Arena rock, electronic dance & homage to the cowbell

Arena rock, electronic dance & homage to the cowbell

Grand Funk Railroad rocks the Northern Edge Casino on Saturday.

Chris Aaland - 09/28/2017

Arena rock is my jam. And nobody said it better than Will Ferrell: more cowbell! One of the great acts of the genre, Grand Funk Railroad, performs at the Northern Edge Navajo Casino in Farmington at 8 p.m. Saturday. It’s quite an affordable show at $20 per general admission ticket.

Grand Funk was a big thing in the late 1960s and early ’70s with hits like “We’re an American Band,” “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “The Loco-Motion.” They were a power trio that blended hard rock, blues and pop. Formed by guitarist Mark Farner, drummer Don Brewer and bassist Mel Schacher, they were a commercial success, even if panned by critics. Brewer (who sings lead on “American Band” and a few other tunes) and Schacher remain, as Farner began a solo career in the late ’70s. The original trio reunited in 1996, but Farner left again two years later. He’s since been replaced by former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick and singer/guitarist Max Carl (formerly of .38 Special). Keyboardist Tim Cashion (a veteran of Bob Seger’s and Robert Palmer’s bands) also joined.

On the more experimental side, Evanoff brings its tasteful mix of classic rock and contemporary dance music to the Animas City Theatre at 9:15 p.m. Friday. The Denver trio of Jake Hall, Parker Oberholzer and JJ Evanoff soulfully incorporates its distinct rock-influenced sound with the ever-growing EDM scene in an effort to bring rock back into the spotlight. Weminuche opens.

TAUK, a funk-rock fusion quartet from Long Island, gets the ACT’s dance floor hopping at 9 p.m. Sunday. With six albums under their belt, including 2016’s “Sir Nebula,” TAUK is best known as a live act, especially after opening for Umphrey McGee on its 2014 tour. They’ve since played alongside Widespread Panic, Lettuce and Tim Reynolds and at such events as Bonnaroo and the Allman Brothers’ Peach Music Festival. Skydyed, a Fort Collins-based electronica/rock/jazz/funk outfit, leads off.

Nahko headlines the three-day Rhythm & Soul Festival in Mancos’ Cottonwood Park this weekend. Running Friday through Sunday, the fiesta blends yoga, workshops, dance, art and book signings with music. Highlights include Nahko Bear, the lead singer of Nahko & Medicine for the People, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and the soulful Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder and spiritual director of Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, at 6:15 p.m. Friday. Local performers include Carute Roma, the Afrobeatniks, Hello Dollface and more.

Our old friends in the Jon Stickley Trio play the Dolores River Brewery at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Guitarist Stickley, violinist Lyndsay Pruett and drummer Patrick Armitage are on a roll with a string of albums like their brand-new “Maybe Believe,” 2016’s “Triangular” EP and 2015’s “Lost at Last.” You’ll have to look far and wide to find an acoustic guitarist with Stickley’s talents, as he attacks world music, jazz and bluegrass with fervor, dexterity and lightning-fast chops. Pruett’s insanity on the fiddle is equally impressive, and Armitage’s percussive skills bring the whole thing together.

Jenn Rawling, a former Portland, Ore., musician who recently settled here, is touring the Southwest with Awna Teixeira of Po Girl. Their tour lands them at iAM Music at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Rawling will perform songs from her recently released third album, “Golden Colors.” The omnipresent duo of multi-instrumentalist Fred Kozak (the Badly Bent, Stillhouse Junkies) and Alissa Wolf (the Cannondolls, Stillhouse Junkies and, most recently, sitting in with Last Nickel at Meltdown on the Mesa) are also on the bill.

It’s a long way down the road, but I’d be remiss to fail to announce the Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the ACT on Tues., Feb. 6. This one will sell out, possibly quickly, and I’d hate to hear too many of you complain that lack of diligence cost you the chance to see the former Black Crowe in Durango.

Thinking of Grand Funk got me reminiscing about Will Ferrell’s “More Cowbell” skit from “Saturday Night Live.” Since I couldn’t have written it better, I’ve lifted words and wisdom from Cracked magazine’s Anthony Layser.

1. War, “Low Rider” – Cowbell dangles from this funk staple just like a pair of fuzzy dice from a rearview mirror. It’s unapologetic. It’s gaudy. It’s sonic balls ... War showed us that you don’t need profound lyrics and complex arrangements; all you really need is more cowbell.

2. Prince, “U Got the Look” – Quite simply, if the tone of the cowbell was a spoken language, it would translate into “You’ve got the look, you’ve got the hook, you sho’nuf do be cookin’ in my book. Your face is jamming,’ your body’s heck-a-slammin.’ If love is good, let’s get to rammin.’”

3. Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Women” – The distinctive cowbell opening is pitch perfect for the swinging country-blues jangle that follows. Producer Jimmy Miller brings the bell to life in a way that’s fitting for a song lamenting that special prostitute that got away.

4. Nazareth, “Hair of the Dog” – The Scottish rockers cranked out this ’70s tune with equal parts raunchy guitar and pounding cowbell.

5. Wild Cherry, “Play that Funky Music” – An immediately recognizable bass riff fuels this 1976 ode to Caucasian pride. By bringing in the cowbell, you’ve got some mayo for this musical ham sandwich.

6. Bad Brains, “Pay to Cum” – Like a damned champion. Bad Brains is a loud, frantic, crazy-ass band and the cowbell keeps up with the unbelievable pace despite all odds.

7. Sweet, “Little Willy” – Cowbell during the chorus complements a fuzzed guitar and bawdy bass line to signal it’s officially time to start fist-pumping.

8. Ton Loc, “Funky Cold Medina” – Once again, “funky” is synonymous with cowbell. No doubt, it’s the most potent ingredient in this old-school hip-hop concoction about an aphrodisiac that drives all the ladies wild.

9. Grand Funk, “We’re an American Band” – Cowbell rings out from the stadium-rock power chords throughout the entirety of Grand Funk’s anthemic tribute to, well, themselves. If a band is coming to your town to help you party down, can you imagine them trying to do it sans cowbell?

10. Beastie Boys, “Hey Ladies” – The multi-layered sampling on “Paul’s Boutique” was groundbreaking. However, a sparse cowbell flutter after the Beasties announce, “Hey ladies? Get funky” rings out like a dinner bell.

Four young chiquitas in Omaha? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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