ARISE Music Festival: Dragondeer
Dragondeer is a local Colorado psych-blues band that has been growing in popularity. After having recently played the Grolsch festival in Europe they were at the Arise music festival. Their music is a combination of a jam blues band with psychedelic touches. On top of a classic blues feel the band brings wah mandolin, delayed harmonica, and several other psychedelic influences. Their sound is a comfortable modern twist to a genre that fits in well with the other Arise music festival acts. A blues purist might not understand what they’re doing but the crowd was definitely into their set. And as someone who traditionally hasn’t been into jam bands I thought their set was ridiculously fun. Watching the band improvise is a treat. The communication between band members via body language and musical cues makes it clear the band can work together well like a well-oiled machine. Improvisation in the set also felt purposeful and driven rather than a competition to see who can solo the longest. A highlight of their set was the song Don’t That Feel Good. It’s a catchy song with high-energy that will get even the most stubborn feet moving. Even if you are not 100% acquainted with Dragondeer’s music it is still easy to get into and sing along with their music.
After their set I got to talk deeper with the band. The conversation quickly turned to what it means to be a psych-blues band. When asked about their influences the say they aren’t influenced by the Colorado blues scene much. Eric said, “we came from indie and jazz and sort of punk and rock and roll backgrounds. We sort of naturally started playing blues together. … I think the intro to it was playing Telluride blues fest and the people who put that on had us play Durango blues train as well. And through that we’ve gotten to know more of the classic blues players here in town.” They also admit they are not a traditional blues band. They said, “Purists may get what we’re doing. But inside the band it feels like we’re doing something different playing blues but putting our own twist on it. Which I think has gotten some mixed reactions but overall really positive reactions. We’ve had really great luck with people understanding that we’re touching on classic blues forms but we added psychedelic to the tag. We stretch it and improvise and use effects that are really tripped out and delayed and flanged out. We use traditional set ups but put our own take on it”. During their set, Eric, the band’s lead singer quoted Woody Guthrie saying, “take it easy, but take it”. And that’s exactly what the band is all about. Easy listening and taking what comes.
-Written by Tyler Stup