White Water Ramble Jams at Belly Up Aspen

Sunday Nights in Aspen with White Water Ramble
Pictured from left to right: Happy audience members, Mandolin player Patrick Sites [in the hat], Dance floor legend of Aspen, Myself.

White Water Ramble Jams at Belly Up Aspen

So many of the people that live in Aspen, and make it so great, work in the service industry. This means that the traditional Monday to Friday workweek is not necessarily a standard here. For many Aspenites, Sunday night could be the start of their weekend.

This Sunday,  Belly Up Aspen featured a band that is becoming a regular act here in town. The self-described “High-Octane Rocky Mountain Dancegrass” group hailing from Fort Collins blends traditional bluegrass instruments with blazing electric solos and a rock n’ roll drumming style that spawns some of the most danceable music that I’ve ever heard.

The dance floor was fairly empty at the start of Sunday’s show, but the band came out firing regardless. They traded solos as they jammed through a few of their original bluegrass songs. One man got the party going for the audience as he began spinning like crazy on the dance floor in sync with Mandolinist Patrick Sites’ amazing solos.

The crowd really started to funnel in as the band began to play through their series of cover songs that satisfied fans of so many different types of music. They rocked through the blues standard “Summertime” into the Allman Brothers “Midnight Rider”, a tribute to the late Greg Allman, and from there into the hip-hop influenced version of Sublime’s version of “Summertime”. The covers from the rest of the night ranged from classic rock legends Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, and Grateful Dead, to reggae icons Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley, and some awesome tunes from the more modern rockers Weezer and Rage Against the Machine. This musical selection made everyone happy, and the intense guitar and mandolin solos made it clear why this is no ordinary bluegrass band.

Toward the end of the show, the floor had become inundated with people. Fans were being accosted by bouncers for pounding their hands on the front of the stage, and a full on rock n’ roll show had broken out on a Sunday night in Aspen. An older man dressed in all white clothes looking like Mick Jagger made his way onto the dance floor. This man has become somewhat of a legend around Aspen. He can be seen at every closing party on the mountains and almost every Belly Up show. It’s been rumored that his outfits cost in the neighborhood of six thousand dollars, yet nobody knows for sure. As he came down the steps, fashionably late, about two hours late, the crowd cleared out and cheered as he made his way to the front of the floor to dance harder than anybody else in the venue.

I caught up with bassist David Becker at the end of the show, who has only been with the group for eight months, but estimated that he had played ten shows already in Aspen.

“They take really great care of us here,” Becker said of the Belly Up. “The crowd is always fun and I really can’t say enough great things about it. We try and pick our strongest stuff for Aspen.”

I asked him if playing on a Sunday night was daunting at all. He said, “it can be a little quieter, but it’s rowdy still and that’s all I care about. Doesn’t matter if you make ten people happy or a hundred, we’re still out here.”

Keep your eyes out for White Water Ramble appearing on the calendar for  Belly Up. They will likely be back in the fall and it is always a crazy time.


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