Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Elle King at Denver Day of Rock in Denver, CO on 5/26/18

Elle King and her band The Brethren
Denver Day of Rock has become a Memorial Day weekend tradition. An entire day of live music on multiple stages spread out through the 16th Street Mall (over a mile of shops on a pedestrian pathway).  It raises money for Amp the Cause that works with over 50 charities to improve the lives of local children and families. Similar to past years, it brought local and national acts to entertain the masses. However, this year the headliner was a swearing, smoking, drinking, breast flashing musician named Elle King.

Elle King - All photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess
King is the offspring of actor/comedian Rob Scheider (the Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo comedian) and formal model London King.  Her musical style is a combination of Wanda Jackson and Mae West.  King appeared on stage in a jacket embroidered with rainbows, mushrooms, and, marijuana leaves. She wore a hookah pen on a chain around her neck.  I am guessing the electronic vaporizer was full of "rainbows" that she smoked throughout her performance. The Brethren, her five-piece band, wore all white with tan jackets looking like country versions of Andrew W.K. 

After starting her show with the anthem Baby Outlaw, King noticed some young people in the crowd.  She promised to be on her worst behavior on their behalf.  King also stated, "Altitude is a thing here. And I forget that every time I drink.  If I talk some sh*t, it's not my fault."

Elle King and The Brethren
After playing a set of literally good songs (Good for Nothing Woman and Good to be a Man), it was time to play the blues.  The biographical Chain Smokin' Hard Drinkin' Woman showed off her passionate voice while The Brethren channeled their inner John Lee Hooker. During the dance/rap song It Girl, King advices, "Next time they talk some sh*t/All you have to do is blow them …. a little kiss/Or you show them your t*ts." That's when she flashed her pink bra to the delight of the crowd. King changed things up again with the gospel inspired Ain't Gunna Drown from her Grammy nominated debut album Love Stuff.

That's when some technical issues almost derailed her incredible performance. King introduced her favorite song The Beatles' Oh, Darling.  That's when her microphone feel apart making her sing unplugged while encouraging the audience to sing-along.  The sound guys got her mic working just in time for her to finish the classic song beautifully with amplification.  King ended with her hit Ex's & Oh's.  When she was leaving the stage King quoted Joan Jett, "Give them what they want and leave them wanting more." And that's exactly what she did.

See you at the next show.  I'll be wearing a hookah pen full of rainbows.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nikki Lane and Carl Anderson at Globe Hall in Denver, CO on 5/15/18

Nikki Lane and Jon Shoemaker
It was an eventful first day of the tour. The band was testing out a different set list while breaking in their new bass player. Nikki Lane was wearing a newly acquired hat that was "just a little too small."  The opener Carl Anderson and his guitar player Sam Wilson were playing Denver for the first time. They performed on empty stomachs due to the venue selling out of barbecue before they could order. The food shortage could of also contributed to the crowd being too drunk for a Tuesday.

Nikki Lane - All photos by
the Rock and Roll Princess
A break up and an unexpected encounter at a flea market shaped Nikki Lane's career. After working in the fashion industry, Lane decided to become a singer out of spite after splitting up with a country musician. After she met Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys randomly at a flea market, Lane convinced him to produce her second album. That record received high praise from the music industry.  She was declared the First Lady of Outlaw Country. That gave her the opportunity to open for Loretta Lynn and Chris Stapleton.  Now she is touring in support of her third album Highway Queen.

The song 700,000 Rednecks set the tone of for the evening with Nikki Lance confessing "I travel around from town to town/I do the best I can everyday/I drive long hours and I don't get to shower and I ain't going to brag about the pay." After playing a number of songs from her latest release, Lane switched to All or Nothing from her first record.  Her breathy vocals inspired many of the women in the audience to sing-along. An enthusiastic fan with a light-up boa and a cartoonish tiny hat belted out the lyrics with such passion it almost stole the spotlight from Lane.

Alex Munos and Nikki Lane
The show suddenly stopped because of technical difficulties with bass player Jon Shoemaker's equipment.  Lane quickly went backstage to retrieve a bottle of whiskey and a glass bottle of Coke.  She talked to the audience while enjoying her spirits and chaser.  When the problem was finally fixed, Lane passed the bottle (of whiskey not Coke) to the crowd. This is the second time I witnessed alcohol being distributed to the fans by the headliner at Globe Hall. It might be some kind of unspoken tradition.

Jack Pot ended the set with a clever comparison of love and gambling (it even had Viva Las Vegas in the chorus).  The band came back for the encore playing Mickey Newbury's Why You Been Gone So Long. As Nikki Lane left the stage, her bottle of Coke spilled at the base of her microphone stand while the crowd poured out into the blackness of the night.

Carl Anderson and Sam Wilson
In the middle of his set, supporting act Carl Anderson heard a voice in the crowd requesting Different Darkness. The song describes the similarities Anderson has to his estranged father. "Same wanderlust, met with a different darkness/I can see his face in mine."  His dad was a drifter/folk-singer who Anderson last saw him when he was just six years old.  When he was a teenager growing up in a small town in Virginia named Wolftown, Anderson discovered he shared his father's gift of music. He sang songs with melancholy themes accompanied by Sam Wilson's atmospheric haunting electric guitar playing.  Despite his somber lyrics, Anderson appeared delighted about his Denver debut. He smiled at the crowd, showed off his dancing skills, and even made John Denver jokes.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one asking the singer to pass me the bottle.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Pokey LaFarge and The Constant Tourists Globe Hall in Denver, CO on May 3, 2018

Pokey LaFarge and Adam Hoskins - all photos by 
The Rock and Roll Princess
Globe Hall, the former Slovenian and Croatian meeting hall built in 1908, was the perfect venue to see Pokey LaFarge. His timeless style and classic sound are reminiscence of the historic building. The employees permitted a fan named Christina to lavish the headliner two bottles of red French wine before his last show of a two-night engagement. LaFarge appreciated her generosity so much he dedicated the show as well as toasted her several times throughout his performance.

Pokey LaFarge
The band has been performing without their multi-instrumentalist Ryan Koenig since a horrible accident in December.  He was hit by an automobile while walking on a sidewalk in Charleston, SC. Donations were accepted for his recovery at the merch booth. There was also an open space on stage in his honor where he sang, played the harmonica, and scratched the washboard. Here is the link to the Ryan Koenig Recovery Fund:  Despite missing Koenig, Pokey LaFarge was in a jovial mood fueled by the gifted wine.

The band started out with Better Man from the Manic Revelations album released last year.  Followed by his crowd pleasers Something in the Water, Goodbye, Barcelona, and Pack It Up. The set list was sprinkled with new songs written for an upcoming album. LaFarge stated, "We are working on it.  Not necessarily knowing when we are going to record it."

Pokey LaFarge
Some boisterous members of the audience interrupted the show to inform LaFarge that a member of their party was celebrating a birthday.  That's when the band played Kansas' Carry On Wayward Son.  It didn't make any sense, but it silenced the obnoxious concertgoers immediately.  This might be an anti-birthday mind trick LaFarge acquired by playing music for a living since he was seventeen-years-old.

The band ended their main set with Devil Ain't Lazy, Central Time, and Hard Times Come and Go. They came back for an encore that included a flawless version of Fats Domino's It's You I Love.  LaFarge declared the band only rehearsed it once that afternoon. The show ended with Roger Miller's King of the Road.  LaFarge urged the audience to sing with him karaoke style, "Trailer for sale or rent, room to let, fifty cents/No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain't got no cigarettes."  It was an ideal song at a classic location sung by a traditional musician.

The Constant Tourists

Married couple Nate and Cassie Sanchez announced their band The Constant Tourists were playing for one night only from the far away land of Thornton (a Colorado suburb).  They played a whimsical set covering several genres. Hey Diddle Diddle introduced the band's playful lyrics and Cassie's glorious trumpet playing. Nate switched to an Irish brogue for the song Green as Stone scattered with Mariachi like yells. Cassie sang in French for her part of the duet Love is Dumb while Nate played a kazoo solo.  To mix the styles up even further, Cassie brought out her accordion for their tango song entitled wait for it …. Tango. Nate sang the lyrics in Spanish and English.  After their set, the couple asked the audience to buy some merchandise because their three-year-old child needs some new shoes. The band's next performance is at the Mile High Flea Market on June 9th. 

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one expecting Christina to bring me some French wine.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Doc Rotten at 7th Circle Music Collective in Denver, CO on 4/18/18

7th Circle Music Collective is not your typical venue. A small building near Mile High Stadium is the passageway into a DIY music space.  Once inside a tattered sign states, "Do not bring in any: glass, drugs, weapons, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, elitism, or bad attitudes."  Two easygoing volunteers explained there was no entrance fee, but a suggested donation. After contributing the requested amount, we discovered there was no alcohol or food available.  One of our friends immediately fled (he later returned with a six-pack).

Stage entrance
At that moment, we heard guitars buzzing beyond the door. Following the music, we found our way into a courtyard. A few people were lingering around someone selling beaded jewelry. A garage with graffiti all over it contained a small stage with a band doing a sound check.  After the musicians declared the levels were good enough, the punk band Doc Rotten started their show.

Doc Rotten
The band fired up the crowd with their opening song Brass Tacks.  Drummer A.J. Martinez played some impressive thunderous fills that persuaded everyone hanging outside to come into the garage. Lead singer/guitarist Wes Bentley sang with such punk spirit it looked like he was about to lunge into the audience. Better Days was next with almost every member of the band singing a verse while Andy Kay held the chaos together with his impressive guitar riffs.  The song describes how music can help people deal with life's challenges.  "When we lose all control/When we hear that rock and roll/It gets us through when times they have changed/Here's to Better Days."

Wes Bentley
Gates was the first song they played from their new EP. It was full of heavy base, stomping drums, rhythmic time changes, and lyrics proclaiming something about, "Never coming home" all in less than two minutes. 

A thin man dressed in all black wearing a bowler hat attempted to jump on the stage during their cover of a classic Cock Sparrer song.  When he fell, the band invited him to grab a microphone.  A grinning Bently stated, "I am glad to see a display of true punk rock."  The title track of their latest EP Sick and Suffering explored the complicated issue of drug abuse.  It's a serious song because it's the longest one of their EP (three minutes and fifteen seconds). The set ended with Listen Up! Doc Rotten encouraged the audience to sing along to the chorus that repeats the phrase, "Punch You in the Skull."

Doc Rotten drums
The release of their EP Sick and Suffering has given the Trenton, NJ punk band a great reason to hit the road.  Their April tour took them through six states in a van that sleeps all four members (not comfortably). The 7th Circle Music Collective was their second Denver show (they headlined the Streets of London Pub the previous night).

After the show Wes Bentley told us a few tales of the tour. Highlights were staying at a musician outpost in El Paso, TX, visiting the beaches in Pensacola, FL, and yet another guy rushing the stage.  The band will be in Japan in September and Europe in October spreading the joy of Doc Rotten music to the world.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one rushing the stage in a bowler hat.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Kiefer Sutherland and Rick Brantley at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO on 4/17/18

Kiefer Sutherland and band

We needed to seek shelter from the dangerously high winds on Tuesday before the show. So we ducked into the Goosetown Tavern across the street from the Bluebird Theater. Just after my first sip of beer, actor/musician Kiefer Sutherland walked into the bar.  He joined his band in a booth while the entire establishment glanced his way.  Sutherland was very kind and gracious to everyone.  I was waiting for the perfect moment to approach him.  But he left as soon as I went to the restroom.  I am still cursing my bladder.

Kiefer Sutherland - All Photos by 
The Rock and Roll Princess
Over seventeen-years-ago Sutherland started a record label named Ironworks.  He signed Rocco DeLuca among many others (Sutherland has DeLuca's album title I Trust You to Kill Me tattooed on his arm). The artists on his label encouraged Kiefer Sutherland to create his own music. After a successful debut album and tour, Sutherland is back on the road playing songs from his upcoming record.

The crowd consisted of fans that grew up on his movies such as The Lost Boys, Young Guns, and A Few Good Men (to name just a few). His role as counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer from the television series 24 was being passionately discussed when all of a sudden The War on Drugs' Under Pressure started to blast over the PA.  A few moments later, Kiefer Sutherland and his band took the stage. That's when he transformed from an actor into a musician.

Michael Gurley and Kiefer Sutherland
Sutherland started with the autobiographical country songs Reckless & Me and Going Home.  His colorful past is perfect material for country songs.  The pace picked up with Patti Loveless' Blame It on Your Heart. The band played the country standard with just the right honky tonk touch.  The song about his first love entitled Saskatchewan (Sutherland grew up in Toronto) made the intoxicated audience bob their heads.  It also caused the girl in front of us with a Canadian flag to lose her mind.  She waved it proudly blocking the view of everyone behind her.

The title track from his first album, Down in a Hole started the rock portion of the evening.  Guitar players Michael Gurley and Austin Valleijo traded licks while Sutherland jammed out right beside them.  Towards the end of the night, they played Tom Petty's Honey Bee highlighting the excellent drumming skills of local hero Jess Calcaterra from Granby, Colorado.  Sutherland thanked the crowd multiple times.  He was truly grateful for the crowd showing up to support his music.

Rick Brantley
Rick Brantley was raised a Baptist preacher's son in Macon, Georgia.  His father's musical tastes from The Allman Brothers to Billy Joel inspired him to create music.  After high school he moved to Nashville, TN and became a songwriter.  He is now performing his own songs opening up for John Hiatt, Steve Earle, and lately Kiether Sutherland.  His soulful voice and powerful song writing almost made the too drunk for a Tuesday night crowd quiet down and listen. The begging request for love song 40 days and 40 Nights started his set off strongly.  Tumbleweeds was introduced by explaining how his dream of becoming a cowboy morphed into a hope of becoming a policeman. His song Hurt People depicts the horrors of abuse. "Everybody's got a reason for losing faith/I guess everybody's got a scar they just can't erase/You live a little while, you're gonna have one too/You live a little longer, I bet you leave a few."  After the song, Brantley joked that razor blades could be purchased at his merch booth.  He ended with his father's favorite song, Otis Redding's Try a Little Tenderness complete with boot slams.

See you at the next show.  I'll be the one missing a celebrity encounter.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Darkness and Diarrhea Planet at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO on 4/7/18

Justin Hawkins
The Darkness is fighting to keep rock and roll alive by embracing all of its ridiculousness.  Front man Justin Hawkins wears skintight leopard print jumpsuits zipped down to his navel (a little something for the ladies).  With a remarkable falsetto, he sounds like a hard rock version of Barry Gibb. The lead singer crowd surfs, leaps from balconies, and frolics around the stage.  This resulted in their current trek around North America being called Tour de Prance. The Darkness has a catalog of tongue in cheek songs that rival the comedy band The Flight of the Concords with a joyous heavy metal sound.

The Darkness - All photos by the Rock and Roll Princess
The English band started their sold out Gothic Theatre set with Open Fire from their Viking themed album The Last of Our Kind.  Justin's primal wailing along with his brother Dan Hawkins' frantic rhythm guitar playing made the mostly male audience jump up and down with their fists in the air.  Bass player, self-help book author, and shiny yellow suit owner Frankie Poullain introduced One Way ticket to Hell ….and Back with a cowbell solo (you can never have enough cowbell).
Frankie Poullain and the Cowbell
Rock royalty is a member of the self described "world's most epic rock band." Rufus Taylor, son of Queen's drummer Roger Taylor, has been playing drums for the band since 2015. Justin complimented Taylor's drumming with a Shakespearian reference nobody understood (oh, the English sense of humor).  After playing three songs from their debut album Permission to Land, the band came back for an encore.  Wearing nothing but tiny blue shorts, Justin played a slowed down blues version of I Believe in a Thing Called Love on the guitar while the audience sang the lyrics.  But the show wasn't finished yet.  Justin climbed up to the balcony and jumped into a sea of testosterone during their final song Love on the Rocks with No Ice.  After crowd surfing through the audience, he climbed back to the stage stating, "The audience usually smell like raw sewage.  But I was lucky because this crowd smells like marijuana and saliva.  I liked it."

Diarrhea Planet
As the band left the stage, the house music played Time of My Life from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  Two intoxicated bros attempted to re-enact the famous dance lift scene from the movie with horrible drunken results.  It was the perfect end to a night of goofy entertaining music.

Diarrhea Planet, the band with four guitar players and a horrible name, opened the show. They were having a blast with their high energy celebration of guitar rock. The musicians were more polished than their headlining performance at the Larimer Lounge back in November.  The band packed in as many songs, crowd surfing, and guitar solos as the thirty-minute set allowed.

 See you at the next show.  I'll be in a skintight leopard print jumpsuit playing the cowbell.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Olivia Jean, Hallie Spoor, and Jesse RS at The Summit Moon Room in Denver, CO on 3/21/18

Olivia Jean - Photo by Greg Cocks
Armed with black lipstick, black dangerous high heels, and a black Gretsch guitar, Olivia Jean played her first headlining show in Denver on Wednesday.  With a bare bone crew, Olivia Jean manned her own merch table as the diverse crowd entered the intimate Moon Room.  The concertgoers were a mixture of unnaturally dark haired fellow Goth rockers, friends of the opening bands, and one pony-tailed homeless looking guy in sweatpants.  After offering to buy Olivia Jean an adult beverage, we learned she doesn't consume alcohol.  But Olivia Jean confessed her vice is Redbull (her tour bus is loaded with it).

Olivia Jean with her band - Photos by
The Rock and Roll Princess
After joining Jack White's Thirdman Records when she was nineteen, Olivia Jean has proven to be a multi-faceted artist.  She fronted the Goth girl garage band The Black Belles, played guitar with Kate Pierson from The B-52's (even styled Pierson's hair for a photo shoot), and performed with Jack White (on stage and in the studio).  Olivia Jean also acted in HBO's True Detective series staring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as … a singer.  Now performing as a solo act, Olivia Jean has proven to be unstoppable musical force.

Olivia Jean
After changing from a leopard print blouse with a black leather jacket ensemble into a 1960's inspired red dress, Olivia Jean took the stage with a rock and roll attitude. She led her band through several The Black Belles songs including the Dick Dale surf guitar inspired The Wrong Door and a spooky dance song The Tease. Olivia Jean played an obscure cover song entitled Orange that she was obsessed with as a child. Olivia Jean mesmerized the crowd with her own song Haunt Me (the first tune she wrote on an acoustic guitar).  Her signature track Reminisce (Olivia Jean played every instrument on the recording) was definitely the highlight.  New material Garage Bat and Can U Help Me previewed her yet to be finished sophomore album.  After the show, Olivia Jean stated she would return to the studio after Jack White ends his current tour (White took her producer with him on the road).

Hallie Spoor
Denver folk singer Hallie Spoor and her band performed a very non-Goth type of music before Olivia Jean took over the Moon Room.  Sadly, Ben Van Horne, who played bass for them, lost his life a few weeks ago.  In his memory, the band donated their share of ticket sales to Van Horne's favorite charity Youth on Record.  The organization had representation at the show allowing audience members to give even more to the worthy cause. Their playing of the title track to Spoor's debut album The Brave Ones and Sheryl Crowe's If It Makes You Happy would of made Van Horne proud.

Jesse RS
Morphine (the 1990's band with the baritone sax not the drug) was played over the house speakers when the band Jesse RS was setting up.  It was the perfect preview of what was about to happen.  Lead singer Jesse Soward took his band through songs that left space for long jams. The improvisational elements were heightened when Chris Whiteley played multiple saxophones (at one point at the same time).

See you at the next show.  I'll be drinking Redbull and avoiding the guy in the sweatpants.