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Battle of Tribute Bands Rocks Longmont’s Leftapalooza

August 12, 2018

Steven Blasinski, left, and Lisa Morgan, of the B-52s tribute band Hey Lady! get the crowd moving at Leftapalooza in Longmont on Saturday.

Longmont’s Roosevelt Park was likely the only place in the known universe — on Saturday afternoon at least — where a Primus tribute band could possibly be sandwiched between musicians paying their respects to new wave weirdos The B-52s and post-Nirvana outfit Foo Fighters.

Later that day, the Dave Matthews Band, Tool and David Bowie would get their due. Vanwholen would combine the David Lee Roth era anthems of Van Halen (but no Sammy Hagar?) and The Who.

Steve Blasinsky, doing a convincing Fred Schneider impression, informed the audience that extraterrestrials were coming to Earth as the band jumped into “Planet Claire.”

“Don’t worry,” he continued. “Soon we will have the Space Force to Protect us!”

Some of the audience laughed.

It must have been Leftapalooza, Lefthand Brewing Company Foundation’s second of its four offbeat beer festivals.

The other three are Hops and Handrails, when the park gets a temporary snowboard ramp complete with the white stuff, and Oktoberfest which has featured very long bratwursts — and, for some reason, The Wailers. Nitrofest pays homage to nitrogen-infused beers.

But Saturday was about cover, er, tribute bands.

Is there a difference?

“My opinion is cover bands do multiple bands,” said Mike “Shamorello” Shamrock of Rage Against the Machine tribute Guerrilla Radio, based out of Fort Collins. “They do it justice.”

After he walked away, Shamorellos’ band mates said that part of the impetus behind Guerilla Radio sprang from his admiration of lefty rap metal legends Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who is known for being able to “scratch” his guitar like a DJ’s turntable.

Saturday’s event raised money for the brewery’s foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, according to Lefthand Brewing Company Marketing Director Jill Preston.

Preston said that the winner of the competition gets to close next year’s concert. This year it would be Loving the Alien, a tribute to David Bowie.

“What’s fun is they are all so different,” she said.

“Jrock,” provides the Zach de la Rocha verses in Guerrilla Radio, but handed over those duties on Saturday to guest lead vocalist Johnny Mar who came in from Los Angeles and sings in a Rage tribute band at home — Renegades of Rage.

He said tribute bands provide a valuable service to the community — education.

“I think there is an incredible amount of garbage music out there today,” Jrock said. “The kids today aren’t exposed to this music. These 20-year-old kids hear this and they love it and I’m like, ‘Yeah, don’t listen to mumble rap.’”

Jrock instead took to the stage for one song, “Know your Enemies” as “Maynard James Kennan,” the lead singer of Tool. Oddly enough, he was not singing for the Tool tribute band, 4 Degrees, which would take the stage in the early evening.

He also raps as MCA, one third of Beastie Boys — the now disbanded progenitors of white dudes in hip hop groups — and he said the trick to learning how to provide convincing vocals in a tribute act lies in figuring out the unique cadence that every performer brings to the craft. That. and listening to the songs over and over and over again.

“The best flattery is imitation,” he said, “to have the opportunity to be your idols.”

John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/johnbearwithme

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