Lariat music scene heats up with the season

With festival season returning to the Ark Valley, The Lariat is living up to its reputation as the region’s premier music venue by turning up the volume on live music. For Memorial Day weekend and the first weekend in June, The Lariat will feature special performances coinciding with Paddlefest and Campout for the Cause, respectively.

For Paddlefest weekend, The Lariat will host the Magic Beans Friday, Dragondeer Saturday and Adrian Conner Sunday.

Based in Denver, the Magic Beans have gained national notoriety for their music and host an ever-growing annual music festival dubbed Beanstalk. The Beans blend funk, rock, jam and other genres to create a lively dance party atmosphere at their performances.

Adrian Conner recently released her ninth album, Spazz Kitty, which combines electronic music with a full-on rock band. Perhaps best-known as the lead guitarist of AC-DC tribute band Hell’s Belles, Conner has been described as “exciting, rambunctious and kinda scary” (Guitar Player Magazine).

Dragondeer has performed all over the country, including festivals like the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, South by Southwest, the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival and the 24th annual Grolsch Blues Festival in Schöppingen, Germany.

No strangers to The Lariat, Dragon-deer last performed there for an event sponsored by Vice Magazine and Bud Light. The band has also performed at Red Rocks Amphitheater and was touring the East Coast when we caught up with lead vocalist Eric Halborg by phone.

“We love it up there,” Halborg said, “and we’re stoked to be asked to play BV’s signature event. … I river surf, so I’ll be getting in some time on the river.”

Dragondeer recently released a new album, If You Got the Blues, that the band members recorded in California with producer Mark Howard, who has produced recordings for Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Anders Osborne to name a few.

Halborg said the band’s summer schedule includes gigs on the main stage of the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, at Denver’s Grandoozy Festival and at the Arise festival.

In conjunction with Campout for the Cause, The Lariat will host performances by Afro-pop band Zimbira Friday, June 1, and We Dream Dawn with Bridget Law Saturday, June 2.

Law described Zimbira’s music as having an “excellent, happy vibe that will make you want to dance and smile.”

Law and Sage Cook, We Dream Dawn band leader, were founding members of Elephant Revival and recently performed with the band at Red Rocks. Law said she never really left Elephant Revival but left touring as she was preparing to get married and help raise her “awesome stepson.”

Law also performs with her husband, Tierro Lee, and the couple are working on a new album, She also said she’s more involved with managing and producing other bands now. “I’m still feeling out where I’m supposed to be right now.”

Cook, vocals and guitar, and Aera Fox, bass, are the core duo of We Dream Dawn. Mark Levy and Darren Garvey round out the band on drums and percussion, respectively. Cook and Fox have also established a sustainable farm at their home in Kansas near the Oklahoma border.

Cook said he also still plays with Elephant Revival and that six of the band’s seven members will perform at the Elephant Family Jam Friday night at Campout for the Cause. “Scotty (Stoughton of Bonfire Dub) does a great job with that festival. Elephant Revival played almost all of them, maybe eight out of 10. … The fact that the proceeds go to a good cause is awesome.”

Cook said he and his band mates are focusing on recording a new album for release in 2019 and is excited to have complete creative freedom for the first time.

In the meantime, he and Fox are focused on expanding food production on their farm. “It’s a slow process,” Cook said. “We reclaimed about a ¼ acre of the yard. Now it looks like a forest with 20-foot-tall trees. I really believe we need to up our game when it comes to food in the U.S. … Some people claim that up to 70 percent of of our population have malnutrition. … It’s a cause worth fighting for.”

The Lariat Lineup for May 23-June 5

Wednesday, May 23, 7 p.m. – Open Mic
Thursday, May 24, 9:30 p.m. – Flash Mountain Flood
Friday, May 25, 6 p.m. – Pint and a Half
Friday, May 25, 10 p.m. – Magic Beans
Saturday, May 26, 10 p.m. – Dragondeer
Sunday, May 27, 9:30 p.m. – Adrian Conner Band
Wednesday, May 30, 7 p.m. – Open Mic
Thursday, May 31, 9 p.m. – Blue Water Highway
Friday, June 1, 9:30 p.m. –  Zimbira
Saturday, June 2, 10:30 p.m. – We Dream Dawn with Bridget Law