music / Columns

Jam Central Station: The Motet

May 18, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



Despite being around for over 20 years, The Motet often don’t get the recognition that they deserve as influencers and forebearers of the modern funk/jam movement. Maybe it’s the fact that they have had some significant turnover throughout the years (the only original member is drummer/bandleader Dave Watts), maybe it’s the fact that they weren’t based in a funk hotbed (Colorado), but, whatever the reason, The Motet deserves much more credit than they get. The band has had amazing staying power, great versatility, and put on one of the best dance parties you’re going to see.

The band was initially founded as The Dave Watts Motet and consisted of ever-changing cast of characters. The vision was primarily Watts, but he took great care in reaching out to some of the best musicians he could find to collaborate with. Plenty of names passed through the group but Watts was the ever-present bandleader and served as both producer and creative force for the band. They moved through funk, jazz, and afrobeat, always building grooves to make people party. They also early on took to creating themed shows, particularly for their Halloween shows where they would put together full sets dedicated to artists such as Prince, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Tower of Power.

By the mid 2000’s they established some continuity, with Watts on drums, Ryan Jalbert on guitar, Joey Porter on keys, Jans Ingber on vocals, Garrett Sayers on bass, and Scott Messersmith on percussion. This lineup helped the band truly take off. 2006’s Instrumental Dissent was a relative success for the band, and 2009’s Dig Deep went in a very solid afrobeat direction. Messersmith left the band in 2011, but Ingber was able to step up and add percussion as well as his vocal duties, and the band had no problem continuing to move forward. Their Halloween shows were fan favorites, they were touring clubs and ballrooms around the country, and they had the opportunity to work with artists many well-known funk musicians.

After taking a few years off of recording, they released a self-titled album in 2014. This album showed a much more collaborative effort, a departure from how the band had previously operated. Everyone participated in brainstorming ideas and writing on the album. The result was an extremely tight sounding funky album that forced those who hadn’t paid much attention to the band to this point to take notice. Unfortunately, in 2015 Jans Ingber left the band. They quickly added Lyle Divinsky to vocals, and his energetic style made him more than capable of performing as the frontman for the group.

2016 saw the band release Totem, an album that quickly established Divinsky as a key member of the group due to his impressive vocal work. It was another collaborative effort, and the band even brought in Eric Krasno to produce the effort. They became regular performers at many festivals, including performing multiple sets and special “mixtape” sets at many events.

After releasing a live effort in 2016 the band didn’t put anything out until 2019’s Death or Devotion. The album would’ve fit right in with the funk and soul of the late 70’s, but it’s far from a being retro. Divinsky continued to make his mark on the band with this one, and the band continued to achieve their collective goal of creating dance music without falling into the trap of repetative pop.

Over recent years The Motet has become one of the top funk draws on the jam band circuit. They’re often seen late night alongside bands like Lettuce or Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and they have been headlining Red Rocks for years. They have all of the talent, diversity, and showmanship to have earned their spot. After 20 years they show every indication of continuing to grow and move into new directions.



String Cheese Incident announce dates
The String Cheese Incident added two new multi-day runs to their 25th anniversary tour. The band will be at Stubb’s in Austin from October 31-November 2 and will head to Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre from November 7-9.

Turkuaz announces two EPs
Turkuaz announced a pair of EP’s for release this year as their follow up to 2018’s Life In The City. Afterlife Vol. 1 was released earlier this week, and Volume 2 is set for release this summer. These EPs contain tracks that were recorded during the same sessions as Life In The City.

Umphrey’s McGee to head to Iceland
Umphrey’s McGee will be heading to Reykjavík from March 20-22, 2020. The band will play three nights at the Elborg Hall.

Yonder Mountain String Band add dates
The Yonder Mountain String band added a handful of dates to their summer schedule. As usual, the band will be on the road throughout festival season. The current set of dates take them through their Red Rocks appearance in August.

July 19–20 North Plains, OR – Northwest String Summit
July 24 Hartford, CT – Infinity Music Hall and Bistro
July 25 Asbury Park, NJ – The Stone Pony
July 26 McKees Rocks, PA – Roxian Theatre
July 27 Baldwinsville, NY – Paper Mill Island – Baldwinsville, NY
July 28 Scranton, PA – The Peach Music Festival
July 31 Columbus, OH – A&R Music Bar
Aug 1 Lexington, KY – The Burl
Aug 2 Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
Aug 9 Kansas City, MO – Crossroads KC
Aug 16 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre


May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Lotus, TAUK, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass (3 nights), Del & Dawg, Stephen Marley, Billy Strings, Hiss Golden Messenger, Circles around the Sun, Ghost Light, The Rebirth Brass Band, Bombino

June 13-16
Manchester, TN
Phish, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, GRiZ, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Jim James, Trampled By Turtles, The Wood Brothers, Shovels & Rope, The Record Company

Mountain Jam
June 13-16
Bethel Woods
Bethel, NY
Willie Nelson & Family, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, The Avett Brothers, The Revivalists, Twiddle, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dispatch, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Michael Franti & Spearhead

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, CO
Brandi Carlisle, Sam Bush Band, Jim James, Greensky Bluegrass, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon: Stories from the Living Room, Punch Brothers, Railroad Earth

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY
moe., Drive By Truckers, Spafford, God Street Wine, Everyone Orchestra, Cory Wong, Max Creek

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Umphrey’s McGee, Dispatch, Del McCoury Band, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, TAUK, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

4848 Festival
July 11-13
Snowshoe Mountain
Snowshoe, WV
Greensky Bluegrass, Umphrey’s McGee, The Infamous Stringdusters, Lettuce, Railroad Earth, Marcus King Band, Billy Strings, Turkuaz, Fruition

Ride Festival
July 12-14
Telluride, CO
Widespread Panic, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Big Something

Camp Bisco
July 18-20
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Werk Out
August 1-3
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
The Werks, Big Gigantic, Claypool Lennon Delirium, The Floozies, Twiddle, Matisyahu, Turkuaz, Melvin Seals & JGB

Woodstock 50
August 16-18
Watkins Glen, NY
Dead & Co., Santana, Robert Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlisle, Hot Tuna, Gary Clark Jr., John Fogerty, Margo Price, Marcus King Band.

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA
Trey Anasasio Band w/ Derek Trucks, Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Trey Anastasio, Bob Weir & Wolf Bros. w/ Susan Tedeschi, Otiel & Friends w/ Bob Weir, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, The Revivalists, Gary Clark Jr., Old Crow Medicine Show, moe., Twiddle

Borderlands Festival
September 21-22
Knox Farm State Park, NY
Greensky Bluegrass, Gov’t Mule, Shakey Graves, Mavis Staples, The Wood Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams Grateful Grass, Rayland Baxter

Strings & Sol
December 12-16
Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, The Del McCoury Band, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman

Jam Cruise
January 7-12
Miami, FL
The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz, moe., Galactic, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce, Lotus, Circles Around the Sun

Jam In The Sand
January 14-18
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, Melvin Seals & JGB, Donna the Buffalo


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!