Band of Heathens back in Carbondale |

Band of Heathens back in Carbondale

Trina Ortega
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Voted Austin Music Festival's "Best Band of 2007," the Band of Heathens plays at the 2007 Carbondale Mountain Fair. The band will perform in a CCAH concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the TRTC theater. Opening act is the local Redtones. (Trina Ortega photo)

CARBONDALE ” Nelson Oldham’s labor of love led him to the band that has inspired him to sing again ” along with all of the other members of his new group, The Redtones.

As the owner of Dos Gringos Burritos in Carbondale, he has been providing food to the musicians who play Steve’s Guitars, also in Carbondale. One of those bands last year was The Band of Heathens, who performed to a small crowd at Steve’s in the spring before returning for a knockout performance at Mountain Fair last summer.

Oldham missed the appearance at Steve’s, but the Heathens left him two CDs. The discs quickly became Oldham household favorites.

“The Band of Heathens were a pretty inspirational band for me,” said Oldham, who caught the band at Mountain Fair and at a post-fair appearance before a packed house at Steve’s. He even ventured to the band’s hometown of Austin, Texas to see them play.

“I told them, ‘You guys gotta come back to Carbondale,'” he said.

Since then, he’s been working with Mountain Fair Director Amy Kimberly to bring the Heathens back to town.

His efforts paid off. The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities will present The Band of Heathens at what’s been dubbed a Midwinter’s Mountain Fair. The band takes the stage at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale on Thursday, Jan. 10. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

It’s fitting, then, that the opening act includes Oldham, who provided the impetus for the Heathens’ return.

The Redtones will play a 45-minute set of “rock ‘n’ roll and all that.” The band features Oldham on guitar, harmonica, and vocals; Bill McGreevy on drums and vocals; Jeremy Fleisher on guitar, bass and vocals; and Jason Upper on bass, guitar, vocals.

Expect covers of the likes of Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, John Hiatt, Little Feat and others from the local foursome, along with some originals.

“Everyone in the band sings,” Oldham said. “The Heathens really pushed me to do that. I said, ‘If everyone’s not going to sing, then I’m not interested.’ ” The group officially came together in the fall.

“We’ve been using that model. It’s fun,” he said.

Despite the demands of jobs and families, the four guys take their music seriously and devote time to rehearsing their songs.

Drummer Bill McGreevy ” a Marble resident who during banker’s hours serves as the assistant dean for continuing education at Colorado Mountain College ” had filled in with Oldham’s former band, Midlife Crisis.

He and Oldham began talking about pulling a band together and tried six to seven people, McGreevy said.

“Some were too hot, some were too cold, but these guys we got are just right,” he said. “I’ve played in a lot of bands … and at this point having it right with the right people is equally as important as the music itself.

“Being able to make good music with good people … that’s what it’s all about for me,” he added. “It’s gotta be people you enjoy being with.”

The Redstones will also perform Feb. 2 at Phat Thai in Carbondale.

The Heathens ” a Texas-based band comprised of singers/songwriters/guitar-pickers Colin Brooks, Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi, bassist Seth Whitney, and drummer John Chipman ” follow in the footsteps of legendary names of Americana music as The Band, Little Feat and Townes Van Zandt.

Their latest recording, “Live at Antone’s,” recorded in June 2007, shows why the quintet captured 2007’s Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards.

Not unlike The Redtones musicians, the Heathens each had their own musical careers prior to becoming a band “by accident,” the group members note on their myspace website.

They’d sit in with each other’s bands occasionally and started playing one big show called the Good Time Supper Club. A newspaper started calling them “The Heathens.”

Says their website: “Then, one day we looked at each other and realized we had become a band. Whether we liked it or not, this little side project had become an old-fashioned American rock ‘n’ roll band. There’s some kind of Heathen mojo that makes this band have wings. Maybe it’s all the different flavors everybody brings … the chemistry of The Band, the soul of Otis Redding, the ghost of Townes Van Zandt, Little Feat’s grooves, Dylan’s 1965 dance between roots and electricity. Maybe it’s the energy of having three frontmen. Maybe it’s not having a frontman.”

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