Joint Point

Feb 17, 2011 by

Joint Point

By Bubba Schill with Thomas Cole

On the surface, Joint Point implies the juncture at which individual ideas converge into collaborative ones. For those lucky enough to ride the ski mountain in Telluride, it indicates a more specific meaning, namely, a ski run between Mammoth and Spiral Stairs off of Lift Nine.  And of course for some of us it simply calls to mind a good place to smoke a j. Yet the moniker takes on even more depth when one considers a constantly evolving musical ensemble, Telluride’s very own popular local band of the same name.

In a town upon which it’s notoriously easy for local bands to over saturate themselves, Joint Point has been a consistent crowd-pleaser that has quickly and steadily packed in and wowed large crowds over the course of the past eighteen months or so. With influences as diverse as Paul Simon, Talking Heads, Bela Fleck and Radiohead, their eclectic performances are attracting a wide, cross-mix of the music loving community.

Yet, Joint Point prides themselves on creating an event as opposed to just a concert, the bands’ “…goal is to host intelligent, well run musical events that employ not only live music, but different forms of creative, artistic expression.” Through the use of projection and lighting systems, live performance painting, poster design, interactive art and dance, their events provide an excuse to let go.

No two sets are ever even remotely the same, even when they’re the same set, and whether your own stylistic preferences naturally gravitate towards rock, jazz, fusion, reggae, bluegrass, country or psychedelic, you’re sure to hear something that gets you moving at one of their performances, sometimes resulting from several genres blending at once.

The Joint Point story starts with a handful of musicians slowly and serendipitously finding each other, through each other. Jeff Haldeman, the band’s primary vocalist/rythym guitar player/co-songwriter, and Stu met each other while working at a local ski shop. Stu at the time had a weekly gig a Tommy’s, a bar that unfortunately is no longer with us here in Telluride. Jeff came down to check out a gig and liked what he saw. After catching a set, he proposed that the two jam together. At the time, Jeff had a rehearsal space at the local artists’ co-op, the Stronghouse Studios, where a constantly changing cast of local musicians played with each other. Meanwhile drummer, Ren Terkuile and bassist/songwriter, Nate Prendergrast had some jamming of their own going on. So after a couple of months of intertwining jams they all got together and immediately clicked.

Ren began playing the drums at the age of seven, and throughout his childhood and early adulthood studied various forms of drumming and was involved with orchestral and percussion ensembles. He also studied the vibraphone and played snare in a world caliber marching band. He then took some years off, mostly for climbing and college. The kit he plays now—vintage and beautiful—was given to him by his mothers’ husband, Jim Carlson, and was once stationed at the prestigious Berklee school of music where Jim studied.

When asked if any drummers have been particularly inspirational, Ren grins and replies, “All of ‘em.”

Nate was a bona fide self-proclaimed (and proclaimed by others, I’m told) band nerd from age eight until he was eighteen. He started his musical studies with the euphonium, and at fourteen added the slide trombone and guitar to his arsenal. At some point, his parents made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: continue the music studies or find himself thrown out of the house and homeless. Thankfully he chose the former. It wasn’t actually until trying out for Joint Point that he picked up the bass guitar.

“I go where the beat goes and I moves how the ass moves. That’s all you need to know,” Nate says.

Stu began his relationship with music playing the violin, but sometime in junior high switched to the guitar partially because it’s a more social instrument. Childhood influences such as Paul Simon and Bob Dylan morphed their way into his relationship with punk and grunge rock, an amalgamation that led to other more expansive tastes.

Their first gig together was at a street party in San Bernardo in the spring of 2009 under the temporary, whimsical band name of Suspicious Coconuts. It’s unclear whether the music at that fateful first gig stopped due to the night becoming too cold or too dark, but one thing is certain: it wasn’t because of a lack of songs.

Their first hometown gig (still as Suspicious Coconuts) was in the program room of the Wilkinson Public Library. Later, as Joint Point they played the annual Blizzard Sale event where the band caught the attention of local soundman, Tom Fortier, who at that time was running the surly Fly Me To The Moon Saloon. Starting then, Joint Point began to draw an ever-increasing local following.

“Playing music has been a part of my life for a long time and finding a group of guys to play with in my own backyard has been a life-changing experience”, commented bassist/vocalist Nate Prendergrast.         ”I’ve always wanted to play a gig on the ski area. Our last day of the season party at the base of chair 8 was a scene. Skiing and playing music are the best things ever!”

And, the scene is growing. From a concert on the Town Park Stage to sold-out shows on Mardi Gras, St. Patricks Day, and multiple New Year’s Eves’, this roughly eighteen month old jam/rock outfit has solidified a fresh new sound that is both interesting and exciting. Throw in the massive last-day-of-ski-season festivities at the X-Café, (another feat they are poised to repeat), sharing the stage with The Motet at the annual Doo Dah Gala (a cherished fundraising event for Telluride’s local radio station, K.O.T.O.) in July, then headlining the Marble Music Festival in Marble, Colorado in August, and playing (again in support of K.O.T.O.) the annual Halloween Bash, and it’s easy to see that Joint Point over the last year has become a workhorse of a band.

So what’s next for the Joint Point? After a busy fall and winter, the group is preparing its first EP for release in the summer 2011.  February will mark another milestone as Joint Point throws a 40th birthday fiesta for Ren at the Llama with some very special guests, including longtime collaborator Jack Rajca on the electric baritone 5-string mandolin and Michael Kang of the String Cheese Incident. Then on March 8th at the historic Sheridan Opera House, the band takes over for a sure to be sold-out 2nd Annual Fat Tuesday throw-down.

As Jeff says, “It’s a ski lifestyle type project,” and this rising ski bum jam band has only begun to scratch the surface of what their music has to say. Do yourself a favor and check them out the next time they come to your town.

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