Steamboat Springs One of my first introductions to Steamboat’s music scene occurred months before I moved here. On the banks of the Colorado River at rafting camp Rancho Del Rio, Missed the Boat played an evening set to the hundreds gathered for the annual Campout for the Cause festival.
It was the first time I heard the wail of the harmonica, the electric bass and the locally inspired songwriting that I’ve been conditioned to associate with life in Steamboat. They sang about the coal trains, about the river and about the simple joys and tribulations of mountain life.
For more than two years I’ve covered the band, learning the words to some of their songs and catching as many gigs as I can. This weekend, as Missed the Boat says goodbye to a band member and hello to a new era, I feel like all of us fans are right along for the ride.
They used to play more often in Steamboat, but their Front Range successes have offered them gigs at the Bluebird Theater and opening for bluegrass great David Grisman in Summit County this summer.
So Saturday’s show at Sweetwater Grill (9 p.m., free) will be like a homecoming for them after a busy summer on the road.
But it’s also likely to be an emotional evening as the band plays its last show with bassist Bryan Joyce.
That name looks familiar because Joyce doesn’t just play in Missed the Boat. He shreds in vintage heavy metal band Speak of the Devil and plays in classic rock band Throwdown. He also plays acoustic sets with Missed the Boat bandmate Pat Waters, adding up to several gigs a week.
But soon he’s moving back to Mississippi, and he gave me a simple explanation why: “Life happens,” he told me, taking a break from setting up for his Speak of the Devil show on Thursday at Sweetwater.
But it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the brotherhood of the six-piece band.
“It was an awful decision,” he said. “I’ve been playing music for 25 years and this is the most fun I’ve had at it.”
Waters said Missed the Boat has already picked up a new bass player in local musician Skip Warnke.
Missed the Boat is playing next on Oct. 26 in Dillon and has a gig scheduled for Steamboat on Nov. 10 at the Ghost Ranch.
Waters, who plays drums, said Bryan has been a best friend of his in addition to a bandmate.
“We play a lot of music together,” Waters said. “He’s got one of the best ears I’ve ever heard and it’s a treat to play with someone like that.”
Missed the Boat guitarist Ryan Cox said he’ll miss Joyce as both as a friend and a musician.
“He’s super talented and a great contributing member of the band,” he said. “The thought is we’re going to keep plugging away. It’s our intention to keep playing and record another album not too far off.”
Joyce said he wishes nothing but the best for the band’s future.
“I love those guys. I want to hear them on the radio someday. When we’re on stage, oh my God, there’s no feeling like that.”
And on Saturday night, he’ll feel no different.
“I’m going to have the time of my life,” he said about his last Missed the Boat show. “I’ll take something from it with me.”