True story: Salida, 1999 FIBArk festival. The Victoria Tavern is literally packed with hundreds of tanned tourists, locals and visiting boat people. Even though the sun has set, it's humid as hell and everyone's face sports a wet sheen. The crowded mass of bodies, swelling and swaying in front of the stage, is dancing to one of the nation's most respected Grateful Dead tribute bands, Shakedown Street. Suddenly the music stops. Someone runs to call 911, because the drummer has collapsed.
No one is quite sure what happened. Perhaps he had a heart attack, or maybe he hit himself in the head with one of his own drumsticks while in the midst of a jam. In any case, he's out. Lights and sirens clear the street outside the bar. Once the musician is secure inside, the ambulance screams away toward the hospital. The dancers move away from the throng at the stage, thinking that the evening's entertainment has come to a close. Not so, as 20 minutes later the ambulance screeches up to the side door of the Tavern, its red and blue lights illuminating the street. The drummer is helped down from the vehicle and gently led back into the bar and up to the stage. He sits down, takes a deep breath and begins to play.
This is the kind of dedication that has kept Shakedown Street in the limelight for 13 years. That, and a touring schedule that racks up about 50,000 miles a year traveling around the Rocky Mountains. The band is much admired for their absolute respect for the Dead as well as for their musical proficiency. All in all, Shakedown Street is one of the best bands in the region. They're only playing Colorado Springs once this spring, so don't miss them at the Music Hall Friday night. Tickets to the all-ages show are $5; call 447-9797.