The best concerts in Denver this week
Yonder Mountain String Band is a fast-paced act that manages to blow your mind with its excellent technicality while toying with your emotions with heartfelt lyrics. Together the four members work in musical harmony, with animated lead singer and mandolin player Jeff Austin always delighting the crowd. While the Flood Benefit show the band is hosting on Monday, December 30, is sold out, you can still get tickets to see these exciting string-shedders on the remaining four dates (Saturday, December 28, through Tuesday, December 31).
A year before Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) scored a number jazz album with his major-label debut, he was already sparring with lions. Just check out the eight-minute YouTube clip of the young Shorty trading trumpet licks with Wynton Marsalis at the House of Blues in New Orleans. At the considerably young age of 27, Andrews understands and appreciates the heritage Marsalis represents. His grandfather, Jessie Hill, scored a hit with the Allen Toussaint-produced "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," and his older brother, James, a trumpet player, made sure he sat in with some of the Crescent City's greatest musicians. But Trombone Shorty is just as likely to be opening up for rock artists like Jeff Beck and the Dave Matthews Band as he is playing at a jazz or blues festival. And he's toured and recorded with Lenny Kravitz.
Many may call them a nostalgia act, but when your history is as storied and amazing as that of Melvin Seals, let them talk. Seals and company have been continuously touring ever since Jerry's death as an homage to the man who began it all, and Seals commands a lot of stage presence in his own right, with his Hammond B3 organ blaring loud and proud, demanding that everyone listen. Seals keeps the flame alive with the Jerry Garcia Band, playing reverent covers as well as tossing in new material.
Formed in L.A., Particle blends elements of funk, electronica and rock to create a sound called livetronica, a subset of the jam-band world that uses electronic tools to go along with the live instrumentation during live shows and improvisation. The group toured in a side project in 2005 called Hydra, with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, giving the act some older head cred points -- as well as some really cool stories as they tour endlessly for their dedicated fan base, Particle People.
Back before Air Dubai was headlining large venues as a Warped Tour staple and had a record deal, it was another ambitious local act making its way playing smaller club shows. This week, the outfit returns to its roots with a pair of special back-to-back shows at the hi-dive with Dinosaurus Rex and Total Ghost. Definitely a run of shows not to miss.
Il Cattivo formed when veterans of the punk and metal scenes in Denver came together to form a band that wasn't trying to fit distinctly in an already established rock subgenre. The five piece band sounded like it had been influenced by post-punk crossover bands like the Cult but also the metallic, heavier end of hardcore. Catch Il Cattivo on a terrific bill that includes Warhawk, Pizza Time and Dead West.
On the title track of Honky Tonk Bastard World, Casey James Prestwood offers imagery straight from the best country-and-Western tradition: The tune is all about gettin' high, fightin' with the missus and drinkin' whiskey on the weekends. The rest of the album maintains that vintage C&W charm. Anchored by top-notch lap steel guitar from John Macy, subtle harmonies from Jeremi Hanson and tight playing from the rest of the sextet, the album will delight fans of '50s- and '60s-era country music. On jaunty honky-tonk numbers like "Good Ones," Prestwood sings of love gone sour, while the title of "Out of Beer" pretty much tells that song's story, and the waltz "Mamma's Boy" lends the record some familial sentimentality. Prestwood and his crew have a solid sense of musicianship and display the kind of storytelling skills that gave old-school country its charm. Catch Prestwood and company at Larimer Lounge's Festivus with Ol Hickory, Crocodile Darlings and Bottle Rocket Science.
Vince Guaraldi's score to A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired on television in 1965, has become one of the most beloved Christmas albums of the last five decades. Pianist Marc Sabatella, along with drummer Jill Fredericksen and bassist Drew Morell, will celebrate the season by performing a suite of Vince Guaraldi's classic holiday compositions. Jazz vocalist Wendy Fopeano will also join the trio.
A former music manager at Dazzle for three years, Steve Denny is also an accomplished pianist who received a Masters in Jazz Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. Now based in New York City, Denny returns to the area for a one-off gig at Dazzle with his trio, which includes bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Ben Waters, also UNC grads.
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