No one would guess that within the walls of a nondescript industrial building off of I-70, one of the most promising new jam bands in the Denver scene, Vine Street Vibes (VSV), has been hard at work perfecting what they call “structured improv” for the last two years. You may not have heard of them yet, but you would be wise to take note, as this quintet has been barging its way into the Denver jam scene over the past months. Comprised of Zack Smith (guitar), Carl Cox (sax/keys), Dylan Buddeke (Bass), Garrett G. (percussion), and Dustin Cross (drums), the Vine Street Vibes have shared the stage with Werks, Sunsquabi, Gift of Gab, The Magic Beans, and many more on top of playing headlining gigs of their own.  Given their already impressive track record and a swelling fan base, VSV is poised for great things in 2015.

Born from the remnants of two discarded musical projects, the Vibes have been diligently perfecting their sound—a funky, jam-infused space odyssey for the ears and the soul—since December of 2012. “We just had our two-year anniversary,” drummer Dustin Cross tells us we catch up with the band in the courtyard of their practice facility, “that’s how we remember it—our first show together was on 12/12/12.” Unsurprisingly, their sound is influenced by (electronic) jam bands like STS9, Lotus,  and Umphrey’s McGee, but guitarist Zack Smith mentions that the goal isn’t necessarily to copy those bands, but to learn from them and make a style all their own. Of course, after hearing the Vibes jam with such natural chemistry, you would be forgiven for thinking that the band has been at it for much longer than just two years.

The five gentlemen have an uncanny ability to improvise and coordinate jams with each other on the fly; on top of that, they never play a song the same way twice. “My favorite part [about playing live] is trying to come up with new and intriguing ways to change a song,” bassist Dylan Buddeke tells us as his bandmates nod in agreement. “Our songs have a skeleton that we know and stick to, but then the rest of the time we are filling in the blanks, so every show we play is different,” Cross elaborates. In past shows they’ve even been joined on stage by a violinist and various hip-hop emcees. Any way you slice it, though, one thing is for sure—when you see the Vine Street Vibes play, you are in for one hell of a show.

Although they haven’t done much traveling outside of the state, VSV has been reeling crowds into whatever venue they are playing, making for a very busy 2014 and an even busier 2015. Most recently, the group released their first bona fide studio single, “Iridescence,” which is an early taste of an EP that will be released sometime during the next year. The band was also recently featured on an episode of Denver Loft Sessions on Denver channel 8.  And that’s just the beginning of VSV’s ambitious start to the year. Currently the group is slated to play Beanstalk Music Festival, a 3-day fest at the State Bridge Amphitheater in Vail Valley. On top of that, they are duking it out in the Road to Summercamp contest (March 5th at Cervantes Other Side) for a chance to play at the renowned Illinois festival. And if that weren’t enough there may be a couple of surprise collaborations in the future for these guys. “ I always thought it would be sweet to collaborate with Sunsquabi,” says keys-man Carl Cox,” they have sort of an edge that we don’t have…I think that would be a well-rounded sound.” Guitarist Zack Smith adds that there has also been talk about potential collaborations with other local acts like Project Aspect and Lost Optical. But we’ll just have to wait see about all of that.

Throughout our chat with the band, it becomes apparent that Vine Street Vibes embody the very essence of the Denver music scene. They are motivated, forward-thinking, and ambitious, but most of all they are just eager to get on stage and jam out while the crowd boogies down. As we return to their practice room, a dank, cramped hole in the wall that happens to be in the same building as a seasonal haunted house, the band agrees on one final note to add, “One of our biggest goals for 2015 is get out of this dump!” If VSV keeps jamming at their current pace that definitely seems like a possibility.


Want to hear more about Vine Street Vibes? Check out our full interview with the band, and connect with them through their various social networks. Be sure to catch them live at the Armoury on Valentine’s Day, and show your support at the Road to Summercamp at Cervantes Other Side on March 5th.

Photo Credit: Jim Mimna (J. Mimna Photography)