The Dylan Miles Experience steals the show at the Highlands Street Fair

When The Dylan Miles Experience took the stage on Saturday at the Highlands Street Fair, around twenty people stopped, curious to see what this thirteen-year-old was like on the guitar. By the time he played Pink Floyd‘s “Have A Cigar,” that number had grown to well over a hundred. Kicking off the set with Phish‘s “Free,” Dylan showed a maturity in song selection and musical knowledge that you don’t usually see in a young teen. A guitar prodigy from the Denver School of the Arts, Dylan is no stranger to the stage- by the time he was three his musical talents were already shining through, and he has sat in with national touring acts like North Mississippi Allstars. On Saturday, Dylan played in his trio with Niek Velvis on bass and Alana Dym on drums.

Dylan Miles Experience

The Dylan Miles Experience draws a big crowd at the Highlands Street Fair

Saturday’s set saw a primed Dylan Miles playing both classic songs like Talking Heads “Psycho Killer,” as well as a rocking original titled “Reality” that segued into the Grateful Dead‘s “Deep Elem Blues” then back into “Reality.” With a heavy rock sound, he showed that his writing prowess was just as strong as any cover that he performed. Sporting a hat representing local Mile High kosher bagel experts Rosenberg’s Bagels, Dylan showed his love for the local scene, and the scene responded back in kind.

Guitar prodigy Dylan Miles rocks the Highlands Street Fair

Guitar prodigy Dylan Miles rocks the Highlands Street Fair

Local celebrity and famed artist Scramble Campbell was on deck, painting the band while they played. With his signature bopping dance and swirling, psychedelic style- Scramble’s presence is a true sign and official stamp that “you’ve made it.”

Scramble Campbell paints The Dylan Miles Experience

Scramble Campbell paints The Dylan Miles Experience

The highlight of the show was at the end when the band closed out with a rousing “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills and Nash that then segued into Rage Against the Machine‘s protest song “Killing In The Name.” As a major Phish fan, Dylan knows the ins and outs of a good segue, and took the audience completely by surprise when he turned on a dime and segued back into “Ohio.” The cheers from the crowd could be heard throughout the annual neighborhood street festival and the people got DOWN.

The Dylan Miles Experience rocks the Highlands Street Fair in Denver

The Dylan Miles Experience rocks the Highlands Street Fair

It felt like the entire festival was at the music stage, and the crowd screamed “ONE MORE! ONE MORE!” at the end of the set, completely charmed by The Dylan Miles Experience. Go see the band on August 24th at the Arvada Center Arts & Ales Festival as they play a two-hour set!

Dylan Miles and his guitar pedals at the Highlands Street Fair

Dylan Miles and his guitar pedals at the Highlands Street Fair

Children can't take their eyes off The Dylan Miles Experience at the Highlands Street Fair

Children can’t take their eyes off The Dylan Miles Experience at the Highlands Street Fair

The Dylan Miles Experience steals the show at the Highlands Street Fair

The Dylan Miles Experience steals the show at the Highlands Street Fair

Dylan Miles plays lead guitar for The Dylan Miles Experience in Denver

Dylan Miles plays lead guitar for The Dylan Miles Experience

The Dylan Miles Experience dominates the stage at the Highlands Street Fair

The Dylan Miles Experience dominates the stage at the Highlands Street Fair

Scramble Campbell painting of The Dylan Miles Experience

Scramble Campbell painting of The Dylan Miles Experience

Setlist:

Phish – Free

Dire Straights – Sultans Of Swing

Dylan Miles – Reality > Grateful Dead – Deep Elem Blues > Reality

Talking Heads – Psycho Killer

The Dixie Cups – Iko Iko

Niek Velvis – Zhen Kill-ya Blues

Bob Marley – Soul Shakedown Party

Pink Floyd – Have a Cigar

Phish – Sand

Crosby, Stills & Nash – Ohio > Rage Against The Machine Killing In The Name > Ohio

 

Mother Cabrini Statues- Photos

photo by Leslie Simon

photo by Leslie Simon

Mother Cabrini Statue just outside of Denver, Colorado is one of my favorite places to think, although the Sunday I went up there was smack dab in the middle of the Spanish Mass and a charity BBQ. Not quite the serene afternoon I thought, but just as comforting and hey! Hot dogs! Growing up Catholic, I never knew you could drink the Holy Water, assumed it was a sin. Here though, you can buy a jug and fill ‘er up from the spouts that come out of the famous spot where Mother Cabrini said there would be water. It’s the most delicious water you could imagine, especially after climbing all those steps. In the chapel, I lit two candles for my grandmother and her sister, Sister Geraldine, the most devout Catholics I’ve ever known. Later when I got into my car, what looked like a bright cotton ball lazily floated toward me from the floor of the passenger side, then went over my shoulder as a second ball followed. I pulled over and looked in my backseat, but there was nothing back there, and the windows had been up. As much as I love ghost stories, I don’t actually believe in ghosts, but I called out their names and felt deeply comforted. Mother Cabrini’s is a special place.

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My interview with Mike Gordon

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If someone had told me last summer when I was chasing Phish around the country that in six months I’d be interviewing Mike Gordon himself, I never would have believed them. Yet, there I was this past Monday morning singing a guitar part of “Yarmouth Road” to Cactus himself, and in return he sang me some Los Lonely Boys “Heaven”. Read my interview here, it was the fastest twenty minutes of my life:

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/02/interview_phish_mike_gordon.php

His new album Overstep came out today, check it out, it’s a ton of fun and has really great production values. Listen to the new “Yarmouth Road” below:

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers at the Fillmore – PHOTOS

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Last night at the Fillmore I got a chance to shoot a big show with lots of lights; such a treat when you aren’t fighting for every little bit of light in the hopes of one clear shot. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers opened, bringing that Grateful Dead country funk sound together with her clear as a bell powerhouse vocals; it was my first time seeing them and I thought they were incredible, authentic and fun. More in-depth review Monday at Westword.

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Wake Up and Live with The Quick and Easy Boys- Photos and Review

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Last night local Bob Marley tribute band Wake Up and Live celebrated Marley’s birthday with a packed house at Cervantes’ Other Side. Thank goodness they took that elevated platform out by the bar, for once no one tripped there! With the new layout and coffee being served, the Other Side is fast becoming a favorite of mine. Portland’s The Quick and Easy Boys from my Jam Bands to Watch list opened, and completely blew me away. I highly suggest checking them out live. Rastasaurus were also on the bill, acting ever more like the polished touring band they are shaping up to be. Read my review at the Westword here:

http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/02/review_wake_up_and_live_cervantes_otherside_denver_february-6-2014.php

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I also got a chance to take my first promo shots, musicians are slightly harder than babies:

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Bisco Inferno a.k.a one of the cooler photos I’ve taken

Disco Biscuits at the Ogden

Disco Biscuits at the Ogden

I mistakenly brought my 50mm instead of my wide angle lens, was kicking myself and realized that I really was only getting one shot out of the night, so it better be a good one. Luckily, I was in the best seat in the house in the balcony’s front row, so I got the pleasure of lasers both above and below me. The white spotlights came down just at the right moment, and the print will be available for purchase soon on my website (I’ll update this post). Great weekend, great music, great friends, thanks, Disco Biscuits.

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My Westword review of the Ogden show:
http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/01/review_the-disco-biscuits_ogden-theatre_denver_january-24-2014.php

My Westword review for the 1st Bank show:
http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2014/01/review_disco-biscuits_1stbank-center_january-25-2014.php

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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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

Cage the Elephant

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.