Old Shoe recently teamed up with singer-songwriter Chicago Farmer for a string of shows through Colorado recreating the magic of the Dylan and The Dead Tour from 1987. Old Shoe is an Illinois institution with lots of shows in and around the Chicago area. They are also known for hosting their own festival known as Shoe Fest which takes place in Manteno, IL over Labor Day Weekend. Both Old Shoe and Chicago Farmer are highly regarded Summer Camp vets and both were recently added to the bill during the second round artist drop. Each act offers up a wholly unique concert experience, but together they are the perfect fit to perform the music of Bob Dyan and The Grateful Dead. They invited along budding bluegrassers The Mighty Pines to start the show.
The Mighty Pines (formerly known as Acoustic Anonymous) hail from St. Louis and they are focused on sharing their traditional approach to jamgrass far and wide. Having opened for the likes of Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush, and Fruition, this Midwestern outfit is already booked on a slew of festival lineups coming up this summer. Their set at Hodi’s started with with the banjo-tastic “Girl From South America” featuring the gritty vocals of multi-instrumentalist Gerald Erker. The band features drummer Mike Murano behind the kit, who keeps the beat without being too overbearing in the mix. It’s a delicate balance that The Mighty Pines maintained throughout their one hour set. They treated us to a few covers during there course of the show including the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Sitting On Top Of The World” and The Grateful Dead’s “Ramble On Rose.” This band is one to look out for, with lots of experience on the strings and interesting song-writing, it won’t be long before the name The Might Pines becomes all to familiar to bluegrass fans.
Both Old Shoe and Chicago Farmer have developed extensive fanbases on their own. Their collaboration on a Dylan and Dead inspired tour seems almost too perfect for words. By the time this newly formed Midwest supergroup took the stage at Hodi’s, the room had filled in quite nicely. The set was a blend of originals from both bands alongside the music made famous by the 1987 Dylan and The Dead tour and subsequent album released in 1989. The members of Old Show emerged with Cody Diekhoff aka Chicago Farmer in tow and began the night with one of his tunes, “Everybody in This Town.”
Set 1: Everybody in This Town*, Assembly Line Blues*, Backseat*, The Village*, Umbrella*, 200 Miles Away*, Slow Train* , I Want You*, When I Paint Masterpiece*, Tangled Up in Blue*, All Along the Watchtower*, I Shall Be Released*
Set 2: Bayou Honey, Don’t do it , Georgia Night, Beer, Jack Straw, Country Home, Oneida County, Welcome Home, Black Throated Wind, It Never Left Me, Denver Down
Encore: Loving Cup*, Big River*
*w/ Chicago Farmer
They featured several more originals from Chicago Farmer including a dark and dirty “Assembly Line Blues” and a twangy rendition of “200 Miles Away.” After showcasing Mr. Farmer the band proceeded with the real meat of the sandwich; Dylan & The Dead. They treated fans to a slew of Dylan and The Dead arrangements starting with a rocking take on “Slow Train.” The set got into full swing with fan favorites like “I Want You” and “Tangled Up In Blue.” They closed their joint set with a couple of heavy hitters in the form of “All Along The Watchtower” into a sublime “I Shall Be Released.”
For the final set of the evening Old Shoe emerged as a solo act treating fans to a slew of their originals starting with the Southern rock tune “Bayou Honey.” Old Shoe is everything you could want in a down home band. They are tight, focused on fun and bouncy tunes, and always ready to jam. Their music is as intriguing as it is inviting. Continuing the Dead theme for this show they were sure to include stellar versions of “Jack Straw” as well as “Black Throated Wind.” Other crowd-pleasers like “Beer” and the set-closing “Denver Down” got fans dancing enthusiastically. They invited Cody back out for a two-song encore that included the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup” into Johnny Cash’s “Big River.”
The idea of combining two of my favorite bands hailing from the Windy City into a Dylan & The Dead cover band is pretty unbelievable. Witnessing collaboration on this level in a live setting is something special. Chicago Farmer was the perfect person to step into the role of Dylan while the members of Old Shoe recreated the music of the Grateful Dead incredibly well. Not to mention we also got to see a wide range of solo work from both of the bands. All in all this was a remarkable run of shows which I am thankful made a stop in Fort Collins. I can’t wait to see both of these bands at Summer Camp 2018.