By: Emily Clingman
With the popularity of jam bands on the rise and endless opportunities to boogie down with them at festivals all over the country, it seems like it would easy to grab some musical buddies and jump on the jam band wagon. Not so much, according to the guys of Good Gravy, a Fort Collins based band that’s kind of hard to describe, but often referred to as—you guessed it—a jam band.
“We know people call us that,” said Ross Montgomery, who plays the mandolin, “but we’re like a melting pot you know, a complicated fusion of styles and genres.”
While that pretty much describes a jam band, Good Gravy is different.
“Most of our music is still intentionally composed in rehearsal,” Montgomery said, pointing out the difference between Good Gravy and a typical jam band’s common trait of elaborate on-stage improvisations—though the band is admittedly inspired by acts like String Cheese Incident, Phish, David Grisman, and the likes.
Originally a bluegrass duo in 2007, Montgomery and friend, Jeremy Page, played together at open mic nights at Avogadro’s Number. They eventually brought in Nick Deyo (drums), Kyle Vanbuskirk (percussion) and Evan Benton (bass). Recently Mike Giordano (keys) jumped in. The group developed some enthusiastic fans.
“There was this guy,” recalled Page. “After a particularly sweet session one night, he yelled out, ‘That was some good gravy!’”
It stuck and Good Gravy was born…running. In 2009, the band released its debut album, which is self titled. They had established themselves in the industry and were also named “Best Jam Band” by the Fort Collins Musicians Association.
Continually developing its musical personality, G.G.’s compositions matured, including genres like funk and electronic. Live shows took on a more theatrical feel with the inclusion of light shows and the accompanying performances of visual artists. Songs were played with more intricate riffs. Fans came out in more numbers.
Then, the band found itself opening for David Grisman, in Denver at the Ogden. Other favorite acts they have played with include Jerry Garcia Band, Hot Buttered Rum, Steve Kimock and Railroad Earth, to name a few. They have played all over the country and just came off a West Coast tour—not something they thought they would be doing years ago when they were only fans in the crowd.
“We’re kind of star struck some times,” Montgomery said about sharing stages and green rooms with jam band greats. “But on the other hand, we just roll with it and act like it’s no big deal.”
G.G. is starting to experience its own fame these days. A recent show at the Aggie brought in almost 600 people and playing the main stage at this past summer’s New West Fest provided an opportunity to create new fans.
“After our show, people would stop us on the street and tell us how great the show was,” Page said. “They would be pretty emotional about it. It was wild. That was a pretty cool feeling.”
When asked what they would say to aspiring musicians in the local scene that have dreams of breaking into the industry, the Good Gravy guys believe in anyone.
“We always want to encourage anybody to put themselves out there,” Page said. “Look where we started.”
“Do open mics; play wherever you can. Just keep at it,” Montgomery added. “You get out of it what you put into it.”
Inspired by their continued success and motivated by current undesired living situations, the G.G. guys are planning to take the band to a whole new level.
“We’re all in stupid jobs we don’t want to do,” Montgomery said. “We want to do [play music] all the time. “
Playing Red Rocks is one goal they have for the future and really, the sky is the limit.
“We’re going big,” Montgomery said.
With some new tours that include the Midwest and again to the West Coast, G.G. is going to keep running. Passion, drive and their camaraderie with each other is the band’s key to success.
“I love what we do,” Page said. “Every time we play a show it seems more fun than the last one. Yeah, I love this.”
Before the band jams off into musical fame, FOCO will get a chance to experience Good Gravy on its home turf.
Fans can catch the band at the Aggie on September 15. Not only does G.G. have an “awesome” show in store, there will be a “decade dress-up” costume contest—think Bill and Ted, a photo booth and some other quirky surprises to make the night one won’t want to miss.
“Seriously, you don’t want to miss this,” said Montgomery.
For more information and free album downloads go to www.goodgravygrass.com.
Good Gravy is:
Ross Montgomery – Mandoin, Vocals
Evan Benton – Upright Bass, Vocals
Nick Deyo – Drums, Vocals
Kyle Vanbuskirk –Percussion, Vocals
Mike Giordano – Keys
Jeremy Page – Guitar
Doors open at 8 p.m.