2013 is in the books even faster than we knew it would be. It was a landmark year for the Crazy Horse Saloon & Grill as we hosted over a 100 shows. Even our lofty expectations were exceeded by the constant stream of exceptional talent. Considering the volume of top caliber music, one might think it would become a bit of a blur. But the highlights shone so bright, they are fully crystallized in the memories of patrons and staff alike. We might as well document them while they’re still sharp.
That’s How You Open a Show!
*T-Buck and the Old Folks (Denver – 4/16)
It was surprising how many people were out early on this Tuesday night. They were justly rewarded with an opening set by this fun-loving country band.
*Paige Anderson Family Band (The Brothers Comatose – 12/28)
It was remarkable how quiet and respectful the sold out crowd was as this band of teenagers sung and played their hearts out.
Unexpected Knock Out
*Shaky Feelin’ (5/18)
This young band from Camarillo, CA still remains under the radar on their own So. Cal turf. Not many people came to their first show at the Horse, but those who did were rewarded with a jaw-dropping performance full of improvisational fireworks.
*Relic 45 (6/1)
These young bucks from Sac made us feel like we were seeing The Black Crowes.
*Brownish Black (8/17)
This rock ‘n soul band from Portland was so unexpected, we didn’t even know they were coming. Headliner Brendan Phillips & Fast Rattler brought them along as a special surprise to celebrate his birthday. We can’t wait to have them back.
Virtuoso Solo Performance
*Zach Deputy (10/21)
This guy is a one-of-a-kind breed of music-making human being. Operating behind his mothership of instrumental technology, he guided a full house through one of the most joyous Monday nights Nevada City has ever experienced. A primal groove session unfolded on the dance floor into the wee hours.
*Asher Fulero (6/6)
This keyboard wizard from Portland, OR brought such vibrant energy and musicianship. We knew he could play but didn’t expect such an endearing vocal presence. Anyone who covers Steely Dan’s “Peg” is instantly a winner in our book. Opening with Phish’s “Rift” didn’t hurt either.
*Nick Moss (11/16)
This was one of those shows where everyone in attendance was looking at each other with that, “Are you hearing what I’m hearing?” expression. These cats from Chicago, led by the Stevie Ray Vaughn-esque Moss were the real deal.
*Grease, Grit & Grime (multiple)
For their first performance at the new Crazy Horse, these local guys brought along a pair of sax players, which represented a new direction for their sound. They call what they do “dirty blues,” but we don’t see it that way. It’s actually pretty clean and is the kind of blues that doesn’t make you feel sad.
Acid Jazz Improv Session
This was one of those shows we really wish we had recorded. Everyone who was there was completely captivated from start to finish. Each member of this trio pushes the limits of their instrument. At a certain point it was like the audience disappeared and the band tapped into the heights of pure creativity.
*High Beamz (6/29)
This whole show was like being in a Formula One car on a slick track, but the last half hour was so scintillating that you almost had to remember to breathe. Each member of the trio couldn’t contain their glee as they challenged each other to the fullest extent.
I am Woman, Hear me Roar!
*J. J. von Briesen (multiple)
Not only does she have looks and charm in spades, but more than enough talent to make the big time. What’s not to like about a blonde bombshell in a sparkly mini-skirt with red cowboy boots who holds back no emotion with her surprising vocal range and impressive acoustic guitar chops? Every time J.J. and her band have played the Horse, it’s been an event.
*Jenes Carter of Mojo Green (12/13)
She’s got the look, she’s got the voice, she’s got the moves. This funky outfit from Reno is lucky to have her.
*Alvetta Newby-Jones of Cherry Royale (10/17)
One look and it’s plain to see how perfectly she defines the band’s name. With serious stage presence, flair and a unique vocal delivery, Newby-Jones is definitely the cherry on top of the sundae.
The Youth Movement of Progressive Bluegrass
*Good Gravy! (3/30)
This was one of those shows people were talking about for awhile afterwards. These young pups from Fort Collins, CO absolutely lit it up, playing a hybrid style of jamgrass which had such a broad appeal. The fun they were having was totally infectious.
*Giraffe Dodgers (7/11)
Representing a jazzy, intricate, jamgrass sound, this cleverly-named band showed sophistication well beyond their years.
*Boca do Rio (5/4)
Even after listening to some of their music, there’s no way to really know what a band sounds like until they play here. When you hear that a band incorporates samba into their influences, you expect them to be somewhat raucous. The performance of this five-piece unit from SF unfolded as if in the intimacy of a cocoon, enchanting everyone lucky enough to be there.
*Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide (multiple)
Each performance by this band has transported us to a place both exotic and strangely familiar. Marrying African rhythms and sensibilities with the essence of blues roots feels so very natural.
Tribute Band Magic
When bands play the music of the Grateful Dead at the Crazy Horse, it seems to suddenly gain this new life. We are so blessed to have a local band like the Deadbeats who are able to capture that “X factor” which happens in between and around the notes. Each time they have played, we’ve orbited in that transcendental Dead stratosphere. No time more so than New Years Eve with highlights too many to list.
*Funky Miracle Meters Tribute (2/10)
These guys were the first real show at the new Crazy Horse and it’s no wonder they set the tone for such a gangbusters year. Honoring the timeless tunes of New Orleans’ funk godfathers, they made sure Nevada City celebrated Mardi Gras Sunday to the hilt.
*Naive Melodies (7/12)
What’s not to love about a band that can nail every Talking Heads song ranging from the most popular (“Take Me to the River”) to the deepest cuts?(“Artists Only”) During their first show, this trio (pulling off the sound remarkably well sans bassist) hardly let us up for air. The night peaked with the whole saloon singing along to “This Must be the Place (Naive Melody).”
Stylistic Melting Pot
*Brendan Phillips & Fast Rattler (multiple)
Carrying the musical torch ignited by his father – famous local hobo folk poet, Utah Phillips – Brendan Phillips and his band have created such warmth and resonance each time they’ve played the Horse. Blending traditional American folk, bluegrass, Irish and gypsy music with elements of jazz, swing and rock, they do it all with a tasteful touch.
*The Soft Bombs (multiple)
This is one of those bands you can’t put a finger on and shouldn’t even try. Applying a truly innovative spirit to indie rock, this local quartet seamlessly integrates electro dance grooves, British pop and psychedelic rock into the mix.
It’s easy to love a band when you can’t decide which is better: their personalities or musicianship. These guys won our hearts instantly on a sleepy Monday night back in March and have continued to evolve in each of their two performances since. This afro-funk octet from Seattle defines the term “ear candy.”
*Acorn Project (multiple)
Hailing from Bellingham, WA this six-piece electro-groove, funk-rock band are one of the hottest to ever grace the Crazy Horse stage. Wowing the crowd with super heady covers (ranging from Boombox to Pet Shop Boys) and volcanic originals, their shows are akin to careening down a windy mountain road with the headlights off.
This was the kind of DJ set you’d expect to see in an ultra-hip club in a big city. All the costumed freaks were out in force, pulling out their sexiest dance moves, as Neptune pushed it well past last call.
*Zebuel is Smoked Out Soul (6/8)
Zeb’s debut set started out slow and then at some point dramatically turned the corner. People poured in and he had the crowd going nuts. Layering tasty guitar licks over his soulful, funky mixes really sets him apart.
*DJ Chalice and DJ Leo (10/3)
It goes without saying, but the number one quality any DJ must have is impeccable taste in whatever genre they specialize. These cats exemplify that concept. From roots reggae to dub to dancehall, Chalice never ceases to amaze with the diversity of tracks flowing through his fingers. Then Leo offers the perfect changeup, dropping funk and soul which would make a dead person dance.
Sardine Can Award
*Bob Woods Trio (3/22)
He plays here every second Friday of the month now, but back then this show was viewed as a novelty akin to a Pope appearance. Even though it was broadcast live on KVMR, it seemed like every other music loving baby boomer in town had to be there. Hopping up and down like pogos, the only way to go was vertical.
Halloween is notoriously crazy in Nevada City so the Horse probably would have been packed regardless. But when people heard Neptune, they were drawn like moths to the flame.
*Dead Winter Carpenters (11/22)
We’ve had other sold out shows, but none have been quite this…uh, cozy. Chalk it up to DWC’s first appearance at the new Crazy Horse and unbridled excitement of people converging from far and wide.
Fits the Horse like a Custom-made Saddle
*Achilles Wheel (multiple)
We consider them our house band and proudly so. They’ve played here in a variety of incarnations and never fail to stir the pot of emotions which motivated us to be a music venue in the first place. They always give everything they have and play as long as possible. Every show is different. Their sound is woven into the fabric of our foundation.
*Earles of Newtown (multiple)
When these guys do their 1920’s swing, jugband thing – all dressed to the nines in period-appropriate style – it’s impossible not to feel transported back to that era. Surely that must happen at a lot of places they play, but the Horse seems to smile and wink; embracing the flashback to those swinging speakeasy days.
Ultimate Achilles Wheel GD Moments
*Shakedown Street (3/23)
This was the proverbial shot fired across the bow during their first performance at the new Crazy Horse. We knew they were really good, but this was the epitome of a band flaunting its abilities. The dancefloor was whipped into a frenzy as each musician managed to improvise independently and cohesively.
*Bird Song (6/13)
The Achilles Wheel Acoustic Trio happy hour shows have been a thing of beauty and very different from their electric gigs. This one was particularly cool because the whole band decided to show up. This incendiary version of the Garcia-Hunter classic couldn’t help but evoke thoughts of 1980 Dead as seen through the Achilles looking glass.
GD Covers by Bands Other than Achilles Wheel and Deadbeats
*Tracorum (Help on the Way>Slipknot>Franklin’s Tower – 7/20)
*Tracorum (China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider – 7/20)
This Bay Area band did a lot of great things but none left more of an impression than their take on these two GD suites. Their interpretation were so pure, so whole; bubbling with magic. And they made them their own. Thunderous, slap-happy bassist Mark Calderon was the MVP.
They Covered that!?
*Acorn Project (“Crazy” by Seal – 5/2 & 9/19)
Not only did they cover this shiny piece of pop, but they jammed the hell out of it. The audience was blissfully baffled.
*Polecat (“Lochs of Dread” by Strength in Numbers – 10/25)
The few people who knew what this song was, knew that Polecat was a band with very keen taste.
*Achilles Wheel (“Henry” – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 7/6)
A fun romp through this pot smuggler’s tale; one of the best songs from a band which still remains highly underrated.
*Hip Hop Medicine Nation (11/14 w/ Lyrical Shaman, Spends Quality and Dove Mosis)
We tend to hover around the rock, funk and soul genres most of the time, but it’s essential to branch out occasionally. When Dove Mosis and his Hip Hop Medicine Nation crew are in the house, you know you’re in good hands. This is conscious hip hop with the sort of hypnotic flow which can hook those who don’t normally subscribe to word play.
*Dub Step and Glitch Hop (11/29 w/ Mister Rogers, Dubvirus and Psy Fi)
When we think of dub step and glitch hop, we tend to imagine industrial, robotic sounds which grate on the ears. This night defied that stereotype as a string of DJs tapped into the most danceable aspects of these cutting edge genres. Fortunately no dishes or glasses were broken despite the bass shaking the entire building.
*Jonny Mojo – Achilles Wheel & Rusty Buckets
It’s hard to single out the best guitarists of 2013 because there have been so many stars. But no guitarist has demanded more awe over the past year than Jonny “Mojo” Flores. Every time he takes the stage, you know you’re in for a treat. Like anyone who is truly brilliant on their instrument, he performs feats which seem borderline impossible.
*Mark Masson – Shaky Feelin’
We already praised Shaky Feelin’s dazzling debut. The whole band brought the heat, but then there was Masson, whose guitar heroics were so stupendous, it would have been fitting for him to light his axe on fire as an encore. He plays like he’s wearing the wing-tipped sandals of Mercury as he accelerates into the ethers trailed by a shower of sparks.
Thank you to the Crazy Horse for giving us a great place to play. I sat down with Allen in the early planning stages of this adventure, and we knew we had the same vision…Music at the Horse has been part of my world for the last 30 plus years…and now it is at its BEST!!
Here’s to many more great shows in 2014 and beyond!!