The Lonesome Days at the Bluebird Theater - June 13, 2019

By Summers Baker

This January, The Lonesome Days sold out the Fox Theater in Boulder and Denver bluegrass lovers took note. For the many Denverites who missed the party bus to Boulder that night, The Days’ next Denver show announcement was highly anticipated. And, in usual fashion, the Lonesome Days did not disappoint. In early May, they announced their June 13 show at the Bluebird Theater, where they were to be joined by the Adam Aijala Trio, comprised of Colorado jamgrass veterans Andy Thorn (Leftover Salmon), Greg Garrison (Leftover Salmon) and Adam Aijala (Yonder Mountain String Band).

The Lonesome Days’ connection to those musicians runs deep. Jonny Miller, the lead
singer/mandolinist for The Days, has joined members of Yonder Mountain String Band on many stages in Colorado, and The Lonesome Days have even done a tour opening for Yonder across the Midwest.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better group to join us for the show,” says Jonny. “We admire each of them so much on a musical level, but also as people. They have seen a lot of success in this business but are grounded and good-hearted people that we feel fortunate to be friends with.”

The Days were also joined by Grace Clark, who opened the night with a set of her original music accompanied by cello and guitar. Grace, who has sat in on multiple occasions with The Days, was right at home in front of the bluegrass lovers as they quickly filled the room for the night. By the time The Adam Aijala Trio picked their first tune, the room was packed.

Adam Aijala Trio’s opening set was filled with original music. Any Yonder Mountain String Band fan in the audience certainly noticed that Adam was playing some songs from the early Yonder catalog. Jonny Miller sat in for the last few songs, and then they left the stage to an energized crowd. The Lonesome Days put on a show that the scene won’t soon forget, playing most of the songs from their debut record, along with a slew of new songs that were all grounded in that recognizable Lonesome sound for which they are known.

My personal favorite was their rendition of Jonny’s song, “Twenty-Five.” Haven’t heard it? Go check it out. When I asked Jonny what the highlight of the show was, he told me it was when Andy Thorn and Adam Aijala joined them on stage near the end of their set. “Playing Andy Thorn’s song, ‘All That I Can Take,’ was a real highlight for me. I just love that song. To play that song with those two and share it with my bandmates was a really cool moment for me. I felt fully immersed in the moment and was beyond grateful to be on the stage with all of them.”

And that energy certainly translated to the audience. In classic bluegrass style, The Lonesome Days encored by inviting up a bunch of local fiddlers to play an old-time tune, and everyone left the theater buzzing. “It was really special for us to play the Bluebird as a headliner,” says Jonny. “I know many of us in the band have seen so many great shows there over the years. It’s always been my favorite indoor venue in the city.”

Pickin’ in the Grand Valley and Points Beyond

What’s Happenin’ on the Western Slope?

By Veta Gumber, aka Vetabluegrass

 

Live Performances

July 6, Jenny Hill & Sam Pankrantz, Gunnison
July 6, Rapidgrass, Mad Dog Café, Crawford
July 6, Clyde (of The Milltaillers), Blink Coffee, Mesa
July 7, Copper Mountain Music Festival, Copper Mountain
July 7, Bonnie & the Clydes, Crested Butte
July 8, Rapidgrass, Aspen
July 12, Billy Strings, Ridgway Town Park
July 13, Stray Grass, Palisade Brewing Co
July 14, Clyde & the Milltailers, Delicious Orchards, Paonia
July 15, Colebrook Road, Aspen
July 17, Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, I- Bar Ranch, Gunnison
July 18, Michael Martin Murphy, I-Bar Ranch, Gunnison
July 19, Stray Grass, Fruita Civic Center Park
July 20, I Draw Slow, Moab
July 22, Woodbelly, Aspen
July 20-22, Mud Springs Bluegrass Camp Out, Near Grand Junction
July 27, The Hackensaw Boys, Warehouse 25sixty-five, Grand Junction
July 29, Bluegrass Offenders, Aspen



Jams

Don’t be a closet picker! Jams are a fun place to listen to or engage in bluegrass with local musicians. Jams are held weekly at various locations. For more information check out info on the Grand Valley Acoustic Music Association site. Or just ask a local picker!

 

Clawhammer Banjo Tunes, Tips and Jamming

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I’ve gotten a couple of music books in the mail recently and springtime (and really, any time) is a great time to learn a new instrument or build your skills on whatever you’re currently playing, sitting out on the porch enjoying the longer days and later sunsets.  I’ll start by taking a look at Wayne Erbsen’s book on clawhammer banjo.  Like most players of “an age” I grew up learning tunes from various instruction books going all the way back to Pete Seeger’s classic How to Play the 5 String Banjo.  This was of course before the days of the internet or even video cassette players, which led me to ask the following question as I cracked open this book:  “Are music instruction books obsolete in this day and age?". and if not, "What place do they occupy in the world of music instruction or how best can they be used?"

I believe the answer to my first question is “No” and I’ll endeavor to share my answers to the follow up question by looking at this instruction book.  The book is laid out in a thoughtful way, the print is large enough to read easily, and that’s not just a factor for some of us more senior members of the community, the layout is easy to follow or scan.

One of the benefits of a book like this is that you can easily peruse the pages to find something that interests you, skip back and forth between songs or stories and easily find what you’re looking for.  Another word about the layout – I appreciate the fact that the songs, with that large easy-to-read tab and lyrics appear on one page.  With the spiral binding you can flip open the book to the song you’re working on and even play outside on a windy day without the pages flapping and flying around.

One of the great joys of Wayne Erbsen’s books is the wealth of stories and background information on the songs.  His books read like an old friend in casual conversation.   The book opens with background information on the banjo and it’s place in old time music.  The basic vocabulary, from songs versus tunes to pull-offs, hammer-ons and such are all covered succinctly.   There are plenty of tips on getting the proper sound and making the playing experience more enjoyable.  A CD is included with mp3 recordings of all the techniques as well as the songs.  You could easily load the 78 tracks onto your iPod for practice, or choose a few to work on at a time which is what I did.  The songs are played slowly and then a little faster.   The melodies are tabbed out in a very straightforward manner, you get the melody loud and clear. Erbsen describes it as teaching the “Naked skeleton of the songs”. I appreciate this kind of arrangement because any player, myself included, is going to add their own touches to the song and for a beginner being able to clearly hear the melody is essential.  While this books is oriented towards a total beginner on the banjo, a more seasoned player might pick it up for the songs. 

Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques you’re invited by the author to play the songs in any order you like.  For a total beginner this book gives you in a few pages a solid foundation on clawhammer banjo techniques and song structures that you can expand upon. 

Toward the end of the book there’s information on jamming and playing with others.  Again, Erbsen does a great job of condensing the vital information into a few enjoyable pages.  I’ve been playing for decades and teaching for a long time as well and I enjoyed reading his comments on “Jamology” as well as the stories about all the songs.   I’ve been a fan of Wayne Erbsen’s books for some time now, his Rural Roots of Bluegrass book is one I recommend to anyone getting into the genre as a player or just a fan. 

Clawhammer Banjo, Tunes, Tips and Jamming is a excellent addition to any music library. If you’re a beginner this is a friendly place to start and if you’ve been playing for a while, here’s a set of songs to enjoy plus some wonderful stories and background information you might have missed along the way.

-Kevin Slick