BOND — The Colorado River’s rhythms are steady and smooth, but bring along BoomBox to really turn up the beats. The electronic duo is playing Friday and Saturday nights at Rancho Del Rio in Bond for BoomTown, the fourth annual event that adds fresh spin on electronic sounds.
“It’s great to see the live instrumentation mixing with these beats that they produce in their little southeast corner of the United States — down in Alabama — so it’s really exciting,” said Scotty Stoughton about the duo. Stoughton owns Bonfire Entertainment, the production company working with BoomBox for this weekend’s event.
“I feel really good when I listen to their music, and I think everybody feels that who comes to their shows,” he said.
DEEP BEATS, ROOTS IN RHYTHM
It’s sequencer-master Russ Randolph and guitarist/lead vocalist Zion Godchaux who are the musicians behind the BoomBox name — their live renditions bumping beneath Randolph’s in-famous top hat and Godchaux’s feathered boa.
The band’s beats are born out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a longtime R&B music haven and where Randolph is originally from. BoomBox has released three studio albums, starting with “Vi-sions of Backbeat” in 2005, followed by “downriverelectric” in 2010, and “Filling in the Color” in 2014.
“They are both DJs, but Zion plays electric guitar and sings,” said Ramona Wouters, a Belgium-born, now Edwards-based DJ who will be opening for BoomBox tonight. “Their roots are the Grateful Dead, and they incorporate raw elements of pure house music and put live music over that.”
And their roots do flow deep, not only with Randolph’s homegrown stomping grounds, but with Godchaux’s California days as well. Godchaux’ parents, Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux, were both members of the Grateful Dead in the ‘70s.
Stoughton’s progressive working relationship with the BoomBox duo and their crew began five years ago when they came to perform in Vail.
“At that time there was a lot of focus on electronic music, and I liked it a lot, but I didn’t really know what would inspire me to continue a partnership,” he said. “After everything filtered out, BoomBox remained, and it’s really special to see them grow and get to know them as people, and to get to know them as friends.”
While other genres have washed out of the electronic scene, Stoughton explained, there’s a core sound that keeps BoomBox in the groove.
“The thread that BoomBox has in my mind is that they capture spirit, they capture melody and they’ve got a lot of soul that they put back in,” he said.
DOWN BY THE RIVER
This will be the first time BoomBox will play at Rancho (five miles up the road from the previous venue, State Bridge), and like Bonfire Entertainment’s most recent Campout For The Cause event held this past May, BoomTown will gather the crowds together; camping, music, river floats and yoga classes are all held in one general area alongside the current of the Colorado.
“There are no barriers or walls, so this really centralizes the energy,” Stoughton said. “I know this band is extremely spiritually minded, so I think capturing that and creating that onsite at Rancho will filter back to the band and overflow into the audience.
“I think what will happen is the creation of truly magical and unique moments,” he said.
BoomBox has already had a summer filled with festivals in California, Godchaux shared in a recent phone interview. It’s time for Colorado now, and he said the band has been working on new material — new, never-been-performed inspirations for BoomTown.
“These are tracks no one has heard yet,” Godchaux said, “and we are looking forward to playing them for people.”
Godchaux said coming to Bond to play in the past at State Bridge has always been like a reunion.
“It’s kinda like a family barbecue or something,” he said. “A lot of these people are really good friends of ours, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a lot of these people.”
Friends like Wouters, who goes by DJ Ramona, who used to tour with BoomBox after they liked her set at State Bridge a few years back.
Ramona said the energy that BoomBox brings is infectious, and the people that come out to see them play are looking to have a good dance.
“I think the crowd that they attract is very festive, and they are there to have fun,” she said. “It’s a very gentle and open minded mixture of people; that’s one of the key ingredients that stand out when I tour with them, with the crowds from the West Coast to the East Coast.
“That’s why I play music,” she said. “Because I like to dance and I like to provide that for everybody.”
DJ Ramona will play at 9 p.m. today — after Slovenian DJ Ichisan at 7:30 p.m. — and leading up to the 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. BoomBox set. Saturday’s time slots are the same, with Chrome opening, followed by Ichisan, and BoomBox to close.
RETREAT TO THE BEATS
As the area has no cell phone service, Godchaux called the annual event “a true getaway.”
“We are bringing in a massive sound system and it will be a great production,” he said. “Ichisan is coming out, and Ramona and Chrome — so it’s all really good music.”
The event is also committed to low impact on the venue through environmental sustainability.
“We look forward to welcoming a crowd that respects the music, respects each other and respects the land, leaving no trace,” Stoughton said.
Godchaux said he is looking forward to getting on the river this year.
“I have never really ventured onto the river before, but I’m gonna get out there this time,” he said.
The event is $69 for two days, or $39 per day. With three performances each night, Stoughton said fans will get their money’s worth. Tickets include riverside camping and donation yoga, with a chance to get out on the river to play during the day.
And once night falls, beats will flow through BoomTown.
“I think BoomBox has a big following in all the great music pockets around the country,” Stoughton said. “I know they are opening ears, but I think with their message and their style, they are opening minds and hearts, too.”
Kim Fuller is a freelance writer contracted by Bonfire Entertainment to write this story. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.