Nirvana cover band at Vail’s Sandbar Tuesday night |

Nirvana cover band at Vail’s Sandbar Tuesday night

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
f you go ...

VAIL, Colorado ” J. Veldman didn’t start the Nirvana tribute band Nevermind because he wanted to continue its legacy. It also wasn’t an attempt to cash in on the band’s lingering popularity, he said.

Nevermind makes its first appearance ever in Vail Tuesday night with a show at the Sandbar.

“It was all just really a joke,” said the 33-year-old guitar player and vocalist for Nevermind.

Though he is a huge Nirvana fan, the idea of starting a tribute band in honor of the iconic grunge group didn’t occur to him until three years ago. He said that often when he played with his first band, Plasma, they would fall back on Nirvana songs when their original material wasn’t well received by an audience.

“It was just kind of a cop out on our part. If people didn’t like our original music we’d do an hour of Nirvana. I always had that as a back-up plan and it seemed to work a little too well,” Veldman said.

Making a mark on the Chicago music scene wasn’t easy, Veldman said, so eventually he scrapped Plasma and formed Nevermind with his two brothers, Alex and Sam, after performing a show on Halloween in 2005. They dressed as the guys from Nirvana and played only Nirvana songs. That show went really well, Veldman said.

“We just got really excited about the reaction and thought this is what we should be doing,” Veldman said.

Now Nevermind ” named after the title of Nirvana’s breakthrough album ” is traveling the country and finding success playing songs by a band that is still hugely popular, even 14 years after it ended. Nevermind makes its first appearance ever in Vail Tuesday night with a show at the Sandbar.

Primal screams’

When Nirvana crashed onto the music radar of millions of Americans in 1991 with their hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” they drove the final coffin nail into ’80s hair metal and helped bring grunge music to the masses. Suddenly, the disenfranchised youth of the world had music to relate to.

“They were the innovative group when it came to the grunge scene,” said Avon resident Chris Tatreau. “The primal screams of Cobain are everlasting in the music scene.”

Veldman recalls seeing Nirvana play live twice as a teenager and he isn’t surprised at the impact the band left on music since frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994.

Trying to please

Nevermind recreates entire Nirvana concerts from time to time, such as the memorable MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. But they don’t always stick to a formula because Veldman said he wants to play both popular and lesser-known Nirvana songs, hoping to introduce the audience to as much of Nirvana’s catalogue as possible.

“I try to please as many people as I can,” Veldman said.

For a while Nevermind wouldn’t play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” because it was too predictable, he said.

“After a while I started thinking to myself, ‘why deprive people who do want to hear this song? It’s still a great song,'” Veldman said.

And as far as emulating the destructive behavior of Nirvana both on-stage and off, Veldman said he and his brothers will occasionally destroy their equipment if the mood is right, but that doesn’t happen very often.

“We have a budget to stick to. I don’t think we can break instruments five nights in a row. We’re going to have to go a cappella if that happens,” Veldman said.

And they don’t believe in walking the same line of substance abuse that Nirvana did.

“There’s no need to continue the show after it’s done. We’re pretty humble people and … we feel lucky to do this and we’re not going to mess it up at all. We appreciate life too much,” Veldman said.

He only hopes to bring some of the joy to his audience that the music of Nirvana has brought to his life. Veldman believes Nirvana’s music is still relevant and always will be.

“They made things simple, yet powerful,” he said. “It made you think, ‘hey, I can do this or I can relate to this song.'”

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

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