Rhythm Devils to fuse influences at free concert in Steamboat
Steamboat Springs — Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are musically evolving from their 30 years on the road together as the cultural phenomenon’s rhythm section.
But some influences, like those of the late Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, shine through in places as evident as their current band’s name. In the late 1970s, Garcia himself named the Rhythm Devils, a band revolving around the rhythmic engine of Kreutzmann and Hart.
“I remember Jerry just looking at Bill and I one time,” Hart said in a news release. “He shook his head and just said, ‘You guys are Rhythm Devils.’”
The six-piece band, which features Kreutzmann, Hart and rotating members on guitar, bass and other instruments, will play the Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series today at 6 p.m. at the Howelsen Hill Amphitheater.
Local artist Billy Franklin will open the show.
Concert series co-founder and booking agent John Waldman said the experience would be one that is distinctly Steamboat Springs.
“What’s unique about this is that it happens to have Keller Williams (on guitar, vocals) in the band, and he has a long history here in Steamboat, dating back to the time he lived here,” Waldman said. “It’s an added bonus to have him on the show and Davy Knowles (on guitar, vocals), who has played here a few times before. There are a lot of Steamboat connections in this version of the Rhythm Devils.”
Andy Hess, of Gov’t Mule, on bass, and Nigeria-born Sikiru Adepoju on talking drums round out the lineup that takes the stage at about 7 p.m. today.
“The music is quite different,” Kreutzmann said in the news release. “It’s real groove-based. It has lots of percussion and electronics. It’s very danceable. It’s gonna be quite a mix up there.”
Waldman said although Hart’s and Kreutzmann’s names might draw interest, the crowd is likely to be blown away by the level of cohesion and dynamism the Rhythm Devils exude.
“Anytime you have two members of arguably one of the most famous bands in rock ’n’ roll history, that in itself is something that’s very unique and very special,” Waldman said. “I’m sure that with vocalists Keller and Davy, it will be interesting to see what they do.”
According to the news release, Hart and Kreutzmann continue to revive and reform old Grateful Dead favorites in their sets.
The songs are complemented by new compositions with the help of songwriter Robert Hunter, who worked alongside Garcia in the formation of several Grateful Dead hits.
“Robert Hunter is a major force in all of this,” Hart said in the news release. “He’s written his heart out in these new songs. There will also be enormous, exciting electronic sections of pulsing, throbbing beautiful zones. There are places and sounds still unknown and unborn that we will no doubt visit.”
The Rhythm Devils, who last toured in 2006, are an evolving project, Hart said, much like the Grateful Dead was until Garcia’s 1995 death.
They’ll continue to look to the future with their sound, holding on to their musical muses of yore and forging ahead in their own sonic exploration.
“When we get together and we’re in the groove, it’s a tractor beam,” Hart said in the news release. “… In the Grateful Dead we created a body of work that we’ll not leave behind. But we also have an identity as the Rhythm Devils, and that’s who we’ll be.”
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