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Fridays on the Plaza's June lineup will bring the funk

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One of The Pamlico Sound’s last shows before the COVID-19 pandemic forced theaters to close was Feb. 21, 2020. Andrew Wyatt/courtesy

One of the first times Taylor Scott ever saw a live band was at Fridays on the Plaza around the age of 10. Just five-some years later, he was on that very stage, performing for his fellow Cheyenne natives.

“We used to play it every year, sometimes more than once, all through high school,” said Scott, who went on to become a professional musician. “Now I don’t get up there as often, but I’m excited to play this one, in particular, because it’s kind of a homecoming-type vibe … those are the types of stages where I learned how to be on stage in the first place.”

Next week marks the start of what’s been marketed as the biggest year yet for Fridays on the Plaza, with a lineup featuring bands from as far away as New York and Nashville who will play for free at Cheyenne Depot Plaza. Taylor Scott Band is one of the eight groups on the series’ June lineup, which features everything from funk and soul bands to reggae and hip-hop artists.

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After Taylor Scott graduated from Central High School in 2012, he went straight into touring with a Mississippi blues band for nearly a year, then started playing with blues musician Otis Taylor. Charla Harvey/courtesy

Opening the “heartbeat of summer 2021” series on June 4 is Denver-based, seven-piece funk rock band Float Like a Buffalo, which played its first Cheyenne show in October at The Lincoln.

“I grew up racing motocross, and we used to always have a race there in Cheyenne a few times a year, so my impression of Cheyenne was just open plains and open fields, and lots and lots of wind,” said lead vocalist and guitarist Cory Pearman. “I’d never been to downtown Cheyenne before. And the moment we walked into The Lincoln theater, we just fell in love. … it felt good to get in front of some brand-new audiences and throw down a show and play our hearts out.”

The support shown at the group’s Cheyenne debut meant the world to Pearman, who is excited to come back next week and grow the band’s local audience even more (and then again at their Aug. 15 return to The Lincoln).

His bandmate, lead guitarist James Steinbach, said getting back on the road to play live shows again has been thrilling – especially because it means a departure from playing for virtual crowds – and he wants Cheyenne residents to be ready to dance June 4.

“I feel like my ultimate goal is to put on the best possible show every time,” he said. “A lot of bands think ‘Well, we can’t go too hard on the first one, because then we got nothing left for the second one,’ but in our opinion, go as hard as you can on that first one and then just do a better job on the second one … provide that escape, especially when a lot of people haven’t been out of their homes in a year and a half.”

Boulder, Colorado-based contemporary funk and soul band The Pamlico Sound is opening for Float Like a Buffalo, and frontman Will Baumgartner said the group’s March 12 show at Boulder Theater marked an epic comeback after one of the most difficult years to be an artist.

“It just was almost overwhelming,” he said of that first show. “It doesn’t really become real until you’re out there, how much you’ve missed it, and how much you’ve missed seeing people and watching when you play the first few notes of a song, and they jump up and start dancing. It’s just amazing. There are few things in life that have made me happier than that.”

Scott completely agrees. Being on a forced hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic made him realize just how deep his passion for performing music cuts, and how precious of a gift it was to lose.

“You never consider that it might be taken away from you or what that might feel like,” he said. “This is basically who I am. And I didn’t really realize the degree to which I felt that way deep, deep down until it got jerked away … I feel like I used to have the power to fly, but had to not fly for a year and figure out how to use my feet.”

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Float Like a Buffalo jams out in February at The Oriental Theater in Denver. Chad Zellmer/courtesy

Scott is getting his wings back now that he’s back on the road – and after recording some new music with Steve Berlin of Los Lobos producing – and this hometown show with band The Broadcast will kick off his packed summer tour culminating in a performance at FloydFest musical festival.

The Pamlico Sound has never played in Cheyenne, let alone Wyoming, so Baumgartner is eager to expand the band’s audience – especially at a free show that’s accessible to people of all backgrounds.

To some degree, that kind of accessibility makes for some of the most important shows, Baumgartner added. Like Float Like a Buffalo’s, he believes The Pamlico Sound’s appeal is quite broad, so getting all ages walking in off the street is beneficial because it’s an organic way to grow a fanbase.

“To play a show like this where it’s just ‘Hey, everybody in town, there’s a show going on’ and people just come out there, you know, 90% of those people are people who wouldn’t have found us otherwise,” he said. “We just can’t wait to see them.”

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Members of Float Like a Buffalo pose for a photo in August 2020 at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Sarah Shuel/courtesy

Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter at @niki_mariee.

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