A motet, defined in the world of Western classical music, is a composition of mostly voices, diverse in form and style, dating all the way back to medieval times; a polyphonic form of Renaissance music described by scholars as “a piece of music in several parts.”
Today, we might call such a layered musical conglomeration simply … a jam. Maybe that’s where the head of drummer Dave Watts was back in 1998 when he founded what would become one of Colorado’s (and the world’s) most well-loved live bands: The Motet.
With a cast of inspired instrumentalists and vocalists over twenty-plus years, The Motet have maintained those ancient concepts of musical polyphony, though always laying an ever-fresh coat of funk, rock, soul and jazz on top. The band is known for surprising their die-hard audiences with top-tier special guests, but have other tricks, and indeed treats, up their sleeves too.
Every October since 2000, the world-traveling entourage return to their native Colorado, offering their home state arguably the highlight of their touring season: their legendary Halloween shows. Since the onset of the idea, Watts and crew have themed their Halloween affairs by costuming and musically interpreting beloved acts from The Beatles to Prince, The Grateful Dead to The Talking Heads and even Madonna.
“In 2001 our singer was out with another artist,” Watts tells BandWagon, ”but we had a show booked at the Fox Theater in Boulder. We needed to come up with an instrumental concept, so we covered the music of Herbie Hancock. We repeated that concept for the next 17 years!”
As of 2013, the band – who’s current core members are Watts, guitarist Ryan Jalbert, bassist Garrett Sayers, keyboardist Joey Porter, and saxophonist Drew Sayers – have taken an even more “polyphonic” approach to the Halloween concept, spreading their selection across a particular year and covering an evening’s-worth of hits from that year’s Billboard chart.
As for this year, Watts says “these are strange times indeed, but people are as hungry as ever to hear live music,” promising the shows will be “proper Halloween shows – as exciting for us and our audience as any shows we’ve played over the last 20 years.”
Though with no mixtape or specific band as the theme, Watts promises it will deliver. “This year we are bringing Natalie Cressman, Ari Teitel, plus Gabe Mervine & Will Trask for the CO shows and will be playing a lot of new material and some really fun new covers,” he says.
So while audiences in Boulder and Fort Collins may not know exactly what to expect from this year’s Motet Halloween affair, one thing’s for sure: the band delivers a killer show with musical chops so good it’s scary.
105.5 The Colorado Sound presents The Motet LIVE at Washington’s in Fort Collins on Friday, October 29; Tickets at washingonsfoco.com. Listen to the Motet at 105.5FM and on the web at coloradosound.org