In its inaugural year, the Groove Music and Arts Festival brought a three-day funkfest to Shadow’s Ranch in Georgetown this weekend. Carving out its niche as a festival dedicated to, well, acts that groove, the boutique event attracted close to a thousand campers. Headliners included Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams and the Keels, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Dumpstaphunk and Orgone.
See photos of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at the Boulder Theatre in 2013 below:
Nestled in a cottonwood grove snaked by Clear Creek three miles outside of Georgetown, you would almost never know that Shadow’s Ranch is less than 100 feet away from the buzz of I-70. That is except for periods of early morning silence, a rarity in the animated camping area where laugher and drum circles often went to sunlight. The grounds were picturesque — a small pond with a gazebo accented the main Groove Stage and a well-lit forest turned into a fascinating walk of art and vendors at night. There were a handful of workshops and yoga classes, but unlike other larger Colorado festivals like Arise and Sonic Bloom, Groove focused almost exclusively on the music.
The festival featured many local acts and up-and-comers in addition to the big name headliners, giving many of these jam-friendly acts two separate sets over the course of the weekend. The Jaden Carlson Band, led by the thirteen year old guitar prodigy, played a well-attended afternoon set of high-energy fusion while Nederland-based act the Magic Beans played to exhaustion during two late night sets on Friday and Saturday at the smaller Move Stage. Colorado’s Drunken Hearts and Mountain Standard Time melded bluegrass into otherwise rocking sets, while the Springdale Quartet’s Hammond B3-driven jazz was a nice evening fit.
The two biggest surprises of the weekend both hailed from out of state and shared a love of bizarre bandnames—Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Ultraviolet Hippopotamus (UV Hippo). Pigeons’ wild-eyed lead singer Greg Ormont was one of the most entertaining performers of the weekend (especially while channeling David Burn during “Psycho Killer”.) UV Hippo, a powerhouse progressive act out of Michigan, brought tightly constructed originals, obscure covers like Herbie Hancock’s “The Traitor” and a dialed-in lightshow to a slew of newfound fans.
Keller Williams’ loose, light-hearted set of bluegrass with Jenny and Larry Peel was a nice change of pace to the onslaught of horn lines and slap bass, while traditional funk acts like Orgone and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe cooked from start to finish. The electronica-jamband hybrid Cosby Sweater seemed a bit out of place with their bassy, production-heavy approach, though watching Joel Cummins (Umphrey’s McGee) and Kyle Hollingsworth (String Cheese Incident) awkwardly duel on synths over EDM was a laugh.
It all made for an inaugural festival that leaves a lot to be excited about. Groove should no doubt become an event that funkheads look forward to and local acts set their sights on in the future.
Nate Etter is a Boulder-based musician and a regular contributor to Reverb. You can reach him at Nate12Etter@gmail.com.