Sunday, August 13, 2017

Strange Americans and Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts at Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO on 8/11/17

Strange Americans
A few weeks ago a tragic event happened. The skies darkened, hearts were broken, and the world weeped. Of course, I am talking about Justin Bieber canceling his world tour. This left four women from the Pacific Northwest with a weekend in Denver without the Biebs (he was scheduled to perform at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 12th). The Beliebers were determined to make the best out of this catastrophic event. Dressed in Justin Bieber and Calvin Klein wear (he is their underwear spokesman), the heart broken music fans attended Strange Americans Album release party. Apparently bearded guys playing roots rock is the closest thing Denver has to Justin Bieber.

Murry Mercier and Trent Nelson
Unlike the instant YouTube success of Justin BieberStrange Americans have been a hard working Denver band since 2009. They consistently perform in the Rocky Mountain Region. Strange Americans played Red Rocks in 2015 and opened for the indie Rock Gods The Old 97s last year. Their new album Borrow You, Brother took three years to make. Their recording process consisted of living together in a single apartment, a fire, and four separate trips to Denton, Texas. After some record label juggling, the album consisting of 48 minutes of rock anthem goodness has been released into the world.

Strange Americans - All Photos taken by
The Rock and Roll Princess
The majority of the album was performed to the crowd that consisted of friends, family, and four Justin Bieber fans positioned in front of the stage. Matt Hoffman wearing his signature trucker hat and flannel shirt led the band through songs about the struggles of striving for the American dream with Big Black Car and No Punches. Trent Nelson took over lead vocal duties for Riverside with amazing harmonies from the band and his trademark leg stomp. Older material was played throughout the set including the Springsteen like Blood in Gold and Rocks/Rolls featuring Murry Mercier pounding on the keyboards. The night ended with Places II with Hoffman signing with raw emotion, "Remember when we had nothing at all."  The audience congratulated the band with handshakes and hugs and quickly purchased the album. The Justin Bieber fans walked away with a high from the power of Rock and Roll or second hand pot smoke.

Miles Nielsen
The opening band Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts played infectious songs and created a party like atmosphere. Strange Americans were their supporting act for a few weeks during their recent summer tour. The band was returning the favor for Strange Americans album release party. Miles Nielsen is the son of Cheap Trick's guitar player Rick Nielsen (the eccentric Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member). His brother Daxx Nielsen is currently Cheap Trick's drummer. Dear Kentucky (You're Killing Me) a love song about a city with a warning label was a crowd favorite. Shine Your Light made the audience stop talking and notice the gospel inspired song with multi-instrumentalist Adam Plamann playing an amazing clarinet melody in the background.

Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts
with Strange Americans Dance Troop
When Miles Nielsen stated special guests were joining him for Start Me Up, Matt Hoffman, Trent Nelson (no relation, different spelling), and Murry Mercier came on stage and danced during the chorus. The crowd went crazy and the Justin Bieber fans were just confused. Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts later joined Strange Americans for a jam session. The Rusted Hearts' Daniel James McMahon guitar skills were awe-inspiring.

See you at the next show. I'll be one impressing the masses with my new Strange Americans' dance moves.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Zac Brown Band, Darrell Scott, and Caroline Jones at Coors Field in Denver, CO on 7/29/17

Zac Brown
Walking into Coors Field Ballpark, I was confronted by a sea of country fans in their checkered shirts and cowboy boots. This made me assume Zac Brown Band was a typical country show. Instead I witnessed exceptional musicians switching musical genres faster than Donald Trump changes communication directors. The threat of a downpour drenching the crowd turned into only sprinkles throughout the night. Zac Brown Band similarly sprinkled in alternative, classic, country, and pop songs throughout the show. I discovered Zac Brown's own songs can be straight country, Jimmy Buffet tributes, and pop songs. There is a reason one of his albums is entitled Jekyll and Hyde. The Old Guy at the Show HQ acquired the highly sought after pit passes (general admission by the stage). Zac Brown was so close to us that he shook our hands and possibly shed some of his beard upon us. In the middle of his show, Zac Brown stated, "I turned you on to some good sh*t tonight."  He was talking about the artists that opened up the ballgame.... I mean show.
Caroline Jones All photos by the Rock and
Roll Princess
The first inning started with singer-song writer and multi-instrumentalist Caroline Jones. She played most of the instruments on her soon to be released album. Jones grew up in Connecticut, but a trip to Nashville made her fall in love with country music. As the crowd found the way to their seats, Jones sang a song about her dog Old Blue on the banjo. Her picking was impressive and her smooth vocals made the crowd look up from their adult beverages. After a few acoustic songs, a full band joined her on stage. Jones switched to an electric guitar to play her "mission statement" and title track to her album Bare Feet. It could be about striving to live out your dreams or her hatred for footwear (every song is up for interpretation). Another highlight was Chase Me about her belief that men should chase women not the other way around (some how I don't think that's one of her problems). By the end of her set, it was apparent why Caroline Jones was listed in Rolling Stone's 10 New Country Artists to look out for in 2017.

Darrell Scott
One of Zac Brown's favorite songwriters Darrell Scott was next up to bat. He rose to fame writing and playing for the likes of Steve Earle, Sam Bush, and Guy Clark. Looking like Guy Fieri's uncle, the spiky grey haired Nashville musician serenaded the talkative crowd to a picturesque song about Colorado entitled... wait for it....Colorado. After a few songs, two members of Zac Brown Band joined him. A couple of songs later most of the band was on stage playing with him including Zac Brown himself. Brown sang back up to No Easy Way and Long Time Gone (Scott's song made famous by The Dixie Chicks). A curtain closed and the video screens displayed a five-minute count down clock. The anticipation for the main event grew stronger with each second ticking away.

Zac Brown Band
When the countdown clock reached zero, the curtain raised and the entire band including Darrell Scott appeared with impressive video screens and lighting displays making Coors Field glow. Wearing a top hat that looked like a lampshade stolen from your grandma's house, Zac Brown kicked off the night with his hit Keep Me in Mind. Everyone around me sang along. The band kept the momentum going with Toes (a Jimmy Buffet like song inspired by a trip to Key West).  The crowd chanting the chorus, "I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand/Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand."

Zac Brown and his hat
The Kings of Leon's Use Somebody was the first genre changing cover of the night. You can tell the crowd was trying to place the song in the beginning. But after a few moments, the county fans were dancing along to the alternative rock hit. A few songs later, Ben Cameron (a singer Brown met at a campfire) sang Stephen Stills' Love the One Your With.  There was multiple "Do do do do do-do" sung throughout the ballpark.  Caroline Jones came back to join the band for Tomorrow Never Comes. Not satisfied with just a duet, Zac Brown had the beer fueled audience join in by instructing them to sing, "Woo woo woo wooh." They followed with the inspirational Free combined with Van Morrison's Into the Mystic. The curtain lowered and the countdown clock started again because the show was only in its fifth inning.

Zac Brown and Clay Cook
When the curtain rose yet again, the band played John Denver's Rocky Mountain High intertwined with Zac Brown's own Colder Weather (a song about Colorado and the girl that was left behind). The Colorado crowd went crazy (pandering always works). Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was next (Zac Brown wisely didn't attempt to hit the high Freddie Mercury notes). Guitar player and keyboardist Clay Cook embodied the late Gregg Allman performing The Allman Brother's Whipping Post. A long jam session started entertaining the band as much as the audience. Snapping the crowd out of the heartbreaking blues, a guitar duel between Coy Bowles and Clay Cook began. They played Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Nirvana guitar licks. This lead up to the band playing Guns N' Roses Paradise City inspiring the crowd to jump so high their cowboy hats were flying away. The night ended with the hit Chicken Fried with the crowd singing, "You know I like my chicken fried/Cold beer on a Friday night/A pair of jeans that fit just right/And the radio up."

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one in the weird top hat trying to grow a beard with my pit pass.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Diana Krall and the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO on 7/18/17

It wasn't the typical Red Rocks crowd. The cars in the parking lot were a little nicer. The fans walking into the venue were a little more sober. And the music of the evening was a little jazzier. The majority of the men wore all different varieties and colors of Hawaiian shirts (I didn't get the memo or the reason). Everyone was there for the music of the Great American Song Book performed by Diana Krall and the Colorado Symphony.

The Colorado Symphony - All photos by the Rock and Roll Princess
Christopher Dragon, the talented assistant conductor with cartoon like facial expressions, set the tone. Dragon described growing up in Australia wishing to be a piano player/singer like Diana Krall. His life didn't exactly follow her path, but Dragon happily led the symphony through classic American standards to warm up the crowd. The Colorado Symphony played Louis Armstrong, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin's An American in Paris.  Christopher Dragon warned, "the song is not about that famous American (the one with that Twitter account) that recently went to Paris."

Diana Krall and her band
Diana Krall started playing piano at the age of four in Canada (her family was so Canadian that her brother was in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). After attending the Berklee College of Music on a scholarship, she moved to Los Angeles, California to play jazz (her brother stayed in Canada with his horse). Success soon followed with collaborations with Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, and Sir Paul McCartney (to name only a few).  She later married some funny looking dude with glasses named Elvis Costello (they have twin ten year old boys).

Diana Krall
The percussion section was removed (Krall has her own drummer).  Her world-class arranger Alan Broadbent replaced Christopher Dragon as the conductor. That's when Diana Krall and her band took their places in front of the Colorado Symphony. Wearing a blue dress with white stars (an artist that has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide doesn't simply wear polka dots). Krall expressed how excited she was to be playing Red Rocks. "I don't usually speak before I start, but who cares. I'm excited." That was her introduction to Do I Love You. The track featured the amazing guitarist and Eric Clapton doppelgänger Anthony Wilson. It also spotlighted Krall's amazing piano playing. Her fingers danced across her keyboard with incredible grace and speed. Krall followed that with George and Ira Gershwin's I Was Doing All Right (made famous by Ella Fitzgerald in 1959), and Cole Porter's Night and Day.

Diana Krall, her jazz band, and the Colorado Symphony
My favorite song of the night was Tom Wait's Temptation - "Rusted brandy in a diamond glass/Everything is made from dreams/Time is made from honey slow and sweet/Only the fools know what it means." It was reassuring to hear that one of my favorite songwriters can hold his own against Gershwin and Porter when performed by the jazz siren Diana Krall.

A sudden gust of wind blew her sheet music up into the lighting rigs. Just as if it was planned, Krall played the tornado theme music from The Wizard of Oz as members of the symphony caught the papers. That's when Diana Krall admitted that she couldn't really read the music without her glasses.  "But you people can't handle me in glasses." That's the moment she played Eddie DeLange's 1933 classic Moonglow. The lyrics summed up the evening perfectly, "We seemed to float right through the air/Heavenly songs seemed to come from everywhere."

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one chasing after sheet music in a colorful Hawaiian shirt in the moon glow.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pink Martini with The Colorado Symphony and Rufus Wainwright at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 07/06/17

Pink Martini with The Colorado Symphony
There was a joyful atmosphere at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Thursday night. The mature crowd was in a carefree mood. The security guards were pleased to be working at a tranquil event (the opposite of the electric dance music from the previous night). Assistant conductor Christopher Dragon grinned as he led the Colorado Symphony through a spirited night of music spanning across the globe.

Rufus Wainwright and his tiger pants
A bearded Rufus Wainwright wearing a western shirt, pants covered with tiger images, and sandals opened with Oh What A World. The biographical song states, "Why am I always on a plane or a fast train/Oh what a world my parents gave me/Always .... traveling." Wainwright is the son of folk music legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate MaGarrigle. He has been a traveling musician since the age of 13. The symphony's string section backed his lofty cabaret voice perfectly during Vibrate (a song about a relationship through cellphone calls). In contrast, Wainwright covered The Beatles' Across the Universe and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.  When lighting flashed, Wainwright smiled and informed the audience, "It was Leonard."

Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes
Pink Martini's Bandleader/pianist Thomas Lauderdale met lead vocalist China Forbes while attending Harvard. They bonded over Puccini and Verdi (also socializing and not studying). A few years after graduating, they formed Pink Martini in Lauderdale's hometown of Portland, Oregon. The first song they wrote Je ne vex pas travailler (Sympathique) made them a sensation in France and they have been touring the world ever since. Pink Martini describes them selves as The United Nations house band of 1962 meets Lawrence Welk on acid. The music of the evening covered several different languages (thankfully English was one of them).

China Forbes and Conductor Christopher
Dragon of the Colorado Symphony
China Forbes, the self proclaimed Diva Next Door, requested all the Turks in the audience join her on stage while she sang the Turkish Akim Bahardi from their new album Je Dis Oui. Featured singer Timothy Nishimoto shared a story about his Japanese uncle limited English language skills as the introduction to Zundoko Bushi (Nishimoto inserts the phrase "Big One" as a tribute to his uncle during the song). The Armenian love song Ov Sirun Sirun was performed as a duet between Timothy Nishimoto and English horn player Kyle Mustain.  Pink Martini performed the Spanish Yo Te Quiero Siempre, German Ich Dich Liebe, French Joli Garcon, and Croatian U Plavu Zoru. Turning the music back to the English language, Forbes dedicated Song of the Moon to the love of her life whom she meet on the dating app Bumble (an endorsement for online dating).  Fan favorite Eugene got the audience on their feet to the tale of China Forbes drunken encounter with a young man at a party.

Pink Martini - all photos taken by the Rock and Roll Princess
Rufus Wainwright came back to recreate the famous Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand duet Get Happy /Happy Days Are Here Again (Wainwright was Judy and Forbes was Babs). The night ended with their signature song Brasil complete with shakers, horn solos, and a whistle.  "Then tomorrow was another day/The morning found us miles away/With still a million things to say."

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one in the tiger pants singing in Croatian.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Denver Broncos Block Party featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Edison at Sports Authority Field Mile High on 7/2/17

Bronco Block Party at the South Lawn at
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
It's not everyday that you enter a concert and get high-fived by Miles the Denver Broncos Mascot. This was the first Denver Broncos Block Party (the next one will be in September). The crowd was made up of a mixture of Denver Broncos fans thrilled to get a chance to gaze upon all three Denver Bronco Lombardi Trophies and Andrew McMahon fans thrilled to get a chance to gaze upon the man himself.

Andrew McManhon started playing piano by ear at the age of nine. His band Something Corporate were signed to a recording contract two years after McMahon graduated from high school.  He later fronted Jack's Mannequin a more mainstream piano rock band until 2014. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is his latest musical venture that has produced two albums and one major hit.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Smoke started billowing out from the stage signaling the start of the show. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness got the crowd dancing right away by playing Fire Escape (about being up till dawn) from their latest album Zombies on Broadway. McMahon told the crowd, "If you have something to do tomorrow, cancel it." This was his introduction to Dead Man's Dollar about a musician's sacrifice to earn a living making music.

After playing a large portion of new material, McMahon played songs from his Jack's Mannequin period.  Dark Blue, a song about isolation, had the crowd singing-a-long passionately and loudly to every lyric. Swim, a ballad written about his fight against leukemia, gave McMahon an opportunity to promote his charity Dear Jack Foundation that raises money for cancer research.

Andrew McMahon and a patriotic pool toy
A rainbow parachute (like children use in gym class) was given to the audience to wave along to the disco inspired Synesthesia.  McMahon pleaded for politics not to divide us, but have music unite us (it might be a good idea to send rainbow parachutes to Washington). Fulfilling his patriotic duty, McMahon crowd surfed on an inflatable eagle asking the crowd not to let him fall on someone (safety first). Cecilia and the Satellite, his biggest hit, closed the show to the crowd once again singing-a-long.  The eagle pool toy sadly did not make another appearance during the encore.

Denver's own Edison got the Denver Bronco Block Party started. Singer Sarah Slaton, wearing her signature back fedora, led the band through a set of indie-folk rock melodies about traveling, astrological signs, and raging. The band recently moved out of their apartments and put everything in storage to hit the road in their van named Van Morrison dragged by their trailer named Trailer Swift (awe ... road humor). They shared their love for traveling while performing Open Road that has lately received radio airplay. The Denver Bronco Block Party was silenced during Slaton's battle cry during Civil War, "My head/My Heart/Are raging a civil war." It sounds like she might need an inflatable pool toy to cheer her up.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one riding an eagle floatation device high-fiving a mascot.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Corey Feldman with La Rissa Vienna and the Strange, and The Jacob Cade Project at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO on 6/23/17.

Corey Feldman and the Angels
I went to Corey Feldman and the Angels with low expectations. I assumed his band would play their instruments as seriously as the models in a Robert Palmer video. I thought Feldman would do his Michael Jackson imitation for a hand full of curious onlookers and it would be over in minutes.

I was wrong.  Feldman entertained a near sold out audience for over two hours. He had more costume changes than a Cher concert, more show business stories than a vaudevillian comedian, and a set list that took the audience through his lengthy career.

Corey Feldman and the Angels
After a propaganda video listing his multiple movies, television appearances, and musical albums, the scantly clad Angels appeared on stage complete with illuminated wings and halos. Corey Feldman followed wearing a Michael Jackson like black leather ensemble (except he wore both gloves). After playing a few songs from his new album Angelic 2 the Core, it was apparent that this was going to be a real show.

Throughout his career Feldman contributed music to the soundtracks to many of his movies. Playing the songs from these films provided a way to take the audience through his career (the video clips helped as well).  He also covered Beatles, Michael Jackson (one of his closest friends according to Feldman), and Little Richard songs.

Angel Margo
To prove his band (the Angels) really did play their own instruments, Feldman spotlighted them throughout the night.  His wife and keyboardist Angel Courtney Anne sang Cyndi Lauper's The Goonies 'R' Good Enough from the 1985 movie Goonies (Feldman portrayed Clark 'Mouth' Devereaux in the film).  Angel Margo played the violin to an original composition.  Twenty-one-year-old Angel Jimena Fosado impressed me the most. She played a mash up of The White StripesMetallica, and Nirvana guitar hooks.

Corey Feldman reappeared in a hooded outfit playing the drums while smoking a vape cigarette. The Angeles sang Stand by Me with clips from the 1986 Rob Reiner movie with the same name playing in the background (Feldman played Teddy Duchamp in the film).

The night ended with Corey Feldman on a hover board singing Go For It.  It was symbolic of his show. Sounds ridiculous, but it turned out to be surprisingly entertaining.

The Jacob Cade Project
The three-piece band The Jacob Cade Project played before the Angels landed on stage.  Jacob Cade is a singer guitar player from Parker, Colorado that just graduated from high school.  He has been playing the guitar since he was four-years-old.  He woke the crowd up with his fast paced song Green Light Go. Next was a rapid fire set of Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Joe Walsh covers.  Base player Jim Cade looked old enough to be Jacob's Dad ... because he is his Dad.  Jacob Cade slowed things down by playing an original song about a recent brake up.  But what really wowed the crowd was his guitar playing.  When he would play a difficult lick, Jacob would stick his tongue out and smile. He took advantage of the large crowd at the end of the night by encouraging everyone to text a number for free music.

Opening act La Rissa Vienna and the Strange played their spooky rock to the diverse Corey Feldman audience. Lead singer LaRissa Vienna sang songs written to inspire the underdogs and the outcasts while doing her Tae Bo moves she learned from her mother's Billy Blanks videos.  Bass player Aaron Mendoza and guitar player Nick Workman worked heavy metal touches into the music.  At the same time, violin player Vanity Welch (wearing a Goonies t-shirt) added to the depth of the songs with her classically trained playing.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one riding the hover board in the Goonies t-shirt.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Shooter Jennings & Waymore's Outlaws with Radio Birds and Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angeles in Denver, CO at the Summit Music Hall on 6/21/17

Shoot Jennings with Waymore's Outlaws
Waylon Jennings passed away more than fifteen-years ago, but the country outlaw's music lives on through his son, his backing band, and in the hearts of fans like the guy with the Waylon tattoo in front of the stage.

Waylon Jennings band named Waymore's Outlaws have been performing Waylon Jennings songs for several years. Singer Tommy Townsend took the legendary band through classics such as Luckenback TX (Back to the Basics of Love), Good Time Woman (complete with a Willie Nelson impression), and Theme Song from the Dukes of Hazard (Good Ol'Boys).  A few minutes later, they all appeared together with the headliner.

Blonde Woman of Intoxication
Shooter Jennings grew up on his father's tour bus. He started playing music from the age of five. Shooter turned down the chance to front the rock super group Velvet Revolver to pursue country. He has produced music with everyone from Marilyn Manson to Billy Ray Cyrus.

Right when Shooter joined the Waymore's Outlaws onstage, an enthusiastic fan (really drunk girl) pushed through the crowd to be front and center. She displayed her embarrassing dancing skills and obnoxious heavy metal hand gestures with everyone around her.  She repeatedly yelled, "Shooter what are your drinkin'?" Shooter Jennings finally had to mumble Jack and Coke between songs to shut her up. Another over zealous fan in the front row showed off his Waylon insignia tattoo to impress the blonde woman of intoxication. After she informed the branded man about her husband at the bar, the annoying outlaw country lover disappeared to the relief of everyone around her (except for the broken hearted guy next to the stage).

Shooter Jennings
Wearing a tattered MC5 shirt and sunglasses, Shooter Jennings played a hit filled crowd-pleasing set. Highlights were 4th of July, Living in Minor Key, and Nashville from Afar. Shooter dedicated a song to his decreased best friend and music manager Colonel Jon Hensley. Hensley was responsible for many musical careers.  He nudged Shooter towards his country roots and (my Lord and Savor) Jack White to produce rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson's latest album. The tribute song was a Danny O'Keefe cover of Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues. The melancholy lyrics state, "Your're not a kid at thirty-three/Ya play around, ya lose your wife/Ya play too long, you lose your life/I got my pills to ease the pain/Can't find a thing to ease the rain."  Tommy Townsend took over the vocals to end the show with the fitting Same Old Outlaw.

Radio Birds
Looking like they just stepped out of a tour bus from the 1970's, Radio Birds made their Denver debut that night.  The Atlanta, Georgia band described their sound as plain old rock and roll with a hairy touch. They claim the "hairy" as being a little dirty, but I think it's because of every member has a beard.  Gravely voiced lead singer Justin Keller charmed the audience with songs about southern life.  The bass player, a hippie version of Ed Sheeran, had his eyes closed to find the groove of every song. The barefoot drummer sang along to every song despite the fact he wasn't singing into a microphone.  Radio Bird ended with Long Way Down a song about being on the road.  "It's a long way down that cold dark valley/I'm tiered of living through other people's dreams/I'll make my way as soon as I see the signs that the road is coming ... so long." 

Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angeles
The evening of music started with Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angeles.  Wearing a rhinestone tailored original Manual Cuevas (a famous Western wear suit designer), Prestwood looked and sounded like he was singing in a Honkey Tonk in the 1940's. The old school country band played songs about waking up at 3:00 AM t, positive aspects about incarceration, and being the king of all losers. It makes sense their new album is entitled Born Too Late.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one in the rhinestone suit asking that obnoxious woman to sit down.