Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Rock & Rails to showcase homegrown talent

 


If the music at Rock & Rails seems a bit louder than usual this week, blame it on the Mikes (and their friend Lawrence).

Niwot alums Mike Anderson, Mike Holubec, Mike Warren, and Lawrence Jenkins will be taking the stage with their bands this week, drawing scores of local fans eager for a night with old friends and hard rocking music.

Denver-based band Legitimate by Friday will kick things off on Thursday night, July 20, at 5 p.m.

Formed in 2009, the blues-infused rock combo got its start in California when Anderson (drums) and Warren (guitar) hooked up with CU friends John Giarratano (bass) and Andrew Brentan (lead vocals, harmonica) in San Diego and started playing 80s and 90s covers for fun in Warren’s garage. An unexpected gig on a Friday in San Francisco gave the band its name and an unintended career on the West Coast, but eventually Colorado beckoned, and one by one, the band members relocated to Denver.

In the intervening years, Legitimate by Friday added a fifth member, mandolin player Jeremy Epstein. The group plays regularly at breweries and events in the metro area, and this year marks its third appearance at Rock & Rails.

Warren characterized the band’s style as “rock with a twist of blues and a mandolin for twang.” He cited the Black Keys and Alabama Shakes as the group’s main influences, and said their sets consist of “half covers and half original music,” including fan favorites Take Me to the Bar and Hot Biscuits.

Both Anderson and Warren were born and raised in Niwot. As for playing Rock & Rails, Warren (son of Biff and Susan Warren), said coming back to Niwot with Anderson (son of Jay and Gail Anderson) and “honorary classmate” Giarratano is “a lot of fun.”

“It’s really cool to see the town, and what they’ve done with the summer concert series, and now with the Children’s Park,” he said. “Main street looks great, and so do the new restaurants. It’s fun to take a trip down memory lane.”

The night’s main act, Last Men on Earth, takes the stage at 7 p.m.

For Mike Holubec, guitarist for the headliner and current Niwot resident, his band’s annual summer gig at Rock & Rails is one of the highlights of the year.

“There’s so many family and friends,” he said. “I’ve met such a great group of people over the years, and it’s nice to step out and recognize almost every face.” Holubec (son of Mike and the late Eileen Holubec) grew up in Niwot and still makes his home in the same neighborhood.

“We get a chance to reconnect with people that we don’t get to very often,” he continued. “It’s more of a reunion than a show.” Last Men on Earth formed in late 2008 when Holubec and Jenkins (bass) teamed up with longtime friends Greg Jacyczyn (lead vocals and guitar), Jason Olson (guitar), and Mark Trippensee (drums) to play covers of their favorite rock songs. Before long, the band’s diverse set list and faithful take on uptempo rock classics garnered a following, and they started playing regular gigs in Longmont and Lafayette. They joined the Rock & Rails lineup in 2013, and quickly became a crowd favorite.

“Most of us have been friends since high school, with the exception of a couple of stragglers,” he said of the band’s deep-roots in the area. Olson graduated from Erie High school, and Trippensee is also from the Longmont area. Though Jacyczyn grew up in Westminster, he has close family ties to Niwot and claims a number of fans in the area.

Holubec describes the band’s motif as “80s album oriented rock”, though Last Men on Earth doesn’t limit its set list to a single decade or even genre. They play their share of standards, including Don’t Stop Believin’ and Livin’ on a Prayer, but Holubec said the band really enjoys playing deep cuts, B-sides, and even the occasional country hit.

“What we try to do is play hard rock that isn’t on the radio all the time, like Donnie Iris or Aldo Nova,” he said of the group’s sometimes off-beat playlist. “We like to sprinkle our set with stuff like that and hear people say ‘Oh, I forgot about that song.’”

Last Men on Earth doesn’t have a special Rock & Rails set list, but Holubec said he’s been taking personal requests from local fans.

Jenkins, who graduated from NHS in 1983 but has since moved out of the area, said he too notices the reunion-like atmosphere at Rock & Rails. “You always see some old faces again. It’s pretty cool to play for the home town.” A self-described Jimmy Buffet fan, he named “Fins” as a perennial Niwot crowd favorite.

Last Men on Earth is strictly a cover band, but all of the members produce original music independently or with other bands. Trippensee, who also perfoms with Eagles tribute band The Long Run, released his first solo CD, “Bend Without Breaking,” in 2016. Olson, a guitar instructor at the University of Northern Colorado, has recorded with a classical guitar trio. He also performs with rockabilly trio Dixie Leadfoot & The Chrome Struts.

Holubec said there are no current plans for Last Men on Earth to evolve into anything bigger, and most members are content to play gigs when everyone’s busy schedule allows.

 

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