This past Friday (after 232 days), Denver saw snow fall for the first time this winter. For many, this day won’t only be remembered for matching the 87-year-old record for the longest streak of no snow in the area. It will also be remembered as the day that The Dead South, The Ghost of Paul Revere, and Tejon Street Corner Thieves plowed their way into the Mission Ballroom.
When the Mission Ballroom opened its doors at 7:00pm, fans were wrapped around the building, braving the bone-chilling cold. As the line filed in, it didn’t take long to pack the Ballroom. Drinks were flowing, spirits were high, the weather was perfect, and live music was back!
Tejon Street Corner Thieves kicked the night off with their toe tapping, banjo picking, whiskey sippin’ sing-alongs. Freshly off of a full US tour supporting Amigo the Devil, the Thieves were in tip-top shape. The sound was tight and the crowd began to dance and mosh the night away from the very beginning. That’s right, a bluegrass mosh pit actually happened. The Colorado Springs quartet blasted their way through a set of their patented trash-grass mix of blues and upbeat folk. The band packed as many songs as they could into their abbreviated set. They included fan favorites “Lay Low,” “.44,” and “Whiskey.” The banjo was crisp, the stand up bass was thumping, and the washboard (which was made out of a skateboard I might add) helped carry the rhythm. It was great seeing the Thieves make it to a larger stage. No matter if it’s a gig on the big stage at the Mission Ballroom or a night of ruckus at a tiny dive-bar, the Thieves always bring the same energy and excitement. I hope everyone gets a chance to catch the Thieves one day, you won’t be disappointed.
Next up came The Ghost of Paul Revere. This was my first time seeing this band. I was floored by their performance. The Maine natives know how to win a crowd over. Kicking the set off with “Wild Child,” the musicianship and harmonized vocals of Griffin Sherry, Max Davis, and Sean McCarthy demanded the crowd’s attention from the beginning of the set. It was the kind of vocal performance that sent goosebumps across your body. The Ghost of Paul Revere was also the only band of the night that incorporated a full drum set. The drumming was mesmerizing to watch. The mix of blues, jazz, and rock drumming styles was just what the set needed. It added a layer of atmosphere without taking away from exceptional guitar, bass, and banjo melodies. The upbeat blues and swing melodies of “Little Bird” sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy. The set was composed of old and new material. The Ghost of Paul Revere ended the night in grand fashion with “One of These Days” and “Hey Girl.” The Ghost of Paul Revere won me over on Friday night. I’m already looking forward to seeing them live again in the future.
Finally, the time had come for The Dead South. For good reason, the Saskatchewan, Canada bluegrass masters have made quite the name for themselves over the years. I love everything The Dead South have released, but the stars hadn’t aligned for me to see them in a live setting until this past Friday. The bluegrass quartet put on one of the best live sets that I have seen in a very, very long time. The raspy vocal delivery of Nate Hilts was one of the best I’ve ever heard. The energy and flawless picking from Colton Crawford on banjo and Scott Pringle on mandolin left me speechless. Danny Kenyon also made his return to the band on cello. The Dead South are truly masters of their craft. The instruments were mixed at just the right levels, the lighting set the mood, and the energy spilled from the stage to the crowd. The setlist covered tracks that spanned the band’s expansive discography. “Travellin’Man,” “Wishing Well,” and the ever so popular “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company” were some of the set highlights. The Dead South performed a set that, dare I say, sounded better live than on the album. After a short encore, the band returned to the stage for an unforgettable performance of “Banjo Odyssey.” At times, the screams from the crowd almost took over the PA. If you haven’t had a chance to see them live, you’re missing out. It’s a show worth traveling for.
– Corey Smith