On display Friday at the Aggie Theater was the new-and-improved Tony Furtado band, with an admirable array of musicianship that has been somewhat lacking this year from the Fort Collins music scene.
Those who have enjoyed listening to the banjo-picking sounds of Tony Furtado in recent years already appreciate the skills of the widely traveled musician. While Furtado provided the audience with plenty of his well-known banjo-centered bluegrass staples, he also allowed a peek into his metamorphosis as an electric, blues-based musician. The transformation, which has occurred over the last few years through Furtado's re-discovery of his rock roots, proves that Furtado is a musician who can push the boundaries of more than one music genre.
Music fans willing to spend the $15 for the all-ages show were well rewarded. Opening for Furtado was Rusted Root front man Michael Glabicki, who warmed the crowd up with his one-man acoustic performance. Glabicki performed admirably, mixing in a combination of his own original songs with just enough Rusted Root covers to keep the audience interested.
Furtado began his first set with a recognizable display of finger work on both the acoustic guitar as well as the banjo. His fans were quickly drawn into the dizzying array of blues, rock and bluegrass, which was seemingly on display at all times. The addition of words to accompany the string exhibition provided the audience with a different side to the musician than previous listeners may have been accustomed to.
As a special treat, Furtado was joined on stage toward the end of the set by renowned pedal-steel guitarist Sally Van Meter. Those who have been around the Colorado jam-music scene would no doubt recognize Van Meter from her days performing with acts such as Leftover Salmon and Bela Fleck.
Van Meter's drawn-out notes added the perfect accompaniment to Furtado's precision playing throughout the second set. The musicians displayed a genuine sense of enjoyment onstage that seems hard to achieve in larger, less intimate settings. The fact that the music played well past last call only seemed to reinforce the feeling of enjoyment by both the musicians and the audience.