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Powerful gathering proves joyfulon

Andrew Harley

Many nights have been spent by locals around the Vail Valley in the chameleon club that is currently called the Sandbar Sports Grill. The club changes name, owner and appearance on, approximately, an annual basis.The Sandbar has always represented the mid-size club competition to 8150. The Sandbar has traditionally been a venue of mellow company, with fewer big-name acts and the dance floor doesn’t bounce quite as often or dynamically as at 8150.Lately, this has not been the case. The Sandbar has started a consistent schedule of solid live music, coupled with a dramatic makeover that features a square-shaped lounge with plush leather couches and big televisions. However, the best thing the Sandbar does that hasn’t necessarily been the case under previous monikers, is give people a significantly increased area to dance in.”I’ve played there since it was called the Jackalope,” said The Motet’s drummer Dave Watts during an interview before Thursday night’s show. “We’ll travel to North Carolina. We’ll go all over the Northwest, San Diego and we just have great scenes, and people are very expressive in certain markets especially. Vail, for some reason, is a little more stiff. There’s been something about it lately. When we play in Vail, we’re like, ‘Where are we? Are we still in Colorado?’ We go to most other places (in Colorado) and people get loose.”

Vail proved Watts wrong on Thursday night.Of the dozens of shows I’ve seen at the venue, The Motet’s performance on Thursday night was something memorable. Though some people threw down a little too much firewater, causing them to stumble and fall out of rhythm, there were a lot of moments at the show that felt like it could’ve been at State Bridge or even the Fillmore in Denver. The relatively small room in West Vail got huge.The predominantly Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and West African rhythms and melodies were put in the form of swelling jams and ruthless funk.The Motet broke down a room of self-conscious individuals, built them back up with positive energy and rockin’ jazz hooks. The rhythms emitted from the Jedi drums of Watts were the perfect metaphor for the spirit of the crowd as a whole. Watts’ beats are world-traveled with influences and hints from most every continent, and they combine to form a fancy-footed barrage of swirling pleasure.

The band had people moving simply, others writhed in joy and there were moments when it seemed like I was experiencing seizures on the dance floor – though the rhythms never lost me.The second set was the most exciting musical experience I’ve had at a club in the valley since Michael Franti and Spearhead played 8150 in October of 2002. A lot of other great shows have happened, but have been hindered by aspects like cigarettes smoke and ventilation problems.I spoke with Watts after the show, and he was beaming with enthusiasm for good ol’ Vail.”This is definitely one of the best crowds we’ve ever had up here.”



Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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