Music News

Rolling Harvest Conjures the Music of Neil Young and Bob Dylan

Adam Perry (far right) has assembled Rolling Harvest, a Neil Young/Bob Dylan tribute band.
Adam Perry (far right) has assembled Rolling Harvest, a Neil Young/Bob Dylan tribute band. John Spalvins
Drummer and occasional Westword music contributor Adam Perry says he wanted to start a band that would be "fun and not just work and drama." His wish appears to have come true.

In his latest project, Perry, who has bashed the skins for several local outfits, including the Yawpers and Gasoline Lollipops, combines the well-appreciated work of grunge godfather and folk-rock icon Neil Young with that of mythical tunesmith Bob Dylan. The group's name, Rolling Harvest, is a nod to Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour of mid-1970s renown and Young's classic 1972 LP, Harvest. The result of Perry's vision is a talented ensemble of local musicians with a series of shows booked around the Front Range this summer and fall.

"I wanted to make music and not go on the road, and I'd met some younger people who really inspired me," the 41-year-old touring veteran relates. "Alexandra Schwan [a former member of the Sweet Lillies] had toured in the Gas Pops with me, and I always wanted to see her be out front in a band. She has a great voice and stage presence. Our other co-frontperson is Hunter Stone, who is a songwriter and a multi-talented musician. He's amazing. He showed up to a rehearsal and...immediately demonstrated how to play an excellent version of the tune 'Southern Man.' That's exactly what I wanted — to be able to dive right into the material. Jason [Bertone, also a member of the band Banshee Tree] is one of our two bass players, including Cole Sexton, that we have for this project. I also knew [Jason] from the Pops, and same for our keyboard player, Scott [Coulter]. It's really nice to have all these different voices and skill sets in the band."

Perry, who has a day job in the legal profession when he's not parenting at home, says there are eight musicians involved with the project, though there are "never more than seven on stage." He says he chose the music of Dylan and Young because of the depth and range of their famous catalogues.

"You've probably never in your life listened to everything by Neil Young," Perry says. "The same goes for Bob Dylan. As nerdy as I am about both of them, there are still songs of theirs that I've never heard. Neil Young has been in bands including Buffalo Springfield and CSNY. These catalogues are exciting. Both Young and Dylan are like Miles Davis or David Bowie. They re-create themselves with every release, and the musicians I gathered all have their own sounds that they bring to our interpretations of the artists. Some of our versions of Neil Young songs sound like the Neil Young-with-Pearl Jam sound. Neil can play heavy garage rock. Our approach to Dylan draws from the Rolling Thunder sound, which included the violin. Our violinist, Madalyn McCoy — who has also played with the Velveteers — has a sound not unlike Scarlet Rivera, who performed in the Rolling Thunder Revue tour and on Dylan's album Desire. A lot of the energy that we have on the Dylan stuff is like that. We do a version of 'Shelter From the Storm' that's a lot like that Rolling Thunder album."

Don't expect Perry to sing, though his general guidance of the outfit might have some impact on which tunes make it to the stage. With the raw talent he's recruited for the ensemble, he's understandably content to hold down the groove with his drumsticks and let his bandmates shine.

"I'm just the drummer," he says. "I might sing along in practice to show the phrasing of a song, but I'm not much of a vocalist, so I leave that to our frontpeople. Some of the bandmembers know music theory. We have a young guitar player, Gabe Cwern, who blows me away. I don't have a formal education in music, but I know what sounds good. My experience was playing punk gigs in garages and bars, so it's fun to work with people who have more technical skills. Personally, I sometimes like the guitar to sound like a lawn mower or like the amp is broken, but it's cool to get input from everyone. We've also got a range of ages to the musicians, so different generations are represented."

Do expect fun sit-ins from some local ringers from time to time. Perry mentions that members of Gasoline Lollipops, Bonnie & the Clydes and Dragondeer are interested in joining the rolling musical party. You can see Rolling Harvest for free at the annual Fourth of July celebration at Elysian Park in Jamestown, which Perry has played before with other bands.

"We've booked a bunch of great shows in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and in the hills," says Perry. "This Fourth of July gig in Jamestown is part of one of my favorite things in Colorado. The annual celebration there has been happening for more than 100 years. We're looking forward to it. We're just playing a set, but it will be fun, and the Fourth of July event goes all day and night."

Rolling Harvest will play at the Jamestown 4th of July Celebration, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, July 4, Elysian Park, 117 Main Street in Jamestown.
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Nick Hutchinson writes about music for Westword and enjoys playing his guitar when not on deadline.
Contact: Nick Hutchinson