The alt-rockers of Leadville Cherokee, one of the Upper Arkansas Valley’s most beloved bands, will return to Buena Vista for a reunion concert scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at The Lariat in Buena Vista. The show marks the first time the band has played since performing a ‘farewell’ show May 2016 at BV’s annual Paddlefest. Despite the hiatus, the uniquely talented members of Leadville Cherokee have retained a strong bond, and a strong love of performing for their devoted fans.
Bassist Brian Carter of Buena Vista said the dearth of shows for the band is attributable to violinist/guitarist Pete Albrecht and vocalist Coco Martin moving away. Each has pursued musical projects of their own, although Carter and guitarist Mark Niernberger have assembled occasionally at the Lariat as Wet Exit with drummer David Schwortz. They staged a small regrouping at the annual Real Al Bundy show that Martin attended. But with Albrecht back in town for the holidays, band members decided to take advantage of the opportunity to perform again, even though Martin may not be able to make the show. They are joyously rehearsing in Leadville this week.
The band formed in 2010 when Albrecht, Niernberger and drummer Vilous “V” Fox met while attending Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. Performing tight, energetic sets in the Leadville bar scene, the trio quickly gained a local following. Carter, a high school friend of Niernberger’s, soon joined the band on bass, and Leadville Cherokee played its first Buena Vista gig in 2011 at The Lariat.
Of course, today’s Lariat bears little resemblance to its former self of 2011, and Carter, who now tends bar at The Lariat, said he’s really looking forward to playing there. “The new Lariat’s great. I love it, and it’s just going to get better and better. People from all over the place are starting discover it – people just visiting and bands too.”
After finishing college, band members began working at Ski Cooper, where they met lift operator Michael Seibel, who joined the band on keyboards. Like Albrecht, Seibel comes from a classical music background. Fox’s background includes playing in a hip-hop based drum line, while Carter and Niernberger bring blues and rock influences into the mix. This diverse background informs Leadville Cherokee’s music, which Carter describes as “alternative rock with funk, soul, bluegrass and classical influences.”
In September 2012, Niernberger headed east to raft the Gauley River and met singer-songwriter Martin, who eventually moved to Leadville and joined the band in February 2013. Shortly thereafter, the six began writing, performing and recording their own songs.
In fact, Carter said 80-90 percent of the songs Leadville Cherokee performs are the band’s original compositions, and when they do play covers, the musicians put their “own spin on them.”
Leadville Cherokee’s success is evidenced by their regular gigs in the Upper Arkansas Valley and along the Front Range as well as performances at FIBArk and the 2015 Gentlemen of the Road music festival in Salida.
“Gentlemen of the Road was an awesome experience for us,” said Carter. “We had a lot of people that came out just to see the music as opposed to playing at a bar where people are out drinking and maybe not paying as much attention. That was probably the most people we’ve ever played for. I loved it, and we had a lot of people say really good things about our music.”
Speaking on behalf of the rest of the band, Carter said, “We’re just really thankful for a strong fan base. That’s the reason we’re successful.”
That solid fan base is actually one of the reasons for the upcoming concert Saturday at The Lariat, Carter said. “We want to show our gratitude for our supporters throughout the years. We want to thank all the fans who made this possible.”