Written by: Bradley Darby
Old Rock House continued their assault on my bank account Wednesday night, as one my favorite live acts in the past few years, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers (SK6ers) came through St. Louis on The Amazing Fall Tour. This is a band I had discovered by accident, when they opened for O.A.R. at The Pageant in 2005. The reason I say by accident is due to the fact that my friends and I had gotten so inebriated by the time we got to The Pageant, we only saw the openers before blacking out during O.A.R. (Writers note: I hate ‘that guy’ but this was my first time seeing O.A.R. after legally being able to drink at one of their shows, so I went for broke, I am still convinced this show may not have actually happened)
Stephen Kellogg fronts the group, and also plays guitar and harmonica. He is joined by regulars Kit Karlson, better known as “Goose” who plays keys, bass, and tuba. Brian “Boots” Factor plays drums, mandolin, and the banjo. Though they don’t exclusively stick to these instruments, you can frequently find them switching it up for a song or two, a practice they get from one of their heroes, The Band. They were joined on this tour by electric guitarist, pedal steel player, bassist Sam “Steamer” Getz, who we learned was called Steamer because of his ties to Cleveland. Insert inappropriate joke here.
SK6ers have played over 1000 shows together dating back to 2003 when the group was formed in Western Massachusetts. By early 2005 they had made a big enough impression that O.A.R. decided to offer them a support slot on their spring tour, a move that SK6ers views as one of the biggest breaks early in their career. They have also supported folk hero Keller Williams, Martin Sexton, and Matt Nathanson. They have released four full length albums, in addition to a live EP / DVD combo called The First Waltz (also a tribute to The Band), a few solo EPs by Kellogg, and their most recent release, Live from the Heart, a double disc live album that captures their 1000th show as a band from New York City which was recorded in June 2010.
The set began with “Fathers Day”, a beautifully written song Kellogg wrote after the birth of his kids, from 2007’s Glassjaw Boxer. He followed it up with “My Old Man” from The Bear, released in 2009, a song he wrote with the rest of the band about their dads. After a few selections from their 2006 self-titled album, “Maria” and “Start the Day Early” they brought out members of the two opening acts, Roy Jay and Small Ponds, to help out with “Big Easy”, a song that features Marc Roberge from O.A.R. on the studio version. The band was on fire and having an absolute blast on stage in front of the 100 or so people there to see them.
After band introductions, the Sixers walked off the stage one by one and left Stephen Kellogg by himself. He played an awesome acoustic version of “Satisfied Man” from The Bear. The following song was the highlight of the evening for me as the rest of the band came out and with a few guitar and a mandolin and performed “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead. One of my favorite songs ever, covered by Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, and it included a mandolin solo. I could leave this show right now a satisfied man, but they were only about half way through the set.
The set ended with “See Yourself” and “Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts” both from The Bear, followed by an oldie but goodie, and always a crowd favorite, “Uninspired Gambling” from an early solo release Lucky Eleven. The set was closed out with “Milwaukee”, which also appeared on Glassjaw Boxer. After a very brief departure, the band came back out and again took their place in front of a backdrop reading ‘STL GATEWAY TO THE SK6ERS’ and treated the crowd to three more songs, “Such A Way”, “Wagon Wheel”, a cover of a classic Old Crow Medicine Show song, and “4th of July.” This was the perfect ending to a fantastic set….or so we thought. After yet again another brief departure, and no sign of the all ages crowd departing, the guys came back out to close the night out with “Thirteen”, a song that is almost a staple in a SK6ers live show.
This was my sixth time enjoying the band live, and each time I have left wanting more. This show offered a mix of his entire catalog, not to mention covers of The Dead and Old Crow Medicine Show. They are on stage doing what they love, having an absolute blast doing it. You may get some funny stories about the songs, you may get some funny stories about the younger days adventures and shenanigans of Goose and Boots, but you know you will be seeing a fantastic songwriter open his heart up on stage each and every night, with two of his best friends sharing the stage.
1. Father’s Day
2. My Old Man
4. Start the Day Early
5. Big Easy (feat members of Roy Jay and Small Ponds)
6. The Bear
7. See You Later, See you Soon
8. Satisfied Man (SK solo)
9. Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead, acoustic)
10. See Yourself
11. Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts
12. Uninspired Gambling
14. Such a Way
15. Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show)
16. 4th of July