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Brothers Keeper Featuring John Popper and Jono Manson, Aggie Theater, Fort Collins, CO- 1/16

The glory days of jam revolve around venues like the Wetlands Preserve and early traveling festivals shows like H.O.R.D.E. Scott Rednor was very much a part of that world while a member of the once snowballing Dear Liza. They formed in my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado in 1995. Dear Liza was picked up by Blues Traveler’s management and went on to tour with them nationally. In 2000 it all crashed landed when according to Rednor, “…somebody slept with the wrong person.” Rednor would eventually go on to own and operate the Shakedown Bar in Vail. In 2012 he contacted Michael Jude and John Michael who have worked for the last seventeen years as the rhythm section for the John Oates Band. The three got their feet wet playing house gigs at the newly christened Shakedown Bar. Eventually they got the idea to invite old friends to join in, and the first “Brothers Keeper Featuring” shows happened with John Popper and Jono Manson. Since then there have been many shows with a wide array of musicians including Dean Ween and Glenn McClelland. The core three along with Manson and Popper retreated to Santa Fe in April of 2013. The result was the release of their album Todd Meadows. Popper and Manson have now reunited with Brothers Keeper for a fourteen-date tour that stretched from California and throughout Colorado. They rounded out the Keep On Burning Tour with two stops along the Front Range followed by the closer in Crested Butte. They landed in Fort Collins and invited local favorites Genetics to open up the night. They took the stage promptly at 8:30 PM.

Set 1: Toss N Wash, Pedro, Once Again, Goggle, Numerality

The crowd trickled in throughout their set, never reaching full capacity. Genetics has an energy and focus that is rare in today’s music scene. They bring a progressive mentality to jam with powerful instrumentation and stellar execution. Over the years they have catered their opening sets to fall more in line with the headliner. This night was no different. They treated us to a rock-heavy dose of funk-infused instrumentals. The “Pedro” featured some epic back and forth between bassist Joel Searls and guitarist Jeff Ervine. Watching Genetics blossom into the band they are today has been an absolute pleasure. They closed with “Numerality.”

During the set break the full band performed “Keep On Burning” for local video producers in the SHED media for a video series titled ‘Under The Marquee.’ After they finished the crowd followed the band into The Aggie for the musical extravaganza that was about to take place.

“I’m John Popper and these are my Brothers Keeper” -Popper

Set 1: Nothing To Do, Ghost Of A Chance, If Only For A While, Time Slips Away, Cold Rain, Bring the Man Down, Kind Of Like A Joke, Why Do You Fall, Ophelia, Still Missing You, Champipple, Keep On Burning, Chamberlain, Congo, Days Go By, Along The Way, Mountains Win Again, Fabulous, Black Blue, Stay With Me

Encore: What Can I Do For You, When The Levee Breaks

Recording by Eric Wilkens –

John Popper took on his bard persona regaling the audience with an avalanche of stories between songs. Always the entertainer he alternated between jokes, band anecdotes, and random observations throughout the two-hour set of music. They opened with a rowdy “Nothing To Do” that would sound right at place on a Rolling Stones record. Brothers Keeper went into “Ghost Of A Chance,” which they had written only a week prior while traveling on the bus. Despite the novelty of the grouping, this band sounded like a complete unit and one that was feeding off the collaborative spirit. Rednor is a solid guitarist and he gelled well with Jono onstage. Popper’s ever-present harmonica was the cherry on top of this rock & roll sundae. The mesmerizing Manson-sung “Bring The Man Down” was, according to Popper, a story about enslaving the moon here on Earth. Brothers Keeper brought up bus driver Jason Taylor to play dueling harmonica with Popper for a version of The Band’s “Ophelia.” Taylor held his own, while his mother cheered him on from the audience. Popper lead the band through the Duskray Troubadours’ ode to the wonder and beauty of Sanford & Son; “Champipple.” “Days Go By” had a heavy groove and some solid harmonizing on the refrain. Brothers Keeper treated fans to a spot on version of Blues Traveler’s “Mountains Win Again.” They closed with a bombastic take on The Faces’ “Stay With Me.” The band returned for a two-song encore that ended with a perfect “When The Levee Breaks.”

Brothers Keeper is a power trio with a strong drive to collaborate and innovate. Their distinctive musical background already makes them a super group. Add world-class musicians like John Popper and Jono Manson and you have an amazing live experience. With Popper on the cusp of releasing a new album with Blues Traveler this spring, it may be a while before any extensive touring with Brothers Keeper. In the meantime I’m sure they’ll continue to perform with an evolving cast of characters.

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