The ten best concerts in Denver this weekend
It may at first seem easy to dismiss Snow Tha Product as another Iggy Azalea or Kreayshawn-level gimmick because of her gender and unconventional appearance, but it gets harder and harder the more you listen to her. Make no mistake, Snow can ride a beat and she can rhyme, and she can rhyme fast, and, frankly, she's more intimidating than a lot of these so-called hard rappers nowadays.
Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts is helping keep jazz alive by trying to grow new audiences, as well as train young jazz musicians. The organization's annual Big Band Boogie Bash is an effort to breathe new life into big band music. This year's event features more than 130 musicians performing in six college bands and three high school groups, including ensembles from Metro State University, Colorado State University, CCJA, University of Northern Colorado, DU, Lamont School of Music, Kent Denver, CU Boulder and Fairview High School.
The sons of famous fathers start out several rungs higher on life's ladder than do the rest of us, but this head start doesn't guarantee superstardom, as the career of James McMurtry demonstrates. The singer-songwriter's 1989 debut, Too Long in the Wasteland, appeared on a major label thanks largely to the notoriety of his sire, novelist Larry McMurtry, who won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for the epic Western Lonesome Dove. James's disc deservedly earned positive notices, as did its two successors, yet mediocre sales convinced his label to drop him circa the mid-'90s. Nevertheless, he pushed forward on Sugar Hill, a sizable indie, and a pair of even smaller imprints, Compadre and Lightning Rod Records.
Local trumpeter Ron Miles and former Denver native Bill Frisell have performed and recorded together on a number of occasions, but they've only teamed up with drummer Brian Blade a handful of times, including to record on Miles' latest disc, Quiver. One of the reasons this trio works so well is that its members share certain sensibilities, and here, their lyrical playing is beautifully understated. Their previous outings at Dazzle have been damn near magical.
You could be excused for expecting an outfit named Warhawk to be a metal band. But while these guys clearly share influences with many metal merchants -- you'll hear a bit of Black Sabbath's edgy darkness and more than a dash of Pentagram's gritty boogie -- they sound more like a long-lost hard-rock band that successfully made the transition to punk, then moved on to something else. It's possible that they cut their teeth learning Thin Lizzy songs or interpreting choice cuts from the Cult's Electric: Singer/guitarist Alex Eschen, after all, has a vibrant, soulful voice not unlike that of Ian Astbury.
Some people have to have it all. Take singer Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root. As members of Slipknot, the two enjoyed worldwide success when their Des Moines, Iowa, bar band was transformed into a tour headliner seemingly overnight. But before they became masked metal mavens, they played together in another Iowa outfit called Stone Sour. A little over a decade ago, Taylor used a break from Slipknot to write songs with guitarist Josh Rand; the melodic but hard material they came up with inspired a resurrection of Stone Sour. The group released an eponymous debut on Roadrunner Records in 2002 and since then has released three more albums, including last year's House of Gold & Bones -- Part 1. The group is set to release its follow-up, House of Gold & Bones -- Part 2, in April.
Stolen Babies played Summer Grind in 2012 in Englewood and definitely didn't visually fit in with most of the rest of the music of the festival. All in black with make-up and looking like they came out of some dark cabaret performance art piece, the band nonetheless proved a hit with everyone there, punkers and otherwise. Musically akin to experimental metal bands like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (whose Carla Kihlstedt contributed to some Stolen Babies recordings) and Mr. Bungle, this group has also put together the kind of inspired melodramatic dynamic flourishes you'd find on 90s-era Swans. That combined with the spooky carnival flair this band has in its songs and visual representations, Tim Burton should tap these people for his next movie soundtrack.
Doro Pesch was the charismatic frontwoman of the '80s German metal band Warlock. With power and confidence that were rare at the time, Pesch, the first woman to front a band at the 1986 Monsters of Rock festival, possessed a stirring, sometimes animalistic wail. Warlock split in 1987, two years after releasing its final, and perhaps best album, Triumph and Agony. Since then, Pesch has embarked on a successful career making music with a band called, naturally, Doro, beginning with the 1989 release Force Majeure. Last year, Pesch and company put out Raise Your Fist. With the recent return of classic metal as a touchstone for modern bands, Doro Pesch is finally starting to get her proper due as one of the singular voices of heavy metal.
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: The band's two-night stand at the Ogden comes less than a week after Mardi Gras, a tradition the band celebrates on its latest release, last year's Carnivale Electronicos. Over the years, Galactic has toured and recorded with an array of laudable acts, and this time around, the group has assembled an impressive lineup of estimable guests, including Monophonics, Latyrx, featuring Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker, and Living Colour lead singer Corey Glover.
One of the few heavy bands with a genre-transcending appeal, Oakland's Neurosis forged an impressive sonic evolution across several decades. Starting out as a bit of a political crust/hardcore band in 1985, by the time of its 1992 album, the epochal Souls at Zero, Neurosis was on the path to creating the urgent, distorted psychedelic metal that completely integrated everything from ambient music and the organic industrial side of Einstürzende Neubauten to Swans and neofolk into its palette; in 2003, in fact, the band collaborated with former Swans singer Jarboe for a most beautifully unsettling record. Last year, Neurosis released Honor Found in Decay, continuing its trilogy of albums exploring the atmospheric potentialities of a glacial dynamic build. Neurosis rarely plays Denver. Don't sleep on this opportunity.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.