by Tim Van Schmidt
This is an unusually exciting weekend for live music, so here’s a round-up of all the fine concert choices:
The 24-7 Spyz are back and they are tougher and funkier than ever.
Their newest release is a first on the Boulder-based record label What Are Records? and a first for guitarist Jimi Hazel, who has taken over the vocal chores for the band.
But the album, “Heavy Metal Soul by the Pound,” maintains the tough, confident swagger the band developed as a leader in the funk rock movement in the late 1980’s. Add in, however, new strains of soul and some funky jamming and it becomes clear that the 24-7 Spyz haven’t been loafing in the four years since their last release.
“Heavy Metal Soul by the Pound” can be hard and confrontive- even offensive- on tunes like “Love and Peace,” but then again there’s some lush strings deepening the song “Free to Be.” “Simple Minded Simon” creeps along with a heavy metal crunch while “El Lame” breaks out into a funky jam. The band’s new music is bigger, prouder and louder while wider and more textured.
The 24-7 Spyz will be showcasing this bright new chapter of their career tonight at the Starlight.
Steve Miller: The numbers don’t lie- the Steve Miller Band remains a vital force in the music industry.
For instance, in 1996, the band broke the attendance record at Pittsburgh’s Star Lake Amphitheater for the fifth year in a row, prompting promoters to re-name the venue the “Miller Dome” for the appearance.
In the last 8 years, the concert industry magazine Pollstar has reported that the Steve Miller Band has sold over2.5 million concert tickets.
In 1997, Miller’s music is back in the top ten on three f Billboard’s charts with Seal’s rendition of “Fly Like An Eagle,” a song also recently covered by jazz diva Nancy Wilson. Miller’s own version of the song peaked at number two on the charts in 1977 and has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide to date.
This is Miller’s 29th year of recording and touring. To celebrate, Miller and his band, featuring Norton Buffalo on harmonica, are embarking on a special 52-date tour called the “Jokers Ball.” The play list will certainly include old favorites, but also new stuff, including tunes Miller recently recorded with Paul McCartney.
The Jokers Ball Tour includes a date at the US Air Force Academy tonight, and a show at Moby Arena at CSU on Saturday.
Curandero: Enjoy a mixture of flamenco and classical Indian music when Curandero brings their unique music to the Bas Bleu Theatre on Sunday.
Meaning “healer or folk doctor,” the word “Curandero” also aptly names this adventurous duo made up of Miguel Espinoza on flamenco guitar and Ty Burhoe on tabla. The pair blend the passionate traditions of flamenco music with the intricate classical rhythms of North India for a unique spin on world music fusion.
Espinoza and Burhoe will be joined by bassist Eric Thorin for their 7:30 pm performance at Bas Bleu.
Pure Pleasure: Welcome a new blues venue to the Fort Collins scene. The Lincoln Street Grill- at 1901 East Lincoln- will be featuring live music in the future and is kicking things off on Saturday with a performance by Boulder-based blues and rock band Pure Pleasure. The band mixes high energy blues-rock originals with covers of greats such as Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Albert Collins.
Hot Dates: The Music City of the Rockies Festival ’97,showcasing regional music, will be running at a variety of Fort Collins venues tonight through Sunday.
Tonight and Saturday, the Swallow Hill Music Association presents a new blues festival, the Roots of the Blues. Friday’s event features John Jackson and Saturday features Cephas and Wiggins and Alvin Youngblood Hart.
Also tonight, the Wallflowers are at the Ogden Theatre in Denver and Paul Searles is at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection.
On Saturday, the Descendents are at the Ogden and Bacatcha is at the Coffee Connection. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones begin a three-night stand at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Tuesday.
Things often change and grow out of necessity.
That’s been the case for Fort Collins-based “world groove” band, the Atoll. The group began playing locally as a trio on Thanksgiving night seven years ago. Now, after numerous personnel transitions, the band has four members, an expanded sound and are touring nationally.
“We played in 22 states over the summer,” Atoll guitarist, vocalist and founder Cary Morin said. “We went from Texas up to Montana, over to Michigan and down to Indiana, playing clubs, festivals and colleges. It was a lot of fun…and a lot of driving.”
Riding out the changes from a three-piece to a four-piece, and then from player to player within the new format, Morin has watched the Atoll grow and mature. The current line-up also includes bassist Craig Fowler, percussionist Peter Knudson and drummer Crip Erickson, musicians who have committed themselves to the rigors of the road- and become part of a fresh and vigorous group as a result.
“That’s what happens when you take a bunch of new guys out for four weeks of driving around- you come back a new band,” Morin said. “On the road, we’d be working hard, playing a lot and talking in the van while we were traveling about what we could work on and improve. All of that pulled us together as a band.”
The hard work has resulted in a big, open sound where earthy dance rhythms underscore Morin’s cool lead guitar work. Meanwhile, Morin’s distinctive vocal crooning rises and falls through tunes that more often than not have some kind of funky hop to them. The grooves are long and strong and the music-laced with rock and reggae influences- generally fills the dance floor wherever they play.
In turn, the Atoll has discovered that the joy the band has given to its fans has resulted in ready help in a time of need- like when their band vehicle was stolen in a recent tour stop in Albuquerque, NM.
“The thieves hit a curb four blocks from where we were staying. They probably couldn’t figure out how to change the tire, so they abandoned it and took just what they could carry. We didn’t lose much but the repairs were expensive,” Morin said.
“For the rest of the trip, when we told people about what happened, we received such kindness from everyone. That’s really how we got home…That’s the sort of generosity that we bump into all across the country.”
Thanks to a successful agency agreement with a Los Angeles booking firm, the Atoll remains busy on the road. The group has also been working in the studio, producing recordings for the Atoll’s third CD release, due in early 1998.
Meanwhile, the group continues to be a local favorite and was recently named best local band for the fourth year in a row in the Rocky Mountain Collegian’s “Best of CSU” poll.
Still, even on their home turf, there’s room for growth.
“I’ve had people come up to me in Fort Collins and ask me where we’re from,” Morin said. “We may not play in Colorado as much as we used to, but we’re still here, we still are making quality music and I think the action on the dance floor really reflects that.”
The Atoll will be at Linden’s tonight, for one night only.
Hot dates: Tonight, the Better Half and Him are at the Coffee Connection, Dave Kimball is at Lucky Joe’s and Way Out West is at the Sundance.
On Saturday, the Freddi Henchi Band is at Linden’s, Sho’Nuff is at the Starlight and Chief Broom is at the New York Cafe. Also on Saturday, Fubar II is at the County Cork and Stewart Lewis is at the Coffee Connection.
Peter Kater and Nawang Khechog is at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Sunday and Steve Murray hosts an open mic at Woody’s on Tuesday.
Upcoming New Year’s Eve entertainment: Inasense at the New York Cafe, Diana Castro and the Big Time at Linden’s, Mission 19 at Lucky Joe’s, the Snowy River Band at the Sundance and Cowtown Boogie at Avogadro’s Number.
Call it “spunk rock.”
Bands like San Diego trio Blink 182 take the basics of raw garage punk, refine it, add goof-ball humor and a keen sense of melody to turn it into a fun burst of energy.
On their most recent release on Cargo Music/MCA Records, “Dude Ranch”, Blink 182’s music and message is positive while maintaining an obnoxious attitude; is heavy on grungy electric guitar while full of great melody hooks.
There’s plenty of angst- about relationships and life directions- but that gets blown away by the catchy rhythms. If anything gets taken to the edge, it’s not the loud, but precise rock Blink 182 issues, it’s the nutty “toilet humor” the band is only too proud to display- especially in a gross-out bit at the end of the album.
As a leading band in the surf, skate and snowboarding scenes, Blink 182 lives for the thrill of reckless fun. They have been included on Taylor Steele’s surf videos and have toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Japan and Australia.
Blink 182’s most recent video, “Damn It,” has just debuted on MTV and the band has snagged a slot for the second year in a row on the Warped Tour, set for Sunday at the CU Fieldhouse in Boulder.
The Warped Tour, a Lollapalooza-style moving festival for the surf and skateboarding crowd, this year brings bands like Blink 182 together with national acts like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Social Distortion and regional bands like the Psychodelic Zombiez.
Happy Birthday: Now that the construction dust has settled and Linden’s has reopened with a dynamic new look, it’s time to take care of some old business- namely, celebrating the club’s 15th anniversary.
Linden’s real anniversary is in February, but due to extensive remodeling, the mainstay nightclub had to postpone their annual anniversary bash. But now they’re ready to party in the usual style- with 12 hours of live music and lots of “grand re-opening” specials.
The Linden’s 15 year anniversary celebration is on Saturday, starting at 1:30 pm, and features live sets by Walter Jenkins, the Kyle Roberts Blues Revival, Coy Kindred, JD and the Love Bandits and Diana Castro and the Big Time.
Folk Festival: The 14th annual Boulder Folk and Bluegrass Festival will feature Dar Williams, Jonathan Edwards, Laughing Hands and the Velveeta Sisters at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder on Saturday.
In 1996, Williams emerged as a top singer-songwriter, the first single from her recent album, “Mortal City,” cracking the influential Radio & Records Top 30, as well as rating high on the Gavin, AAA, Americana, Album Network and CMJ Adult Alternative charts.
Williams recorded “Mortal City” in her home in rural western Massachusetts with producer Steven Miller, who has also worked with Jane Siberry, Marianne Faithful and Suzanne Vega. Since then, she has been touring extensively in both Europe and America with folk diva Joan Baez.
Edwards earned a gold record in 1971 for his song “Sunshine,” but he has been busy with a wide diversity of projects since then. Those include releasing a children’s album which was picked by the National Library Association as a “Notable Children’s Recording,” taking a tour with a Broadway musical and producing other artists such as Cheryl Wheeler.
Add the instrumental wizardry of Laughing Hands and the high energy swing, rockabilly and blues of the Velveeta Sisters and you have a full evening of entertainment.
Hot Dates: Liz Barnez will be at the Lincoln Center on Friday. On Saturday, area guitarist Dave Beegle and singer-songwriter Keith Rosenhagen will be playing sets before and after a presentation by poet Li-Young Lee for “Poets in the Park” at the Foote Lagoon in Loveland.
This weekend’s American Music Festival in Winter Park brings Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair to the ski slopes on Saturday. The Dave Matthews Band headlines on Sunday along with Matthew Sweet and Shawn Colvin. Ben Harper will be at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Monday and at the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Tuesday. The Indigo Girls are at Red Rocks on Thursday.
Newly transplanted Boston singer-songwriter Christopher Williams couldn’t help but be blown away by his recent experiences at the Folk Alliance conference in Toronto.
After all, the event is contemporary acoustic music’s biggest annual event.
“It’s huge,” Williams said by phone. “The Folk Alliance conference is a whole weekend in Toronto with just so many talented people gathered together in one place. It’s fun for everyone to see each other and it’s overwhelmingly supportive.”
That feeling of support is what made Williams move from Seattle to the Boston area last September. In Boston, acoustic-flavored music rules.
“This is a hotbed,” Williams said. “There are tons of venues, musicians and radio support. That’s a lot different from Seattle. In Boston, everywhere you look there’s press support. It’s already established.”
Williams has responded to his new environment by standing shoulder to shoulder with personal heroes like Boston-area singer-songwriters Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert. He’s being easily accepted into the Boston music scene thanks to the connections he’s made touring and to the innovative strength of his most recent independent album release, “One Man Service Station.”
“One Man Service Station” is a rich and flavorful musical journey, featuring music that blasts past “the folk border” into an exciting and invigorating sound.
Making the album was an “amazing experience” for Williams, and so is the opportunity to hone his skills as a showman on the national acoustic music circuit.
“It’s an art form- not just the playing and singing, but also putting together a show and making it flow for both the performer and the listener,” Williams said.
Williams will be in town on Thursday to kick off the special “Boston Songwriter Series” at Avogadro’s Number. The series also includes dates with Vance Gilbert on March 6 and Ellis Paul on March 13.
Liz Barnez: New Orleans native and Colorado favorite Liz Barnez will be recording live at the Lincoln Center Mini-theater on Wednesday.
The concert is a benefit for ReLeaf, a Fort Collins environmental organization celebrating eight years of working with volunteers to plant more than 25,000 trees and shrubs at schools, parks and state forests.
Barnez will be performing with saxophonist and guitarist Pamela Robinson and percussionist Greg Long- the Mudheads- for the ReLeaf benefit and will also be traveling to play for the first time at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April.
Often named a favorite local musician- most recently in Scene Magazine’s Reader’s Survey- Barnez will be recording songs from both of her independent releases as well as new material for a potential live release.
Hot Dates: Fort Collins singer-songwriter Scott Allen is working on a new recording, tentatively titled “Path of the Open Heart.” Allen will be featuring the new material at a concert with guitarist Steve Heischuber scheduled for tonight at Unity Church.
On Saturday, guitarist Jerry Palmer is at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection and Laura Love brings her “weave of ethnic and American roots-influenced music” to the Fox Theatre in Boulder.
Ty Burhoe, student of drumming legend Ustad Zakir Hussain, will be giving a drumming and rhythm workshop at 3 pm on Sunday. Then at 7 pm, Burhoe will join banjo player and guitarist Tony Furtado and dobroist-guitarist Sally Van Meter for an “Indian Bluegrass” concert. Both events are at Avogadro’s Number.
Also on Sunday, The Pros from Dover will play a wide variety of tradition acoustic music styles at the Bas Bleu Theatre and Tom Paxton is at the Oriental Theater in Denver.
On Wednesday, the Beth Quist Trio is at the Starlight. Luscious Jackson is scheduled for the Starlight on Thursday. Or go see the “Sublime Mini-Movie”- a behind-the- scenes rockumentary focusing on the popular Southern California band, Sublime. It’s being shown at “Sno Core” tour stops, including the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Thursday.
At first, when a Boulder journalist called Colorado singer-songwriter Chuck Pyle a “Zen cowboy,” he liked it because it was kind of a trendy label.
But what seemed like clever oxymoron has become a true reflection of Pyle’s love of words, humor and nature. That’s what has inspired him to write a one-man theater piece, titled “Zen Gallon Hat,” comparing the perspectives of a Zen Buddhist master and an old cowboy- two characters who are not so far apart as they seem.
“There is so much respect for nature in Buddhism- an exhilaration and fascination,” Pyle said. “The cowboy spirit is 40 miles down a gravel road someplace where he has a lot of time alone, time to meditate and develop a respect for nature. If you don’t respect nature out there, you become a victim of it. The cowboy comes to appreciate the harshness and beauty of nature- kind of like the yin and yang.”
Also in the works is a book of quotes called “The Zen Cowboy Book of Wisdom,” which features favorite bumper stickers and “proverbs” that Pyle has collected in his years as a traveling musician. No doubt, the book will display the easy-going, yet deep-thinking humor that is a staple of his performing style.
“People need that humor,” Pyle said. “When I walk away from the stage, I’m satisfied that I helped them feel a little better because of it.”
But beyond the catchy label and a taste for wry humor, Pyle is best-known for his songs. Performers such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Chris LeDoux, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the late John Denver have recorded his material and Pyle has established a reputation as an insightful and descriptive writer.
“The respect I’ve gotten from other people recording my songs has been beyond comprehension…It’s paved the way and opened a huge door for me in the industry,” Pyle said.
Many of those people- including Walker, LeDoux and singer Kate Taylor- are currently helping Pyle finish his upcoming album release, “Keeping Time By the River,” in a recording studio in Los Angeles. Pyle will be returning to Colorado to play a string of shows including a concert tonight at the Unity Church of Fort Collins and a date at the Cameron Church in Denver on Friday, December 6
Fubar II: If there is an original “northern Colorado sound,” it would have to be the acoustic-based blend of rock, country, folk and blues music that thrives in area music venues.
Acoustic duo Fubar II- singer-songwriters Jim Kristoff and Daryl Ray- have been performing together regionally for more than ten years while crafting their own acoustic music blend. And their debut CD, “Decades,” is a strong new reflection of just how developed this kind of music has become.
“Decades” does it all- carrying everything from light rock ‘n’ roll to an introspective folk- with honest, expressive vocals, a warm sense of melody, and finely crafted lyrics. Fubar II allows the songs to fully breathe thanks to light, breezy arrangements that at times only need the regular rhythm of a guitar for support. The emphasis is on the song and Kristoff and Ray’s vocal interplay.
What Fubar II adds is a sense that area acoustic music is still full of choice words, joyful voices and a good, positive energy. Kristoff and Ray will be celebrating the release of “Decades” at the County Cork on Thursday and at the New Plantation in Evans of December 18. Bassist John Shaffer, guitarist RJ Reed and keyboardist Bob Olivier will be joining Fubar II for both dates.
Dee Carstensen: All you have to do is listen to singer-songwriter and harpist Dee Carstensen’s new live album, “Home Away From Home,” and you’ll see why the New York artist has become a hit at events such as the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival.
“Home Away From Home” is a beautiful and lively blend of emotion and acoustic virtuosity. Classically trained, Carstensen skillfully weaves her harp’s sound into emotive folk-based songs that allow her vocals to swell and subside. Thanks to fine vocal and instrumental support by percussionist Philip Hamilton and guitarist Tanya Leah, the music becomes full-bodied without overpowering the feeling of intimate expression it creates.
Carstensen will be at the Lincoln Center Mini Theatre on Wednesday.
That’s the thing that keyboardist and songwriter John Magnie did when his band, the subdudes, broke up at the end of October last year.
He retreated to the mountains up in the Red Feathers Lake area to work on a whole new direction to his career and come up with a lot of new music.
“Some were pieces stored up from being on the road with the subdudes,” Magnie said recently. “But a whole lot of th stuff is brand new and just seemed to spring out of the opportunity.”
“The opportunity” was access to a cabin at the Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch where Magnie took the time this winter to develop music that would signal a new beginning for this veteran musician as a songwriter.
“I would go up to the mountains with the idea of writing a song- kind of like hunting- and I was surprised at how many times I bagged something,” Magnie said.
The songs would not only reflect Magnie’s new-found freedom as a writer, but they also became the basis for a new band called “Circus Morales.”
“I didn’t expect to be putting together a band,” Magnie said. “In fact, I didn’t want to, but with spring coming around, I started feeling like I wanted to be a part of things- and get in on the summer fun.”
Circus Morales is made up of all-Fort Collins musicians, including Tim Cook on bass, Jay Clear on guitar as well as three percussionists- Erik Meyer, Carl Weider and Mark Anderson- and drummer Billy Uhl. The group fulfills the vision Magnie started last year with his experimental “Rhythm Army” gigs at the Bar Bazaar- one of a band with a 4 person drum section- and offers a chance for the new material to find an audience.
“We’re in an early stage in the development of a new style of music, so we need to take it out there and play it live,” Magnie said, “Then in the fall, we’ll work on getting it recorded,”
While much of the music that Circus Morales will be playing is Magnie’s, he stresses that it also reflects a good deal of the co-writing he does with other area musicians such as Cook, Steve Strickland and Don Cordes.
With new tunes in hand and a new 7-piece band, Magnie has been busy rehearsing and booking a string of regional dates that starts on Sunday with the grand opening of Beaver Meadows’ new Big Bear Pavilion and a very special event.
Circus Morales will be the featured entertainment for what Beaver Meadows is calling the “Mountain Living Fair,” an event that not only includes live music, but also chain saw wood carving, information booths and demonstrations of forest fire prevention, first aid and camper safety, fly fishing and mountain biking. The fair runs from 1-7 pm.
Magnie and Circus Morales will also be playing at Linden’s on Mondays starting on June 2 and is booked for the CSU Lagoon Concert Series on June 25. The band will also be playing a special “new band celebration” at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre on July 11. Also watch for dates with Circus Morales at Avogadro’s Number as well as Herman’s Hideaway, the Bluebird Theatre and the Lodo Festival in Denver.
Hot Dates: Tonight, Maryland singer-songwriter Eric Wheeler joins with Cosy Sheridan for a concert titled “Simply Two of the Best” at Avogadro’s Number. Wheeler and Sheridan are recent winners of the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest and Telluride Bluegrass Festival troubadour contests, respectively.
On Tuesday, Bush and Veruca Salt are at Fiddler’s Green and Robyn Hitchcock is at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. On Wednesday, the Moody Blues join the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Fiddler’s Green and hot Sacramento club band Sweet Vine joins Chris Whitley at the Fox. Larry Coryell is at the Fox on Thursday.
Inspiration runs deep in the music of Denver guitarist Danny Masters.
That inspiration comes from a variety of sources-including everything from Led Zeppelin to Benny Goodman to classical guitar.
All of this is reflected in Masters’ recent Infinite Eye/Hapi Skratch Records release, “Electric Babylon.” The album is a diverse and bold collection of guitar-based music, rooted in hard rock but willing to travel much further.
“I wanted to do this album to push myself. I’ve been more of an Eddie Van Halen-type player getting in there to shred a solo. But with this music, the guitar was going to be more of the center,” Masters said recently by phone.
“It was hard to know if that much instrumental music would keep a listener’s interest. But then I took inspiration from musicians like Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, who played a lot and were able to make instrumental music strong.”
“Electric Babylon” is strong all right. From thick, chunky rock to easy, introspective jazz to ballads to the precision of classical solo music, the album shifts and changes. The diversity keeps any one groove from becoming too familiar, though powerhouse rock is at the bottom of it all.
“Rock is originally what attracted me to the guitar,” Masters said. “If my mom had tried to get me into the instrument through classical music, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I had to learn ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to like other music.”
Masters received his bachelor of arts degree in classical guitar performance at UNC in Greeley. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Denver, studying with instructors like guitarist Ricardo Iznaola.
Besides playing in hard rock bands and recording his original music, Masters has also become a teacher. In fact, he credits his work with both basic beginners and highly advanced students as a major influence on his own music.
“A lot of what I did on the CD reflects the fact that I have a guitar in my hands 12 hours a day,” Masters said.
“For me, it doesn’t matter if the student is a beginner. It doesn’t bore me because it’s always a chance to go over fundamentals. That’s helped me a lot- going over and over it. I can tell my playing is better than it was because of it.”
This makes Masters a teacher and a student all at the same time.
“I try to be a constant student of guitar,” Masters said.”I use books and there are some great jazz teachers here in Denver. I also study blues and classical, African and Renaissance music.”
The scope of Masters’ experience with the guitar is wide and diverse and that makes “Electric Babylon” an exciting program of guitar styles. Fortunately for Masters, he found an equally well-versed musician in album producer Dave Beegle, also a teacher and highly respected performer.
“I think Dave’s the best and he wanted to get the best out of me. He really is an artist,” Masters said.
Masters will be featuring selections from “Electric Babylon” at the Bar Bazaar on Saturday.
Hot dates: Fresh on the heels of opening for Roger McGuinn at the Rialto Theater in Loveland, Fort Collins singer-songwriter Andrew Holbrook will be recording live tonight at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection for his upcoming third album release. Also tonight, the Marvelous Marmots will be at the County Cork and the Swallow Hill Music Association will be presenting a “Writers in the Round” show at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver, featuring Richard Dean, Karen Capaldi and Ellis Paul.
On Saturday, Robben Ford will be at the Fox Theatre in Boulder and John Magnie will be at the Starlight.
Perhaps the biggest rock bill of the outdoor concert season is set for Sunday at Fiddlers’ Green in Denver, featuring Santana, Rusted Root and David Lindley. Also on Sunday, Pantera, Machinehead and Coal Chamber are at Red Rocks.
Make no mistake: the Dirty Dozen is a much different band than its predecessor, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
While the Dirty Dozen still has the hot horn section-sousaphone and all- that has brought New Orleans horn music back alive in recent years, now there’s more. The Dirty Dozen has added a trap set drummer, a keyboardist, some electric bass and an ambitious new take on their own music.
On their recent Mammoth Records release, “Ears to the Walls,” the hardy, more traditional New Orleans jazz of the band’s past has become a jumping off point for a new brand of funk and soul. The music is a tasty stew of rhythmic grooves, layers of horn harmonies, and some jazz exploration that ranges from blasting bee bop to cool introspection.
From the endless chain of rhythm called “Blackbird Special” to the moodiness of the meandering “In the Meantime,” the Dirty Dozen have given themselves permission to travel far and wide with their music. “Five Aquariums” is a smooth soul song, while the tune “Gettin’ In the Cut” works a good instrumental groove but with a mellow touch. There’s weird little sound effects floating around in songs like “I Hold the Key” and there’s even a little bit of hip hop vocals on “Flow On.”
The atmosphere on “Ears to the Wall” is playful and inventive, while never losing sight of the thing that drive sit all- a good, rolling beat.
The Dirty Dozen has not only taken up where the Dirty Dozen Brass Band left off, but they have gone far beyond, their New Orleans roots acting as a steady anchor for more funky flights of fancy.
The Dirty Dozen are returning for an encore performance at the New York Cafe on Thursday.
Benefits: Tonight’s “Linden Street Live” kick-off concert for this year’s New West Fest, featuring Grammy Award-winner Dr. John and Jumpin’ Johnny and the Blues Party, is not just the city’s biggest free concert in years
The event is also an opportunity for the community to donate new school supplies for Poudre School District students. The Stryker Short Foundation, who funded the concert, will be collecting materials such as crayons, paper, glue, rulers and scissors, during the concert which is being held on the 200 block of Linden Street starting at 6 pm. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Larimer County will also be collecting donations in locations in Old Town.
On Thursday, two regional bands- Timeless and the Taylor Mesple’ Group- will be playing Old Town Square to benefit New Bridges, a “daytime alternative center” for the homeless. Donations of time, money or materials such as clothing, cleaning products, baby supplies and personal hygiene items will be collected during the show that starts at 7:30 pm.
Texans: Nothing but sweet country music- fine harmonies and tales of the land and people- comes from the new Warner Western release by Bill and Bonnie Hearne, “Diamonds in the Rough.”
Gathering together songs by such diverse writers as Ian Tyson, Eliza Gilkyson and Roger Miller with guest vocalists such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett, the Hearnes have created a masterful blend of acoustic-based country music that has shot up to the top ten on the Americana radio charts.
“Diamonds in the Rough” also features fellow Texan Tish Hinojosa, who is headlining on Saturday for the Swallow Hill Music Association’s Best of Texas Series. The Hearnes join Hinojosa at the Oriental Theater in Denver at 8 pm. Call 303-777-1003 for info.
Hot dates: Tonight, Booker T Jones is at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Carol Skylark and Michael Riversong are at Java Plaza…Saturday, Grand Ole Opry star John Conlee is at the Arvada Center, Howard Jones headlines the Lost 80’sshow at Fiddler’s Green, along with a reformed Missing Persons, and Loudon Wainwright III joins Roger McGuinn at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder.
On Sunday, Collective Soul is at the Paramount Theatre and the Voodoo Glowskulls are at the Ogden Theatre, both in Denver. Sinead O’Connor is at the Paramount on Monday, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are at Red Rocks on Tuesday. The Spin Doctors are at the Starlight on Wednesday and Graffiti Tribe is at the Bas Bleu Theatre on Thursday.
House of Large Sizes
The music of Iowa-based power trio House of Large Sizes is just a little crazy-sounding.
But that’s a good thing for a band that dishes up an on-the-edge-of-chaos post-punk rock that depends on a little insanity for its upfront energy. Their stripped-down sound benefits fully from irreverent humor, quirky vocals, full-volume guitar and in-your-face rhythms.
offers this equation in trying to describe their own music: the music of Aerosmith added to that of the Minutemen, all multiplied by the music of the Who. That means that the band’s music has attitude and ferocity while still maintaining a feel for pop structure and melodies.
On their recent What Are Records? release, “Glass Cockpit,” the band spreads out these Aerosmith/Minutemen/Who influences over fifteen tracks. Heavy, grungy guitar, deep, rumbling bass and driving drum work keep the songs in perpetual motion, while piercing, arrogant vocals sort through the problems of living in the heartland of America.
House of Large Sizes writes about work, parents, emotional insecurity and trouble with the law. But no particular subject seems to be sacred as the tone of “Glass Cockpit” remains tongue-in-cheek.
To match the music, production work by the band and producer Tom Tatman adds some found sound- like a radio tornado watch warning- recordings of crickets and plenty of vocal effects. Mix this stuff with House of Large Sizes’ edgy rock and the album becomes even more entertaining and fun.
Before “Glass Cockpit,” House of Large Sizes had released two previous albums and “countless” singles and compilation songs, many of which will be collected together on a new album to be titled “Little HOLS on the Prairie.” Added to that, the band has toured extensively around the country from their hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa.
House of Large Sizes has also recently celebrated their10th anniversary as a band. That must prove that a little craziness goes a long way for this 3-piece band that features Dave Deibler on guitar, Mark Munn on drums and Barb Schiff on bass.
House of Large Sizes will be playing an 18 and over show at the Starlight on Sunday.
Archie Ulm: Award-winning keyboardist Archie Ulm does some pretty impressive stuff as a one-man-orchestra. With a full rig of synthesizers and an active imagination, Ulm plays a music that ranges from modern synth dance rhythms to familiar pop melodies.
Ulm makes his keyboards shift and change as he explores rock, jazz, swing and Latin music styles. At times, they sound like a rich, full organ and at other times they sound like a funky calliope. Adding parts that sound like strings and horns, as well as drums and bass guitar, Ulm covers all the bases required to make his music sound just like a band is playing, all with his own flair and sense of musical spice.
Ulm plays on Saturday nights from 7 pm to 10:30 pm at the Fort Collins Plaza Inn.
Hot dates: 532,000 miles was enough. That’s the mileage on acoustic performing duo Trout Fishing in America’s old touring van, named “Robert Red Ford,” when the pair decided to get a new vehicle. The car may be different, but what hasn’t changed is this energetic group’s schedule which not only includes non-stop touring, but also some recent taping for a PBS special scheduled to be aired in 1998. Trout Fishing in America will be at the Rialto Theater in Loveland tonight. They’ll also be at the Cameron Church in Denver on Saturday.
Also tonight, the Funk Attack Band starts a 2-night stand at Linden’s and Fubar II will be at Roberto’s.
On Saturday, champion fiddler and bluegrass sensation Laurie Lewis will be at the Rialto Theater. Twice named “Female Vocalist of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association, Lewis will be joined in Loveland by mandolinist Tom Rozum and Todd Philips. Also on Saturday, the Guitar Rangers are at the County Cork.
Musicians beware. When the recording contracts come and the big money starts getting laid down, don’t expect things to be easy. Just ask Texas guitarist Ian Moore.
“The problem with being in the music industry is that there are so many people involved. To really get your vision down the way you want it, you really have to struggle and fight,” Moore said recently by phone from his home base in Austin.”You can’t just go make a record and keep everybody happy. It’s really difficult to do that because there’s so many people that lay their money down and they want the record to sound the way they want it.”
Fortunately, Moore not only is gifted with a rich musical talent- playing a wide range of energetic guitar sounds- but he has also had good training, including tours with the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top. Moore’s stint as guitarist for Texas rock legend Joe Ely, for instance, not only built his guitar chops, but also taught him how to stick to his guns.
“It really strengthened my opinion that I was going to be whatever I wanted to be because Ely is totally like that. Noone has ever told Ely what to be- he’s always walked his own road,” Moore said.
That’s the kind of attitude that has turned Moore into a strong artist himself. His solo career began with his self-titled release on Capricorn Records in 1993 but has especially blossomed with his most recent Capricorn album, “Modernday Folklore.”
“Modernday Folklore” is a fiesty mixture of funky grooves, deep, dark blues and a muscular, take-no-prisoners rock. From the pounding, swaggering toughness of opening track “Muddy Jesus” to the lowdown country blues of “Daggers,” Moore covers plenty of ground with cool confidence. The songs are well-crafted and passionate and Moore’s guitar playing is thick and flavorful.
But that’s old news for Moore, who is now touring with his band to tune up for their next album project. There are plenty of new songs, but playing them live is an essential part of Moore’s recording strategy.
“We’ll rehearse and get an understanding of a song, but it really takes getting out and playing in front of people for a couple of months before the song comes to a point to where everybody’s really playing it with some emotion and an understanding of things like when to back off dynamically. It just takes some time to get to that point,” Moore said.
Moore will be bringing his band to Fort Collins for the first time at the New York Cafe tonight.
Linden’s: Fort Collins will have to wait just a little longer to get a look at the newly renovated Linden’s. Extra plumbing work has pushed off the re-opening of the night club. Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and the Blues Party were scheduled to kick off a new era for Linden’s on February 20,but the dates have been cancelled to allow for some added renovations.
New dates for Linden’s re-opening as a “brew club” are now being set for the middle of March with regional blues favorite Paul Soderman. Acoustic Junction: Hot Colorado acoustic fusion band Acoustic Junction has just finished recording their first album for Capricorn Records. The new release is due out in April under the band’s new name- “Fools Progress.” That’s right- Acoustic Junction is changing their name for their major label debut. For now, though, they’re still Acoustic Junction and they’ll be playing a special Valentine’s Day show at the Fox Theatre in Boulder tonight. Also see Acoustic Junction at the Starlight on Thursday.
Hot Dates: Loveland singer-songwriter Barbara Rose is at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection tonight. Also tonight, Blind Dog Smokin’ is at Dimmer’s and Jonathan Tiersten is at Java Plaza. On Saturday, see Scottish acoustic music superstars Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham at the Cameron Church in Denver. Also on Saturday, Ron Roybal plays classical and flamenco guitar as well as native American flute at the Coffee Connection, Beth Quist is at Java Plaza, Ben Wah is at Tony’s, and King Cleveland is at the New York Cafe. Reggae mainstay Gregory Issacs is at the Fox Theatre on Wednesday. On Thursday, Jonathan Tiersten is at Roberto’s, Gourmet East is at the New York Cafe, and Junior Wells is at the Fox.
To understand the strength of an artist like singer-songwriter Janis Ian, you have to do a little time traveling.
First, go back to 1966. Ian is barely a teenager and she writes and records a poignant and controversial song titled “Society’s Child.” The song describes the pressures of interracial dating and is first banned from radio, then becomes a hit when conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein features it on a television special.
“Society’s Child” becomes an icon for socially active groups of all kinds, and also draws sharp criticisms- she is spat at and endures shouts of “nigger lover” from audiences at her concerts.
Now move up to 1973. Abandoned by the folk music community that had once supported her and dealing with a record industry that considered her too old, Ian develops her songwriting skills and finally sheds a “has been” image when Roberta Flack scores a top ten hit with Ian’s song “Jesse.”
In 1975, Ian releases her “Between the Lines” album which features the song “At Seventeen.” The introspective and nostalgic tune about teenage loneliness helps turn the record into a number one hit and earns two Grammy Awards.
It also leads to a string of collaborations with a diversity of artists including Chick Corea, Mel Torme, Leonard Cohen and James Brown. Other artists also record her songs including Bette Midler, Amy Grant and Hugh Masekela.
By the early 1980’s, however, Ian needs a break from the music business and turns to studying other art forms- theater under Stella Adler, ballet with Dora Kranning of the Paris Opera Company, directing with Jose Quintero and acting with William Chow of the Peking Opera Company.
Refreshed by those experiences, Ian ends up in Nashville in1986 and renews her songwriting career- producing songs for artists such as Kathy Mattea, Diane Schur and Uta Lemper.
By 1992, Ian begins recording again and releases a new album, “Breaking Silence.” It features a bold new style and a mature sense of what is most important to an artist like Ian-attention to song craft and a real emotional honesty.
Another album, “Revenge,” follows in 1995 and makes it clear that Ian is a strong survivor. Besides offering more great songs, “Revenge” also includes a harder musical edge and a full band sound.
Currently, Ian remains a resident of Nashville and continues to add to her legend as a fine songwriter and an adventurous and daring recording artist.
Ian will be making a rare northern Colorado appearance tonight at the Sunset Night Club.
Dan Bern: Iowa singer-songwriter Dan Bern combines a spare, personal writing style, a twisted sense of humor and a full measure of compassion and has recently become a big buzz on the folk music circuit.
Bern was a crowd favorite at last year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons and his new self-titled album, “Dan Bern,” has just been released on Sony Music’s Work Group label. The album was produced by Chuck Plotkin (who has produced Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan,) and includes the ballad “Oklahoma,” a song exploring the tragedy and horror of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Bern will be appearing tonight at Avogadro’s Number. Fort Collins singer-songwriter Steve Murray opens.
Hot Dates: Tonight, Nederland-based rock band Melissa and the Corvairs will be at Casa de Colorado, Scott Allen is at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection and the Colorado Cajun Dance Band will be at the Temple Center Ballroom in Denver.
On Saturday, the Counting Crows start a sold out two night stand at the Paramount Theatre in Denver. Also the Zukes of Zydeco are at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Martin Simpson’s Band of Angels is at the Oriental Theater in Denver, and Jerry Palmer is at the Coffee Connection.
When Fort Collins resident Tony Paracca had a severe skiing accident last winter, he broke a lot of bones. Fortunately he also has a lot of friends and local organizers have pulled together a benefit concert to help defray Paracca’s medical expenses. The show is on Sunday at the Starlight and features Koi Kindred, a reunion of Fort Collins funk and rock band Lazy Bones and the Budhi Brown Revolution. The benefit starts at 9:30 pm and costs $5.
The Chemical Brothers are at the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Tuesday and U-2 plays Mile High Stadium on Thursday.
There’s a good reason why this column is often about regional musicians.
The bottom line is that without them, we just might lose touch with what is most important about music- sharing real emotions and experiences with colorful sounds and words.
In the hugeness of the music business and the onslaught of mass media entertainment, the personal touch of the artist is often lost as the world becomes one big marketplace. Music products of the latest flavor glut the stores, videos constantly repeat on the television channels and live performances become huge, calculated money-based events.
But it’s the musicians who are living right next door that keep art anchored to the real heart of the people. While the U-2s and the Lollapaloozas roll into the area and right back out the same night, it’s the local singer-songwriters, the blues and rock bands, the jazz players and the punks who keep music churning anywhere they can play for the people in their own community.
They are the ones who the audience can look right in the eye and say “I know what you mean” when some words ring true and the groove is right.
Fortunately, the Fort Collins area has a very strong local music scene- and offers a lot to write about. There’s not only plenty of original music, but also an audience to hear it-indicating just how healthy it is for everyone involved.
“This area is totally dynamic,” Fort Collins singer-songwriter Jeff Stephenson said recently. “It’s very receptive and accepting. People here are reaching out to you and giving you 100% of their attention. That makes you want to meet them half way and it makes your playing 100% better.”
Stephenson has made Fort Collins his home base after spending years on the road, playing his energetic acoustic blues everywhere from his native Nebraska to the pubs and guest houses of Europe and back.
In Nebraska, he played the “animal clubs’- Eagles, Moose and Elks. In Germany, he played for smashed GIs. In Phoenix, patrons had to check their guns and knives at the door and in Denver, he played for yuppies.
Throughout his travels, Stephenson has remained “fiercely independent,” not trying to follow trends, but fully indulging his driving urge just to play. The Fort Collins area not only keeps him busy on stage, but also indulges his urge to write his own music.
“Fort Collins is kind of an oasis. It’s special just to be able to go out and play original music and be embraced. In most other places, people don’t want to pay you to play your own songs, they want to pay you to hear things they already know,” Stephenson said.
It was this kind of musical environment that made Stephenson want to put down his roots. Besides becoming a regular in area nightclubs, Stephenson also became a local recording artist, releasing his debut CD, “One Step Ahead of the Blues,” in 1996.
Since then, Stephenson has been honing his solo act, playing with percussionist Steve Amedee and bassist Marty Rein in a trio called the Blue Healers, and working on his next dream- his own recording studio.
Everything- from playing acoustic rock and blues in clubs all over the region to recording with friends like John Magnie and William Crist- fits nicely into Stephenson’s plan of balancing the life of an artist with taking care of his family. In fact, he’s not worried a bit about how his work compares to the rest of the music industry.
“My biggest success is personal- that’s how I gauge it,” Stephenson said. “I just have to play and I’m doing that as much as I can.”
Stephenson will be joining other regional musicians in a Fourth of July concert today in the Big Bear Pavilion at Beaver Meadows Resort in the Red Feathers Lake area. Also performing will be the Better Half and Canebrake Run, featuring Rob and Jesse Solomon.
Hot Dates: Today, Rickie Lee Jones is at the Ogden Theatre in Denver and Blues traveler is at Red Rocks. On Saturday, Spyro Gyra is at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver and Queensryche is at Red Rocks. On Monday, the David Grisman Band, Merl Saunders and Government Mule play a benefit for the American Glaucoma Society at Red Rocks. Bobby Wells is at the CSU Lagoon on Wednesday and the Rogues play Old Town Square on Thursday.
Denver area blues player Johnny Long made his choice.
Rather than just live the life of the touring musician, he wanted to do more- like become an artist who carefully balances his music with his home and family.
“People are important- especially family and friends. I’m proud to be there for them when they need me,” Long said recently by phone.
Long’s touring radius is limited, going back and forth between Colorado and his native St. Louis, but his experience reaches into the very roots of the blues.
In St. Louis, for instance, he and his brother Claude backed up blues harmonica master Doc Terry, who taught them some “solid things” about playing.
In Chicago, Long played solo and with Homesick James. Andin Colorado, some gigs with Muddy Waters earned Long some encouragement from the elder bluesman to “keep doing it- don’t give up.”
In fact, respect for his elders- like Terry, James, Waters and Lonnie Johnson, Jimmy Reed and Howlin Wolf- is a big part of Long’s music.
“I’m one of the sons. But there are a lot of forefathers and foremothers,” Long said. “There are living people out there, masters, who are still doing it now. And I’m thankful those people are here to show how to play blues their way.”
While Long plays original tunes co-written with his brother, he also includes in his set classic songs from the history of the blues.
“I like to do compositions of other great blues men and women and to honor them, keeping their music alive, keeping it going,” Long said.
For Long, the blues is not just a vibrant form of music, but also something very personal and moving.
“When I sing and perform, something comes together, something that goes beyond just myself,” Long said. “Something just takes over.”
Perhaps that “something” has to do with the positive message that makes its way into his music.
“This isn’t suicidal blues. This isn’t blues for throwing in the towel. This is blues that says I’m going to keep on living and loving. Maybe I messed up. Or maybe someone else messed up. Or maybe we messed up together, but I’m looking for hope for a better day,” Long said.
Long’s most recent recording is “Long On Blues,” and he recently appeared on an E-Town program also featuring the Robert Cray Band. Long is back for the “Blues at Bas Bleu” series at Bas Bleu Theatre tonight.
David Nelson: Those disappointed by last year’s cancellation of guitarist David Nelson’s Colorado dates will be happy to hear that the David Nelson Band will be at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre tonight.
Nelson is best known as the co-founder of the New Riders of the Purple Sage- he sang the famous counter-culture anthem “Panama Red”- as well as work with the Grateful Dead and in the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band.
His current ensemble, Freaks of Nature, comes from a similar pedigree, featuring members who have performed with the New Riders, Kingfish, Ratdog, Jefferson Starship, JGB and Cowboy Jazz.
Nelson has recently released an all-live CD titled “Keeper of the Key” and is currently preparing material for recording a studio album in the fall, including songs written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Tonight’s concert is being billed as a “Jerry Garcia Birthday Celebration.”
Hot Dates: Contemporary jazz fusion band D’Fusion, made up of graduate students from UNC in Greeley, have recently released an excellent debut CD titled “Give It Up, and will beat the Sunset Night Club on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, Merl Saunders brings his summer tour to Mishawaka, featuring songs from his new release, “Fiesta Amazonica,” an energetic 9-song collection that ranges from the New Age sounds of his chart-topping “Blues From the Rainforest” album to World Beat.
On Thursday, folk diva Odetta is at Linden’s, Bela Fleck is at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder and the Allman Brothers are at Red Rocks.
Loveland singer-songwriter Keith Rosenhagen has made the journey to “the other side.”
“The Other Side” is the name for Rosenhagen’s debut CD release on the Hapi Skratch Records label. “The other side” is also a place people end up having to go to in order to survive.
That’s what the dynamic title song of the album, “The Other Side,” makes clear.
“The song tells two stories. One is about a teenager who witnesses a relative being killed. It’s a horrific experience, but he has to learn how to grow up with it,” Rosenhagen said recently.
“The other story is about a musician in Nashville. Just three weeks before his marriage, his fiancé is killed in a car accident on her way to see him play. These two stories are about people with personal tragedies needing to get through them to the other side- to get on with their lives.”
Rosenhagen meets these kind of deep and emotional issues in his music with a surprising and inspiring energy. On “The Other Side,” thoughts of both love and tragedy are underscored with a bright, melodic and even powerful acoustic-based music.
The music reflects Rosenhagen’s resolve to be uplifting, even in the face of struggle and hardship.
“I like a positive theme- like ‘never give up.'” Rosenhagen said. “I always try to inject a little hope into every song- that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The music and production on “The Other Side” is inspired by the innovative work of such acoustic-based artists as David Wilcox and Shawn Colvin. Voice, acoustic guitar and well-crafted lyrics are supported by layers of guitars, Michael Olson’s fine fretless bass work, back-up vocals and more for a pop-oriented, acoustic fusion sound.
The album was produced by guitarist, producer and teacher Dave Beegle, and takes the raw materials of Rosenhagen’s songs and turns them into a dream come true.
“I had the lyrics and the basic structures of the songs written and then Dave took all that I had on one level and took it to an entirely new level, working with the dynamics and adding color and depth,” Rosenhagen said.
“This is the only thing I’ve recorded that makes the music sound like it sounds in my head.”
For Rosenhagen, then, the CD marks his arrival to “the other side” of his own musical journey, which started with an electric guitar in a top 40 band and now finds him as a bright new acoustic talent on the Front Range.
“The last five or six years, I have gone more and more in the acoustic singer-songwriter direction,” Rosenhagen said. “I guess it has something to do with getting older and wanting more message-oriented lyrics. I want to tell stories and to say something at the same time.”
“It’s also a challenge to play by myself because it’s all up to you to fill the space with your music.”
Rosenhagen is up to the challenge of being an acoustic performer with a fistful of songs that search the human heart with a wise and energetic attitude. He’ll be celebrating the release of “The Other Side” at Avogadro’s Number on Thursday with Beegle, Olson, and vocalists Amy Sapp and Laura Kucharyson.
Hot Dates: Tonight, Social Distortion is at the Starlight, Alien Cowboy is at the Bar Bazaar and the Mudheads are at Avogadro’s Number.
On Saturday, The Offspring, Social Distortion and L7 are at Red Rocks, Scott Allen is at the Bar Bazaar and Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard is at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver.
Also on Saturday, mothers can take advantage of a special deal from the Motherfolkers. In celebration of Mother’s Day, mothers will be treated to this weekend’s Denver performances of the Colorado music institution that brings together the cream of Front Range women performers each year. Mothers will be admitted free, but must have a ticket for either Mother Folkers concerts at the Teikyo Loretto Heights Theater in Denver on Saturday and Sunday. The Mother Folkers will also be performing on May 24 at the Lincoln Center and on May 31 at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder.
When singer-songwriter and keyboardist Kelley Hunt does her thing- like belting out powerful R & B songs with a strong, purposeful voice- crowds who have never heard her before end up taking notice.
In fact, brand new audiences often find her a “real curiosity.”
“They don’t know what to think because, A- I’m white, and B- I’m a woman who not only writes her own songs and performs, but also leads her own band,” Hunt said by phone recently.”The kicker is that I’m from Kansas.”
Kansas isn’t known anywhere as a blues center, but thanks to her parents’ record collection full of jazz, blues, R & Band gospel recordings, and a piano teacher with a taste for boogie woogie, Hunt became full of a soulful musical spirit.
“That kind of music is just naturally what I gravitate to. Even when I was little, that was the music that I’d get up and dance to. When I was older, I listened to pop music, too, but when I play music, it’s just what comes out. It’s just a more genuine thing for me,” she said.
Based in Lawrence, Kansas, Hunt’s strong, gutsy vocals and steady, rolling piano style has made her a recent sensation at festivals from Kansas to New York, Mississippi, Arizona and back. She has been setting CD sales records at her festival appearances and her reception has lead to featured spots on nationally syndicated radio shows such as the Blues Foundation’s “Beale Street Caravan” program.
It also took Hunt to Los Angeles where she recorded her recent 88 Records release, “Kelley Hunt,” with producer Mike Finnigan. This included recording 11 original tunes with a crack team of studio musicians whose resumes included work with Aretha Franklin, BB King, Elton John, Etta James, the Crusaders and Bonnie Raitt.
“It was beyond my dreams,” Hunt said. “I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”
On her arrival for the sessions, Finnigan took Hunt to what she thought was going to be the first rehearsal, but instead turned out to be an informal performance of her material for a collection of high-powered music figures including Stevie Wonder.
“They all filed in and there was just a piano there for me to play. I was freaking out inside but just told myself that what I have to do is just do what I do. These guys are professionals and will know what I’m doing. I played the first song and they all made me feel at ease. By the time we got into the studio, I was feeling real comfortable,” Hunt said.
“Kelley Hunt” is a classic sounding R & B record that would do many of Hunt’s influences- such as Billie Holiday, Ruth Brown, and Ray Charles- very proud. The music ranges from the smooth, soulful introspection of the song “Crawl Through Kansas” to the rocking strength of “Brick By Brick.” Through it all is the music of a woman who is singing not because of a record deal, but because she has to.
“If I wasn’t out playing for people, in clubs and at festivals, I’d be playing the music at home. I just can’t stop it,” Hunt said.
Hunt will be making her debut appearance in Fort Collins on Thursday at the New York Cafe.
Hot dates: Tonight, South Dakota “rocking blues” band Indigenous will be at the New York Cafe. Besides releasing three independent albums of their own, Indigenous was also included on a benefit compilation CD produced by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. Also tonight, Diana Castro begins a two nightstand at Linden’s.
On Saturday, Fubar II is at the County Cork, Breedlove is at the New York Cafe, and keyboardist Archie Ulm is at the Plaza Inn. Stereolab is at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver on Monday and the Samples celebrate their new 2-CD live release, “Transmissions from the Sea of Tranquility,” at the Starlight on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons feature music from their chart topping release, “Black Diamond,” at the Paramount Theatre in Denver and Josh Smith and the Frost are at Linden’s.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
There’s a reason why the great guitarists of rock music- Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan- all started with the blues.
There’s also a reason why blues is a music that produces so many fine guitarists itself- like BB King, Buddy Guy, and Albert Collins.
With its relatively simple structure, blues music has always been a place that has enticed and ultimately inspired gifted guitarists. While usually based on a repeating phrase made up of only a handful of chords, blues leaves plenty of room for soloists to let themselves go free.
The same is true for blues vocalists, but let’s just talk guitar here.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise then that a real young guitarist named Kenny Wayne Shepherd- even at the age of eight- would become mesmerized by the blues. While his friends were listening to the usual pop stuff, Shepherd was turning influences such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Albert King into his own style of intense rock and blues.
By 1995, Shepherd, at the age of 18, had released his debut album, “Ledbetter Heights,” to critical acclaim. The 12-song collection showed that Shepherd had some monster chops and an extensive understanding of how to make the blues keep on rocking.
At the South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, TX in 1996, Shepherd took the stage with a confident authority, letting lightning riffs streak off his guitar strings and letting the music industry know that the tradition of exciting and expressive blues guitarists was still going strong.
In a short time, Shepherd has become well-known and hailed as a new guitar inspiration- and a lot of that has to do with the freedom of the blues.
Shepherd will be making his live Fort Collins debut at the Starlight on Wednesday.
Lloyd Drust: Let’s just say that Fort Collins singer-songwriter Lloyd Drust might just about do anything at his special “The Land of Giants and Other Excellent Adventures” show tonight at Avogadro’s Number.
Let’s look at some of the stunts he’s pulled in the past: at last New Year’s Eve’s First Night performances, for instance, he used a huge book to augment his music, along with video monitors showing clips of various storms. He also threw Twinkies into the audience.
At his performances during regular showcase dates at Avo’s last Spring, he pulled out souvenirs- including beach sand- from a Mexico trip, decorated the stage with props and curtains, and a strange character called “Bunny Boy” would appear to accompany Drust on a song.
On stage, Drust maintains a humorous sense of the absurd with his home-made theatrics, while delivering original songs from his album “Junkman.” The songs are usually spare and intense, becoming all the more poignant in a setting that can be just a little crazy.
“The Land of Giants” is being billed as a “multi-media performance” and admission is free. The show starts at 7:30 pm and all ages are welcome.
Hot dates: Tonight, Live and Luscious Jackson are at Red Rocks.
Michael Martin Murphey’s 11th anniversary Westfest gets underway on Saturday at Copper Mountain Resort for a full Labor Day weekend of music, crafts, exhibitions and plenty of other activities. Dubbed “a celebration of the music, art and culture of the Old and New West,” Westfest will feature sets by Murphey, Willie Nelson, and Bryndal (Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman and Kenny Edwards) on Saturday, Bill Miller and Red Steagall on Sunday and Ian Tyson and Bill and Bonnie Hearn on Monday.
Sammy Hagar is at Red Rocks on Sunday. Dokken is at the Paramount Theater in Denver on Wednesday.
You aren’t going to find the likes of Boulder-area singer-songwriter Kevin Dooley on MTV, and that’s perfectly alright with him.
You see, MTV doesn’t have much to do with the world that Dooley writes about on his new independent album release, “Everyday Dreams.” With a simple, yet expressive, acoustic music Dooley would rather draw portraits of what’s real in people and the world than confine himself to the coldness of what’s on the tube.
Besides, Dooley is no pop star, but a survivor of the road with some stories to tell. “Everyday Dreams” is full of vivid characters and a homespun wisdom that you just aren’t going to find on television.
On songs like “Goin’ Goin’ Gone,” Dooley whips up a cold wind and you can just about hear the freight trains and buses moving through the lonely night. On “Chippin’ Away,” he makes a hard working man with a hammer come alive to provide an earthy and inspiring perspective.
Memories of grandma’s mason jars and “the barefoot grass of summer” fill the song “Over My Shoulder” with rich lyrical details. Indeed, the simpler things in life are what catches Dooley’s eye and the song “Small Things” illustrates just how all those things add up to make our world what it is.
The trouble begins when people turn away from these simple things and that’s where Dooley draws the line. On the song “Trouble in the Land of Plenty,” Dooley compares the life of a laid-off factory worker to the freedom friends have found living in the country and there’s no doubt which lifestyle he supports.
MTV? It doesn’t matter a bit to Dooley. More important to him are just the things around us that make our lives full.
Dooley will be celebrating the release of “Everyday Dreams” on Saturday at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection.
Ferron: In a career that has lasted twenty years and six album releases, Canadian singer-songwriter Ferron has developed a devoted following as an independent artist.
That following is now bound to get bigger with Ferron’s debut release on Warner Brothers Records, “Still Riot.”
Ferron fans, however, do not need to be worried that a major label release has stifled the artist’s creative and personal songwriting style. In fact, “Still Riot” not only offers plenty of Ferron’s honest, well-crafted lyrics, but also the freedom to explore new ground. Ferron experiments with styles and ideas while remaining true to her artistic integrity.
“Still Riot” was produced by Ferron and makes a bold new statement for an artist already known for her artistic courage and strength. She will be celebrating the new album release as well as presenting a retrospective selection of songs from her career with special acoustic performances at the Lincoln Center Mini-Theatre on Thursday and at the Bluebird Theater in Denver on Friday, April 18.
Hot Dates: Tonight, the Swallow Hill Music Association presents the Jimmy LaFave Band at the Mercury Cafe in Denver as part of its Best of Texas Series.
On Saturday, Colorado-based folk group Grubstake celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Cameron Church in Denver. This trio started in the height of the 1960’s folk boom- three guys playing guitars and singing traditional and contemporary songs- and has since mastered new instruments and developed a repertoire that ranges from Bob Dylan and Greg Brown to Ian Tyson. Expect ballads, blues and old timey songs as Grubstake digs through the several hundred songs the group has presented over the years for this special retrospective concert.
On Sunday, keyboardist John Magnie will begin a series of afternoon shows at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre in the Poudre Canyon. Magnie will be playing at 2 pm this Sunday and on April 20 and 27.
And on Thursday, Brooks Williams brings his “calypso folk-rock hybrid to Avogadro’s Number.
Named after an ancient Indian emperor, British pop hybrid band Kula Shaker brings east and west together in a flavorful, textured music. Recently named “Best New Artist” at the annual Brit Awards, Kula Shaker takes psychedelic influences from the 1960’s- such as music by Deep Purple, the Beatles, and the Doors- updates it with surging guitars and swaggering vocals, then mixes in some Indian spirituality, Middle Eastern instrumentation and the occasional lyric in Sanskrit.
That explains why Kula Shaker’s music, on their debut Columbia records release, “K,” resonates with a transcendent, iridescent vibe. It’s a bold attempt by the band to put some new life back into pop music.”We’re trying to help make music cool again by putting together all the things that were inspirational to us in the past,” Kula Shaker guitarist and singer Crispian Mills has said. “We want to put feeling and emotion back into rock by reminding people of where those inspirational feelings came from in the first place.”The effort seems to have worked- two singles from “K” have reached the top ten in Britain and the album itself has hit No. 1 in the UK album charts, selling to platinum status in only one month.
Kula Shaker first came to the US last October for a small club tour and to release their first American single and video, “Tattva.” The band is back this year for a full scale North American tour, including a date at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver on Monday.
Kula Shaker returns to Europe in May to tour with Aerosmith.
Rialto Theater: The historic Rialto Theater Center in Loveland has selected concert promoter Gayle Tyler to be the facility’s Managing Director.
Tyler will be familiar to Fort Collins music lovers as the force behind Windsong Productions, a concert company that has brought primarily acoustic singer-songwriter music to such venues as the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection and Avogadro’s Number. Tyler has also been active in the region’s public radio movement and will be taking over the duties of booking and promoting the Rialto’s second season of live performances. Tonight, the Special Consensus will perform an acoustic bluegrass concert at the Rialto. From Chicago, the Special Consensus nudges the definition of bluegrass by mixing traditional playing styles with rock and country material. The four-piece acoustic unit will also perform at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver on Saturday.
Corky Siegel: Take musical elements of the blues and mix them with classical techniques and you’ve got Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues. Siegel, best known as the wild harmonica player in the Siegel-Schwal Band in the 1960’s, has recently won the national composition competition grant by the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Meet the Composer Foundation. Along with the West End String Quartet and Frank Donaldson. Siegel has managed to challenge the boundaries of both classical music and the blues with compositions the Los Angeles Times called “a genuine hybrid…complex…clever and ambitious.
Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues will be performing at the Arvada Center for the Arts on Saturday.
Hot dates: Zuba is at the Fox Theatre in Boulder tonight. Also tonight, Jerry Douglas joins Russ Barenberg and Edgar Meyer at the Boulder Theatre and the Harmonica Hotshots are at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver. The Hotshots-husband and wife team Al and Judy Smith- present a set list ranging from Andrews Sisters smoothies and Dixieland jazz to the Who’s “Tommy,” all on the chromatic harmonica. On Saturday, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies make their only area appearance at the Fox Theatre. On Thursday, Philo Records artist Bill Morrissey brings stories and songs to Avogadro’s Number. Russ Hopkins opens.
Laurie Anderson likes to do her own things.
She’s not into just one thing. Anderson is into a lot of things- like spoken word performances, music, sculpture and more- and as an artist, she wanted to have a “weird life.”
“I knew I wanted to spread myself out and work in unusual media,” Anderson said recently by phone from New York City. “I didn’t just want to make object art.”
Anderson’s biography starts in 1972. That’s the year a friend convinced her she needed to make a “shift of focus” as far as her art was concerned.
“My friend said that I needed to just do my work. If you do that, if you put your main energy into it, everything else would follow…I had to switch what was important to me,” Anderson said.
Since then, Anderson has built a career that challenges the imagination. This includes performances at universities, art museums and avant-garde festivals throughout America and Europe. Anderson has recorded poetry, created multi-media art installations and collaborated with a wide range of other artists. She has also worked as a migrant cotton picker, joined a commune and went without speaking for two weeks at a Buddhist retreat.
Anderson’s work with music produced strange and tantalizing results on albums such as “Big Science” and “Mister Heartbreak.” Her feature film, “Home of the Brave,” which featured concert performances with musicians including pioneering progressive guitarist Adrian Belew, was wild and inspired.
Whatever it is that she is doing- from creating her new show, “The Speed of Darkness,” or jetting to Vienna and Prague to work on public sculpture projects- none of it is geared towards capturing mainstream acceptance.
“That’s not what I’m going for,” Anderson said. “I’m trying to surprise, nauseate and shock myself and I don’t know at all what other people will think of it.”
“The Speed of Darkness” is “an informal evening” featuring Anderson performing only with keyboards, violin and digital processing. Through a collection of stories and songs, she uses the models of three places- a theater, a mental hospital and a control room- to muse about the future of art and technology.
“This is my reaction to the cheeriness of the digital people. It’s a look at the dark side of technology,” Anderson said.
For Anderson, technology is not in itself sinister. Instead, she points at the masses who are quickly jumping on the band wagon.
“The hype is that it is so necessary, that everybody has to get up to speed right away. Not everybody needs to upgrade their computers every year, or get the latest software,” Anderson said.
Anderson will be performing “The Speed of Darkness” in a rare Fort Collins appearance tonight at the Lincoln Center.
Boulder bands: Fans of Latin-based dance music should check out Cabaret Diosa tonight and Saturday at the New York Cafe. The ten-piece musical ensemble from Boulder uses “romantic theatre, comedic improvisation, belly dancing and tropical foliage” to set the mood for dancing to classic music from Cuba, Brazil, Hollywood and Spanish Harlem. Add original material and you have what the band calls “Hi-fi Latin Exotica.”
Also from Boulder, rock band Coy Kindred will be celebrating the release of their self-titled debut album at Linden’s on Thursday. The band is made up of veteran players from such regional bands as Loaded Dice, Doug and the Thugs and the Touch Monkeys. The album reveals a strong rock music underscored by vocalist and lyricist Lauren Cuggino’s rough and ready singing style.
Hot dates: Tonight, punk legends, the Mr. T. Experience, are at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Fat Sow is at the County Cork, guitar master Dave Beegle will be doing a solo show at Avogadro’s Number, and Denver’s newest jazz record label, Synergy Music, will be presenting the Primal Mates Trio, the Aubrey Carton Band, the Lande/Miller Duo and the Russian Dragon Band at Denver University. The Synergy show will also be at the Boulder Public Library on Saturday.
LoDo Music Festival
Hot concrete and asphalt- not exactly the kind of environment you’d expect for a major Colorado music festival.
But that’s the success story of the AT&T LoDo Music Festival. In only a few short years, downtown Denver-concrete, asphalt, buildings and all- has been turned into the site of a two-day blast of great music and much more.
It began five years ago with a stage, a sea of chairs, a couple of bleachers and a few beer and food booths. Nestled in a stretch of blacktop in the lower downtown district of Denver, the festival was a brave experiment in bringing entertainment into an urban area undergoing a major rejuvenation.
The experiment became a tradition and the festival has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, the LoDo Music Festival runs three stages, featuring a wide diversity of national acts as well as popular regional bands. Add in more food than you can eat, more beer than you can drink, talented street performers and a crowd dedicated to having fun and you are starting to get the picture.
This year’s festival begins at 6 pm today, and headlines the Smithereens, the Massachusetts band famous for hit songs such as “A Girl Like You” and “Top of the Pops.” Also featured will be the Freddy Jones Band, Southern Culture on the Skids, current cult favorite Medeski, Martin and Wood, the Skatalites and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.
On Saturday, the festival continues at 4 pm and headlines Little Feat and powerful horn and funk band, Tower of Power. Also included will be Dave Alvin, best known for his work with the Blasters, Anders Osborne, zydeco party band Chubby Carrier and the Swamp Boogie Band, the Holmes Brothers, and two Colorado favorites- the Samples and Fort Collins’ own John Magnie and Circus Morales.
There’s plenty more besides the food, drink and music. Visual art and live art performances, for instance, will play an expanded role in this year’s festivities.
In addition to a selection of art from LoDo galleries, the event will also feature the giant inflatable art of New York artist Pat Olesko, the balanced rocks of San Diego-based “awareness art” group Rock on Rock, and the sidewalk chalk art of Dublin native Gary Palmer. Local artist Stanton Segner will be displaying furniture and sculpture made out of automobile bumpers at the “Martini on the Greenie” lounge area and simple washboards become the creative inspiration for the “Zydeco Sculpture.”
Art performances include the “ultimate urban ballet” of the Pedestrian Project, the spoon-driven rhythms of Artis the Spoonman (the namesake for Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” video,)and the dance rituals of the Rites of Passage Bomani Drum and Dance Ensemble.
All of the above turns hot concrete and asphalt into a great time in the city. Call the LoDo hotline at 303-888-5636for more information.
Dogstar: When actor Keanu Reeves isn’t making movies- like his most recent project, “Devil’s Advocate”- he’s playing bass in a touring band called Dogstar.
Along with drummer Rob Mailhouse and guitarist and vocalist Bret Domrose, Reeves makes a music they describe as “simple, unaffected and unabashedly romantic,”
Dogstar has released a four-song enhanced CD, “Quattro Formaggi,” and a full-length album, “Our Little Visionary,” and will be including a stop at the Starlight on Thursday as part of their current 50-city national tour. Tickets are available at King Soopers and at the Finest Record Store.
Hot dates: Competing against other great regional acts such as Lord of Word, Chitlin and Zuba, Chief Broom has won a5-date slot on the current H.O.R.D.E. Festival, including Sunday’s appearance at Fiddler’s Green along with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Primus and Morphine. Chief Broom will also be at the Fox Theatre in Boulder tonight.
Also tonight, Yes is at Fiddler’s Green, the Indigo Girls and Patti Smith are at Red Rocks and the Nixons are at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver. On Monday, the Smokin’ Grooves Tour, featuring George Clinton is at Red Rocks, INXS is at the Paramount Theatre in Denver on Tuesday, the Derek Trucks Band is at the Fox on Wednesday and Steppenwolf is at the Grizzly Rose in Denver on Thursday.
Jazz is a big word.
Listen to Fort Collins pianist and composer Marc Sabatella’s debut CD release on the Golden Horn Productions label, “The Spanish Inquisition,” if you want to find out just how big.
On this ten tune set, Sabatella takes “jazz” into a dozen different directions without much overlap. That means that influences such as Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus mix freely with others like Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton for a wide-ranging music that constantly searches for a surprise.
“Some people think that all jazz sounds the same,” Sabatella said recently. “I never want to fall into that. My goal is to make each piece different.”
From melodic mainstream pieces to avant-garde improvisation work-outs, Sabatella’s jazz is a constantly moving and changing thing on “The Spanish Inquisition.” That reflects just how hard it is to pin jazz down to a single definition- although Sabatella has been working on it.
In his recent book published by ADG productions, “A Whole Approach to Jazz Improvisation,” Sabatella devotes an entire chapter to just trying to define the term “jazz.”
“I try to define jazz by breaking it down to its parts- like melody, harmony, composition and structure. But it all comes down to improvisation and rhythm in the sense that you have a balance between a constant pulse and syncopation,” Sabatella said.
Such a broad definition is only the starting place for Sabatella and his band, featuring Erik Turkman on bass, Thomas Van Schoick on drums and Peter Sommer on saxophones. Throughout the course of “The Spanish Inquisition,” the quartet takes the basics of improvisation and rhythm and forms them into music that may start off sounding familiar but nearly always ends up exploring new and unique directions.
This is part of the group’s effort to make music that challenges not only the musician, but the audience as well.
“We want to surprise people,” Sabatella said. “We’re not doing this to play background music for people to do whatever else they’re doing. We want people to get involved and listen.”
The jazz world is certainly listening. Sabatella won the 1996 Cognac-Hennessy Best of Colorado Jazz Search. He produced and contributed to “An Internet Jazz Sampler,” a CD compilation of music drawn from Sabatella’s involvement with an online jazz discussion group. His book on improvisation has just been published and his CD debut as a bandleader is now available.
With “The Spanish Inquisition,” Sabatella establishes himself as not only a musician familiar with the many styles of jazz, but also as an artist who can make each one move with an energetic flair. The band is tight, the music shifts and changes, and the energy is heightened and aware.
“It’s boring to me to hear the same things over and over and I have to believe that its boring for the audience,” Sabatella said. “I don’t want them to hear the same things. I want them to hear different things.”
Sabatella is also currently at work on a CD-ROM version of his “A Jazz Improvisation Primer” and will be celebrating the release of “The Spanish Inquisition” on Thursday at the New York Cafe.
Hot Dates: Maceo Parker will be at the Ogden Theatre in Denver tonight. On Saturday, “harmony-driven trio” Jubilant Bridge will be at Avogadro’s Number, Dan Bern is at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver and David Grisman is at the Ogden. And Morphine is at the Ogden on Wednesday.
On Thursday, ex-Beatle Ringo Starr brings his latest “All-Starr” band to Fiddler’s Green. As usual, Starr has brought together a super band of pop stars from the past to give new life and energy into some great old songs. This year, Starr will be joined by guitarist Peter Frampton, Cream bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce, Procol Harum vocalist and keyboardist Gary Brooker and Traffic guitarist Dave Mason. Expect nothing but golden oldies.
There’s a reason why shock rock group Marilyn Manson is at the center of a moral controversy.
The group is being picketed by religious organizations, shows are being cancelled by nervous communities, and wild accusations of rape, free drugs and bestiality are being posted on the internet by conservative family groups.
Despite the outrageous extent of some of the rumors, however, Marilyn Manson has been asking for the attention. In fact, deeply challenging- and even offending- others’ beliefs is a part of the group’s message and intent.
On their most recent release, “Antichrist Superstar,” on Nothing/Interscope Records, the sounds, words and even album graphics are aimed at making you very uncomfortable. Along with lyric imagery full of worms, scabs, tumors, disease and decay is a nihilistic philosophy that leaves absolutely nothing sacred. It is a sociopathic in its extent- willing to slaughter anything in sight without a second thought.
This is what scares conservatives and anyone else who might be concerned with the quality of life and thought- a disregard for any and all conventions. It is even more frustrating because what the group is doing- casting all of human experience into the dung heap- is protected by free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The concern over Marilyn Manson’s stage show is based on some realities. Rolling Stone recently reported that the lead singer and namesake for the group, Marilyn Manson, tears pages out of Bibles and throws them into the audience; wipes his behind with an American flag; and leads crowds in chants of obscenities.
However, reports of virgin and animal sacrifices, rapes and a secret team of drug pushers are as exaggerated by concerned social groups as by members of the band’s audience.
Concern over what Marilyn Manson expresses in “Antichrist Superstar” is also based on realities. Within the framework of a twisted story that turns a worm into an evil superstar, the group trashes everything- including being rock’s darkest icons. The music is deep and heavy, the lyrics are obtuse and cryptic, and Manson’s vocals are raspy and unnerving, making for music that adequately supports the worst of attitudes.
The “parental advisory, explicit content” label on copies of “Antichrist Superstar” is well-deserved. The album uses obscenities in several of the songs to make sure that if disturbing and even pornographic illustrations for the CD cover and booklet don’t offend you, the songs will.
But let’s put this into focus. As twisted and cynical as Marilyn Manson’s music is, however, the fact remains that it is just entertainment. “Antichrist Superstar” is just one big, bad horror movie with Manson taking center stage as a debased, masochistic martyr.
For that reason, the protesters may be taking Marilyn Manson too seriously. The group is just a rock ‘n’ roll band bent onusing their artistic skills- the music, at times, really rocksand the production is creative and effective- to be excessively negative and even psychotic.
The bottom line is that Marilyn Manson’s act is a pose, a sick thrill of theatrics, supported by heavy metal music that stretches the genre to its boundary. It’s an artistic statement that just dares you to turn away. It’s a calculated sales gimmick that’s working like a charm.
But if the Devil sent Marilyn Manson to be the real Antichrist, he’s going to have to do better than this. Marilyn Manson’s music is a disgusting mess, but in the end it’s just loud, obnoxious stuff with only minimal lasting value. It’s just some frog-voiced actor performing the horror show of the month.
That’s why I won’t be joining the picket line when Marilyn Manson appears on the bill for the Denver stop of Ozzy Osbourne’s heavy metal feast, “Ozzfest ’97,” at Mile High Stadium on Tuesday. I’ll just be shaking my head, amazed at such obvious Halloween antics. Or, maybe I’ll just go buy some popcorn instead.
Ozzy Osbourne, of course, is headlining Ozzfest ’97 which also features a reunion of Black Sabbath, Manson, Pantera, Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Machine Head and Powerman 5000.The festival also features “a dark carnival of games, attractions and more” called Never Never Land, and a second stage with six more bands.
London-based trio Morcheeba makes music that is low and slow.
On the group’s debut album release, “Who Can You Trust?,” the grooves are long and solid, but muted and cool. This is spacey, smooth stuff- electronics coyly mixing with light sketches of keyboards, guitars and vocalist Skye Edwards’ silky, soothing voice.
The music barely gets above a simmer on “Who Can You Trust?” and that’s refreshing. Here is a band willing to slow electronic dance music down enough to make it warm and relaxing rather than tight and pumped up.
As a result, Morcheeba succeeds in gently taking listeners on a moody and relaxing ride. Slippery and smart, the easy grooves Morcheeba conjures up are funky and intimate at the same time; seductive and moving.
Morcheeba does for electronic music what the Cowboy Junkies do for folk rock- slow it down, keep it low and make some really cool music for your effort.
That’s the kind of cool that made alternative rockers Live sign Morcheeba on for 15 of their current US tour dates. Morcheeba and Live will be at the Paramount Theatre in Denver on Wednesday.
Vance Gilbert: The Boston Songwriter Series continues at Avogadro’s Number on Thursday with “jazz/folk” artist Vance Gilbert.
Just like Aaron Neville is the defining voice of the rich musical heritage of the South, Gilbert is the defining voice of a rootsy, acoustic-based soul in the North. Like Neville’s voice, Gilbert’s is sweet and clear, easily reaching for the upper registers while dramatically swelling and soaring.
On his Philo Records release, “Fugitives,” Gilbert applies this fine voice to a blend of acoustic-based folk and rock. It’s “singer-songwriter” music- complete with well-crafted lyrics- but it’s approached with a healthy dose of soulful, even spiritual expression.
Gilbert rocks, for sure, and his upbeat energy is infectious. But add in a voice that makes the songs feel as good as they sound and you’ve got some special music indeed.
Fort Collins singer-songwriter Andrew Holbrook will open for Gilbert at Avo’s.
Zen Tricksters: If there’s something familiar about the sound of the New York City-based quartet the Zen Tricksters- like the warm, folksy lope of the music of the Grateful Dead- it’s for good reason.
The Zen Tricksters have amassed a large and loyal following on the East Coast club circuit as a top-notch Grateful Dead cover band- packing clubs while developing their own Grateful Dead-flavored music.
The recent release by the Zen Tricksters on the Zebra Tango Records label, “The Holy Fool,” showcases the group’s original blend of rock, blues, folk, bluegrass and jazz while staying comfortably close to their roots- the same earthy American musical fusion that the Grateful Dead pioneered.
As a result, the Zen Tricksters have not only become a successful headlining band, but they have also been tapped to serve as a back-up band for such diverse artists as Rick Danko, Vassar Clements and Bo Diddley.
The band will be bringing their unique mix of original music and the improvisational and free-form songs of the Grateful Dead to the New York Cafe on Wednesday.
Hot Dates: Looking for a new late-night food stop? In the City Cafe is setting some new night hours- 9 pm to 3 am- and is celebrating with live music this weekend. Tonight- at midnight- former subdudes keyboardist John Magnie will be presenting a special set of solo music. On Saturday, classical duet Steve Nye and Bob Barrett will play at In the City.
Also tonight, Andrew Holbrook is at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection, Martha’s Wake is at Dimmer’s, Jonathan Tiersten is at Casa de Colorado and Ekoostick Hookah will be at Tony’s
On Saturday, Kate and Anna McGarrigle will be at the Boulder Theatre. The Beegle-Olson-Quist Trio will be at the Bas Bleu Theatre on Monday. And the Fox Theatre in Boulder celebrates their five-year anniversary with a three night stand by the Funky Meters beginning on Thursday.
Music City of the Rockies
The Fort Collins music scene is cooking on high flame these days- with hot new live music venues and lots of new recordings. Right in the thick of it, of course, is our very own major music festival.
The upcoming Music City of the Rockies Festival ’97 is set for music venues throughout Fort Collins for three action-packed days, April 18-20. The festival used to be called the Northern Colorado Musicfest, which ran in Fort Collins in the first weekend in March since 1993. But thanks to a change in organization, some new event dates and an ambitious new plan to promote both public radio and Colorado music, the Music City of the Rockies Festival is ready to blast into a whole new era of making this town rock.
A lot about the Music City of the Rockies Festival is familiar. Once again, the festival is designed to showcase the brilliant musical talent of our region in all its different forms- bluegrass, blues, rock, experimental music, folk and more. It’s a community event happening simultaneously at over a dozen locations in the city, with plans for plenty of special events and once-in-a-lifetime combinations of bands and solo performers.
But most of all, it’s a benefit for public radio. In 1997, proceeds from Music City of the Rockies Festival ticket sales will be donated to Public Radio for the Front Range, in support of PRFR’s dedication to bringing community public radio back to Fort Collins. What’s most different about the festival- besides dates that should yield some warmer weather- is its name.
“Music City of the Rockies” is a wild, new attempt to point out that Fort Collins has a killer original music scene and it’s something that we’re proud of. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the venues and we’ve got the will to make it even stronger. If that’s what we’re celebrating, then why not put that right upfront?
Music City of the Rockies Festival ’97? It’s more than just a good idea, it’s just about to become a jamming reality. Details about the Music City of the Rockies Festival ’97 will be in the Official Program Guide, set to be included in the April issue of the Scene, this year’s media sponsor for the festival. All-events passes are already available- only $20 for a full weekend of Colorado music ($15 if purchased before March 28)- so get wise to the area’s biggest music event-your money goes directly to support local music, public radio and fun.
Rock Church: You’d have to be dead not to have heard about all the new live music venue excitement that’s going on around town. With the opening of the New York Cafe and the Starlight, the near-completion of renovations at Linden’s and the encouraging sign of construction at the Aggie, things are heating up nicely. But nightclubs aren’t the only live music growth in Fort Collins. In fact, one of the latest venues to start promoting shows isn’t a nightclub at all- it’s a church. The Vineyard, at 1137 Riverside, not only has a special worship service for its youth called the Rock Church- a mixture of original rock music, teachings and testimonies- but it is also bringing in hot, contemporary Christian bands for special concert dates. Recently, the Rock Church presented the electric Texas blues of Sleepy Ray.
On the schedule for Friday, March 7 is a show with Five Iron Frenzy, with Mercyride and special guests. This is first rate stuff- loud, energetic and electric- and a clear reflection of the tremendous growth contemporary Christian music has undergone in just the last few years. The Rock Church, then, becomes a truly alternative music venue for those who want to rock both the body and the soul with some authentically progressive music. The Rock Church- complete with a neon sign, state of the art lighting and sound and a relaxed atmosphere meant to be relaxed and comfortable- is located behind the Vineyard’s main building. Call 484-5999 for more information.
Liz Barnez: Sixteen tracks were rolling off of the KIVA recording console while Liz Barnez and the Mudheads-percussionist Gregory Long and multi-instrumentalist Pamela Robinson- performed on the Lincoln Center Mini-Theatre stage on March 26.The show was a benefit for ReLeaf, a Fort Collins organization dedicated to planting trees and shrubs at area schools and parks. And it was a good thing the recording gear was set up because the trio performed fresh acoustic versions of their own material- giving some of the songs a brand new life thanks to tight arrangements, crystal clear sound and one of the city’s finest live music venues.
Certainly a lot of the show featured reworkings of tunes from Barnez’s two independently released albums, “Liz Barnez Band” and “Inkmarks on Pages,” but the concert also held some very pleasant surprises- like new songs from Robinson and some captivating storytelling by Long. In a perfect balance of the familiar and the new, the concert was engaging, inspiring, warm and exciting, all at once.
At the center of it all, of course, is Barnez’s exceptionally expressive voice, which soars, swoops and bends with all the richness of a singer in her prime. Add in the clear tone of Robinson’s horn work, her guitar accompaniment and harmony vocals to die for. Then sprinkle in Long’s wide, but skillfully controlled rhythmic base and you have an idea of what these three musicians are capable of- music with plenty to offer while maintaining enough space to let the emotions of the songs to breathe and flow.
Of course, the evening would not have been complete without some of the zany humor that invariably comes up between songs whenever Barnez is on stage. The music, however, was no laughing matter, and here’s hoping a live album is on its way.
Steve Murray: Already on its way is singer-songwriter Steve Murray’s debut album release, “relative trouble.” With just a guitar, a passionate and uplifting voice and some gentle, easy musical arrangements, Murray emerges as a strong new voice with a gift for inspiration. Follow your heart- that’s the main theme that comes through loud and clear throughout the twelve songs on the release. No matter what your peers and relatives may say, you have to listen to the movements of your heart if you are ever going to find the things that mean the most to you in your life.
That means that roaming the West with a guitar and a notebook full of songs may mean more than making a bunch of money. It means that thinking may mean more than succeeding. It means that a full day of fishing can nourish the soul as much as a houseful of possessions. Murray’s voice is earthy and strong and his lyrics are well-crafted. How can you resist a writer who recognizes that “creative minds are temples of ideas that we share”? The words strike deep and true while the voice offers hope and encouragement.
Murray will be celebrating the release of “relative trouble” at Avogadro’s Number on Saturday, March 8. Other local CD releases to watch for include a new album by the band Isabel Haze. They’ll be celebrating their new recordings at Tony’s on March 8.
Description of Musicfest ’97 for grant
The Northern Colorado Musicfest (NCM) was founded in 1993 as a four day, not-for-profit event designed to showcase the richness of the musical talent in the Fort Collins area and to benefit community-oriented public radio. Since then, the festival has been successful in both directions- the number of performers playing in the event has doubled since the first festival and the amount of money donated to public radio groups (including KCSU and Public Radio for the Front Range)has nearly tripled.
Planning meetings for the Northern Colorado Musicfest ’97 have already begun and a contract has been signed between Public Radio for the Front Range (PRFR) and the five founding organizers of NCM for the next event scheduled for February 27-March 2, 1997.
PRFR was organized as a non-profit corporation with the State of Colorado on May 2, 1995 and was established to bring into existence a community directed, owned and operated radio station. PRFR’s Board of Directors and membership have demonstrated a strong commitment to the growing music scene in Fort Collins and a desire to provide a continuing showcase for this valuable, local cultural resource and were designated as the beneficiaries of the 1996 event.
Original organizers Deni La Rue, Kellie Straub, Ken O’Hearn, Sid Cooperrider and Tim Van Schmidt established stewardship of the event in 1995 and are currently applying for non-profit status as an organization in order to maintain the integrity and unique focus of the NCM. Once again, PRFR has been chosen as the beneficiary for the 1997 event.
Planning meetings will continue throughout the summer. Venue booking for Musicfest’97 will begin by August 1, 1996. Performer booking will begin by September 1, 1996.
Musicfest ’97 will once again be targeted to music fans of all genres of music- from bluegrass and folk music to rock and punk. The event will draw audiences from the Front Range region of both Colorado and Wyoming, from Laramie and Cheyenne all the way to Colorado Springs. Other Colorado-based musicians will be invited to perform in the festival, though special emphasis is given to Fort Collins area performers. Performances will be scheduled primarily in the downtown area of Fort Collins during the evenings on February 27 and 28 and throughout the day and evenings on March 1 and 2.
Attendance is again expected to be in the thousands- most events were standing room in 1996- not to mention the more than 300musicians that will be taking part, and will have a significant impact on businesses both directly and indirectly involved in the festival. Marketing has become one of the strongest points of the NCM.
The advertising for the event, which has included the Fort Fund logo for two years now, has increased significantly and Musicfest ’96 attracted unprecedented publicity, including a full feature article in the Denver Post. In 1997, NCM will be going on-line to increase awareness of the event and to provide yet another way of getting more complete information to the public.
Besides being awarded Fort Fund grants in both 1995 and 1996, NCM has also been recognized as a unique opportunity for other community-minded businesses and organizations. New Belgium Brewery in particular has become a major title sponsor and donated the sum of $4000 to the NCM in 1996. Transfort, the Rio Grande Restaurant and Happi Skratch records also made significant contributions to the festival last year. Other major businesses have already expressed interest in providing funds in 1997 and will help augment event ticket sales to pay expenses for the event and increase the amount of money donated to the cause of public radio.
Application is being made to Fort Fund by PRFR specifically to help cover sound and staging expenses for the 1997 event. Hopefully, the significance of the NCM is clear. No other city in the United States promotes its own music in such an aggressive and public way as Fort Collins. This says to the outside world that Fort Collins is a vibrant and exciting place. On the inside, the event helps pull our community together and fosters both pride and artistry. Community public radio should be a significant part of this movement and that is why PRFR is involved. The original organizers of the NCM and the hard-working members of PRFR agree that an investment today- of both time and money- will yield plenty for our community in the years to come. Written by Tim Van Schmidt for PRFR
So maybe you think a lot of the music you hear is boring. Maybe that’s because it’s all written in the 12-tone system that most of Western music has been written in since Bach’s time.
This is where Denver guitar explorer and composer Neil Haverstick comes in to introduce whole new worlds of musical possibilities- like 19 and 34 tone systems that bend the ear and stretch the boundaries of the guitar.
“Music based on 12 tones is getting pretty worn out in my opinion,” Haverstick said. “We keep using the same system only because we’ve been told to. There’s a lot of other tuning systems, but in Europe, the 12-tone just won out.”
Haverstick has just recently released “Acoustic Stick,” an album of acoustic 19 and 34 tone music that certainly sounds strange to the ear. Accompanied by percussionist Ernie Crews and bassist John Starrett, Haverstick offers energetic and challenging compositions that purposely seek out and play around in the musical holes usually left by 12-tone music.
All you have to do is hear the song “Birdwalk,” and you will understand that something as basic as a blues song structure becomes fuller and wider thanks to an extra 7 tones. The long Middle Eastern-flavored tune “From the West” becomes not just exotic, but also completely authentic. This live recording makes the most of an extra 22 tones.
“When I first started this, I never thought this would be as accepted as it has been,” Haverstick said. “It’s not as weird as it seems.”
Haverstick teaches workshops on his music and the special guitars developed just to play it.
New World Spirits
Energy and passion are in full measure on “Fortune Cookie,” the major label debut album on Universal Records by popular St. Louis band New World Spirits.
A lot of the energy comes from the upfront guitar work and the driving rock rhythms of the songs. But what kicks New World Spirits into an even higher gear is vocalist J. Chambers’ energetic- and passionate- performance.
The songs on “Fortune Cookie” are about people- about friends, lovers, relationships and feelings. Put all of that into a solid wall of electric rock and you need a powerful vocalist to make it work.
Chambers is up to the chore with both the chops and the savvy. Stories of life and living are not only underscored by a voice strong enough to mix with loud, edgy guitar and strong beats, but also with an emotional zeal that is both convincing and inspirational.
Add in strong melodies and a pervasive positive attitude and New World Spirits prove they are in control of an aggressive pop music that achieves plenty.
“Fortune Cookie” was produced by Rick Parashar, who has also worked with Pearl Jam, Blind Melon and Alice in Chains, and the first single from the album, “Bed,” has been receiving healthy airplay on AAA, alternative and rock radio stations.
New World Spirits will be bringing their fresh power pop sound to the area for the first time as part of the “Riverside Festival” scheduled for Saturday at the Mishawaka Amphitheater. Also playing will be Skin, featuring the former rhythm section from Shockra; Cabaret Diosa, a Boulder-based band that plays a fusion of Brazilian, Cuban and Latin show tunes; and the Psychodelic Zombies, who command the region’s hottest horn section.
Folkathon: Even though the Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver is constantly working to bring in a wide variety of acoustic-based music throughout the year, their biggest fundraiser is their annual “Folkathon Festival and Street Fair.”
This year, for the sixth annual event, there will be six stages of music, storytelling and dance, crafts and folk arts, games, prizes, face painting and other activities for kids, a beer garden and food.
Folkathon ’97 kicks off tonight with a concert at the Cameron Church by Chuck Pyle, the Velveeta Sisters, and Chris Daniels and the Acoustikings.
On Saturday, the Swallow Hill Music Hall and Grounds, at 1905 South Pearl Street in Denver, becomes the festival grounds and will feature music by John Magnie, Eileen Niehouse, Kindred Spirits, Downwind, Black Rose, Maree McRae, Jubilant Bridge, Mary Flower and many more. There’s a spoken word tent and a children’s tent in addition to a main stage, the bluegrass/traditional tent and the troubadours tent.
The Folkathon Kickoff Concert at the Cameron Church is at 8 pm tonight. On Saturday, Folkathon ’97 runs from 10 am to 7 pm.
Hot Dates: Hot to Go is at the Lincoln Center today. Tonight, Dan Fogelberg is at Red Rocks and Canebrake Run, featuring Rob and Jesse Solomon, will be at the Lincoln Center Mini-Theatre.
On Saturday, the Specials are at the Bluebird Theatre and Ratt is at the Paramount Theatre in Denver. On Sunday, the Further festival, featuring the Black Crowes, Ratdog with Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman, Mickey Hart, Bruce Hornsby, moe and Sherri Jackson, will be at Fiddler’s Green. On Monday, junior cottonmouth will be at the Lion’s Lair in Denver
On Tuesday, Ultimate Support Systems and Bridge International continue their summer concert series in City Park with a show by Barbara Rose, the Summit View Worship Band and the Promise Land Band. Tsunami is at the CSU Lagoon on Wednesday, while Air Supply is at the Grizzly Rose in Denver and Edwin McCain is at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.
Avogadro’s Number will continue its Musician’s Showcase hosted by Lloyd Drust on Thursday with a special “Ladies Nite,” featuring sets by Pamela Robinson, Michelle Roderick and Christina Stone.
Pianist, composer and producer Peter Kater now has more reasons than ever to make new music.
Kater has recently built his own recording studio and has also started his own record company. The new ventures fill in gaps in Kater’s creative process and creates a new outlet for the sensitive and innovative music he is widely known for.
Kater’s Earth Sea Studios, a 32-track automated digital recording system built in his rural Virginia home, for instance, has “revolutionized” his approach to writing and recording music.
“It’s very cool to have a state of the art recording studio right in my own home. It means you can take advantage of the moment rather than have to drive an hour and a half to some studio where it still smells like the last session,” Kater said.
“This way is much more immediate. There’s no awareness of the clock in terms of expense and I’m able to communicate and record with the ideas much more intact. There’s much less to dilute it, less distractions and it provides a space for perfect takes.”
Earth Sea Records, while only less than a year old and with only three releases in its catalog, is another kind of relief for Kater and like-minded artists such as native flutist R. Carlos Nakai.
“I got tired of talking other companies into projects that I knew were worthwhile. I felt like doing business conscientiously and give fair deals with artists,” Kater said.”We’re only nine months into it, but so far we’re doing quite well.”
Nakai is one of seven flutists featured on Earth Sea’s “World Flutes” release. Kater’s recent album on the Earth Sea label is “Essence,” a work aimed at providing “organic” music for use in the healing arts.
“After being involved in the healing arts for 20 years, most of the music I’ve heard hasn’t really addressed me personally. It’s either heavy on synthesizers and kind of lame or people use classical music which is usually too big and busy for the situation,” Kater said. “I decided to write ‘journey music’ but some that was not too controlling of the space.”
Kater is currently on an intimate solo piano tour that will stop at the Lincoln Center Mini Theatre on Sunday.
Sister 7: “This the Trip” is the new album by Texas rockers Sister 7 on the new Arista Austin Records label. Mixing melody, rock, funk and a touch of hip hop, Sister 7, formerly Little Sister, make a passionate and intense music, thanks to dynamic performances by vocalist Patrice Pike. This is all captured on “This the Trip” by producer Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, who has worked with such artists as the Spin Doctors, Freedy Johnston, Don Henley and James Taylor. Sister7 will be at the Starlight on Thursday.
Hot dates: Over the course of 18 solo albums and three releases with Rick Danko and Jonas Fjeld, singer-songwriter Eric Anderson has recorded a body of work that has been covered by a diverse group of performers including the Grateful Dead, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Cash and Linda Ronstadt. Anderson brings his “wryly humorous commentary” and earnest songwriting to the Cameron Church in Denver tonight. Juno Award winner Fred Eaglesmith opens. Tickets available at King Soopers.
Also tonight, the Keepers are at the County Cork, Mark Van Ark celebrates the release of his new CD, “Blue Fantasy,” at Unity Church, and Sho’ Nuff is at Roberto’s.
On Saturday, Indigenous celebrates the release of their new album, “Blues From the Sky,” at the New York Cafe. Also, the Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver will be hosting the “Sony Song Search and Seminar,” from 1 pm to 5:30. Music publishing veteran Greg Dorschel will be discussing music business issues and evaluating submitted songs.
David Harris hosts an open mic at Lucky Joe’s on Sunday. Shayar is at the Starlight on Monday. Mark Sloniker is at the Coffee Connection on Tuesday. And Cabaret Diosa is at the New York Cafe on Thursday.
Popa Chubby takes no prisoners.
On his recent Prime CD release, “Hit the High Hard One,” he cranks up a blistering live set with a hard, tough, and extremely electric version of Tom Wait’s “Heart Attack and Vine.” From there, except for the pensive “What’s So Great About Rock and Roll,” the album rocks long and hard.
“We rock until they drop,” Chubby said by phone recently.
“Hit the High Hard One” is a feast of no-nonsense blues rock, leaving plenty of room for Chubby to wail on his guitar. That it is recorded live is a deliberate move to get closer to the “essence” of Chubby’s music- something he feels was missing from his 1995 major label studio release on Okeh/Sony, “Booty and the Beast”.
“That was a good record, but it wasn’t clearly who I was-it was Sony Records’ idea of who I was,” Chubby said. “I made this record to set the record straight.”
The album captures Chubby at what he does the best- and the most- which is to travel the world and play live.
Currently Chubby is on a 26 date, 28 day American tour which takes him “from New York to Hawaii and back,” playing everything from choice club dates to festival appearances. Then with “no time off,” he travels to Europe to play in Germany, Russia and England- in an endless stream of rocking gigs.
“I’m not like a big rock star with a bus and a semi full of gear. I’m driving around in a van and I get up there every night and play,” Chubby said.
“It’s all about the music because no fool would get out there and drive 10,000 miles without loving to play.”
Born in the Bronx and raised in Queens, Chubby cut his music teeth in the early 1980’s on the New York hardcore scene, playing with bands such as Screaming Mad George &Disgusting and punk poet Richard Hell.
By the 1990’s, Chubby had become a popular blues rock attraction on the East Coast club circuit. He also established a national reputation thanks to winning a nationwide talent contest in 1992 and releasing two independent albums, “It’s Chubby Time” and “Gas Money.” This all lead to the deal with Okeh/Sony in 1995.
With the release of “Hit the High Hard One,” Chubby gets back to playing the raw stuff that you are better off not even trying to define other than hot, hard and blue.
“Unfortunately there are some people who have to label everything,” Chubby said. “I’m the guy who’s really easy to hang with but hard to hang a label on. I just play what I feel.”
Chubby is looking forward to a new studio release in the fall, to be titled “One Million Broken Guitars.” He’s also writing a book with the working title of “Road Rot,” which will include favorite anecdotes about playing live- like having to fend off Roger Clinton from grabbing his guitar in the middle of a show.
But no matter where he goes or what happens to him, Chubby steadfastly remembers his roots and actively works to help keep the local New York City blues scene alive.
“I just keep getting involved because you’ve just got to support live music,” Chubby said.
Chubby will be making his Fort Collins debut at the New York Cafe tonight.
Hot dates: Luther Vandross and Vanessa Williams are at Fiddler’s Green and Reel Big Fish are at the Bluebird Theater in Denver tonight.
On Saturday, the Psychodelic Zombiez are at the Starlight, the Kyle Roberts Blues Revival is at Linden’s, and Stewart Lewis is at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection.
Ex-Primus drummer Herb is at the Starlight and Rage Against the Machine and the Wu Tang Clan are at Fiddler’s Green on Monday. Ex-Allman Brothers Band member Warren Haynes brings his band Government Mule to the Starlight on Tuesday. And David Bowie is at the Mammoth Events Center in Denver on Wednesday.
Okay, so the music of the Psychodelic Zombiez is a spicy stew of musical styles- funk, jazz, rock, soul and everything in between.
But there’s more to the Zombiez than just an energetic fusion music. This 9-member band based on the Front Range has packed clubs from Seattle to San Diego and as far east as Kansas City with not just musical power, but also purpose.
“Our real mission is to take people some place they haven’t been before; to wash away the daily whatevers and go somewhere new,” Psychodelic Zombiez trumpet player Daryl Abrahamson said recently.
Long, funky grooves, layers of sharp horn lines, and lyrics tied to living in a crazy world combine in the Zombiez’ music for an irresistible and fully danceable escape from everyday concerns. That’s what helps consistently sell out shows wherever the Zombiez play.
It has also placed both of the band’s independent releases in the top five of Rolling Stone magazine’s alternative albums chart. It took three years for their first album, 1993’s “An Evening At the Zoo,” to reach number 6 on the chart. Their 1996 release, “S.A.C.,” took less than a year to reach number 4. The records also became best regional sellers at Blockbuster Music in the Denver area.
That kind of action is what put the Zombiez in line for a major label record deal- more than once.
“We’ve had two big build-ups. We were just really close…but it didn’t turn out the way we expected,” Abrahamson said.
Most recently, the Zombiez recorded what became the “S.A.C.” album at A & M Records’ studio in Los Angeles. Enthusiastic record executives encouraged the band, but then signed another group, fulfilling their quota and leaving the Zombiez on their own.
“We were upset because we did a lot of research and checked out the band that got signed. Of course, we thought ours was better,” Abrahamson said.
“That’s what confused us. Our albums obviously sell and our shows always sell out. It’s a strange business- we thought we did everything right.”
Still, the Zombiez came out of the experience not only a little wiser about working with corporate music companies, but also with a great album.
“S.A.C.” is a slick collection of long-lasting grooves and well-crafted arrangements. Fine vocal harmonies compliment bursts of horns. The guitar howls while the rhythm section keeps everything locked down tight. It’s fun and precise at the same time.
“We are a very part-oriented band, very orchestrated. Certain segments are freeform- where we do things we didn’t rehearse- but most of our music comes from working on it rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal,” Abrahamson said.
The Zombiez are scheduled to play a special Halloween show tonight at the Starlight. Besides the Psychodelic Zombiez and special guests Electric Swingset and Hyland, the Starlight will also be offering prizes for best costumes.
Hot dates: According to “psychic soul singer” Carol Skylark, Halloween is “when the veil between the worlds dissolves.” That’s a perfect opportunity for Skylark and musician Michael Riversong to showcase what they call “cosmic soul”- a spacey and soothing music improvised from the psychic vibrations the pair receive from their audience. Skylark and Riversong will be at Java Plaza tonight “for an evening of musical messages from the spirits to you.”
Also tonight, the Rock Hounds will be at the County Cork and Bill Staines and Dave Mallett will be at the Cameron Church in Denver.
Singer-songwriter Dan Bern will be at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver on Saturday for two shows.
Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean and guitarist Bert Jansch will be at the Cameron Church on Wednesday and progressive rock favorites Dream Theater will be at the Ogden Theater in Denver on Thursday.
Reggae on the Rocks
Reggae music is a lot of different things. And a lot of those things are reflected strongly and honestly on the recent What Are Records? release “RORX, the Tenth Anniversary Reggae on the Rocks.”
What the Boulder-based record company has accomplished with this release is not only a lasting document of one of reggae music’s premier events in America, but it also says a lot about what it is that gives reggae its long lasting power.
Listen to “RORX” and you’ll hear that reggae, an island music originally developed in Jamaica, is much more than just a sensual, rootsy groove music custom-made for partying. It is also socially conscious, reverent, full of historical perspective, and, of course, fun.
For instance, cue up Israel Vibration’s songs “Cool and Calm” and “Rudeboy Shufflin'” and you will hear about Jamaica’s youth and how they deal with the troubles of living in the ghetto. Poverty, unemployment and other problems challenge their ability to live a life that does not end up in crime and violence.
Burning Spear, one of reggae’s most durable surviving figures, gives a taste of the historical perspective that is a part of the reggae experience with his classic song, “Marcus Garvey.” Garvey is a pivotal figure in international black history and Burning Spear not only praises him, but also raises him up as an inspiration and a prophet.
But reggae not only reflects on history and social awareness, it also touches on religious belief. Reggae music often includes references to the Rastafarian religion based in Jamaica. This religion believes that Ethiopian King Selassie had divine powers and on “RORX,” Black Uhuru’s song “I Love King Selassie” plainly celebrates this figure’s strong influence on the reggae culture.
Musically, “RORX” also reveals that reggae can go far beyond the familiar “boom chuck” rhythms that generally underpin everything in reggae. Just listen to the full, fiery electric guitar wailing away in the Burning Band’s instrumental number, “Peace;” and turn up the dramatic musical build-up at the end of Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” There’s a lot more here than a never-ending dance beat.
But let’s also not forget that reggae has something else that comes on strong and true- the fun factor. That’s right, with everything else, reggae is a music that celebrates having fun in the sun as one big happy family. The Skatalite’s instrumental tune “Guns of Naverone” is truly an invitation to lighten up and groove while Burning Spear reminds us of the joy a good attitude can bring in “Happy Day.”
Put it all together and “RORX The Tenth Annual Reggae on the Rocks” is a vital and diverse portrait of a music that has spread from Jamaica all across the world.
In fact, reggae has become so popular that this year’s Reggae on the Rocks show at Red Rocks in Morrison will be spread over two full days. On Saturday, Burning Spear returns for the eleventh annual event along with Toots and the Maytals, Inner Circle, Michael Rose, Pato Banton and Culture. On Sunday, Burning Spear also appears with Black Uhuru, Lucky Dube, the Original Wailers, the Samples and the Wailing Souls.
Jerry Jeff Walker: “Scamp” is the title of Jerry Jeff Walker’s newest album release, on his own Tried & True Music label. The record takes full advantage of Walker’s folk music and storytelling roots, blended, of course, with his trademark energy and good spirits.
“Scamp” is Walker’s 27th release, following up the success of his recent live “greatest hits” album, “Night After Night,” recorded at the prestigious Birchmere in Virginia. Walker will be featuring selections from both “Scamp” and “Night After Night” for his annual concert swing through Colorado, including a show at the Grizzly Rose in Denver tonight, and on Saturday at the Mishawaka Amphitheater. The Mishawaka show starts at 2 pm on Sunday.
Hot dates: Tonight, a Fort Collins performing legend, Wrangler Jim, reunites with his band the Hungry Horsemen for a special show at Avo’s also featuring Blind Lemon. Also Bela Fleck begins a two night stand at Mishawaka and the Pancho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band is at the Arvada Center for the Arts.
On Monday, David Byrne is at the Paramount Theatre in Denver and Toots and the Maytals are at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. Mercyride headlines the special Band Together concert at Old Town Square on Tuesday. On Thursday, the JGB Band is at Mishawaka, Sheryl Crow is at Red Rocks and Fourth Estate is at Avo’s.
Hysteria is a funny thing.
Just ask guitarist and singer-songwriter Roger McGuinn. In the mid-1960’s, when his band the Byrds had scored two number one hits, with Bob Dylan’s song “Mr. Tambourine Man” and their own “Turn, Turn, Turn,” the group’s public profile was at a fever pitch.
“Little girls would chase us and try to tear our clothes off. In those days there wasn’t much security,” McGuinn said recently by phone from a tour stop in Seattle, WA.
McGuinn attributes a lot of the crowd hysteria he and Byrd band mates like David Crosby, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman endured to the general Beatlemania phenomenon of the time, but also sees celebrity worship as something “almost animal.”
“We liked getting the attention. It was a thrill and kind of an honor, but it’s not the kind of thing you can make happen- or even want to make happen,” McGuinn said.
The hysteria was short lived, but fortunately, the music that McGuinn made with the Byrds and as a solo artist is substantial and long lasting.
The Byrds focused the folk rock movement of the 60’s with a brilliant, crisp guitar sound and wonderfully layered harmonies. The band then went on to pioneer the southern California sound of the 1970’s, fusing country music and rock together.
After the Byrds disbanded in 1973, McGuinn continued to record solo, joined with former band mates Hillman and Clark in a new group, and hooked up with that decade’s wildest tour-Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue.
“That was the easiest gig I ever played. I mean, I had to hang out with Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan and play just two songs a night. Of course, it was great,” McGuinn said.
In the 1980’s, McGuinn returned to his folk roots, touring with just his guitars- including his own custom 12-stringRickenbacker “signature model”- and a fistful of great songs. But by 1990, he was back in the studio and co-produced his first solo album in a decade, “Back From Rio,” which included the hit song “King of the Hill, co-written with Tom Petty.
In 1991, McGuinn was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1992, he received the LA Rock Award for “Best Folksinger.”
So far, it has been a long and fruitful career- the stuff memoirs are made of. And that’s just what fueled McGuinn’s most recent release, “Live From Mars.”
“It’s like a one man play that came about when I was working on the text of an autobiography project. I started thinking about what the soundtrack would be for it and then I started fitting in some commentary in between the songs-anecdotes about how they came about,” McGuinn said.
Besides touring and playing his own music, McGuinn also keeps busy as a folk music activist, posting traditional folksongs on an internet web site called the “Folk Den.” This is one of several “preservation projects” McGuinn is currently active in.
What keeps McGuinn going is the same thing that makes certain music and certain musicians ageless.
“You just have to love it,” McGuinn said. “That’s why a musician like Andres Segovia is such a positive role model for me. He never retired. He was like the old blues guys and just kept on playing. He wasn’t in it to make a fortune and then go to Hawaii and retire,” McGuinn said.
McGuinn will be making a rare northern Colorado stop tonight at the Rialto Theatre in Loveland. Opening for McGuinn will be Fort Collins singer-songwriter Andrew Holbrook.
Tiny Town: Guitarist Tommy Malone and bassist Johnny Ray Allen, of course, toured the world with their former band, the subdudes. In Nashville, guitarist Pat McLaughlin is one of Music Row’s most respected songwriters. Drummer Kenneth Blevins has played with John Hiatt, Sonny Landreth, Shawn Colvin and Johnny Cash. Together, the four have become Tiny Town, a new band that recommends itself with three songwriters, two soulful singers and guitarists and an incomparable rhythm section. Tiny Town makes its Fort Collins debut at Linden’s on Saturday.
Son Seals: This nightclub date has just been scheduled: powerhouse Chicago bluesman Son Seals will be at the New York Cafe on Saturday. This is a rare chance to see one of modern blues’ grittiest and most intense performers.
To make his music, area guitarist and Native American flutist Ronald Roybal goes right to the source of his inspiration.
For example, the compositions on Roybal’s 1996 solo guitar album, “Suite Santa Fe,” were the result of a road trip through the landscapes of northern New Mexico.
“I just jumped into the land rover and drove,” Roybal said recently. “I had my ax in the back, a pocket tape recorder and pulled over whenever I had any ideas. The recorder was like my artist’s sketchbook for that whole trip.”
Roybal is a native of the San Luis Valley and traces his roots back to New Mexico, so “Suite Santa Fe” became a soothing and sensitive portrait of the land of his heritage. He took another trip when it came time to write music for his newest album, “Visions of the Fourth World,” but it wasn’t just a physical journey. Roybal took a week off from the busy, modern world, borrowed a cousin’s cabin in the San Luis Valley and traveled, with his flute, deep into the legends of the Anasazi and Hopi spirituality.
“I was immersing myself in the stories and legends, imagining myself in them and the music became a reflection of that experience,” Roybal said.
The music on “Visions of the Fourth World” is spare and beautiful, single melodies weaving in and out of their own haunting echoes. The titles- “Eagle Song,” “Pumpkin Girl” and “Spider Woman”- only sketch out the meanings of songs that take on power beyond words. It’s a calming, soothing power connecting our world to that of “the Ancient Ones.” The inspirations of traditional stories and nature not only makes for good music, but also a new appreciation for life’s gifts.
“Music is a great gift from our creator,” Roybal said. “It makes it possible to make a living creatively and it also helps people. I get E-mail all the time from people who say they use my music to relax.”
Roybal’s music, on both guitar and flute, has been attracting record crowds to area venues such as the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection since Roybal began performing regionally last spring. It has also inspired the Barnes & Noble Bookstore chain to not only stock his CD’s, but to also book Roybal on a tour of the company’s Front Range stores.
Through April and May, Roybal will be playing live for book and music lovers alike.
“It’s just a great opportunity for an independent artist,” Roybal said.
Roybal will be performing locally at Roberto’s Restaurant on Thursday. He’ll also be at Barnes & Noble in Fort Collins on Saturday, April 5 and at the Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection on April 11.
Hot Dates: Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin will be taking the stage at the Paramount Theatre in Denver tonight for a triumphant 2-night stand celebrating her most recent Columbia Records release, “A Few Small Repairs.” The album is provocative and strong thanks to songs that cover a wide range of emotional experience- turmoil, upheaval, heartache and joy- and to brilliant production work by co-writer and producer John Leventhal. Leventhal makes the sound shimmer and shine while Colvin digs deep into a world of conflicting feelings. But that’s life- anger next to love, despair next to happiness- and together, Colvin and Leventhal have created a brave, honest and finally inspiring work. Opening for Colvin at the Paramount will be Freedy Johnston and Patty Griffin.
On Saturday, new Fort Collins singer-songwriter Kirk Margoles will be making his “official debut” on the northern Colorado music scene with a show at Java Plaza. Margoles has recently relocated here from the Boston/Cambridge area. Also on Saturday, Chaskinakuy, a duo performing the traditional music of the Andean people of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, will be presenting a concert at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver.
Before reggae music, there was ska.
Ska was Jamaica’s answer to rock and roll in the early1960’s- songs about growing up supported by quick, irresistible dance beats. Though streetwise, ska had an innocence to it thanks to consistently energizing rhythms.
Ska was revitalized in the early 1980’s by such racially mixed “two-tone” bands as the Selecter and the English Beat. The music became more politically aware, but retained its fun factor.
That “fun factor” is probably why ska has once again become a prominent musical style in the 1990’s. The mainstream successes of bands like No Doubt and Sublime have brought ska into the spotlight and has it filling dance floors.
This gives plenty of room for bands like Issac Green and the Skalars to move.
Based in St. Louis, the Skalars are a big band- 9 members- but they approach ska with a warm and gentle touch. On their most recent Moon Ska Records release, “Skoolin’ with the Skalars,” the grooves are quick and certainly danceable, the horns swell and punctuate and vocals soar, but the overall effect is not the least bit overwhelming. It’s just clean, fun music without any major pretensions.
More aggressive is Connecticut ska band Spring Heeled Jack. This 7-piece band packs the energy of rock and punk into their ska and have turned national tours with such bands as the Toasters- kings of the east coast ska scene- and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies into their own strong following.
To hear the difference between the ska of the Skalars and Spring Heeled Jack, all you have to do is check both bands out on Wednesday at the Lory Student Center Ballroom.
To hear what Colorado bands are doing with ska, all you have to do is check out Judge Roughneck, from Denver.
On their most recent CD release, “Rude One’s Money Making Scheme,” Judge Roughneck offers a more urban take on ska, fusing hip hop influences with more traditional ska rhythms. A sharp horn section and a wider interpretation of ska to include more reggae-oriented material makes the band diverse enough to be named Westword Magazine’s 1996 Best of Denver Ska Band and to be tapped to open for such acts as General Public, Fishbone, the Skatalites and the Toasters.
Judge Roughneck will be the Starlight on Sunday, along with the Heptals and Area 52.
Songwriters: There’s a wealth of good songs coming to town in the next week.
Start off with an evening with Patty Larkin on Sunday at the Sunset Night Club.
Larkin has been one of the most consistently creative recording and performing artists of the contemporary progressive folk music scene for more than a decade. Winner of10 Boston Music Awards, Larkin’s mix of poignant songwriting and strong, distinctive guitar work has become a respected standard.
Her most recent release on Windham Hill/High Street is “Perishable Fruit,” which features 11 new tracks written and produced by Larkin. Besides playing all the guitars, mandolin and bazouki on the album, Larkin also welcomes guest players such as Bruce Cockburn, Jane Siberry and bassist Michael Manring.
On Wednesday, singer-songwriter Cliff Eberhardt will beat Avogadro’s Number, bringing with him a folk music that depends on passionate delivery and vivid lyrical snapshots of a wide-ranging emotional landscape.
Eberhardt’s brand new Red House Records release, “12Songs of Good and Evil,” is stripped down and unforced, featuring an organic blend of guitar, words and voice.
Hot dates: Fat Sow is at the County Cork tonight. The Freddi Henchi Band will be at Linden’s tonight and on Saturday. The Psychodelic Zombiez will be at the Starlight on Monday. Love Spit Love, featuring former lead singer of the Psychedelic Furs, will be at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver on Tuesday. Zuba returns to the Starlight on Thursday.
Steve Murray – Bio
“There’s a fresher running water for those who choose to see. There’s a smoother rolling wheel for those who choose to try”-One Saturday Morning
Follow your heart.
That’s the main message that comes through loud and clear in the music of Colorado singer-songwriter Steve Murray. Follow your heart with a solid purpose and an upraised voice. But this is more than a musical theme for Murray, who has spent his life living this philosophy. Murray left his home near the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to travel and live in the West. And the songs that have become a clear reflection of this artist’s tireless search for self-truth are offered like beacons of hope to others who may also be blazing their own trail.
Murray was born in Easton, PA, but a deep, moving restlessness would lead him to the mountains of Colorado. However, not before learning to play guitar and starting to write his own songs. Murray earned a degree in philosophy at Colgate University in 1989 but rather than succumb to peer pressure to follow a rigid career track, Murray followed his own muse to Telluride, Colorado. There he worked construction and began his professional life as a musician, playing anywhere he could- open mics, weddings and private parties.
Moving north to the booming Front Range city of Fort Collins, Murray honed his craft, not only playing, but now organizing lively open mic sessions at a variety of area venues. Murray kept his mind active, earning a degree in Biology from Colorado State University in 1994, while keeping his pen flying- writing the songs that would become his debut album release.
In 1997, Murray emerges as a strong new songwriting talent with the 12-song collection, “relative trouble.” It’s all there- passion, sincerity and heart- and it’s delivered with just the strength of an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, spare, honest arrangements and a voice that soars and inspires. “relative trouble” not only has a sound that is both personal and warm, but the lyrics are also deep and insightful.
Murray stays true to the path of following his heart by writing passionate and purposeful songs that confront daily pressures, love, despair and a restless searching with a clear and honest head. To Murray, values mean more than money, “creative minds are temples of ideas,” and a single, magical night can live on forever.
The joy and freedom of a perfect day of fishing rightly churns next to the pain of loss and confused relationships. What makes it all add up is Murray’s spirited attitude that life is worth living as fully as possible, that it’s rich and precious in all its various faces.
Follow your heart, is what Murray both practices and preaches. It’s more than a message-it’s truly this man’s life.
“‘Cause you have got to climb a mountain before you can reach the sky You have got to build the bottom before you can build it high You must stare at your desires before you ever find your goal And you must first explore your values before you understand your soul”-Steve Murray
With his debut album release, “relative trouble,” Fort Collins singer-songwriter Steve Murray emerges as a strong new regional talent.
A lot of that strength comes from Murray’s gift for well-crafted songwriting. It’s all there- passion, sincerity and heart- and it’s delivered with a single acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and spare, honest arrangements.
It also helps that Murray has a voice that soars and inspires while ruminating on the meanings of life.
The 12 songs on “relative trouble” confront daily pressures, love, despair, and a restless searching with a clear head.
To Murray, values mean more than money, “creative minds are temples of ideas,” and a single, magical night can live on forever. The joy and freedom of a perfect day of fishing churns next to the pain of loss and confused relationships.
What makes it all add up is Murray’s spirited vocals and an attitude that implies that life is worth living as fully as possible.
“relative trouble” is being released on the local KIVA Records label and features guest appearances by John Magnie on accordion and Don Cordes on banjo and fiddle. Murray celebrates with a “CD Release Concert” at Avogadro’s Number on Saturday. Lloyd Drust opens.
Rock Church: Nightclubs aren’t the only live music venue growth in Fort Collins. In fact, one of the latest venues to start promoting shows isn’t a nightclub at all- it’s a church.
The Vineyard, at 1137 Riverside, not only has a special worship service for its youth called the Rock Church- a mixture of original rock music, Bible teachings and testimonies- but it is also bringing in hot, contemporary Christian bands for special concert dates.
On the schedule at the Rock Church for tonight is a show with Five Iron Frenzy, along with Mercyride and special guests. This is first-rate stuff- loud energetic and electric- and a clear reflection of the tremendous growth contemporary Christian music has undergone in just the last few years.
The Rock Church, then, becomes a truly alternative music venue for those who want to rock both the body and the soul with some authentically progressive music.
The Rock Church- complete with neon sign, state-of-the-art lighting and sound- is located behind the Vineyard’s main building. Call 484-5999 for information.
Hot Dates: Fort Collins groove band Launching Lydia won first place in Linden’s Battle of the Bands last fall and will be kicking off a two night stand at the Bar Bazaar tonight.
Also tonight, “newgrass” banjo player Tony Furtado celebrates the release of his new Rounder album, “Roll My Blues Away,” at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver and the Funky Meters are at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.
On Saturday, Front Range supporter of old-time music Teri Rasmusson will present a special children’s show titled “Fiddlesticks and Jellybeans, A Pioneer Journey,” at the Swallow Hill Music Hall at 11 am. Call 303-777-1003 for information. Also, classical guitarist Robert Bluestone plays at the Arvada Center for the Arts, folk pioneer Rosalie Sorrels performs at the Cameron Church in Denver, the String Cheese Incident is at the Starlight and Isabel Haze celebrates the release of their new CD at Tony’s on Saturday.
On Tuesday, the Bloodhound Gang and Nerfherder will be at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver and Wayne Horowitz will be at the Starlight. Revved up new ska band Johnny Socko is at the Starlight on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the Boston Songwriter Series at Avogadro’s Number concludes with a show by Ellis Paul. Paul’s most recent Philo Records release, “A Carnival of Voices,” reveals a smart melding of the raw acoustic roots of folk music with the hip new directions East coast singer-songwriters are taking the music. That means that acoustic guitar and harmonica stand next to smooth production touches and full vocal arrangements, while Paul’s expressive vocals stand their ground right in the middle. Karen Capaldi opens the show.
The Open Rangers
There’s a revolution going on in contemporary poetry.
That revolution is called “performance poetry,” a new and lively way to enjoy an old art. What’s happening is that poets- traditionally solitary souls without much recognition-are performing their words on stage to find ready acceptance from appreciative audiences.
Right on the cutting edge of this movement is the Denver-based poetry performance troupe, the Open Rangers. The8-member group mixes their original poetry with theater, comedy, music and more for an entertaining art experience that goes far beyond just written verse.
“We call it performance poetry because it’s much larger than just the words,” Open Ranger Ruth Mathews said. “We’re taking from a much larger box of crayons and we’re always looking for a way to give the fullest, richest picture for the audience.”
On stage, the Open Rangers perform poems written by every member of the group while creating dramatic vignettes out of them with creative staging, lighting and combinations of performers.
The Open Rangers were formed in 1989 by a trio of Denver writers who found that by banding together and pooling varying backgrounds as poets, actors and musicians, they increased audience reception whenever they performed.
“We were just kindred spirits. We were well-developed artists ourselves, but we found that the embellishment of the poetry by a group performance made it received better. Response to our performance poetry has been very enthusiastic,” Open Rangers co-founder SETH said.
In an Open Rangers performance, the setting, the mood and the effect of the words keep changing constantly, thanks to a large membership- that also includes Stephanie Selene Anderson, Tupper Cullum, Peter Frohe, Ricki Harada, Ira Liss and Eric Walter- and a wide diversity of creative talent.
“Each of the Open Rangers comes to language with a different approach,” Mathews said.
“SETH is very much into imagery and listening to him is like walking in a rain forest. Ira writes with a more conversational tone and looks at the humor in life. Peter is musically-oriented and he’s into rhythms. Ted has afire-and-brimstone minister kind of presentation and he is often responding to current events.”
What the Open Rangers respond to as a group is creativity and that’s why the group’s membership has changed and expanded over the years.
That’s also why the troupe has been successfully hosting a monthly showcase of performance poetry called “Random Axe of Rhyme” at Denver’s alternative performance arts facility, the Bug Theater. Not only do the Open Rangers and related group Jafrika perform their own works, they also present other artists.
“Random Axe of Rhyme began as an excuse for the Open Rangers and Jafrika to develop pieces in front of an audience. It was a steady venue that allowed us to present a new show each month,” SETH said. “But we began finding new ways to showcase other performance art from the area. There’s a lot of talent out there looking for an audience.”
Further, the Open Rangers have found that there are also audiences out there looking for something different to experience. People of all ages have enjoyed the group’s work, thanks to the Open Rangers’ policy of making their performances accessible to a wide range of tastes.
“Our work is audience-friendly and entertaining. It’s thought-provoking but it’s not in your face,” Mathews said.”It’s a mixture that makes for a well-rounded experience that you don’t have to be a poet to enjoy.”
The Open Rangers will be bringing their Random Axe of Rhyme show to the Bas Bleu Theatre on Friday and Saturday and promise a program that will change common stereotypes people have about poetry.
“People often have an impression of poetry that comes from what they learned in junior high school. They think it’s something they can’t penetrate, or that it’s not relevant to their own lives. We’re trying to break down those barriers,” SETH said.
The Open Rangers/Random Axe of Rhyme
Poetry- that’s not exactly the first thing people think of when looking for entertainment.
Enter the Open Rangers, the Denver-based poetry performance troupe that fuses the love of words with the love of the stage.
“People have an impression of poetry that comes from what they experienced in Jr. high School and high school. They think it’s something they can’t penetrate, or that it’s not relevant to their own lives. We’re trying to break down those barriers,” Open Rangers co-founder and poetry activist SETH said recently.
When the Open Rangers take the stage, it isn’t just to stand at a lectern to read monotonous lines of self-confession and love lost. What this group of writers does is to very creatively mix poetry with music, comedy, theater and more for fast-moving performances that challenge the audience rather than putting it into an introverted stupor.
“We are all writers first,” Open Ranger Ruth Mathews said. “The basis for our performances is a love of language and a love of sharing that love…Our interest is in finding ways to communicate our inner landscapes- which is poetry- in a form that is accessible, entertaining and culturally responsive.”
With varying backgrounds as poets, actors and musicians, the Open Rangers draw on their collective experiences to create shows that shift and change according to the group’s flexible membership.
The Open Rangers were founded in 1989 by a trio of Denver writers who made the conscious decision to not only create a form of “performance poetry” that would entertain audiences, but also one that could include other writers.
“We didn’t want it to be just us. We wanted to incorporate other voices,” SETH said. “The idea was not just for us to be in the spotlight. We all share this universe and we all have our own perspectives. Each perspective has elements of truth so we felt we could be idealistic and literally open about who we performed with.”
Some members of the Open Rangers are attentive to evocative imagery. Others use humor and more conversational writing, while others are more musically oriented. Some write about emotional moments and some write about current events. Together, the members find that they inspire each other as much as they do their consistently enthusiastic audiences.
“It’s a very generous situation,” Mathews said. “We feed into and off of each other in a very creative way.”
Most recently, the Open Rangers have been hosting monthly shows called “Random Axe of Rhyme” at Denver’s alternative performance arts facility, the Bug Theater. Eight members of the Open Rangers will be bringing Random Axe of Rhyme to the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins on Friday, November 14 and Saturday, November 15. Guaranteed: the Open Rangers will turn what you thought you knew about poetry into something new and exciting.
There’s more to the Radiators’ music than just a good, rocking groove.
Of course, anyone who has seen this contemporary New Orleans mainstay party band, or heard Radiators records such as “Confidential,” “Doctor, Doctor” or “Like Dreamers Do,” knows that the grooves are a strong part of the band’s music.
But listening to the new Epic-Legacy Records release,” Songs from the Ancient Furnace, the Best of the Radiators,” something else comes on strong. That is, the fine craftsmanship that goes into the Radiators’ songs.
“Songs from the Ancient Furnace” features choice selections from the Radiators’ first three Epic Records albums, as well as unreleased tunes from earlier projects and along live version of the song “Love is a Tangle.” That amounts to a wide-ranging retrospective of over ten years of recording and some excellent songwriting, mostly thanks to Radiators keyboardist and vocalist Ed Volker.
While the Radiators’ songs rock, Volker has insured that what is being said is just as funky as what is being played. The song lyrics on “Songs from the Ancient Furnace” are rich in word play and creative imagery. Volker wields words with a cool elegance, stirring up drama, passion and mystery.
Their biggest radio hit, “Confidential,” for instance, wouldn’t be nearly so powerful if Volker didn’t make the street scene- and attitude- so vivid with his lyrics. The previously unreleased song “Little Paradise” wouldn’t be so easygoing and comfortable without the warm combination of words that finds “a little garden on your lips, a little sunshine in your eyes.” And an essential part of the funky rock of the band’s hit “Doctor, Doctor” is the twist in the lyrics where a passionate crush “was the best thing I never had.”
Of course, “Songs from the Ancient Furnace” does not reflect the Radiators’ newest material from their strong debut release on the What Are Records? label, “New Dark Ages,” but the collection stands as an excellent introduction to a band that has become an enduring institution thanks to not only great grooves, but also great words.
The Radiators have just returned from their first tour in Europe and will be at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre on Saturday.
Chuck Pyle: Colorado singer-songwriter Chuck Pyle is just about the best of everything you could want from a western cowboy poet.
Pyle’s songs are full of warm attitude, rich imagery, a love for nature and an appreciation for wry, homespun humor. His performances are more like a chat by a campfire with a new friend.
Pyle’s music was used as a theme song for the 13-partPBS series, “Spirit of Colorado,” and, thanks to his gentle stage presence and his lyrical and storytelling wit, he has become known as the “Zen Cowboy.”
Pyle’s new album, “Keepin’ Time by the River,” and a book, “The Zen Cowboy Book of Wisdom,” are scheduled for release this fall. In the mean time, Pyle will be at the Rialto Theater in Loveland on Saturday. Loveland singer-songwriter Barbara Rose opens.
Arlo Guthrie: After over 30 years of making music, Arlo Guthrie remains strongly independent. The young man that once ruffled the feathers of the status quo with the rambling counter-culture classic, “Alice’s Restaurant,” is still beating his own path as head of his own small record company, Rising Son Records.
Guthrie started by taking possession of the 15 albums he made for Warner Brothers Records and re-releasing them on his own. With the cash he made from that, Guthrie started up some special project records- like a collection of cowboy songs, alive album with Pete Seeger and a re-recording of “Alice’s Restaurant”- that helped pay for his recent release “Mystic Journey.”
“Mystic Journey” is Guthrie’s first album of all new songs in ten years and includes songs about love and friendship, nature, and, of course, the world’s political climate. Guthrie will be mixing new songs in with his old classics at Mishawaka on Sunday.
Hot Dates: Tonight, Badfinger is at the Rialto Theater and the Marshall Tucker Band is at Mishawaka. On Sunday, the Lollapalooza rolls into Fiddler’s Green in Denver, this year featuring Prodigy, Tool and Snoop Doggy Dogg. The Band Together show scheduled for City Park last week has been rescheduled for Tuesday and will feature Barbara Rose, the Summit View Worship band and the Promise Land Band. On Thursday, Fool’s Progress, formerly Acoustic Junction, will be in Old Town Square.
I have to admit it- I really like the music of the Wallflowers.
Sure, I’ve complained about them enough. I mean, they’re on the radio all the time. Worse yet, my 13-year old daughter really digs them and their current top ten hit album, “Bringing Down the Horse,” has been blaring out of her bedroom morning and night all summer long.
Anything this popular can get kind of annoying. But fortunately, there’s good reason for the excitement in this case.
With “Bringing Down the Horse,” The Wallflowers, lead by Jakob Dylan, have nearly single-handedly revived American roots rock in the 1990’s. Dylan and band have stepped up to put a vibrant energy into songwriting in the tradition of artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and, yes, Bob Dylan to come up with a dynamic, full-bodied, guitar-based music.
The songs sound familiar enough to attract older rock fans. Yet the approach is fresh enough and strong enough to cross over to younger generations. That has the makings of a mainstream hit.
“Bringing Down The Horse” was produced by T-Bone Burnett, which probably accounts for the vast improvement over the Wallflowers’ self-titled debut album, released in 1992. “The Wallflowers” had a lot of the same potential musical power, but most of it was lost in loose production values and a sluggish presentation.
Burnett has fixed that on the new album. The record is tight and proceeds with the kind of controlled confidence that indicates that an artist is no longer searching but has arrived. In this environment, the Wallflowers shine, and even guest appearances by musicians such as Adam Duritz, Mike Campbell and Sam Phillips do not take away from the fact that this is a band that knows what they’re doing.
That’s why it won’t be too hard to take my daughter to see the Wallflowers and the Counting Crows tonight at Red Rocks, There’s something great in the Wallflowers’ music for both of us.
Tonight’s show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for Saturday’s concert
Wiseman: Relax. Put on solo guitarist Steven Wiseman’s new CD release, “First Light,” and take a break. With an easy hand, sensitive arrangements and a mellow mood, Wiseman’s guitar music can take the stress out of anyone’s day.
“First Light” combines a light, easy jazz with introspective melodies for a program that is warm, thoughtful and user-friendly. The album gently rolls along, taking its time to wander through many of the sounds of contemporary guitar.
This is Wiseman’s third CD release and the San Francisco Bay Area musician, who recorded his last CD, “Christmas at My House,” in Fort Collins, will be celebrating with a performance at Lee Martinez Park for “Riverfest” on Saturday at 10 pm, and again at 1 pm at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Fort Collins.
Kona Gold:”We play a kind of blues meets rock- and added a touch of heavy metal,” Kona Gold Band guitarist and vocalist Jerry Colman said recently about his band’s new music. “It’s like Led Zeppelin meets Stevie Ray Vaughan.”
The Kona Gold Band, featuring Colman, Tim Elliot on drums and Sherri Klein on bass, have only been playing together for four months, but they have already honed their original material down into their debut CD release, “The Kona Gold Band.” The album was recorded at KIVA Recording and was produced by the band and Russ Hopkins. They’ll be using their gig tonight at the Lincoln Center Canyon West Room for a “grand opening showcase” for both the band and the CD.
Hot dates:The David Grisman Quintet will be at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre tonight and on Saturday. The Chris Smither concert originally scheduled for the Mercury Cafe tonight will be held at the Cameron Church in Denver. Also tonight, Cheap Trick is at the Paramount Theatre in Denver and the Keepers are at the County Cork.
On Saturday, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is at the Starlight. Liz Barnez is at Mishawaka on Sunday. And bluesman Lonnie Brooks brings his band back to Linden’s on Wednesday.
The 1997 Boulder Blues Festival kicks off three days of live music with Son Seals and the Chicago Fire Band and Mem Shannon and the Membership at the Fox Theatre on Thursday.
Vince Clarke really doesn’t buy into the current music industry buzz about a new movement of music that is being called “electronica.”
As the musical mastermind of synthesizer-based pop band Erasure, Clarke has been a seminal figure in securing a place for electronic instruments in popular music. And for him, electronica is less of a musical movement and more of a media movement.
“I haven’t noticed that loads of radio stations are playing electronic music all of a sudden,” Clarke said recently by phone from New York City. “There seems to be an interest as far as the press is concerned. I think things come in waves and that people are a bit fed up with grunge music in America and it’s time for something new to write about.”
Even if Clarke recognized electronica- a kind of hypnotic dance music relying heavily on technical effects- as a movement, he wouldn’t count Erasure as a part of it.
“We’re more of a pop band. About the only thing we have in common with these other groups is that we both use electronic instruments,” he said.
Just listen to Erasure’s new Maverick Records release, “Cowboy,” and you’ll know what he’s talking about. The album is full of bright, energetic music that relies as much on melody and emotion as the often quirky sounds of the instruments.
“On ‘Cowboy,’ I think we rediscovered the three minute pop song,” Clarke said. “What’s most important is that we worked more on the songwriting than on being in the studio working on the production.”
The music is light and infectious and vocalist Andy Bell’s voice adds plenty of human passion and expression to Clarke’s multi-layered rhythm tracks. In fact, the musical balance between Clarke and Bell perfectly reflects their working relationship.
“Nobody’s ego gets in the way. We haven’t had an argument in 12 years,” Clarke said.
Erasure will be bringing their lively pop music to the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Tuesday.
David Wilcox: The story behind David Wilcox’s first new studio album in three years, “Turning Point,” is as warm and friendly as the singer-songwriter’s music itself.
Most of the album was recorded in a log cabin Wilcox built in the woods behind his house in North Carolina. Wilcox produced the album with friend Rich Hordinski, who also has a studio close to his home and helped co-write some of the material. And Wilcox’s wife, Nance Pettit, served as executive producer.
Add to this that Wilcox has left A & M Records for the smaller New York-based Koch Records label and you’ve got an intimate and personal project- just what you would expect from an artist known for his finely crafted songs and heartfelt sensitivity.
Wilcox will be showcasing the new tunes by touring this summer with a band for the first time. He’ll be at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre on Sunday. Also watch for Wilcox at the Folks Festival in Lyons, August 22-24.
Magic Slim: Magic Slim’s first musical love was the piano. But after the Mississippi native lost his little finger in a cotton gin accident, he switched to guitar, working in the cotton fields during the week and playing the blues at house parties on weekends.
In the 30 years since he started his own band, then, Slim has forged a blues career that has taken him all over the States, Europe, Japan and South America, earned him two WC Handy Awards, and a reputation for raw, passionate, no-frills intensity.
Magic Slim, who earned his nickname while playing bass in Magic Sam’s band, will be making his first appearance in Fort Collins with his band, the Teardrops, on Thursday at the New York Cafe.
Hot Dates: Colorado favorite Acoustic Junction has changed their name to Fool’s Progress and will be celebrating their debut album on Capricorn Records at the Fox Theatre in Boulder tonight and at Herman’s Hideaway in Denver on Saturday. Fool’s Progress will also be in Old Town Square on August 14.
On Saturday, Radim Zenkl is at the Swallow Hill Music Hall in Denver and Michelle Shocked is at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder. On Sunday, stringman Tony Furtado and percussionist Ty Burhoe will present an “Indian Bluegrass” concert at the Bas Bleu Theatre. On Thursday, Bruce Cockburn begins a two night stand at Chautauqua and Ian Tyson is at the Houston Fine Arts Center in Denver.
For the Zoo People, music is not a part of the problem, it’s a part of the solution.
“Music is a powerful tool to get through tough times,” Zoo People guitarist John Jakubek said recently by phone. “We write our songs to get through our tough times and getting it out there is as much healing for us as it is for the people who dig it.”
What there is to “dig” about the Zoo People’s music is a refreshing and upbeat energy that brims over with strong melodies, snappy grooves and lyrics that portray “a positive sense.”
“A lot of people think it’s cool to be negative; they’re into the pain side of things. Our music still has pain, but we take it a step further and have a resolution. We’re not into glorifying pain itself,” Jakubek said.
That “positive sense” is exactly where the Zoo People’s latest independent release, “Sage,” begins. The song “It’s Alright To Be,” kicks things off with an infectious rhythm and words that try to inspire despite a heap of stress and expectations.
The positive vibes, however, are not just a function of the lyrics. Just listen to the title song, “Sage.” This instrumental offers plenty of jamming musical inspiration without using words or voices.
“Even when our songs have no vocals, we want the instrumental parts to still have a good, strong melodic hook, so that you when you walk away, it sticks with you,” Jakubek said.
Of course, there is a good share of melancholy “soulsearching” on “Sage,” as well, but even the introspective is met with a dramatic flair.
Some of the Zoo People’s musical strengths can be attributed to their southern California home turf where bands like Steely Dan and Little Feat offered plenty of early influences. But also add influences such as the Allman Brothers Band, jazz, folk and even reggae and you get a broad music that comes out of the “Zoo filter” as something totally their own.
That’s the stuff that got the Zoo People on parts of the HORDE tour last summer and had them recording in the same recording studio- the famous Bearsville Sound in Bearsville, NY- as bands like Blues Traveler, the Dave Matthews Band and Phish.
The Zoo People will be in Fort Collins for two nights, tonight and on Saturday, at the New York Cafe. Each night, they guarantee, will be different.
“When we play live, we mix it up every night- just to keep things fresh,” Jakubek said. “That’s the only way you can get to those ‘special moments’ you always hear about. You have to take chances to get there.”
Chris Duarte: “Everybody’s got an emotional cord running down inside them and I try and tug at that cord,” says Texas guitarist Chris Duarte.
Duarte tugs on that emotional chord with such strong rock and blues that readers of Guitar Player magazine voted him “Best New Talent” in 1995. He was also voted among the top four blues guitarists- just behind Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and BB King- by readers of Guitar World.
“Tailspin Headwhack” is Duarte’s newest release, following up on his 1994 debut album “Texas Sugar Strat Magik” with a more ambitious and focused production, but still plenty of the guitar prowess that has critics comparing him to Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Duarte will be at Linden’s on Thursday.
Hot dates: Tonight, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is at the Starlight and Arc Light is at the County Cork. Also, Daily Planet is no longer on the bill for the show with progressive bluegrass band Salamander Crossing tonight at the Cameron Church in Denver.
Known as “something of a standard bearer for a generation of New Folk,” singer-songwriter Dar Williams is currently making her first tour with a full band to support her recent release on Razor and Tie Records, “End of the Summer.” Her only regional stop will be on Wednesday at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.”Nuevo folkie” Richard Shindell opens.
Top Ten Area Concerts 1997
A good concert experience depends on more than just the performers. It’s also a combination of other things- like good friends and a good environment.
Fortunately, the Front Range is blessed with a number of fine live music spots that help contribute to excellent concert events. A perfect night at Red Rocks, for instance, is about as good as it gets for outdoor entertainment in North America.
That special combination of great music and great surroundings helped influence my list of the top ten area concerts this year:
1. Counting Crows/Wallflowers, Sep 12, Red Rocks- This was it- a perfect night at Red Rocks- with clear skies, an enthusiastic, but amiable crowd, and two strong, young rock bands playing at the top of their game. As headliners, the Counting Crows took the opportunity to stretch out and play rearranged versions of familiar songs such as “Mr. Jones” during a stripped-down acoustic segment. As a result, the group added an even wider range of emotional dynamics to their music and walked off the stage from their first visit to Red Rocks in triumph.
Riding the wild success of their hit album “Burning Down the Horse,” the Wallflowers, featuring Jakob Dylan on guitar and vocals, nearly stole the show with an energetic classic rock-based sound. While nodding to his heritage by singing a version of the old Band tune, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” Dylan excited the sold-out crowd more with original songs like “One Headlight” and a confident stage presence.
2. Bruce Cockburn, Jun 14, Mishawaka Amphitheatre-Another excellent Colorado night welcomed Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn to Mishawaka, the northern region’s finest outdoor venue. Stars and moonlit clouds shone above the rocks of the Poudre Canyon while the river rushed by the venue’s intimate band shell and lawn. The fine weather seemed to inspire both Cockburn and the crowd- Cockburn played one of his most emotionally satisfying performances in memory and the audience responded warmly and enthusiastically. Everyone seemed to know they were experiencing a special night.
3. Dee Carstensen, Dec 4, Lincoln Center Mini Theatre-The finest indoor theater environment in the city is the Mini Theatre. It’s intimate and comfortable, has great lighting and acoustically superior sound. This was the perfect place to catch one of the rising stars of contemporary songwriting-harpist Dee Carstensen. Accompanied by a percussionist and an acoustic guitarist, Carstensen played her stately full-sized harp with a smooth confidence, sang with a sweet, strong clarity and offered up songs that turned daily problems and concerns into an inspiring, energetic sound.
4. LoDo Festival, Jul 19, Denver- The blacktop streets of Denver become an urban music circus when the annual LoDo Festival shuts down traffic, puts up stages and food booths and brings in the talent for two nights. This year’s Saturday headliners, Little Feat, offered their usual spicy, jamming rock, Tower of Power kept the funk churning and the Samples reunited for more of their ethereal new rock on the main stage. Meanwhile, a second stage showcased Dave Alvin’s intense rock, John Magnie’s new Circus Morales band, and Anders Osborne’s brass-inflected groove music.
5. Popa Chubby, Sep 5, New York Cafe- So when rock and roller Popa Chubby takes the stage, he takes over the whole room. At the New York Cafe, Chubby stopped the crowd in their tracks and lured them into a blazing, blasting good time with powerful, barroom vocals and searing guitar solos. Chubby is an experienced showman who is intent on making the room jump-and to play some mean guitar at the same time.
6. Dr. John, Aug 15, Linden Street- Fun for this year’s New West Fest included the chance to see the venerable blues rocker Dr. John in a street concert in the heart of the downtown area. Dr. John brought a full band, a set list full of funky blues and Delta-steeped tunes, and a cool, classy stage presence. Jumping Johnny Sansone opened in an evening that proved that a street show in Fort Collins, during the city’s major summer event, is a great idea.
7. No Doubt, Jun 6, Red Rocks- As far as weather goes, this was the very worst of the Red Rocks experience, with wind and rain whipping constantly through a questionably sane crowd. Fortunately, No Doubt was ready to entertain anyway, and as stage workers squeegeed sheets of water off the floor, one of the most popular groups in contemporary rock played an energetic, hit-strewn set. The band was impressed by the audience’s tenacity for sticking through extremely lousy conditions and responded by keeping the music hot and electric.
8. Janis Ian, Apr 25, Sunset Night Club-Singer-songwriter Janis Ian has survived the ravages of a long career in a tough business with one main thing intact-a clear, strong expressiveness. At the Sunset, Ian mixed old standards like “Society’s Child” and “Seventeen” with songs from her new album release, “Hunger,” for a well-balanced and emotionally riveting set, skillfully blending wry humor with introspective, heartfelt truths.
9. Laurie Anderson, Oct 17, Lincoln Center- In a Laurie Anderson show, everything seems to be just a little bit off-balance- like the halting rhythm of her voice as she muses out loud about strange ideas and culture, and the quirky rhythms of the music she layers underneath her voice. At the Lincoln Center, Anderson’s one-woman show did not disappoint in terms of offering challenging and, yes, off-balance performance pieces. The result was an evening of curious mental intrigue.
10. Dirty Dozen, Aug 21, New York Cafe- When they were the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, this group showcased rootsy Delta horn music all over the world. Now called the Dirty Dozen, the band has become a first-rate nightclub attraction, still maintaining a full horn section, but applying it to long, funky grooves. It all ended up melding together at the New York Cafe into a full night of infectious rhythms and bursts of strong, layered brass.