On the road with Ravenna Woods: Day 3

We had driven through a blizzard in the northern mountains of Utah to enter Wyoming and find an eerie hotel in a one horse town. We had to apologetically wake the desk clerk to obtain a room in the building where we were the only guests. We opened the door to #112 only to discover the interior design still dated back to the 70’s. We loved it.

Looking forward to an amazing night ahead of us in Colorado Springs, the day got off to a bit of a rough start. Matt Badger, of the Seattle Band Ravenna Woods, was behind the wheel when we passed a car waiting on the side of the road. From my experience nothing makes your stomach churn more on the highway than looking in your rear view mirror to see flashing blue and red lights. It’s unfortunate but it happens on long trips. Your feet get restless. On a long empty stretch with no cars in sight you can easily look past the numbers on your dashboard.

Even with GPS, getting lost in a town you’d never been to can occasionally still be an easy task. The house show where we should have arrived at about an hour before our actual appearance was luckily, just like us, running a little bit late. We’d been delayed due to the preceding unfortunate event and some poor weather on the 10 hour drive from Logan, UT. Calling upon the booking agent of the event, Heather Brown, we finally found our destination thanks to her guidance.

After Heather, the first people to come and meet us as we exited the van were our good friends from Sound on the Sound, Abbey Simmons and Josh Lovseth. We entered the private residence to find it was completely empty. All the rooms were bare and it felt more like a small venue than a house. Inside we were greeted with huge hugs by tons of our friends from our native Pacific North West. Seattle’s Head and the Heart and The Moondoggies, along with Portland’s Kelli Schaefer were all sharing the bill with Ravenna Woods. It was an unexplainably wonderful experience to get together with so many friends in a state far from our home.

The RW boys were up to play first. They put out their full gear arrangement on the floor of the largest room. The band contains only three musicians; singer/guitarist Chris Cunningham, percussionist Brantley Duke, and Drummer Matt Badger. The first time I heard these guys play I was nothing but impressed. The rhythms that Matt and Brantley produce together are unlike anything I’d ever heard coming from such a small band. Chris’s technical fingerpicking and strumming are extraordinarily complex yet beautifully melodic. They fit together to produce a full and completely unique sound.

The entire show was to be completely acoustic. No microphones. No PA. Though it was early in the night, the band attracted a full crowd of listeners. It was a strong performance made up of 6 songs. Including a reprise of their cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police”. I first heard them play it in a hotel on the first night of tour (see the video I recorded of it here). Chris encouraged the audience to sing along and as I looked around the crowd nearly everyone in the room was doing so. I can easily see this happening with a song of their own one day very soon.

After they put their instruments in the back room of the house, The Moondoggies came out and did a wonderful rendition with an incredibly stripped down sound. Once they finished we all took a break to go outside and catch up with our friends and share some stories from our own individual tours. The brisk Colorado night was unimaginably refreshing after being on the road for 2 days.

Chris and Brantley with a fan named Katie.

It’s an incredible shame that this was the first time I was able to see Kelli Schaefer play a show. I’d heard some wonderful things from many of my Seattle pals and am truly disheartened that I hadn’t made more of an effort to go see her sooner. Kelli had a fantastic backing band consisting of Kris Douty and Jeremiah Hayden. Both of whom make up part of Drew Grow’s band The Pastors Wives. Kris, who usually handles a badass Rickenbaker bass, tonight held her own by swapping out her usual bass lines for a flute accompaniment. After a few gorgeous songs Kelli Stood on a chair above the crowd. The room was completely silent. She enveloped the entire rooms attention with only her voice and a few simple notes.

The rest of the night felt more like a house party far away from home. People laughing and joking while wondering in and out of the house. Everyone was having a blast. People were singing an a cappella version of David Bowie’s “Magic Dance”. Matt Badger, with a few other good samaritans, were trying to help open the door of one of the band’s tour van. The keys had unfortunately been locked inside just after their arrival. They succeeded in getting it open with the help of AAA.

Ravenna Woods with the show booker and Fuel/Friends Blog founder, Heather Brown.

The Head and the Heart played last to a full room of elated fans. After a good long assortment of songs ending with an uproar of applause, those of us who weren’t driving finished with a night cap in the kitchen. Everyone said their goodbyes until we were to meet again, less than a week away, at SXSW in Austin, TX.

The band and I would like to thank a sweet girl named Lisbet, who offered us a place to stay that night not far from the show location.

We fell asleep with the next days destination of Denver in our thoughts.

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  1. Tony
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Great write up, James!

    Any chance you have those photos posted somewhere in higher resolution? My friends and I are in a few of them and was wondering if I could copy a few of them for myself.


  2. tiffiny
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    fantastic write up and pictures. you really captured the night! so glad to have you all in our lovely state. xx tiffiny @ the ruckus

  3. Esther
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Great write up!

    FYI, you misspelled Kris Doty’s name.

  4. Lezlie
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Absolutely love tagging along the tour thru this venue:-)

  5. Christopher
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    AWESOME photos and post, James. The clarity and postproduction on those photos are lovely… not to mention the images themselves! Nice work indeed!

  6. ms delta buzzard
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Saw these guys play a killer set one sunday afternoon @ Rockwood Music Hall NYC…

  7. Nikki Benson
    Posted March 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I miss your face like hell. oooooOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooh

  8. Jon
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    What a unique freakin’ show! Would love to see a bunch of bands in an empty house.

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