We are 42 days into winter and the snowy solitude in the canyon country has been enchanting. The nights on the other hand have been somewhat cold and uneventful as is customary for January. It’s a time when nightlife slows down in Moab and Netflix and other indoor entertainment win our attention.
This past Friday and Saturday one of the most popular local bands, Stonefed, played eight hours of solid jam band rock, which prompted the first big crowd at Woody’s since the New Years Eve show with Talia Keys.
It was a time for society, music and beer.
“It’s nice to play for those who came out to dance,” said Jon Olschewski, Stonefed’s guitarist and vocalist. “I was told by some people that they were excited to have live music in January.”
One thing that stands out about Stonefed’s set is the improvisation that goes on — and the fact that they manage to run a tight performance. They have played over 1,800 shows nationwide since their formation in 1999 with core members Ed Stone, David Mealey and Olschewski. When skilled musicians get together with time on their side, the product is unmistakable.
They’ve experienced some changes to their membership, which has added to their diversity and multi-genre range. The group’s current line-up has been the same since 2004, when Jasper Groff joined. With a foundation of folk they have added layers of rock and funk into their jam fusion.
“We’ve played more than ten shows in January and I think currently we are so busy with performances that one must still find down time in Moab too,” Olschewski said. He added that the band’s regular presence in Salt Lake City has resulted in the formation of a following, making their shows more engaging.
At some point in the course of their cover songs they step out of the expected progression and explore hidden melodies with solos and unique drumming. Sometimes their tangents are as long as the song they’re covering. The instrumental section, where improvisation happens, creates a great atmosphere for dancing. And the tunes don’t stop cold; each song medleys into the next so no one has an excuse to stop the groove.
“It seems to me, to feel what we do has become instinctual, as far as catching a groove and letting the audience ride the wave,” Olschewski said. “All the guys are great at onstage communication and have amazing improvisation skills.”
The band is not currently on tour but will be playing a series of shows and festivals in and out of town this summer — and they’ll be going as far as Haines, Alaska to perform at the Alaska State Fair.
More information about Stonefed, their music and upcoming tour dates can be found at stonefed.com.