You can plan it on your calendar. It happens every year at this time. It's become as routine as Big Head Todd's New Year's Eve concert. As the sky starts exploding and everyone around you becomes a lawn-chair patriot, John Popper and his crew roll into Mootown to celebrate freedom -- which seems appropriate, considering most of their music could be filed under "Freedom Rock." Sometimes they have a new record they're touring behind; sometimes they don't. Makes no difference either way, because as Popper once so eloquently put it, "It doesn't matter what I say/So long as I sing with inflectionthe hook brings back." But this year, in addition to the gig at Red Rocks, they'll be giving fans a rare opportunity to get up close and personal, as they perform a free show the night before at the Celtic Tavern. In what's sure to result in a melee on the streets of LoDo akin to U2's impromptu filming of the "Where the Streets Have No Name" video in L.A., the band will be playing within eyeshot of those unable to get in, who will no doubt be pressed up against the glass like the lady in the Mervyn's commercial. You may not have a snowball's chance in hell of getting in or seeing Popper wail on the harp like this -- at least not up that close -- ever again, but it certainly sounds like some blues worth traveling for.
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