Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dermot Kennedy and The O' My's at the Summit in Denver, CO 0n 11/9/18

Dermot Kennedy - Photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess
The sold-out Summit crowd was giddy with anticipation to see the Dublin, Ireland singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy. So much so that someone left in an ambulance before the show even started (drinking can be dangerous). The twenty-five year-old musician layers his vividly poetic songs with elements of hip-hop. A few years ago Kennedy got his big break when he was invited to be part of fellow Irishman Glen Hansard's annual Christmas concert. The exposure catapulted Kennedy into the spotlight.

Dermot Kennedy
Dermot Kennedy started his set with the song All My Friends. It's a combination of rapping poetry, rolling keyboards, and a heartfelt chorus. A few songs later, the mostly twenty-something female crowd shouted along to Young & Free. Fun Fact: the name Dermot translates to free man. The song could have easily been named Young and Dermot (probably a bad choice). Next Kennedy played Boston. The lyrics describe the summer he spent busking near ...wait for it….Boston universities when he was eighteen.

Kennedy thanked the audience for making his latest single Power Over Me such a hit. It was released just before his current tour started a few weeks ago. That's when a gospel vocal echoed over the audience making most of the loud drunks stop talking for a brief moment. His other gospel inspired song Glory had him belting out, "A set of eyes had pinned him/Became his version of a kingdom/She's everything the devil can't be/When she's singing to me Glory." Kennedy ended with After the Rain. It was the same song he played at the Glen Hansard concert that made everyone first notice his incredible talent. Kennedy didn't have an encore because all he had to give was already left on the stage.

The O' My's
The O' My's were the opening band. The duo from Chicago, Illinois is made-up of singer/guitarist Maceo Haymes with an impressive falsetto and keyboardist Nick Hennessey with an equally impressive mustache. They met in high school and have been playing music around the Chicago area ever since. The O' My's recently released a new album entitled Tomorrow with a guest appearance by Chance The Rapper. The MC did not join them on stage. But their heartfelt song Pieces more than made up for it. Another fun fact: Pieces appeared in the Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson HBO series Ballers.

See you at the next show. I'll be the one shouting fun facts over loud drunks.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Insane Clown Posse at the Stampede in Aurora, CO on 10/28/18

Insane Clown Posse
Halloween is the time of year to do something that scares you. People usually watch a horror movie, visit a haunted house, or handout candy to creepy little trick-or-treaters. I decided to do something much more frightening… see the Insane Clown Posse.

Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler) from Detroit, Michigan are the rapping duo known as ICP. They dress up in clown make-up and perform their own unique style of horror themed rap known as Horrorcore. ICP has sold millions of records, formed their own record label, and even founded their own federal wresting federation (Juggalo Championship Wrestling).

Fargo Covered Crowd
Their devoted fans are known as the Juggalos. The FBI has labeled them a gang. This is mainly due to the fact a small percentage of them commit petty theft, assault, and/or break stuff. I only witnessed devotees of ICP embracing a long tradition of dressing in clown make-up, wearing ICP merchandise, and repeating their signature phrase, "Whoop-whoop."

It was ICP's twenty-fifth anniversary of their Hallowicked Tour. It was billed as the last actual traveling Freak Show on planet earth. I witnessed a sword swallower, a woman shooting sparks over her body with a metal grinder, and a clown Elvis impersonator named Clownvis. I assumed they were performing between opening acts. I didn't realize that they were the opening acts.

Insane Clown Posse
The show began on a dark stage with a Freak Show sign. Two cages were uncovered containing costume characters Ape Boy and ManyFaces. They remained confined behind the bars dancing throughout the performance. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope appeared next restrained by chains. After being released, ICP began rapping the fittingly titled In Yo Face from their Bang! Pow! Boom! album. The duo started to spray Faygo (a soda made in in their hometown of Detroit) on the crowd. They go through around 300 to 400 two-litter bottles of the soda a show. The Faygo's odor (mostly diet root beer) was so strong I could smell it from the balcony. Vulgar songs about Halloween, birthday parties, and tilt-a-whirls were rapped along with carnival organ music. Meanwhile more Faygo, streamers, and confetti covered the crowd. I remained safely in the balcony.

Merch Booth
Near the end of the show, Shaggy 2 Dope announced that everyone there is a Juggalo. That's when the fans that paid for the VIP upgrade jumped on stage for the Faygo Armageddon. They sprayed the crowd with Faygo as the band performed If I Was a Serial Killer. The rappers left the stage as the Juggalos sprayed each other with the signature soda. As the long lines formed to buy a large variety of ICP t-shirts, it was apparent the images and the fans of the clown rappers were the stars of the night.

See you at the next show. I'll be the one smelling like Diet Root Beer Faygo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Joshua Hedley, Kelsey Waldon, and Extra Gold at Globe Hall in Denver, CO on 10/19/18.

Joshua Hedley and his band The Headliners
After years of playing Nashville honky-tonks, Joshua Hedley became a legend in the local music scene. He mastered the fiddle and learned every classic country song. Hedley performed with everyone and everywhere in the music city. When he began to front his own band, Jack White (my personal Lord and Savior) signed him to Third Man Records. I expected Joshua Hedley to appear dressed in a flashy country western suit with a cowboy hat like he's pictured on his album cover of Mr. Jukebox. But when he stepped on stage, Hedley was just wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and a baseball cap. He announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen this is an informal show."
Mr. Jukebox

Hedley began with the classic Willie Nelson's Night Life that seamlessly flowed into Hedley's original song I Never (Shed a Tear). The tunes could easily have been on the same 1960's era album. After playing mostly original material, the band left Hedley alone on the stage. He proceeded to take requests from the audience for their favorite country classics. The crowd yelled out for Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, and Jimmie Rodgers songs. Hedley played them flawlessly (his nickname is Mr. Jukebox for a reason). When someone yelled out for a Marty Stuart song from the 1980's, Hedley replied, "His songs are too new."

After the band came back to join him, Hedley covered Johnny Paycheck's Colorado Cool-Aid - "What is Colorado Cool-Aid?/Well, its a can of Coors brewed from a mountain stream/I'll set you head on fire an' make your kidneys scream." After that epic tale about drinking and a switchblade, Hedley confessed that he didn't understand beer. "It's a long way to get to where you want to go.That's when he asked someone to bring him a shot of Jack Daniels. The band closed with Mr. Jukebox the title track to his album and the slogan on the sweatshirts the entire band was wearing. Hedley yelled, "We are trying to sell the f*ck out of these."

Kelsey Waldon
Singer songwriter Kelsey Waldon was the second artist on the bill. Her retro-sound is also influence by classic country. After graduating from high school in Western Kentucky, Waldon went straight to Nashville to pursue music. Her set consisted of autobiographical songs about Tennessee, tobacco, and heartbreak. Waldon also performed my favorite Neil Young song Powderfinger. She previewed a new track about bourbon from her upcoming album that will be released next year. Waldon whispered, "Thank you for being quiet with me. Now Josh is going to turn it up."

Extra Gold
Local band Extra Gold started the evening of music. Lead singer Evan Holm and steel petal player Ben Waligoski suspiciously have the same long hairstyles I wore in the 80's. The band played a Merle Haggard whiskey song. That started a theme of drinking tunes that were performed throughout the night. Original songs about Northern Michigan and a girl named Emily (complete with yodeling) made the crowd nod along to their country swing. The band will have an album release party on November 30th at the Hi-Dive in Denver.

See you at the next show. I'll be the one refusing to drink Colorado Cool-aid. It doesn't sound healthy.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Black Pumas at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 10/13/18.

St. Paul and The Broken Bones - All Photos by
The Rock and Roll Princess
Almost everything about the Birmingham Alabama band St. Paul and The Broken Bones symbolizes Alabama. They have recorded in the iconic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama known for turning out hits for Aretha FranklinWilson Pickett, and Otis ReddingBen Tanner of the Alabama Shakes produced their first LP. Even the band's latest album has Alabama's state flower in its title Young Sick Camellia.

Paul Janeway, the lead singer for St. Paul and The Broken Bones, confessed to the audience that he almost cancelled the show. But since Janeway managed to rally his voice, he yelled "You better get ready to dance your asses off."

Andrew Lee (and his hair) and Paul Janeway
As soon as Andrew Lee sat down behind the drum kit, his long wavy hair was blown back like a Beyonce video by a hidden fan. Not to be out shined by the luscious locks, Janeway was dressed in a sparkling choir robe. It was fitting because their new material has more of a disco feel than their previous soul sound. The song LivWithoutU would fit in nicely on any late 1970's Earth, Wind, and Fire album. They didn't ignore their older material. The horn heavy Like a Mighty River, the blues confessional Grass is Greener, and their radio hit Call Me were all performed to the delight of the rambunctious audience. When the band slowed it down for the ballad Bruised Fruit, a scary large soundboard guy yelled at the crowd to shut up. That's when silence swept over the Ogden. At that moment, Janeway belted out, "You're in me when I sting/You're in me I bleed/You're in me when I pray/You're in me when I leave/Till the light go out some day." The band slowly left the stage one at a time while Lee stayed behind the drums with his hair still moving with every heartbreaking hit to the snare. The state of Alabama would be proud.

Black Pumas
Black Pumas from Austin, Texas warmed up the crowd with their unique sound of psychedelic soul. Adrian Quesada put aside his multiple producing projects (ExpectationsHoney Bun and Echo Hotel) to play the guitar in Black Pumas. Watching lead singer Eric Burton perform, I would be inspired to start a band with him as well. The crowd swayed back and forth during the hypnotic Black Moon Rising the title track on their newly released album. The band closed with The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby transforming it into a powerful soul song repeating the line, "Ah, look at all the lonely people." Overcome with emotion, Burton leaped into the crowd while the band continued to play. Just when he appeared back on the stage, the song suddenly ended.

See you at the next show. I'll be in a sparkling choir robe with a fan blowing back my luscious locks.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Against Me!, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, and A Giant Dog at Summit, Denver, CO on 10/9/18.

Against Me! - Photos by The Rock and Roll Princess
The punk band Against Me! dove back into their past at the newly remodeled Summit on Tuesday night. They performed their 2007 major label album debut New Wave in its entiretyButch Vig who worked with NirvanaSmashing Pumpkins, and Green Day was the producer. The tracks combines Against Me!'s punk attitude with Vig's more polished sound. It became one of the year's most critically acclaimed recordings. The album changed the band from being an underground secret to opening up for Green Day and Foo FightersNew Wave's song The Ocean contained a glimpse into the lead singer's future by stating, "And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/My mother once told me she would have named me Laura." And a few years later, singer Thomas James Gable would transition into Laura Jane Grace.

Laura Jane Grace
It wasn't your typical rock show. LGBT outreach organizations informed the crowd by the merch booth about everything from transgender haircuts, drag shows, and support groups. Punks stood next to transgender people. Transgender punks stood next to soccer moms. And I stood in the back away from the mosh pit. The backdrop was New Wave's album artwork of a tiger by Laura Jane Grace. That's when Survivor's Eye of the Tiger (of course) played over the house speakers as the band took the stage. They played every track from New Wave in order. Androgynous teenagers began to crowd surf while a mosh pit arose in front of the stage. Grace stopped the show and warned the crowd they were about to play the album's most despised track Animal. The only sign of annoyance was a shoe thrown across the crowd (missing my head by a few feet). After the song finished, Grace declared, "Now we don't have to play that ever again." Against Me! also performed a number of songs from their other Butch Vig produced album White Crosses. The crowd sang-a-long enthusiastically to I Was a Teenage Anarchist and Rapid Decompression. Against Me! finished their set from Laura Jane Grace's autobiographical Transgender Dysphoria Blues -  "You've got no hips to shake/And you know it's obvious/But we can't choose how we're made."

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists
The second band on Tuesday's night line-up was Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. After a recent collaboration with Till Tuesday's Aimee Mann, Leo is finally getting national attention after a long critically acclaimed music career in New York. With his eclectic band The Pharmacists, Leo mostly played material from his latest solo album The Hanged Man. The songs addressed current politics (Moon Out of Phase), sexual abuse (You're Like Me), and loss of fortune (Can't Go Back). In contrast, the band delivered the dark subject matter with upbeat melodies. Adrienne C.N. Berry almost stole the spotlight with her amazing harmonies and remarkable saxophone playing.

A Giant Dog
The opening band's lead singer Sabrina Ellis and guitarist/singer Andrew Cashen have been creating music together since they were in high school. They led their quintet A Giant Dog through a spirited set of songs about sex, drugs, and mental health. Wearing nothing but a yellow leotard, Sabrina Ellis' raw energy and brazen sexuality held the diverse audience's attention. Ellis asked everyone to take care of themselves before playing Roller Coaster - "Finally lost your mind/On this roller coaster ride/Stuck up at the top/An ugly stranger by your side." As a result in their growing popularity, A Giant Dog opened for my personal Lord and Savior Jack White on his latest tour in their hometown of Austin, Texas.

See you at the next show. I'll be the one ducking shoes in a yellow leotard.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Lyle Lovett and Margo Price at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 9/4/18

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band
Tuesday night was Lyle Lovett's 21st time performing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In recognition of this monumental achievement, the legendary venue inducted him into their Hall of Fame. They also presented Lovett a custom Vortic watch made in Fort Collins, Colorado. I have seen him 15 out of those 21 times (I did not receive a custom watch). With world-class musicians playing a combination of heart felt country, dirty blues, and swinging jazz, Lyle Lovett and his Large Band will always be my favorite show of the summer.

Francine Reed and Lyle Lovett
After an audience member shouted out a request for The Grateful Dead's A Friend of the Devil, Lovett obliged. Instead of the original light happy version, Lovett's interpretation is dark and haunting. I first heard him perform the song at Red Rocks on August 9th 1995 the day Jerry Garcia died. A chill ran through me as soon as the first chord was strummed.

Nat King Cole's jazz standards Gee, Baby Ain't I Good to You and Straighten Up and Fly Right were sung as duets with his sensational long time vocalist Francine Reed. The two danced together as different members of the band took solos. Lovett's own classic What Do You Do/Glory of Love delivered clever lines to the delight of the audience - "What do you think you /See I'm not that kind of /Affair is fair/And right is/Right around the corner/Just a block or/So you know come morning/You'll have to leave/Everything to me."

Lyle Lovett - All photos by
The Rock and Roll Princess
Crowd favorites Cowboy Man, She Makes me Feel Good, and If I Had a Boat were applauded as loudly as the slightly older than me crowd could muster. The way Lovett delivers his witty lyrics draws your attention. I smile ever time he says, "Lord I can't believe what I see/How could you be alone/When you could sit right here beside me girl/And make yourself at home" from the song I've Been to Memphis. The only new song was Twelfth of June. It sounded amazing and makes me hopeful for a new album that Lovett has promised to record soon. Opener Margo Price joined him on stage to perform Walk Through the Bottomland originally recorded with Emmylou Harris on Lovett's 1989 Pontiac album. He stated he liked watching Price perform and hoped to sing with her again soon. Fingers crossed it will happen again next summer when he comes back to Red Rocks for the 22nd time.

Margo Price
Playing Red Rocks was a bucket list gig for country artist Margo Price. She pulled out all the stops for the occasion. Price got the crowd's attention immediately when she stepped on stage in a metallic David Bowie inspired jumpsuit by costume designer Elizabeth NeSmith. During Cocaine Cowboys, Price played the drums and sang while the band went into an Allman Brothers like jam. Price played the piano alone to perform American Made - "I wonder if the president gets much sleep at night/And if the folks on welfare are making it all right/I'm dreaming of that highway that stretches out of sight/That's all American made." She closed with Hurtin'(On The Bottle) with Willie Nelson's Whiskey River slipped in the middle. Price held notes just a little longer treasuring the amphitheatre's impressive national acoustics.

See you at the next show. I'll be the one dancing to Nat King Cole songs wearing a metallic jumpsuit.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Esmé Patterson and The Still Tide at The Levitt Pavilion in Denver, CO on 8/17/18.

Esmé Patterson through the fog
After getting through security, I noticed a woman with the sides of her hair shaved wearing a gold sequin dress driving a golf cart. It wasn't someone overdressed heading to the links. It was musician Esmé Patterson on her way to perform at the Levitt Pavilion. The venue is a non-profit open-air stage that holds fifty free concerts every summer. The crowd was smallish apparently due to the competition of a downtown music festival.

Esmé Patterson
Esmé Patterson is a local artist, but nationally known through her many musical endeavors: co-founding the indie folk ensemble Paper Bird, her successful solo career, and the hit song Dearly Departed with Shakey Graves (an Americana musician from Austin, TX not a Scooby Doo character out to frighten the kids in the Mystery Machine).

The stage filled with fog as the lights shined on Patterson's dress making it sparkle through the haze. The energetic crowd consisted of middle-aged couples with fancy portable lawn furniture, kids enjoying the last few moments of summer, and devoted Esmé Patterson fans. She performed a variety of material from her three solo albums and a few new tunes from an upcoming LP. Patterson introduced No River from her album We Were Wild by dedicating it to "the humans out there and the others too." 

Esmé Patterson and her band
Esmé Patterson revealed the song My Young Man from her first album featured someone famous (it was another Denver artist Nathaniel Rateliff before he formed the Night Sweets). She played three songs from her Woman to Woman concept album. It gives a voice to famous female song characters such as Townes Van Zandt's Loretta and The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby. For example, Michael Jackson's Billie Jean inspired her to compose What Do You Call a Woman? Patterson yelled"If you make love, ain't she your lover?/If you make love, ain't she your lover?" The set ended without an encore because Patterson declared, "It's just lying. You tell the audience you're done and come back to play."

The Still Tide
Supporting band The Still Tide took the stage as the sun was setting on the opposite end of the venue. Lead singer, Anna Morsett, encouraged the crowd to turn around and take in Colorado's beauty. Besides being a guitar tech for The Devil Makes Three, the multi-instrumentalist has played and recorded with numerous bands. The bedroom voiced singer lead her band through confessional songs with impressive guitar playing from Jacob Miller. Morsett mentioned the guitarist was gulping an energy drink to prepare himself to perform again with Esmé Patterson (he's also in her band). When Morsett made a mistake on a chorus, she joked that the crowd should look again at the beautiful sunset. As the final song ended, Anna Morsett wisecracked, "(they) have EPs available for the endangered species … the compact disc player owner."

See you at the next show. I'll be the one in the gold sequin outfit driving a golf cart into the sunset.