Final dose of fall rock outside |

Final dose of fall rock outside

Shauna Farnell
Special to the DailyJohn Snodgrass pours his heart into a punk-country riff in Drag the River, a four-piece "country Midwestern" act of recovering punk rockers from Fort Collins. The band performs tonight at Ford Amphitheater along with The Samples and Mama's Cookin'.

VAIL – Little did the Vail community know that the Tuesday concerts at Ford Amphitheater in Vail aren’t quite over yet. Historic amphitheater favorites The Samples are headlining an outdoor Hurricane Relief Concert this Tuesday evening.The Samples, a five-piece rock act with a sound oftencompared to that of The Police and Neil Young, have been touring and making albums for almost 20 years. They have pathed the rock career road for the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5 and Vertical Horizon, all of whom have opened for The Samples throughout the years before launching into their own worlds of stardom.According to their Web site (, Dave Mathews elicited advise from Samples singer-songwriter Sean Kelly at one time and Widespread Panic has been influenced by the band’s distinctive rock-reggae sound. The band considers its sound to be post-folk rock reggae and has made a reputation for itself enveloping the venues in which it performs with a sort of hypnosis. Ford Amphitheater is no exception. The band has appeared there several times in the last 15 years, and typically has the whole audience swaying and fixated on the stage.The relief concert will begin with Mama’s Cookin’, whose members, like The Samples, came together in Colorado (Gunnison). The band refers to itself as a “world funk experience” but has been known to throw some blues riffs into the funk and stir up a dance scene.

“They’re off the hook,” said Scott Stoughton of Samana in Vail Village, which will be hosting an after party featuring more funk from Mama’s Cookin’ and members of The Samples. “They’re really hot and have a really edgy, funk sound.”Nothing dragging hereDrag the River has never played a venue like Ford Amphitheater. The band has played a few festivals, been heralded by The Onion, Westward, Punk Planet and Smash magazine. Haling from the longstanding but little-known punk-rockabilly scene in Fort Collins, Drag the River is comprised of singer-guitarist Jon Snodgrass (Armchair Martian), Chad Price (ALL), J.J. Nobody (The Nobodys), Spacey Casey Prestwood (Hot Rod Circus) and Dave Barker (Love Me Destroyer and Pinhead Circus). With a throaty twang, the band is typically pigeonholed as alternative country, but Snodgrass isn’t so sure that label encompasses everything.”Lately, I’ve been saying we’re country and Midwestern music,” said Snodgrass, who hasn’t in any shape or appearance shaken off his punkrock sensibilities. “We’re both country and not-western. We’re Midwestern. We’re like late ’80s. We’re more like The Replacements era.”

Snodgrass and Price started melding material in 1995, which eventually led to five albums and an EP.”It just slowly evolved,” Snodgrass said. “We went into the Blasting Room (Fort Collins studio blasted most notoriusly by The Descendants), nobody knew about that studio then. It took a long time to catch on.”Like a true artist, Snodgrass writes material only when he is genuinely inspired. This typically happens in a fit of insomnia or in the form of an all-day trance.”I don’t ever push song writing,” he said. “There’s just times you sit down and it starts happening. Like last night, I didn’t go to sleep until 9 this morning. Either I work on songs all the time, or I don’t think about it. Most of my stuff is definitely open to interpretation. I guess I’m pretty selfish with it. I have a lot of inside jokes that only I really get. You just sit down, and it’s something from way back in your brain. You go from there. It starts with a melody. Words just fit into that. It’s a weird psychological thing.”

Fittingly so, Drag the River is currently working on a soundtrack for a new film documentary about the Donner Party. For more information on the band, visit Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

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