Vail band tours Hawaii, celebrates first anniversary
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – The Vail Valley’s Bonfire Dub is just more than a year old, but they’ve had experiences much more established bands would covet. For instance, the band recently toured in Hawaii where they performed with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzman. Scotty Stoughton – the band’s dummer, singer and founder – took the time to talk to the Vail Daily about the band’s first year and what the future holds for Bonfire Dub, and for live music in Eagle County as well.
Vail Daily: How did Bonfire Dub’s recent tour in Hawaii come to be? Do you have music connections in Hawaii?
Scotty Stoughton: Katlyn and our drummer Brian have both lived on the Garden Island of Kauai. A few years back Chris Davis, our good friend and local promoter, planted the seeds for our tour when he brought Little Hercules out for a spin. It was then that Katlyn met the crew and Davis formed a friendship with Grateful Dead drummer and Kauai resident Bill Kreutzman. After playing Colorado for the season, we all felt that the ocean was calling and our music would make a great fit.
VD: Tell me about the tour in Hawaii. How long was it? Where did you play?
SS: A few of us were on the island hiking the Napali before the entire band and crew got there. The rest of the gang flew in for a week and we played three public shows and a backyard beach luau on Hanalei Bay. The opening nights performance was at Tree’s Lounge in Kapa’a with local band Animal Dream. The house was packed with locals and our diehard Vail family all contributing to a hot and sweaty dance floor. Next was a sunset gig at Waipoli Beach where Bill Kreutzman joined us on the percussion and drum kit. Needless to say, it was pretty magical to embark on a 15-minute drum jam with the band, Bill and our friends from home, Jake Wolf and Mark Levy (Shakedown Street and Frogs Gone Fishin’). The last public performance took place on a Kilauea Hillside Ranch opening up with a ceremonial Hawaiian blessing performed by the Woo’s. Shanae Woo is a Haight Asbury transplant that, to the best of our knowledge, hosted the first ever Grateful Dead concert and acid test at his San Jose home in 1965. It was obvious history and some deep musical vibes surrounded us!
VD: There are lots of local bands that start up and break up a year or two later. Does this band have staying power and why?
SS: Bonfire has staying power because we are focused on the roots of the music, not on aspirations to “make it,” according to some of society’s standards. Bonfire Dub aims to capture all that is pure about experiencing a gathering around a bonfire. The reason behind the creation of the band was not to cut a record, seek out a deal and start touring, rather to get together with great friends and musicians and create a deep musical vibe. All of us in the band have spent considerable time on the road touring and are more focused on just creating great original music.
VD: Bonfire Dub started last October, just over a year ago. Tell me about some of the band’s memorable moments over the first year?
SS: For me, there were many highlights but none was more magical than headlining the Campout for the Cause music festival at Rancho Del Rio. We put the show on ourselves and despite some cold weather and rain, we entertained 500 inspired supporters. After a three-hour set in front of a jamming crowd we closed with “All Night Long” and had over 13 people on stage! Camping, bonfires, live music and floating down the river, now that’s what it’s all about!
I also really enjoyed when JoJo Herman of Widespread Panic joined us for a version of “Get Up, Stand Up,” and of course the Hawaii tour and Bill Kreutzman playing “Franklin’s Tower.” JoJo and Bill were such down-to-earth, humble guys that just loved to play music. I’ll never forget when Bill was jamming with us on an original and he shouted to me, “does that sound alright?” Yeah Bill, you sound all right!
VD: What do you think the future holds for the county’s music scene?
SS: It’s encouraging to see that people are still supporting live and electronic music even during a rough financial time. Music has the power to keep our spirits high and help us cope with our sometimes difficult situations. I hope the future brings artists of all genres together with a positive message. I think that the dedicated fans will feed a new wave of futuristic electronic music that honors the roots and history of acoustic music, while continuing to support the original and organic styles.
VD: In your opinion, is the fact that we have very few big venues keeping us from getting bigger name shows like Aspen does?
SS: Definitely, you really need to have the ability to sell a good amount of tickets to attract the bigger touring talent. I’m happy to see that State Bridge is sold and will host events next year, but we need something for the wintertime, too. It’s all supply and demand; unfortunately there are some people that view a cover charge as a promoter ripping them off. I have heard countless arguments and disgruntled folks lash out at a door person for having the gaul to charge them a cover. That money goes to the artists, the hotels, the door and the soundman just to break even. The environment needs to change so people might not be afraid to open up a new venue that would need to charge a cover to survive.
VD: Tell me the band you’d most like to see perform in Vail, be it at Samana Lounge or somewhere else?
SS: I’d love to see Bonfire Dub open for Thievery Corporation with a late night Savoy, Pretty Lights and Bassnectar show. I’m crossing my fingers!