The ten best concerts in Denver this week
Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant returns to town this week with his newest backing band, the Sensational Space Shifters. The lineup features members of his early-'00s band the Strange Sensation and has Plant revisiting both blues-rock and world-music influences after exploring Americana the last few years through collaborations with Alison Krauss and Band of Joy.
The Baptist Generals started in 1998 as a duo, with Chris Flemmons and Steve Hill performing on the street in Denton, Texas. The band's lineup increased when the two started playing parties and bars. By 2007, Hill had exited the outfit, and Flemmons and his new collaborators developed a more expansive sound -- something like the Flaming Lips from Hit to Death in the Future Head throughout the '90s with chamber-pop sensibilities. It's been ten years since the Generals put out the excellent No Silver/No Gold album. After scrapping an entire album recorded in 2005 and being involved in the 35 Denton music festival, the band eventually came back and recorded this year's surreal but organic Jackleg Devotional to the Heart.
The idea of artists overcoming adversity is a modern theme du jour, with dreary storylines custom-made for television documentaries. Yet it's hard to imagine any comeback more unlikely than Steve Earle's. After busting out of the stale Nashville scene of the late '80s with ballsy, rocking albums like Guitar Town and Copperhead Road, Earle served time for heroin possession. He emerged clean and sober and expelled the sour air of prison life like poison gas on 1995's Train a Comin'. Offering a finely honed blend of blues, country and rock, Earle has released a slew of other albums, including his latest, The Low Highway.
The music of Railroad Earth isn't easy to classify, although most people are happy to label it "jam band" and move on. Still reading? Good, because while there's definitely some "jamming" going on in the live show, this is not some guitar-noodling Phish knock-off. Bluegrass lies at the heart of Railroad Earth, but it's a wide-ranging, omnivorous strain that isn't afraid to ditch tradition and have some fun. As a result, you get all the banjo, fiddle and mandolin you'd expect, but it's fused with electric guitars and drums, and prone to weird tangents that might touch on anything from Celtic to jazz. It's a frequently surprising and relentlessly upbeat sound that's at its very best live, regardless of what you call it.
It's impossible to miss the influence of New Orleans in the brash, brassy sound of Galactic. Since forming in 1994, the sextet has experimented with plenty of sounds and styles, dabbling in everything from hip-hop to electronica. But the lush legacy of New Orleans's native jazz, funk, soul and R&B styles has been a constant, and the shadow of the Big Easy continues to loom large.
One the hardest-working rockabilly bands of the past few decades, the Paladins were formed by guitarist Dave Gonzalez and Thomas Yearsley at the height of the rockabilly movement in the early '80s. Over the next two decades, the trio toured with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lobos and the Blasters and released nine studio albums. In 2004, the Paladins went on hiatus; Gonzalez subsequently started the Hacienda Brothers with Chris Gaffney and played with the country-soul Stoney River Boys. In 2010, Gonzalez reunited with the Paladins for some European dates, and the following year, the trio regrouped for its first American shows in seven years. Touring with drummer Brian Fahey, the band is playing a few rare reunion dates around the States, including this one at La Rumba, and there's even talk of the Paladins getting back in the studio to record new tracks.
Founded in 1994 in Portland, Oregon, by the classically trained pianist Thomas M. Lauderdale, Pink Martini was originally created to play politically and environmentally minded fundraisers. In 1997, the group wooed fans with the debut album Sympathique, an intoxicating collection of covers. From festive cafe tunes and sexy sambas to rousing rumbas and steamy jazz numbers, this mini-orchestra and its enchanting chanteuse, China Forbes, concoct tempting aural cocktails for enthusiastic audiences worldwide. Get Happy, slated for a September 24 release, includes guest vocalists Phyllis Diller (her last recording), Philippe Katerine, Meow Meow, Ari Shapiro, the von Trapps and Rufus Wainwright.
"Colorado With Me" employs a raucous, distorted low-end paired with a minimal drum line along with a brilliantly reworked Lil Wayne vocal sample from "Roger That" to create a sound that not only hails the country's greatest state, but one that's legitimately fun to listen to. SP Double's rhymes follow the familiar pattern of a hometown tribute in the shout outs to sports teams, landmarks and neighborhoods, a tried and true method for gaining local support because "Hey! I know that spot!," but SP Double also has moments where he really steps up and shines as a lyricist on lines like, "King of the town, and my crown's made of the city skyline" and "I love my city; blizzard to sunshine in one day." The Colorado MC is swagged to the max on this one, and it shows.
GOLDIE @ NORAD | THURS, 7/11/13
Since producing in the '90s, Goldie has admirably stood the test of time, watching the scene go through many stages while staying true to his passion of true U.K. drum-and-bass. With sets filled with high synths, melodic pianos and soulful vocals, this longtime scene veteran will show you how it was done back then -- and how it's still done today.
Once a member of the Small Faces and Faces (who were both included into the Rock and Roll of Fame last year) in the '60s and '70s, keyboardist Ian McLagan went on to tour and record with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt and Billy Bragg over the last four decades. McLagan's also a great songwriter in his own right, releasing a tribute to his old bandmate, Spiritual Boy: An Appreciation of Ronnie Lane, in 2006, and the following year, he teamed up with Glyn Johns on Never Say Never, which features guest vocals by Patty Griffin.
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