Written by: Abigail Amor
Photographer: Douglas Chapin
There are a lot of cover bands out there; heck the Grateful Dead is known as one of the best cover bands of all time. It is a special skill to take someone else’s music and recreate it and play it as your own, allowing your personal flair to mix with the music and feelings that resonate inside each person. Three Days in the Saddle does just that. They do not just repeat and play what they cover; they throw you on their horse and together you’ll ride off into the sunset with their perception of the songs. They are creating something new and that is truly theirs – while respecting the artist it originated with. They create their own style of looping in and out of song arrangements, while keeping a subtle cowboy, Bob Weir, country style twang throughout. They play what makes their heart ride free; you can really see that being expressed from their energy on stage and with their connection to the crowd.
Three Days in the Saddle knows how to get some talented folks under one roof, hosted by Be On Keys Psychedelic Ripple, it houses two stages. It was a tough decision on what side of the bar to attend, but regardless of who else was playing there was a crowd spinning and twirling in front of Three Days in the Saddle. The first night, Friday, they shared the house with the amazing Jessica Jones Project and Chompers, in the back side of the bar. You follow a maze-like hallway to find theater chairs lined around the wall with an open dance floor to the Owsley stage. You can hear the vocals of Jessica creeping down the hall growing louder as you turn each corner. This is my first time seeing her; watching her cover Led Zeppelin was amazing. Her vocal range and power she possesses behind it draws you in like a siren, demanding your attention as she starts to sing the high notes of “Immigrant Song”. The tips of your hairs on your arm pull like a magnet toward her presence. The path and the darkness of this backstage only instigates the feelings of love and lust that trickles through the sound that is Led Zeppelin.
I make my way back to the main stage, finding Three Days playing some personal favorites, a string of Widespread Panic songs, hearing Zac Riedel playing the heavy base lines of “Arleen”. I take a second to absorb their awesome ability to encompass the twirls and swirls of The Dead to the heavy and dirty riffs of Panic as they switch gears right back into the heart-felt songs of The Dead. They couldn’t have ended the night with anything better than, “Lovelight”, showing off just how much they make their songs their own. Yes! Guitarist Nick Mader sets the stage for one of my favorite Pig Pen raps, “get your hand out cha pockets and find a pretty girl and say, “Hello Lady.” Nick takes the reins adding his own flair and twists to the story. The band follows faithfully behind Nick as he unravels his story of love and his perception of how to keep his Lovelight on.
Here we are, going for round two; don’t ya remember this was a two-night run!? I would have thought this to be a hard task, retaining fans for two nights, with all the things happening in Denver; like a lot of good music – so much good music I’m jealous and they are hoarders and should share the wealth. Yet, there were a lot of returning fans, which is a sign of not only a good band but one with a good following. With so many people in the crowd choosing to come back for a second night to support and show their love for Three Days in the Saddle, every fan I met not only liked this band, they loved this band, and several even said it was their favorite in Denver! What a freaking compliment! Saturday stacked up with even more bands. Phour Point O – got their time to shine giving the crowd their fix of their favorite sounds of Phish. They played some crowd favorites like “AC-DC Bag” and “Harry Hood”. Balancing a good mix up of slow songs to party songs and highlighting some of Phish’s funkier beats. They had the crowd dancing and singing along by also throwing in some party favorites like “Psycho Killer” by The Talking Heads, turning the crowd into a sing along that had everyone moving on the dance floor, singing together and really creating a sense of harmony.
In between sets I again took the strange walk to the back stage and found an awesome “new to me” band, Ahh Fugg Yeah. They got down in the back, covering all genres of music. I walked into them playing “Home Again” by Pink Floyd and left with them playing “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dog. Ahh Fugg Yeah kept a heavier sound by continuing to keep the wailing guitars even during the rap songs. Their stage presence was fun and about a party. I fell in love with them the moment they started covering hip hop songs while keeping their rock and roll aggression all at the same time. I can barely find any information on this band but would love to see them again.
Time for the last and final set by Three Days in the Saddle– I walk back through the maze past the pool tables and see the crowd already forming around the stage as they get back up on stage after Phour Point O. The night is getting late and Three Days performed while past 2am, but you would never have guessed it was late by the energy in the crowd. They are coming to jam, starting with a “Mountain Jam” I watch them communicate with each other, noticing Karl Kushner take control, leading them as they move through nonstop transitions, for what is basically the rest of the set. Letting their natural style shine through when they sandwich “Carol of the Bells” right in the middle of “Eyes of the World” and “Shakedown Street.” They don’t want you to forget this is a Xmas Boogie after all. Man, what a song for Three Days in the Saddle to pick. Who would have thought “Carol of the Bells” would so seamlessly fit between two Grateful Dead songs? It was a perfect way to round off the excellence of their playful style and ability to move through different sounds and songs, working as a group to create amazing transitions and giving the songs a little extra gallop.
I love what this band is doing! I would love to see them get back on the East Coast, bringing back some of the amazing skills and talents they have acquired through their journeys and their ability to mingle with the best in Denver. What an experience it is just to be out in Denver surrounded by an amazing music scene in a place that feels like people just want to create something awesome!