Westword article I wrote about the stigma of jam bands

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After writing a band an apology for calling them a jam band in a recent article, (they said they didn’t care what I called them as long as people were listening phew!), I started to get annoyed that the term “jam band” had become such an offensive insult. I wrote an opinion piece for the Westword which quickly accumulated comments from jam band haters saying we stink, and because jam bands suck. There were also some fantastic, valid arguments, some prefer the song craftsmanship of singer/songwriters over extended jams, others don’t like the fusion of genres. But the majority had the knee jerk reaction I spoke of in the intro. Here’s a link to the Westword article, the comments are pretty funny:

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/01/jam-band_stigma.php

If you go to the Westword’s main page, they put it front and center next to an article about where to buy weed in Denver: http://www.westword.com/

The Minneapolis City Pages music blog Gimme Noise liked it so much they published it as well. There too, jam bands are hated on:

http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2014/01/why_do_jam_bands_have_such_a_stigma.php

The vitriol, it’s so amusing.

Black Joe Lewis at Bluebird – PHOTOS

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The Monday before Thanksgiving I got a chance to review and shoot Black Joe Lewis for the Westword. As a long time fan, I thought the new material sounded great live, and breathed fresh takes to old material as well. Read my review here, and scroll down for some more photos. It’s time for a better lens.

Westword review for Black Joe Lewis

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Leftover Salmon release new song, welcome new drummer

Photo by Susan Weiand

Photo by Susan Weiand

Jose’ Martinez, long time drummer for Leftover Salmon has decided to quit touring, and the Leftover family happily welcomes Alwyn Robinson to the joyful fracas. This Texas born player brings a varied background to the table, including steel drumming and classical percussion, so he should fit right in with the multi-faceted motley crew. Along with that news comes a new song, “Two Highways” which features Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, a supremely talented musician that showed up to play sax at their last sold out Bluebird show in Denver. It’s released through Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado, and has a sick poster by acclaimed poster artist Tyler Stout to go with it:

Poster by Tyler Stout

Poster by Tyler Stout

Listen to the new single “Two Highways” here:

Free 1Love Playing for Change Block Party today in Denver!

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Today is 1Love Playing for Change day, and the good people of Engine 7 Films and The Source are throwing a block party at The Source’s location at 3350 Brighton Blvd in Denver. Celebrated in 55 countries, musicians around the world come together to play for the worldwide non-profit charity that promotes creating positive change with music and arts. Lots of food and beverages will be sold, portions of their sales going to the charity, and entrance is completely free. Head on down between 3-9 p.m. for reggae and other roots music from JusGoodie, The Rob Drabkin Band, and special guests the Denver Nugget cheerleaders. Below is the link to Engine 7’s announcement with any other info you may need, bring your kids, the weather is BEAUTIFUL for a block party today.

http://www.engine7films.com/portfolio/playing-for-change-day-2013

Muse and Cage the Elephant at Pepsi Center

Last night Muse stormed the house at Pepsi Center with a huge set production and far more sound and noise than I expected. These guys know how to be rock stars really well. The crowd was a total mix, and everyone was wearing brand new Muse t-shirts straight from merch. The band was giving all merch proceeds for the night over to Colorado flood relief, so by the looks of things they will be making a large donation. Above the stage were three men in lighting rig seats, hanging from the sky, and LED screens were all over the place. As the music began, a large pyramid of LED screens came down from the sky.

Muse photo by leslie loudspeaker

These guys are LOUD. I went in thinking they were a bombastic, less aggravating Radiohead type with more theatrics, but they are far more than that. Frontman Matt Bellamy is an obvious audiophile, constantly going back to his shiny metallic rotating amp and checking the sound. Live that theatrical sound is really huge and epic, and with the lights, political themes, and the crowd in unison punching their fists in their air, I almost caught a Pink Floyd vibe from the whole thing. The band and audience were on from the first note, and when they dropped into “Madness” you could feel the excitement bump up a notch. You could also see the lights bump up a notch, as suddenly tons of lasers were added to the already wild mix.

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They played hit after hit, and the audience really had some precision handclapping down. Ending with a three song encore and pyrotechnic flumes that definitely gave me a Pink Floyd vibe now, these guys ended at 9:58 with a slightly stunned and very happy crowd standing open mouthed. Gotta give it to Bellamy, he really knows how to be a rock star without you wanting to smack his face. He changes guitars as fast as I’ve ever seen, and looked especially cool with one slung across his back as he played his see-through light-up baby grand piano. Some people have the life.

Cage the Elephant

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Opener Cage the Elephant played extremely well to a half empty giant stadium. The last time I saw them was opening for Stone Temple Pilots at Red Rocks, and it was empty there as well. They kill it with what they have though, and you can’t keep your eyes off lead singer Matt Schultz. At times invoking Mick Jagger and somehow making it totally work, he slinks and spasms all over the stage, eventually coming down into the crowd, managing to stand up on their hands, and then do a headstand. I’ve never seen crowd-surfing like it. The crowd got amped when they played their hit “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” and held the energy through to Muse, and their new material sounded great. All in all, a pretty bumping Tuesday.

ZZ Ward at Ogden – SOLD OUT – Photos and Show Review

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ZZ Ward is absolutely soaring. In March I watched her play to a small but excited group of mostly industry folks at SXSW, then a couple months ago got to shoot her sold out show at the Gothic. Last night she was already back for another sold out show at the Ogden, and her charisma is so strong she could easily handle Red Rocks. Talent and chops galore, she kills the blues on guitar, harmonica and keys, and we haven’t even gotten to her vocals. One thing I have noticed with her very dedicated fanbase is that she has managed to grab a lot of the people that are into R&B, and with chops close to Christina Aguilera’s, she doesn’t dissapoint them either. Last night included a special guest appearance by DW, her blues musician father that got her into this whole mess. The show exceeded the recent Gothic show, and really showed that the sky is the limit for ZZ.

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Rastasaurus – PHOTOS – Bluebird

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Last night, local Denver favorites Rastasaurus played their first show at the Bluebird. They have a dedicated fanbase, as they went on promptly at 9:00 to around 25 people and within about two minutes the place filled up with happy people that all seemed to know each other. They have a reggae sound that is complimented by more psychedelic jamming, my interest certainly piqued when I saw all their pedals. A “Divided Sky” tease by lead guitarist Eric Ciccone followed by his twin brother Mark on bass playing Makisupa Policeman and noticing it was in the same key as the song they were about to play made the Phish fans of the audience get all excited, but this is no Phish cover band, and the teases were left at just that. Just as well, because their originals are great. Lead singer and guitarist Justus Lacewell is a huge guy and commands the stage well, they all do. All in all, it was a fantastic showing at Bluebird for these first timers, I’ve seen many touring acts absolutely bomb there in the opening slot, so kudos Rastasaurus.

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