The West Water Outlaws, a rock and roll band from Boulder, return to North Routt with a two-night run this weekend at the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse. The shows are free and there are shuttles available from Steamboat.
West Water Outlaws return to North Routt for rowdy rock show
Steamboat Springs It happened while Will Buck was daydreaming in a college statistics class two years ago. Just as he was thinking about who could sing in a band he planned to start, Blake Rooker stumbled into the room.
It was the wrong classroom, and after a few confused minutes, Rooker left. But not before Buck recognized him from the one night they played music together during their freshman year at the University of Colorado Boulder. He recalled Blake’s hard rock edge and gruff but versatile vocal range.
It seemed more than coincidental; it was meant to be. So Buck chased him down after class.
“That night was awesome, we just immediately started gelling on the music we love,” Buck said. “Which is down-home rock ‘n’ roll and blues.”
Later, the pair added Andrew Oakley on drums and Vince Ellwood on bass, two fellow college students who brought elements of Motown soul and driving funk to what would become known as the West Water Outlaws.
West, because that’s where they all make their home; Water as an homage to blues great Muddy Waters; and Outlaws because they’ve always dug the idea of train robbers like Jesse James’ “James Gang” (and Joe Walsh’s band of the same name).
Starting at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the rock ’n’ roll group will play free concerts alongside Boulder’s jam band Technicolor Tone Factory at the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse.
The band has played in Hahn’s Peak before, performing at the Madness on the Mountain festival and playing at the grand opening of the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse (formerly Steamboat Lake Outfitters) on New Year’s Eve.
Buck said they might be best remembered not for their music but for their manager, who took a naked snowmobile lap that night.
“Every one of us in the band absolutely loves it there,” Buck said about northern Routt County. “I feel really close to a lot of the locals, they treat us so well. We had several people get up and play with us then, and I’m sure we’re going to have more people get on stage with us.”
The band is two years young, but its members — three of them fresh out of college — were serious about the band from the beginning. They started playing house parties, almost immediately standing out from the current trend of electronic music producers and DJs. Buck thinks Boulder students were refreshed by the presence of live instruments and rock ’n’ roll in the confines of intimate college parties.
Not that he doesn’t respect electronic music, but rock ’n’ roll, he said, has staying power.
“If you look at disco, it got overthrown by grunge rock,” he explained. “When you kind of get tired of that fad, and you see rock music and people with real instruments, I think people respect that, and I don’t think it’s ever going to go away.”
They got their first real gig by walking into a venue and playing an impromptu acoustic show for the manager. Then they moved on to bigger stages.
“It’s a pretty out of body experience when you’re on stage,” Buck said. “We recently played on stage at the Fox (Theatre) and the Boulder Theater, and it’s almost like you’re watching from outside and you’re like, ‘This is always what I imagined, people liking a song we’ve written.’”