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Playing dead, live

Andrew Harley
Special to the Daily Possum Logic plays a variety of original tunes tonight at 10 at Sandbar Sports Grill in West Vail.
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Capable of covering a copious amount of genres in a single set, and bearing 113 original songs and 30 combined years of stage experience, Possum Logic returns to the Sandbar Sports Grill today at 10 p.m.Pete Kartsounes plays acoustic and electric lead guitar with vocals and harmonica, Brendan MacNaughton plays rhythm guitar with vocals, Ryan Sapp manhandles the drums, Jason Greisa plays bass and James “The Reverend” Thomas (The Hallelujah Man) rips on the keys.”James is a jawdropper. He’s fast, creative and he’s got his own style,” said Kartsounes, “Jason and Ryan and myself are all from the same town in Michigan, and they’ve been playing together for eight years. “Jason’s a very creative player; you never know where he’s gonna go, but it always works. Ryan holds down the fort with the rhythm section.”

Kartsounes used to head up a group called Acoustic Semi, which had several play dates in the Vail area, and when he and MacNaughton got together, the band’s repertoire grew quite rapidly.”Every time we rehearse, nobody knows exactly we’ll be learning that day. If somebody’s been working on something, they’ll be like, ‘Hey, here’s a tune. I don’t know if any of you guys have heard this one yet. Check it out.’ And boom. We’ll work on it, we’ll play it and hopefully they’re all decent songs,” said Kartsounes.Possum Logic considers themselves a group of songwriters.”I wouldn’t call us a jamband. We have songs where we jam, so somebody could walk into a bar and say, ‘Oh, here we go, a jamband.’ And, there’s times when somebody could walk into a bar – with blue hair – and their old husband, and they could hear us playing some folk song that they really love and say, ‘Oh, these boys are so precious,'” said Kartsounes. “It’s an original sound, and good stuff to dance to.”Possum Logic set the tone for the Sandbar Sports Grill’s live music scene, by playing the first show the venue held since it took the place of The Half Moon Saloon.Fresh off a three-week tour of the Southwest and a weekend at State Bridge, the band seems to be excited about their current trends.”We played in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, and it was great. We pulled in a great crowd,” said Kartsounes. “The Southwest tour was fantastic, the crowd seemed to be new fans, for the most part. They had fresh ears, and after every show, at least five or 10 people would say, ‘Man, you guys have got your own sound. I don’t know how to explain it, bro.'”Possum Logic’s ever-expanding arsenal of original material grew during the Southwest tour as they pulled out a few new tunes, including one with reggae flavor and another that tends toward the funk genre.”They’re on fire right now,” said Possum Logic Manager John “Digger” Paleaz.The band has two albums out, a self-titled live album and the recently released “Playin’ Live.””Playin’ Live” was recorded on September 13, 2003, at Redfish in Boulder and spans a large spectrum of genres. The album opens with a fast country/folk tune. The next song nods toward bluegrass but the arrangement has a familiarity to it. The third song on the disc delves into dirty blues, the next tune heads back toward bluegrass with the luxury of a funky organ and the fifth song is a solid cover of “Ring of Fire.” The sixth tune is the most immediately catchy song, it has an open-ended feel to it, emphasized by Thomas’ piano work. The seventh song begins ominously, like a Pink Floyd song, with rich organ and experimental sounds. a guitar emerges from the mix, leading into coarse vocals in a minor key, and the song builds into a jam reminiscent of “House of the Rising Sun.” The final tune on the album feels more like punk and ska, capping an album full of solid instrumental work and a refreshing amount of original songwriting.Kartsounes says the band will be in the studio fairly soon, considering the staggering amount of original material they have.”We’ve got over 100 original songs, so we don’t even know where to start. If we were signed on a five-album label, we’d be done with the five albums in three months,” said Kartsounes. “Right now, we’re putting out these live CDs to get our music out there. And, when we have the time and the money to get back into the studio, we’re ready.”

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.AT A Glance:Merry MelodiesWhat: Possum LogicWhen: Tonight, 10Where: Sandbar Sports Grill, West Vail


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