Papadosio

The funk-rock-electronica band Papadosio returns to Telluride this weekend. The band is, from left to right, Billy Brouse, Rob McConnell, Mike Healy, Anthony Thogmartin and Sam Brouse. (Courtesy photo)

If you’re starting off the new decade with toes tapping, ready to groove to fresh beats, you’re in good hands this weekend as the progressive rock-electronica band Papadosio comes to town for a two-night engagement at the Sheridan Opera House. The band will play shows Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m., with tickets starting at $30.

You may be wondering what exactly “progressive rock-electronica” means, and indeed, the music of Papadosio does not lend itself to labels or boxes. Somewhere in between jazzed-up experimentalism, the psychedelic improvisation of popular jam bands and the dazzling technicolor light shows of modern concerts, you’ll find Papadosio leading crowds on a sonic journey of sound and light and neatly evading the tidy labels of genre.

Even the band’s name speaks to their genre-defying ethos: Papadosio was chosen as the band’s name precisely because it was a word with no prior meaning or connotations. From the beginning, the band’s musical mission centered around blending styles of music not traditionally combined, as well as incorporating electronic elements into original creations that “celebrate the one constant in an ever-changing world: music,” according to a news release. With Anthony Thogmartin on vocals and guitar, Mike Healy on drums, Rob McConnell on bass and vocals, and brothers Billy and Sam Brouse on keyboard and vocals, the band uses modern technology such as modular synthesizers, pedals and sequencers as much as their traditional instruments to create exploratory-yet-danceable soundscapes.

Papadosio was born in 2006, when band members met at a weekly open jam at a bar in Athens, Ohio. They quickly realized they shared musical tastes and began to meet outside the jam to see what might become of a creative collaboration. It clicked, and soon Papadosio was formed. After a few years, the band relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, and now, 14 years after those fateful jam sessions, the band has criss-crossed the country countless times and played multiple packed-out shows at Red Rocks and other iconic venues. This weekend the band returns to Telluride for the second winter in a row.

"Papadosio put on a killer show last time they were here at their sold out January 2019 concert,” said Maggie Stevens, Sheridan Opera House marketing director. “I'm so excited to have them come back for two nights of their crazy fusion of rock, electronic and funk. They bill themselves as space rock. What's cooler than that?"

While their groovy, experimental musical creations are the most visible aspect of Papadosio, they also aim to promote a higher level of unity through the shared experience of music. The band has cited philosophical influences such Alan Watts and Carl Sagan, and the music is meant to transport listeners to a mindset of higher consciousness as much as it is meant to provide the grounds for a dance party. The band’s heavy use of technology also comes with deep reflection on the realities, both positive and negative, of our tech-addicted society.

In the song “The World is a Cube,” from the 2018 album “Content Coma,” vocalist and keyboard player Billy Brouse sings, “The internet has made me smarter than you, I’ve looked it up and I’m certain it’s true.” The album, with its titular nod to the overwhelming and at times paralyzing amount of information available to the modern individual, nudges listeners to reflect on how technology can both connect and alienate us.

Yet music, and live music especially, can be a powerful antidote to a world of increasingly insular lifestyles. Papadosio has become well-known for their colorful and engaging live performances.

On Saturday evening, Papadosio will be joined by opening act The Jauntee, a blues funk jam band from Cambridge, Massachusetts. With Scott Ferber on drums, Caton Sollenberger on guitar, Tyler Adams on keys and John Loland on bass, the band lists intergalactic space jaunts, whiskey, friendship and water as interests, and aims to create their own unique musical experience that transcends mere entertainment.