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Eminence Ensemble plays Shakedown Bar

The Colorado-based jam band will perform live at Shakedown Bar on April 8

Eminence Ensemble is known for their high-energy live shows and diverse sound that bridges multiple genres.
Eminence Ensemble/Courtesy photo

The Colorado-based jam band Eminence Ensemble will be performing at Shakedown Bar in Vail Village on Friday, April 8.

The four founding members of Eminence Ensemble are all from the Rocky Mountains. Bassist Zac Flynn and guitarist and vocalist Justin Neely grew up in Breckenridge, percussionist and vocalist Nick Baum is from Frisco, and drummer Tanner Bardin is from Keystone. In high school, the four musicians played in rival bands, but when they all moved to Boulder after graduation they decided to join forces.

Thus, Eminence Ensemble was born in 2009, and the four original band members have been playing together ever since. Over time, there have been various musicians rotating into the band, which is now a sextet with the inclusion of keyboardist Wil Snyder and guitarist Dylan Gleit.



Eminence Ensemble has its roots in a Boulder and Denver music scene that has spawned a number of influential bands in the past few decades, including Big Gigantic, Sunsquabi, Umphrey’s McGee and Magic Beans. Neely said that being immersed in the dynamic environment of the time has had a significant impact on their sound and approach to music.

“It was in the rise of electronic music, so we were definitely down the alley of Sound Tribe, and Big Gigantic was coming up as we were coming up,” Baum said. “Those guys really influence us because they’re our friends. It’s great to see that trend, being a part of it, and hopefully rising to their ranks. It’s pretty sweet — who would’ve thought that Big Gigantic would blow up like they did, or Sunsquabi? It’s definitely cool to be a part of that.”



Eminence Ensemble has gained a reputation for their high-energy live shows, a style that they have honed for years at venues throughout Colorado, with regular appearances at Cervantes in Denver, 10 Mile Music Hall in Frisco and other local scenes.

“We’ve been able to keep in touch with our roots in Summit County while still being heavily involved in the Denver music scene,” Neely said.

Over the years, Eminence Ensemble’s sound has gravitated toward a jam-band approach with a focus on improvisation. All of the band members went to school for music and are trained in music theory in a variety of disciplines. Baum and Snyder are trained in jazz drumming and jazz piano, respectively, while Neely and Flynn are trained in classical music.

The result is that their compositions are influenced by many genres — jazz, classical, rock, electronic — and they make it a priority to constantly mix up their sound.

“It is pretty eclectic,” Neely said. “There are a lot of different genres, and that’s kind of like our thing. We want to put on a show that’s not just one person’s choice.”

The training also enables the band members to combine technicality with spontaneity in their performances.

“It’s heavily based around improvisation, but we have very intricate compositions that surround those improvisations,” Neely said. “We have a lot of classical theory behind our music, but not necessarily that style. We use it within our compositions a lot.”

The Colorado-based sextet is coming to Shakedown Bar fresh off the heels of their latest tour.
Tara Gracer Foto

Eminence Ensemble recently released two new singles — now available on all streaming platforms — as well as a number of shows recorded on their most recent tour, which can be viewed on Bandcamp. The band is coming to Shakedown Bar fresh off the heels of a four-week regional tour, and Neely said they are looking forward to returning to their local scene before heading to Texas later this month.

“It’s pretty much in our hometown, and we know Taylor Hines who works there,” Neely said. “We love him, and we know he’s been such a big part of the venue recently, so we’re probably going to rock out. The energy is going to be very, very high for most of the night, because we’re all crowded in that room and we want everybody to be dancing.”

“That’s the beauty of playing a gig on such an intimate stage,” Baum added. “You have no choice but to really connect with the crowd, and that’s where the energy comes in the end.”

Tickets cost $25 online, $30 at the door, and are available for purchase at ShakedownBarVail.com. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the band will go on from 10 p.m. to midnight. For more information about the band, visit EminenceEnsemble.com.


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