By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
All right, cancel the Amber Alert. I'm back. For the past few weeks, I've been busier than a one-fingered typist attempting to take dictation for Twista. Between curating the Westword Music Showcase — which is shaping up to be a doozy this year (yes, I know, I say that every year, but seriously, check out the partial list of performers below and you'll see what I'm talking about) — and filling our Backbeat Online blog with fresh content, I've been a face on a milk carton.
First, the Showcase-related stuff. So far, we've confirmed about 90 percent of the acts that will be performing on Saturday, June 14, including the Chain Gang of 1974, the Heyday, Laylights, the Swayback, Born in the Flood, Astrophagus, Overcasters, Widowers, Astra Moveo, Cat-A-Tac, Hot IQs, Hearts of Palm, Black Lamb, Kingdom of Magic, Git Some, Ghost Buffalo, American Relay, Bad Luck City, the Wheel, the Hollyfelds, Hello Kavita, Paper Bird, Gregory Alan Isakov, Ian Cooke and Bela Karoli (who plan to play one long set together at Sutra), Kinetix, Meniskus, Potcheen, Savage Henry, Set Forth, Jessica Sonner, Angie Stevens, ManeLine, the Pirate Signal and a host of others.
On a related note, according to our bean-counting IT dudes, the ballot has been getting an unreal amount of traffic this year (we're talking American Idol-type numbers here), with the majority of readers opting to cast their votes online. Let's hope that not too many of them voted for Armando Zuppa, whom we'd initially listed on the ballot — despite the fact that he moved to Florida over a year ago. Thanks to Chris K and Carmen Allgood for pointing that out. (Zuppa's slot has since been filled by Tito del Barrio Màlaga.)
Although we got caught sleeping on that one, rest assured that we're on top of things otherwise, especially when it comes to updating the blog. Hot on the heels of Pictureplane and Rhinoceropolis being name-checked and lauded by Health on Pitchfork this past Friday, Born in the Flood frontman Nathaniel Rateliff was recognized as one of the country's best unsigned singer-songwriters in the most recent issue of Billboard.
The write-up comes at a particularly opportune time: This week, Rateliff and Flood bassist Joseph Pope are set to embark on a short acoustic tour, commencing with a pair of East Coast dates — the first scheduled for Wednesday, May 21, at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey, with the English Beat, followed by a show the next night at New York's Mercury Lounge. Then, on the way to Sacramento, where they'll share a bill with Fiery Furnaces, Rateliff and Pope will stop off in Omaha for a gig with DeVotchKa, as well as a date in Utah. Flood appears to be picking up some serious momentum: "I'll Lead Them Out," from 2007's If This Thing Should Spill, will be featured in The Elephant King, a European indie film that will purportedly see stateside distribution later this year. The band is also the subject of an upcoming TV pilot hosted by Matt Pinfield that profiles emerging acts.
The full-on Mile High media onslaught continued when DeVotchKa absolutely murdered it with a stellar version of "The Clockwise Witness" on Conan O'Brien Monday. It made us truly proud to be from Denver, even more so to be able to claim these guys as our own. Stop by Backbeat Online to check out the video, along with a link to a video of Urata offering up a stripped-down performance on opbmusic.org.
Meanwhile, the Flobots, whose smash single "Handlebars" owns modern-rock radio right now, were slated to make their televised debut Tuesday night on Last Call With Carson Daly. We go to press before the broadcast, so I can't comment on how they fared. But stop by the blog on Wednesday, when I'll weigh in with my thoughts and, with any luck, a link to their performance. While you're there, look for extended Q&As with Rachael Pollard — who's issuing her new disc, A Good Thing, this Wednesday, May 21, at the Meadowlark — and Missy Higgins and the Breeders.