Col. Hampton and his improvisational army | VailDaily.com

Col. Hampton and his improvisational army

Andrew Harley/Arts & Entertainment writer

Special to the DailyBobby Lee Rodgers, right, laughs it up next to Col. Bruce Hampton and Tyler Greenwell. The Codetalkers play Checkpoint Charlie in Vail tonight at 6.

Leave your wallets and purses at home … but don’t forget your IDs, and probably a couple bucks for drinks.Vail’s Streetbeat series begins today at 6 p.m. at Checkpoint Charlie in Vail with the Codetalkers featuring Col. Bruce Hampton. And, as always, the key detail about Street Beat is that the music’s free.Street Beat has outdone itself this year, kicking off the series with a number of groups competing well for ample mention in rock “n’ roll history books, including Hampton and the Codetalkers, Garaj Mahal, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Tim O’Brien.The Codetalkers give a funky show with blazing jazz and hints of southern roots rock.”We write a lot of music with lots of improvisational sections branching off the original idea of the song,” said electric banjo extraordinaire Bobby Lee Rodgers. “All of our music begins with the discussion of ideas. It’s like in conversation, we don’t just begin with “Let’s jam.’ Instead, we concentrate on beginning with a good song/idea, and we discuss it from there.”Rodgers also plays guitar and writes and produces the majority of the Codetalkers’ material, and he’s joined by drummer Tyler “the Falcon” Greenwell, The Lone Wolf on bass and Col. Hampton playing any stringed instrument he feels like.Hampton, often deemed “the Godfather of alternative Southern music,” has been at it since 1967, and has shared the stage with most of the musical legends of the past 40 years, including B.B. King, Bill Monroe and Frank Zappa, along with many of the most influential bands from the past decade like Phish, Widespread Panic and Blues Traveler.”He (Col. Hampton) played with everyone you could ever possibly play with, so being on stage with him’s like playing alongside all those other incredible musicians,” said Rodgers. “He’s been doing it for over 40 years, and he’s been an incredible influence on me.”The Lone Wolf is the bassist’s actual name. Rumor has it, he was raised among a pack of wolves as he grew up in Trinidad. And, jamming from an intimidating 6 feet, 8 inches off the ground, he plays the stand-up bass with speed and ferocity.”I don’t know how much of the story’s true, but when you meet him, you’ll think it’s true,” said Rodgers. “When we met him, he was building a pyramid-shaped structure in Spartanburg, S.C. We asked him what he was doing, and he said, “I play the bass, mon.'”The Falcon has made an impressive start, considering the Codetalkers is his first gig. He was born in New Zealand, moved to Hawaii and then to the lower 48 states.Rodgers has his own nickname, “Nature Boy,” which he was given by the Colonel. Rodgers worked as a professor at the Berklee College of Music for nine years before teaming up with Col. Hampton.”We’re a tight family, we all get along and we all feel blessed to be able to do this for a living,” said Rodgers.The band’s played 8150 before, and are currently en route from Richmond, Va.The Codetalkers featuring Co. Bruce Hampton get the party going at Checkpoint Charlie in Vail Village today at 6 p.m.Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 610 or at aharley@vaildaily.com.