Nerds! We are really excited to announce a new feature in the Spaffbase: Embedded Audio Player for Archive and YouTube. You'll now see YouTube and Archive recording buttons have a "Play" button on them. If you hit that the content will open in site and (on desktop) begin playing. Our goal is to be the one-stop-shop for all your Spafford needs. We hope this feature saves you a few clicks and makes it easier to drink from the Spafford firehose.
Nerds! Get your first taste of the "For Amusement Only" album!
Also be sure to head over to the Guitar World FB post and give it a like and a share.
Whats everyone's thoughts on this track? Really digging it so far. I think its awesome they actually created a studio version of the track and are not just jamming it in the studio.
How do you get your live dose of Spafford?
Some of you Nerds get to go on tour, hit multiple shows, and maybe squeeze in a summer festival. Congratulations, I salute you for soaking in as much jamming as possible. For others, despite the desire for more, more, more we have to be satisfied with a single show squeezed in between work and family commitments. These days, I'm a member of the latter group. Which means when I do get my Spafford fix, I savor every guitar solo, cling to every cymbal crash, and absorb every bass vibration. They have to last me months.
With my touring days relegated to the rearview mirror and the band eschewing Denver for Colorado ski towns this winter, the Barkley Ballroom show was my lone opportunity to catch a show on this tour and share my enthusiasm with other Nerds. I was fortunate enough to catch the Aggie rager on the Fall Tour, and anticipation for the Frisco show was intense, as it was one of the only shows on the tour to sell out months in advance (Atlanta was the other).
I was able to convince my high school friend Scott to fly out from the East Coast for a show, a day of skiing, and a family visit. It would have been his first show, but he one-upped me by sneaking out to check out his home state show in January. I was only mildly jealous that he was treated to a gorgeous Red’s Jam opener and the tragically underplayed Sweet closer at his very first show.
After picking Scott up at the airport, we headed into the Colorado high country for dinner and drinks up the road in Breckenridge. When I saw the setlist from the previous night in Steamboat, I confess my heart sank slightly. I sensed that the Frisco show was probably going to be overshadowed by the previous night, but that admission hardly tempered my enthusiasm.
The Barkley Ballroom is a small nightclub tucked into the lower level of a shopping plaza. What it lacked in charm it made up for in intimacy. I just can't imagine the band playing venues of this size for very much longer, certainly not in Colorado. We pre-gamed at a bar/pizzeria across the way, where we had another beer and chatted with other enthusiastic Nerds who were waiting for the doors to open at 9. We met several folks who had attended their first shows on this Colorado run and were already hooked.
Since we got there early, I positioned myself right on the "rail," smack dab in between Red and Jordan. As a short guy, I love having an unimpeded view of the interplay between the band members. After introductions with my neighbors Lance, Amy, and a few others, we settled in for the ride. The mix up front was outstanding, and everyone in the first few rows was friendly, eager, and intently focused on the music. A distraction-free listening experience in a sea of positivity-- a sharp contrast to the rail scene that generally surrounds a certain foursome from Vermont.
It was the band’s 3rd show in a row and 13th show in 17 days— yet they barely showed signs of exhaustion, though there were signs that they may have been feeling the venue’s 9,000 foot elevation. Focused and deliberate, they dove right in.
Set 1-- Love holds us together....
The show opener People caused me to break out in a shit-eating grin. This is the song I sing to my 6-year-old daughter, who responds to the catchy hook and doesn’t have the patience for long jams. This version had some extra mustard on it as well, with a very nice middle jam that boasted a psychedelic tinge before exploding in a high-energy climax.
Aeroplane— Aside from its debut performance on New Year’s 2016, this cover has only been in the rotation for about 5 months. Nonetheless, it's already become a great jamming vehicle. Ignore the mislabeled tracking on the Nugs release, as this version winds down into a quiet, bubbly jam that eventually builds back up into a funky, bass-driven departure. Call it "Barkley Jam" or an extended Aeroplane, but regardless of what you call it, this improvisation simply soars. This flight eventually descends for a smooth landing, sliding seamlessly into All My Friends at the 20 minute mark.
With all the great Bee Jams out there, this one might wind up being relegated to the forgotten pile. It doesn't feature the wild, extended improvisation of other versions and the band takes some time to find a groove. Eventually, a quiet theme that echoes the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" emerges. The final two minutes are fiery, but this version is standard when compared to its legendary brethren.
This was my first Leave the Light On in the three shows I've attended, and it was one of the first Spafford songs that really caught my ear. Words are insufficient to describe the ebb and flow of this version, but it holds up nicely against other versions from the tour.
I was all but certain that LTLO would close the set, but instead we got a bonus song. I wasn't familiar with The Man, which was busted out for the first time in 95 shows, complete with a birthday dedication to Spaffnerd Chris Ogor-Lopez (@Lopez .)
At setbreak, I find Scott relaxing, bleary-eyed, in the back of the venue. He was exhausted and fading, clearly feeling the effects of the 5am East Coast time start, the beers, and the altitude. I drove him down the road to our hotel, returned to the venue, and found my spot on the rail for set 2.
Set 2 -- I don't like sleeping at night...
It's hard to ask for a better second set opener than Todd's Tots, one of those idiosyncratic Spafford tunes that is part of their signature sound. The feedback drenched journey never wandered, a focused batch of tots if there ever was one.
The Remedy (which was subbed in for Levilan Shores on the setlist) meandered for some time before getting going. The wandering jam included several moments that sounded to these ears like the introduction to the Grateful Dead’s “The Wheel". By around the 14 minute mark, things heated up significantly as the band locked back into a jubilant major key groove that had the entire venue grinning from ear to ear.
Since its introduction on New Year's Eve, the Lovesick Melody > Soil combination has proven extremely fertile. This outstanding pairing didn't disappoint in Frisco, with the Soil jam a contender for best version to date. Cam switched to the e-drum for the first time of the night, Red got futuristic with the synth sounds, and Brian followed with some downright dirty, extremely danceable funk that transitioned into high-energy rock and roll.
The Postman delivered the goods for the second set closer, the contemplative opening section allowing me to ruminate on all that had brought me to this night, and what future might await this talented foursome on the live stage. The build up was funky and fierce, eventually bringing Brian to the edge of the stage, his foot on the monitor, egging on the crowd in front of him. A fierce, high-energy special delivery.
The short but high-energy Electric Taco Stand encore was icing on the cake, a gift of one of the band's signature songs to send us off into the night. For the discriminating listener, check out People, the Aeroplane jam, Soil and the Postman-- all contain outstanding band interplay, and the entire night was a celebratory ride.
Walking out of the venue, I had no doubt in my mind that the days of connecting with the band in intimate venues such as these are numbered. The band is simply too talented, and will continue converting fans one at a time. This summer, they'll have the opportunity to play to thousands of new ears at a time and convert even more fans. The ascent continues, and it's going to be a fun ride. Invite your friends!
Our heartfelt thanks to Tara Gracer Photography for the amazing photos
Nerds! That was fun. The April Fool's gag got incredible feedback, and use, from the community. It was really fun putting it together and launching it. Believe it or not we did that in less than 1 week's time. In case you missed it, or you just want another go at whack-a-nerd, you can still find the reskinned site and the game available at the following locations:
The gag wouldn't have been possible without the incredible contributions of (in no particular order) @robAF, @Cody, and @Lopez. Cody did the bulk of the artwork including the Nerd and his captions, Rob chose and assembled the memes and even threw in some surprises to me, and Lopez came through in the 11th hour to make sure you got to see the memes on the game over screen. Never forget rule #1: Teamwork makes the dream work.
We've got some other cool stuff planned around the corner. Stay tuned... same nerd time, same nerd channel.
Coming into this Colorado mountain run, I had extremely high expectations considering the remote and intimate setting. Somehow Steamboat shattered those expectations so I went into Frisco with a blank slate. Spafford completely mangled my sense of judgment so all things became possible again.
That excitement led us to thinking the show started an hour earlier so we walked our way to the venue before doors had even opened. As luck would have it, Brian and Jordan were hanging outside so a few us got to chat with them. In the brief moments I do interact with the band, I rarely fanboy or gush over their prestige but tonight we all felt responsible to congratulate their magnificence the night prior. Of course, these guys were radiating with a wondrous glow but remained gratefully humble in their accolades. They did joke they were "bored" of playing their songs the previous night. We joked back to let us know the next time they are bored so we can make sure we are there. And blasted, they were summoned inside, so we decided to walk back to our hotel since doors weren't even open yet.
Blip to about 45 minutes and lots of laughs later and another lucky moment strikes. As I'm getting let in the door to the Ballroom, Red is walking in a different door and we exchange heartful waves! The epitome of a cool cat, Red grabbed me and led us into the green room. It's just Red and Cam back there so I took the moment to praise them as best I could without feeling silly. Lucky day indeed as I love both these guys. Red has so much heart, I always feel blessed that he finds the time to talk to me while Cam hasn't even been in Spafford for a fucking year and the band has evolved so fast that it's hard to believe they haven't been playing together longer. Time flies and out of nowhere I hear Brian call out 5 minutes to showtime so I find my jacket and go look for my friends out on the dance floor!
Having now talked to all the band members prior to the show, I was super amped up for it to start. I knew we weren't getting another Old Town Jam but I also could sense they weren't going to come out flat. They all had a swagger about them. Cool summer breezer blowing through each strand of hair one by one is the best way to describe it. That's how cool these guys played it.
The first set starts out with a top echelon People that immediately straps the crowd in for the first rollercoaster ride of this highly spontaneous evening. The band quickly locks into a groove, with Cam pounding away, leading us into a blistering jam that is reminiscent of pieces of the Old Town Jam from night prior. Right out of the gate, the band weaves together so tightly in a loose abandon of improvisational genius.
After a scorching People, Aeroplane flies right on in to cool things down with its outro jam. This jam starts out gentle. A very relaxing gesture serenading the attentive into a contemplative gaze. It allowed me to paint the dust of the stars through the gateway of dance. It's one of those jams that can make you so happy that all the walls start to break down and the dam of tears flows its river of grace. Just as the night before, they seamlessly switch gears right into the next jam without blinking an eye. So the second attraction of the evening, Aeroplane, already has spawned into a multi-faced gem of a jam. In the next section, Brian isn't as out front, giving the rest of the band space to spread their wings. They really get the groove going and the whole crowd sways in unison. With the rest of the band just about coming to a stop, Brian keeps the plane moving, and we get our third movement of this attraction with the band playing off Brian. After a playful minute or so, you can clearly see he's leading the band into All My Friends....like a fucking boss. He gives everyone a full minute or so of playing around with the riff before dropping into it.
There may be songs written on this setlist but there's a lot of JAM in-between them all. Bee Jam gives us 10 more minutes of that sweet honey. It starts out real slow, slowly building and building to another moment where the whole band is locked in, sending us to another peak in the amusement park.
We don't get a glorious segue but the band quietly finds their way into Leave The Light On next. The first jam builds into another showcase of Brian's shredding abilities. The second jam starts with Red working some of his magic and sends us off on another fine jam.
My friends all found it funny and poked at me when Todd's Tots started second set. It's ok.
The Remedy got us right back into the groove. The band finds a quick exit strategy and takes us back into its bosom. The Remedy has that swagger where the whole band lets go, allowing the music to play. Not even 6 minutes in and we catapulted to a soaring peak and then plateau for a bit, waiting for the next moment to spark. In this interlude, we have Brian making his guitar sing a song of love with Red adding his vibrant color to the mix. Amongst all the beauty, the band eventually steps their way right into the next jam. Another jam that has multiple breaths about it.
Lovesick Melody > Soil got nice and weird. A great number to dance to once it gets moving. Cam gets on the edrum and the whole room starts swirling about. Hot damn this gets sexy! Red's tossing out some alien psychedlia while the rest of the band makes sure the crowd keeps the ship spinning. Slam! Brian slays us into another platonic crescendo as we crash back into Soil.
The Postman to close down the set. Definitely wasn't thinking about Tots to open the set as Postman's vocal came to a close. Don't worry, though-- Postman delivers the goods as usual.
So there ya have it. Steamboat > Frisco as the meat of the Mountain run. There's a whole lotta extra jam pouring out of that sandwich with every bite. Huge shout out to our crew for completely obliterating the dance floor and being a powerhouse of positivity, as always.
Radiating Spaffnerd love to Tara Gracer Photography for the amazing photos.