Glorietta: Summer Camp for Rock Stars
I never went to summer camp.
But seeing Glorietta—the indie rock super group formed by Matthew Logan Vasquez (of Delta Spirit), Noah Gundersen, David Ramirez, Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada, Jason Robert Blum and Kelsey Wilson (of Wild Child)—perform at Scoot Inn Friday December 15th is as close as I’ll probably ever get.
Here’s what I mean:
Watching Glorietta on stage is like watching the camp counselor’s perform on the last day of indie rock summer camp.
Except these camp counselors are all indie and folk-rock legends.
It had all the makings of summer camp:
There was karaoke (except everyone plays an instrument as well), lots of drinking (at one point, Quesada brought out a 4 ft bottle of Dobel tequila) and a talent show where each member got to show off their greatest songs.
The true beauty of Glorietta is that each member brought a unique strength to the table, combined with a desire to egg each other on to greatness.
It was clear from the first song, Loser’s Lament sung by Jason Robert Blum, that this is how rock stars go to camp:
They get together with their best musician/friends, co-write a bunch of songs, record an album and go on a booze-filled, non-stop party tour.
And Austin was lucky enough to host them on the second to last day of tour.
After all, it’s not often that you’re able to get so many heavy weight indie acts on the same stage together.
And they know this.
So it makes the performance all the sweeter. Both for them and the audience.
With Glorietta, everyone has a chance to shine.
In addition to playing the music they wrote as a band, each member also plays 2-3 solo songs apiece.
As a vocal coach, I was totally impressed by the level of talent on stage.
Local legend David Ramirez sounded amazing all night.
As lead singer for the blues/rock number, “Hard Way”, Ramirez showcased the group’s ability to really rock out as a band.
Then later, Ramirez traded verses with Wild Child’s Kelsey Wilson in the beautiful and brooding duet “Stranger’s Bed”.
Towards the end of the evening, Ramirez broke all our hearts with the solo acoustic ballad “Easy Does It” (a song that’s not available yet, but I did my best to guess the name).
The success of Wild Child’s Kelsey Wilson has shown Austin’s ability to bring folk-pop to the masses.
And with Glorietta, Wilson gets to show her range as a vocalist.
Transitioning flawlessly from the quiet and breathy “Sinking Ship” (currently the #1 rated song in the Glorietta catalog) to wild and raucous in the groovy Wild Child number “Expectations”, Wilson’s vocals were on point all night.
And when you see Glorietta perform, it’s also clear how much having a female vocalist adds to this otherwise male-dominated group.
Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada’s guitar playing kept me spellbound all night.
Quesada was taking solos and playing guitar better than anyone on stage.
And this is a band full of fantastic guitar players!
Noah Gundersen, the singer-songwriter phenom from Seattle followed the first song with folk rock hit “Golden Lonesome”, currently #2 in their Spotify rankings.
Then, in the second half, Gundersen lamented the fate of so many singer/songwriters of his ilk in the beautiful ballad “Lincoln Creek”—singing in the chorus:
“Somewhere someone is singing for free, thank God it ain’t me”.
Then there’s Jason Robert Blum, who brings some much-needed Latin-folk to the group.
Blum sang the beautiful Spanish ballad “Las Estrellas” easily, encouraging everyone to dance and sing along.
Later, Blum crooned “Easy Come, Easy Go” a lazy latin-folk song that you might hear on a beach somewhere in Mexico.
Blum also handily sang the quick and groovy song “I Know”, originally written and sung by Nathaniel Rateliff, a guest contributor to the album.
Matthew Logan Vasquez, best known as singer and guitarist for Delta Spirit and the man responsible for bringing these musicians together, had unfortunately lost his voice before the show.
But for every squeak and pop in his voice, the more the audience loved him for his vocal sacrifice.
And screaming the popular synth jam “Heat Stroke” with all the other band members, he even managed to hit the whistle note in the breakdown of the song.
The second-to-last song, “Friends”, features Vasquez’s vocals leading the group in a sing-a-long that would make anyone cry.
And as the evening came to a close, you could sense the sadness that camp was ending.
When’s the next time all these fantastic musicians will share the same stage again?
But you could tell that any sorrow was tempered by the excitement of what they had created and what would happen in the year to come.
I know I’m looking forward to it.
Matt Ramsey is a blogger and vocal coach at Ramsey Voice Studio.
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