NedFest 2018

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Twenty years and counting

by Dave Gibson

Last weekend, NedFest in Nederland, CO, put on another spectacular three-day festival for the twentieth year in a row. If he were still with us, music promoter and founder Mike Torpie would have been proud of the mainstay that it has become.

Friday night began with one of last year’s favorites Boulder-based Flash Mountain Flood featuring front man lead guitarist/vocalist Logan Green. Whether you’re a connoisseur of blues, jazz, country, folk, reggae, funk, bluegrass, or rock n’ roll, Flash Mountain Flood has something to fit the bill. The 20th Anniversary Super Jam which included Leland Sklar, Anders Osborne, Jeremy Salken, Kim Dawson, with Kyle Hollinsworth and Michael Kang of String Cheese Incident followed. Honoring recently departed legend Aretha Franklin with a medley, Kim Dawson’s vocals inspired. Michael Kang’s guitar work was powerful and crisp in his execution of a sizzling Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.”

In their first appearance at NedFest, local band Electric Toast kicked off Saturday’s lineup. Their rendition of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” was a crowd-pleaser. New Family Dog got funky with three horns and special guests. Jessica Jones’ voice hit the highs and lows in cover tunes “Elenor Rigby” and “Angel from Montgomery.” A festival tradition and much-anticipated event, the Kid’s Parade circled the grounds led by belly dancers for the first time. At 6 p.m. electric organist extraordinaire Melvin Seals and the Jerry Garcia Band took the stage giving Grateful Dead fans something to cheer about. The Dead’s “And It Stoned Me” went on forever which is just how Grateful Dead aficionados like it. “Midnight Moonlight” from Jerry’s beloved 1973 album “Old and in the Way” with Peter Rowan and Vassar Clements was a highlight. In the mid to late 1960s Jefferson Airplane was at the epicenter of the San Francisco music scene. Songs like “Somebody to Love,” “Volunteers,” “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “Lather,” and “White Rabbit,” are classics that remain as listenable today as they were then. Guitar player/ vocalist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady were major contributors as members of the “Airplane.” Today they tour as Electric Hot Tuna and closed out Saturday’s show to an appreciative audience. They were joined onstage by another guitarist with San Francisco connections, Steve Kimock.

The Young Musician Showcase always begins Sunday’s festivities. It has been a privilege and pleasure watching these kids grow up over time while improving on their talents each year. One of the young gentlemen that performed at NedFest last week has become an accomplished trumpet player that will be attending the Berkley School of Music this fall. The band’s name 300 Days refers to the 300 days of sunshine Colorado receives each year. Your disposition can’t help but be anything but sunny while partaking in their lively brand of bluegrass. Another act with local roots, songwriter/ guitarist/ singer Nick Dunbar of 300 Days recalled the day long ago when he and everyone’s friend and favorite career Nederland bartender “Bones” sat down and wrote the second song of the set at the Pioneer Inn. The Allman Brothers Band’s “One Way Out” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” were played and sung to perfection. Vince Herman always brings the goods. He and the Sweet Lilies (from the Nederland area) satisfied with the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman.” Head for the Hills played “Mama Tried” advising that “you can never play too many Merle Haggard songs” following up with “The Bottle Let Me Down.” Kenny Rogers’ psychedelic first hit single (before he switched to country music) “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” induced flashbacks. An unexpected but pleasant surprise was Ray Charles’ number “Unchain My Heart” that ended the set. Jorma Kaukonen closed out NedFest 2018 with his virtuoso acoustic guitar playing – leaving us entirely entertained and looking forward to the twenty-first NedFest.

For more about NedFest go to

Dave Gibson has been a contributor at the Weekly RegisterCall for thirteen years. To view past articles and pictures go to

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