Boulder songwriter Danny Shafer returns to the Old Town Pub on Saturday with his band, The Unknown Americans. Shafer said the band recently has adopted a more aggressive sound but hasn't abandoned its country roots.
- Saturday, January 24, 2009, 10 p.m.
- Old Town Pub & Restaurant, 600 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
Colorado crowds have been responding well lately to The Unknown Americans, and lead singer-songwriter Danny Shafer thinks he knows why.
With a change of drummers, The Unknown Americans have let just a little of their laidback, country-fried Americana sound go. And the band has adopted just enough driving rock rhythm to get a bar audience going for the night.
Shafer said his group isn't going to turn into Leftover/Panic/Phish any time soon, but the songwriter - who traditionally leans toward slice-of-life songs with titles like "Barbeque" - is pleased with the new attitude.
On Saturday, The Unknown Americans bring their altered sound to the Old Town Pub. Shafer talked with 4 Points about the more aggressive feel, and why it appeals to a fun-loving Colorado music crowd.
4 POINTS: How has The Unknown Americans' sound developed lately?
DANNY SHAFER: We recently added a different drummer - a guy named Jon Mouser - and it's enabled us to get into a space that we've really wanted to go to for a while. I feel like the sound, it's gotten more aggressive. I think it's a reason why the crowds have been getting bigger; they're really latching onto this out-of-the-gate aggressiveness.
4 POINTS: Where does that more aggressive feel come from?
DS: I'd felt us leaning towards it for a while. : Having a changeover in members has really allowed us to loosen up a little bit and recreate, and I think it's enabled us to kind of add onto the sound.
4 POINTS: What does that do for the band?
DS: We used to be more on the Willie Nelson & Family side. Now, we're somewhere between the Willie Nelson side and the Leftover Salmon side, and I really like the feeling of that.
It sounds like this direct Texas-Colorado mix, which is really pleasing for the whole band to play. It means we can take a night in a few different directions, and we certainly never hold back at the Old Town Pub.
We still have that Texas-y, country sound, but we're mixing it with more of a Colorado feel with a rock attitude.
4 POINTS: What do you mean by that, 'Colorado feel?'
DS: (laughs) Well -
4 POINTS: OK, this is what I mean - I've been trying to figure out how to describe the 'Colorado feel' and how Colorado responds to live music for a while, and I can't do it.
DS: Colorado really supports experimenting with different forms of music. I've been here for 20 years, and as far as I can tell, they always have.
And I think that is a large part of the Colorado sound, starting out with a basic form of music and experimenting and putting no limits on it.
I mean, we're right in the middle of the country, we have bands coming through from everywhere, why shouldn't we be the ones to be experimenting with everything?
And don't get me wrong, The Unknown Americans are not a jazz/funk/bluegrass band - we never will be. We're a country-based band. But it's the attitude of letting it go, throwing a party, letting the audience know that we're in this night together and not taking it so seriously that we can't let go completely.
The experimentation and the crowd appreciation is a really big part of the Colorado sound. It's really almost as much an attitude as it is a musical thing.