As the sun set on a beautiful autumn day in downtown Fort Collins, CO, a relatively new band set up shop on the patio of the now-iconic Lyric Cinema Café. On any given day the Lyric is simply a thriving independent movie theater augmented by couches in the café and theaters, an impressive selection of local beers and a fun-loving staff catering to film lovers of all shapes and sizes. On this particular night however, the venue played host to a soon-to-be-monthly celebration of local arts.
The Byllynsgate Ball, the brainchild of owner, Ben Mozer was started to bring together the many facets of Fort Collins’ flourishing artistic community. The idea is simple: once a month, crowds gather to watch live music, live muraling of the café walls and an independent film (or several shorts) – all locally grown, of course.
The musical guest for this month’s Ball were none other than the fresh, local Mama Lenny and The Remedy. Comprised of a self-described, “[…] group of musicians who wanted to play some nice music together […]” this 8-piece stunned and ignited the audience with an engaging and admirable take on generations-worth of what the band calls, “Rock, Rhythm, Blues and a whole lotta Soul.”
As patrons and passers-by began to gather around the makeshift stage on the theater’s patio near the corner of Walnut and Mountain, lead vocalist, Laniece Schleicher let out a low and raspy growl that instantaneously grabbed the attention of all within range of the speakers. With that, the band launched into their set making it immediately apparent to all in attendance that they were a band worth listening to. With Jeff Blayney’s tasteful and precise drumming setting an infectious backbeat and the band knocked off song after song, pulling the audience deeper and deeper into their sonic playground
Off to the right stands former 12 Cents for Marvin Trumpeter, Greta Cornett adding the occasional brass stab and solo, perfectly complimenting Ken Monk’s exacting and understated guitar work. Their interplay is at once unpredictable and precise and truly speaks to their individual talent as musicians. Equally talented and admirably reserved, keyboardist, Thalia Stevensen dances effortlessly on both sides of the line of audible presence; laying back when her additions provide more as subconscious aural warmth and pushing to the front when the right moment comes.
Co-fronting the band alongside Schleicher are two background vocalists, Kelly Keeler and Amanda Ernst. Projecting diverse yet cohesive vocal style and emphasis, the three voices blended without a trace of miscalculation or false commitment and together, the vocal presence of the group provides possibly one of their most favorable traits. Adding to the unique sound and accurate reproduction of the music of generations passed is Ben Prytherch’s bass style. His tone, relaxed yet poignant attack and melodic patterns carried undeniable likeness to bassists of the 60’s, especially those of British Rock fame including The Rolling Stones’ own, Bill Wyman and added a subtly nostalgic air to the overall groove.
Together the band ushered a wave of emotion and excitement over the growing crowd and successfully pulled an entire group of relative strangers into an unforgettable musical coma that left all in attendance hooting and hollering for more long after their last notes died out. Comprised of a monster lineup, enough musical creativity to power a modern-day magical mystery tour and a refined yet enthusiastic delivery, Mama Lenny and the Remedy gave an awe-inspiring performance that left no doubt whatsoever that Fort Collins can and will stand on the cutting edge of phenomenal musical talent and originality. Expect to see big things from this group and keep an eye out for future performances and releases. If you miss it, you’ll kick yourself both now AND later.