The Scene: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom got busy early Saturday night, as attendees of the LOHI Music Festival made their way from the event grounds to Five Points for part two. The last set of moe. ended at 10pm, getting fans all hot and bothered and leaving them begging for more. With a new moon on the rise, when the festival ended, it was apparent that Denver was not ready for bed yet. As I approached Cervantes around 11pm, I could hear the funky sounds of The Pimps of Joytime pumping out the Other Side doors and caught a second wind. The place was jammin’, and almost crowded. There were lots of familiar faces, no doubt folks who purchased the dual-event ticket for the festival, but there were many new ones too–probably people who were working or had family affairs to attend to during the day. I stepped into the ballroom. The upstairs was opened and filled with what I can only assume were die-hard moe. fans–seaking out cocktail tables for prime viewing of Everyone Orchestra featuring Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico. The dance floor was fairly empty, but I knew that would change quickly. Drinks were flowing, the smell of high-quality dispensary weed hung in the air. Many were intoxicated upon arrival–everyone else was playing catchup. Lucky for them, Cervantes’ always stays open late.
Opener: The Pimps of Joytime. Pimpin’ ain’t easy, but PJT makes it look like a cakewalk. They were full of energy and, even after maxing the funk all day long, never once showing signs of loosing steam. It’s a good thing too–it was a long day for many of us but the excitement that they brought to the stage was contagious. Slacking in a corner was not an option; dancing pants required. I met some friends and was pulled into the crowd and lost myself in the Funk for a few songs. My only disappointment was having missed the first half of the set. After the dance sesh, I took a quick trip to the ballroom to buy a beer, and came back just in time to see their set end.
Everyone Orchestra: The ballroom offered ample space for dancing when the evening’s feature took the stage. If you are not yet acquainted, Everyone Orchestra is a group of rotating musicians that makes appearances at venues and festivals throughout the country. By consistently bringing different highly-talented musicians to the stage, founder and conductor Matt Butler knows how to create the kind of atmosphere to spark a perfect storm of musical collaboration and improvisation. The laundry list of collaborators over the years is impressive, and Saturday night’s clique was no exception.
Time for some name-dropping. The spread of musicians would appease any regular in the Cervantes’ crowd. Al Schnier was guitar and band mate Vinnie Amico was on drums–their fans certainly comprised a large part of the audience. Joey Porter (keys), Garett Sayers (bass), Matt Pitts (sax), Jans Ingber (percussion) and Gabe Mervine (trumpet) of The Motet offered some homegrown Denver flavor to the mix, while Tom Hamilton (guitar) of Brothers Past brought some old-school Jam influences to the table. At the helm, Matt Butler conducted the show in his iconic colorful top hat and long coattails. The outcome: a funky sound, successfully combining Blues, Rock, Jam and Electronica.
Butler brought a lot of the stage presence to the performance all on his own, conducting the music while jumping around the stage, waiving his extremities to cue artists and singing along with a fervor that was so huge you might think he was about to pop a blood vessel. The group jammed hard until about 2am, then David Murphy (formerly of STS9) joined for a soulful encore that asked the crowd, “Can you feel it?” They were feeling it alright. After the encore, many attendees made their way over to the Other Side for a late night set from The Heavy Pets. Most of us who had been rocking since noon decided it was time to finally throw in the towel. Reports gathered the following day, however, proved that the late night show was fun and funky, right until the end, and so, after 15+ hours and more than ten individual performances from eight different bands, LOHI Music Festival 2014 came to a close. There is no question about show-goers’ satisfaction. The only question now is, how can the possibly make 2015 better? As each year has surpassed the last, big things are on the horizon for this little neighborhood festival.