Bruce Hornsby Headlines the NewWESTFest

Bruce Hornsby
NewWest Fest
Fort Collins, Colorado
August 18, 2007 

This month, the city of Fort Collins, CO hosted their 19th annual town festival, the NewWESTFest, celebrating the history of the city and everything it has to offer. Each year this free gathering welcomes almost 120,000 visitors to the old town area, and sports a variety of vendors, rides, presentations, and music.


This month, the city of Fort Collins, CO hosted their 19th annual town festival, the NewWESTFest, celebrating the history of the city and everything it has to offer.  Each year this free gathering welcomes almost 120,000 visitors to the old town area, and sports a variety of vendors, rides, presentations, and music.

The music lineup for the weekend, hosted by Bohemian Nights, boasted over 65 artists on multiple stages.  There was a heavy rotation of local artists performing this year, including such favorites as White Water Ramble, The Motet, The Atoll, and many more.  A national headliner played each night for the good people of Colorado, who saw not only the popular Latin rock group Los Lobos, but also legendary pianist and songwriter Bruce Hornsby.

 

 

 

Many folks likely remember Bruce Hornsby from his Grammy-winning days of the late 80s, when he performed and toured with his backing group The Range.  Those days are long gone, and Hornsby has garnered quite a busy career since then.  Though his music is not smattered over the radio waves much anymore, his popularity has remained very strong.

Bruce has enjoyed a steady solo career, releasing several well-received albums and gathering a few more Grammy nominations on the way.  He even briefly toured with The Grateful Dead in the 90s, and routinely picks songs from their catalog to incorporate into his live performances.

This year he has been an extremely busy musician.  In March he released a pop bluegrass album with one of the genre’s greats, Ricky Skaggs.  The project, titled Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby, put a bluegrass twist on some old Hornsby favorites as well as some newer songs the duo wrote together.  Most recently he dove into an old love, jazz, and recorded an album called Camp Meeting with jazz greats Christian McBride (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums).

As if that were not enough, Hornsby and his touring band The Noisemakers have embarked on a national tour to share and celebrate the music of his successful career.  It was this tour that brought him to the New West Fest, which marked the first time he had performed in this beautiful Front Range city.

Fans of every age group gathered tightly near the stage, eagerly waiting to hear the group.  Even the thunderstorm looming in the distance did not deter anyone from sticking around to see this magnificent band.

 

 

 

Bruce, with his Noisemakers in tow, took to the stage and received a very warm greeting from the Colorado faithful.  After a few kind words to the audience, his began pounding away at the keys on his Steinway and Sons piano and officially kicked off the evening. 

Some warm up chops and a tease of the Grateful Dead’s "Scarlet Begonias" started the show and soon led into the popular opening track "Spider Fingers" from his release, Hot House.  This jazz-rock tune was bold and performed with great energy, thanks in part to his very talented band mates.  An extended, improvisational jam near the end elevated this version to a new level.

As much fun as fans were having already, the performers were enjoying themselves just as much.  A smiling Hornsby then led the group through his rendition of "End of the Innocence", a song he wrote for his friend Don Henley many years ago.  This was a particular crowd pleaser, not only because of its popularity but the smooth key work Bruce was laying down.

The subsequent "Big Stick," a track he wrote for the Tin Cup soundtrack, saw Hornsby retire the piano for a short while and pick up his accordion.  Also a skillful accordion player, he stood up and guided the band through this Calypso-style ditty right into a track from his Skaggs/Hornsby project called "The Dreaded Spoon."

Both of these songs were incredibly exciting, and bassist J.V. Collier continued to trade off riffs with guitarist Doug Derryberry.  The interplay continued into a sped-up version of "Jacob’s Ladder," which featured some nice solos by drummer Sonny Emory.  Hornsby was still on accordion, and seemed to be in total joy during the jam.

Without missing a step, the group seamlessly continued into "I Put aSpell on You" as well as "Cartoons and Candy."  The building momentum in these presentations was brilliant, and the weaving notes eventually materialized back into the latter half of "Jacob’s Ladder."

After some brief stage banter and a little breather, Bruce returned to his piano and the band began to play his classic "Mandolin Rain."  It was as beautiful and poetic as ever, and will definitely be remembered as the highlight of this performance.  In fitting fashion, the nearby thunderstorm had made its way to the festival grounds and began to shower the audience.  It is almost as if Hornsby himself had summoned it just for this song.

However, the storm proved to be too much for the fans as well as the band.  At this point the band took a break to let the weather pass, and to the chagrin of everyone in attendance, they would not return.  The storm continued to pound the area well past the festival curfew, and fans were left to relish a short performance.

Despite being cut short, the show certified that Bruce Hornsby is still a master of his craft.  His comforting vocals and high-energy stage presence continue to draw legions of fans to his live act….and this showman never disappoints, rain or shine.

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