentleman, I want you to take this energy you have here and I want you to take it everywhere," frontman Jeff Austin told the audience.
The Fourmile Fire hit closest to Big Head Todd and the Monsters, whose drummer Brian Nevin was forced to evacuate his home during the September inferno. For their set, the band invited members of Leftover Salmon back onstage and covered the Grateful Dead's 'Friend of a Devil' and their own tunes 'Conquistador' and 'Rocksteady' the namesake track off their most recent released album.
"The four of us have always felt like Colorado is a second home," Trey Anastasio (pictured) told the crowd during his acoustic set with Phish bassist Mike Gordon. Taking a page from last October's acoustic Festival 8 set, the duo toned down Phish favorites 'Back On the Train,' 'Water in the Sky,' 'Train Song' and 'Waste.' The band's 'Sample in a Jar' was turned into a slow and honky sing-along, while 'My Friend My Friend' and 'Wilson' still remained manic despite being performed unplugged. Anastasio and Gordon also got the evening's most deafening roar of applause, not for strumming but for asking everyone to acknowledge the heroic efforts of the firefighters in the nearby stands.
String Cheese Incident's Bill Nershi invited Anastasio back onstage for a cover of Joe Walsh's 'Rocky Mountain Way' and the band's own 'Outside Inside,' after SCI kicked off their set with beautiful fiddle-laden instrumental 'Mouna Bowa.' Their set list also included 'Round the Wheel,' 'Sitting on Top of the World' and a cover of the Grateful Dead's 'I Know You Rider.' Several of the evening's musicians would comeback on stage for a group encore, a cover of Bob Marley's 'One Love.'
The Fourmile Canyon Revival benefit concert sold out of its 6,500 tickets, raising an estimated $300,000 for the Boulder Mountain Fire Relief Fund. The devastating fire cost $4 million to fight and is estimated to have caused some more than $160 million in property damage. To donate to the relief fund head to CommFound.org or KBCO.com. You can also text a pledge to 303-720-7292.