Jon “Black Dog” Ridnell plays a guitar that bears scratches made by Chuck Berry – a reminder of a 1991 show in which Ridnell shared the stage with the legend in St. Louis. But that wasn’t Ridnell’s first brush-up with a guitar god. As a kid, he took lessons from ’60s jazz guitarist Linc Chamberland. Ridnell’s come a long way from the big city scene of his native Bronxville, N.Y., to Eldora, Colo., through many incarnations of the musical act known as Black Dog. The latest embodiment of the band, New Family Dog, aims to return to jazz and funk roots and has brought into the fold Ridnell’s 23-year-old son, Miles.
New Family Dog will be rambling through the Ark Valley this weekend, starting at Benson’s Tavern and Beer Garden in Salida on Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. Then they’re off to Leadville where, at Wilde’s Green Hour, they’ll play two sets: Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Typically a five-piece electric act rounded out by Paul Stadler on sax with Dave Lyons and Steve Saviano on percussion, this weekend, it’s the “family” of New Family Dog that will be hitting the Ark Valley. Father and son will present a primarily acoustic set with Jon on guitar and Miles on the upright bass. “We’ll get the family harmonies going,” says Jon, whose sense of pride for his son’s skill is easy to detect.
Ridnell says his son is “going through the Black Dog School of Music,” an education that has had Miles performing most recently at the Fox Theater in Boulder and NedFest in Nederland. It’s an education founded on Black Dog’s 25 years of touring experience, and one that covers such subjects as bluegrass, funk, jazz, and what Jon calls “Bronx River Delta blues and rock and roll.”
Jon Ridnell is no stranger to the Ark Valley, having played Leadville scenes like The Scarlet and The Golden Burro during his 22 years in Colorado. Sometimes reaching more than 300 gigs in a single year, Black Dog and its sister acts have been prolific in touring as well as recording. New Family Dog’s self-titled album, released in 2015, is available now on iTunes.
Come check out the keyed-down and personal backbone of this eclectic act on Friday night at Benson’s Tavern , 128 N. F St. in Salida. Benson’s is home of the $5 lunch special and host to the Valley’s most talented acts year-round.
On Saturday, New Family Dog will hit Leadville’s speakeasy, Wilde’s Green Hour, or, as it’s known during daylight hours, La Resistance, located at 313 Harrison Ave. The evening performance on Saturday will be set over Wilde’s night-time scene of wine, absinthe and fine dining. Sunday morning, the business holds brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with New Family Dog performing from 10 to 1 p.m.
Expect great sounds this weekend from father and son. “We write and play as many styles as possible,” Jon says. “The rock and roll and blues are always there, of course, and we have a lot of original tunes as well. But depending on the gig, we might even throw in our versions of Miles Davis or Duke Ellington. Whatever gets you moving.”