Shakedown Street closes out another Vail ski season |

Shakedown Street closes out another Vail ski season

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyGrateful Dead tribute band Shakedown Street has performed in the Vail Valley for more than 20 years.

VAIL, Colorado –Shakedown Street has been performing in Colorado’s Vail Valley for more than 20 years now and played many closing day celebrations. The tradition returns when the band, which channels the spirit of the Grateful Dead, plays Friday and Saturday nights at the Sandbar in West Vail.

“It’s the end-of-the-season blowout like the days of ol’,” said drummer Jake Wolf. “The music is going to be on fire, I can feel it. It’s my hometown gig, and favorite town to play in. I’m hoping to see some old faces.”

Wolf, who has been with the band for 17 years, took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.

1. Vail Daily: Tell me a little bit about Shakedown Street’s history in Eagle County.

Jake Wolf: Shakedown Street has been playing in the Vail Valley since the late ’80s. The band has real history in the Vail Valley – from Jackalope and Halfmoon to Sandbar, Garton’s and 8150. It didn’t seem so long ago when Shakedown Street was at the Trails End every month, and then playing for the Drink the Bar Dry. There was long run of years Shakedown Street played every closing day.

I’m excited to play the “Late Show,” as it were, during Spring Back to Vail weekend. The hardcores will be out in force.

2. VD: What’s new with the band these days?

JW: The band is about as hot as it has been ever. Our “Jerry” guy (Josh Rosen), is spot on, and someone to check out for sure. We have been using two different bassists out of Boulder, who rotate mountain and Front Range shows. Edwin Hurwitz (Great American Taxi, Motet, Shockra), a Berklee College of Music grad, jumps at the chance to emulate one of his favorite bassists. Kurt Reber (Motet), who has a masters degree in music, is the other bassist. Just recently, Scott Swartz (Shakedown Street 1993-1998) returned to the fold, adding the signature Bobby licks he is known for. This band started 24 years ago (I’ve personally been on board since 1997) and its gone through some rough periods, believe me. But not now – it’s tight and on point.

3. VD: How do you keep it fresh – or can you since you’re technically a tribute band?

JW: At what point is a band a tribute band? I feel a level of validation after having several members of the Grateful Dead play with us. I have never considered Shakedown Street a tribute, as much as I like to think of it as a traveling road circus that is constantly evolving, while serving music to the people that love it most. Doing it with a little twist of its own Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Head love. That’s partially why it’s so different every show. We have been playing our share of albums this year, but this weekend, with nothing slotted, it’s gonna be nice to let loose.

4. VD: What do you think about the local music scene?

JW: We are very lucky in the valley. We have some amazing places popping up in the wake of others moving on. We have some fresh, new, talented bands evolving, providing us with a pretty big diverse selection of music on a constant basis. Venues come and go, but without the talent to keep them full of people, they will be empty.

But I have to be honest and say I do miss the bouncing floor and the “Let’s Rodeo” sign.

5. VD: What do you like best and dislike most about the local music scene?

JW: I like the camaraderie amongst the musicians. Everyone has some spice to throw in the pot.

I dislike when truckers don’t put on their chains when they are supposed to, and it takes me eight hours to get to Denver.

6. VD: You’re also a music teacher here, correct?

JW: Yes, I teach at the Avon Elementary School of Rock, as I like to call it. It was an opportunity that surfaced two years ago this weekend. I thought I was getting punked when they asked. But that’s another story, for another day.

7. VD: What can people expect from the show at the Sandbar Friday and Saturday?

JW: People can expect two nights of Shakedown Street charging out of the gates like raging bulls. This year we have jumped into three eras of Grateful dead, and have been doing material the band has never done. Just recently we did a weekend of the “Live Dead” album from 1969 … We have an impressive song list these days, and the personnel to make ’em sound good.

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