Photos: Collegiate Peaks Festival feat. Keller Williams - Reverb

Live review: Collegiate Peaks Music Festival feat. Keller Williams, the Motet, Elephant Revival, more @ Buena Vista various venues

An eclectic array of riverside music floated many a boat in Buena Vista last weekend. The Collegiate Peaks Music Festival veered like the weather on a hot Colorado night, with explosions of reggae dub, dance-party DJs, smooth bluegrass, brassy funk and jamming rock.

It was a musical buffet for every palate. The Motet’s consistently empowering grooves set the tone early Friday for a weekend that never let up. Couched on BV’s lush South Main lawn and amply lubed by a steady flow of Ska brews, the festival had plenty of room for lounging, dancing and riverside soaking.

After a revitalizing rain Friday night, the DJ-fronted Lance Herbstrong unleashed a contagious dance vibe into the thin air, mashing a tasty selection of tunes that dabbled in “Cocaine,” “Pass The Duchie,” “Electric Avenue,” “Sabotage” and “Hot For Teacher.” Porno For Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano lends Lance Herbstrong the screaming gravitas it needs to pull off its undulating frolic-fest.

Late-night Friday, the helmet-haired Keller Williams held a not-too-secret DJ session that blew up Buena Vista’s Asian Palate restaurant. Without a word, Williams huddled over his laptop offering brief glimpses of ingenuity. Probably best he keeps his other night job alive for a bit while he works through the new gig.

If someone just happened to pass through BV late Friday, they would be convinced that the little Ark River town was the party capital of Colorado, with hundreds of people packing the streets and music pouring from every door that served beer.

Saturday’s Elephant Revival set ramped the party up with just about every person in town rallying for the noontime show. Bonnie Paine’s buttery vocals, frenetic washboard and tinkling djembe are truly captivating and culled the most rabid response of the entire festival. Watch this band. The Nederland outfit’s take on folksy bluegrass is poised to blow up.

Midday Saturday saw D.C. funksters the Empresarios and the Funk Ark flex soulful, Latin-ized Afrobeat brassy riffs that shuffled the groggy, sun-baked crowd back onto the grassy dance floor. Kyle Hollingsworth –- the best thing to ever come out of String Cheese Incident — captained his Rhodes with typical aplomb, keeping the primed dancers moving.

When headliner Keller Williams took the stage, the joint was jumping. With a slew of guitars mounted on stands, Williams laid out looping beats on each instrument, handling everything from acoustic riffs to drum beats. There’s something unavoidably egotistical about a musician who insists on playing every instrument, especially during a live performance. Maybe Williams is cost cutting? Really, though, Williams is talented enough to handle it. Plinking on his Godin while his acoustic looped, Williams hammered out a compelling “Legalize It” bass riff, complete with the line “Feeling irie is not a cliché.”

Hilariously, this prodded a very irate –- and decidedly not irie –- security guard to storm the stage, spittle flying from beneath his mustache as he warned that the smoke signaling eruptions of pungent dank could drop the curtain on the party. “I will end this!” he squeaked, harvesting a volcano-like response from the smoke makers lurking in the swarm.

Williams continued to sing about a doobie in his pocket and covered a titillating “Shakedown Street,” and luckily we never saw the flashlight-holstered, mustachioed misanthrope again. Joined by Hollingsworth on his Rhodes and drummer Dave Watts of the Motet, Williams manned the bass for a final hour of reggae-tinged jamming that sent the jubilant throng back into the orderly alleys of BV and South Main, where bars and then patios erupted in sudden fiestas ‘til almost dawn.

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Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.

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