As we gear up for the New Year's Eve weekend, it's looking like an epic line-up for shows, including Yonder Mountain String Band's four-night stand at the Boulder Theater, String Cheese Incident's three-night run at the 1STBANK Center, the Lumineers' two-nighter at the Odgen Theatre, the Black Angels' two-nighter at the Bluebird Theater and Slim Cessna's Auto Club's two nights at the Oriental Theater. While we've got all of the shows this weekend listed in our concert calendar, keep reading for the ten best concerts this weekend.
10. GLOWING HOUSE @ LARIMER LOUNGE | SAT, 12/29/12 At first listen, it's easy to mistake Glowing House's debut as a vehicle for Jess Parsons, the outfit's lead vocalist and pianist/guitarist. But the more the sumptuous and heartfelt songs sink in, the more the whole project feels like a real band. And a good band. Sidestepping the trend of precious, quirky chanteuses such as Ingrid Michaelson, Parsons's songs are soulful and impeccably arranged, yet never full of shit. The weight of her tender frustration is palpable. Of course, the gracious democracy of the group means that guitarist Steve Varney takes the occasional lead vocal -- and while his voice has a depth all its own, it basically serves as a placeholder until Parsons retakes the spotlight.
9. LAURA GOLDHAMER & FRIENDS @ ORIENTAL THEATER | FRI, 12/28/12 A longtime staple of the Denver music scene, Laura Goldhamer's quirky vocals and inventive rhythms are a warm treat during these chilly months. Beyond the adorably infectious music, her keep-it-local projects have often been the beating heart of the underground community. Also on the bill is Capitol Hill's sonic-wizard Roger Green, whose mind-bending instrumental albums and brilliant production work on Esme Patterson's recent solo effort have made him an in-demand name among Denver's Brian Eno sycophants.
8. IVAN NEVILLE'S DUMPSTAFUNK @ CERVANTES' MASTERPIECE BALLROOM | SAT, 12/29/12 Son of New Orleans great Aaron Neville, keyboardist Ivan Neville formed Dumpstaphunk in 2003 after releasing four solo albums under his own name. In its decade-long run the group has grown into one of the Crescent City's most prestigious modern funk ensembles. These guys dig in deep.
7. THE WAILERS @ FOX THEATRE, FRI, 12/28/12 Someone should really make a movie about the saga of the Wailers. Founded by reggae legends Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1963, the seminal reggae band and its various members have influenced every style of reggae imaginable, from roots and rocksteady to dancehall and ska. It has also survived some epic personnel losses: Marley died of cancer in 1981, Tosh was murdered during a home invasion in 1987, drummer Carlton Barrett was shot to death the same year, and vocalist Junior Braithwaite was murdered in 1999. These days, the spirit of the Wailers is kept alive by bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett (brother of the late Carlton), who played with the Marley-era Wailers and is also a former member of Lee "Scratch" Perry's band the Upsetters. Although Marley, Tosh and many of Barrett's former bandmates are gone, you can still hear the iconic bass lines of songs like "Get Up, Stand Up," "No Woman No Cry" and "Exodus" played by the man who wrote them. Tonight, the Wailers perform Marley's Survival.
6. TROMBONE SHORTY @ OGDEN THEATRE | FRI, 12/28/12 On the Grammy-nominated Backatown, Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) packs punchy blasts of horn-driven instrumentals that marry second-line rhythms with R&B and hip-hop. Backatown -- which shot to number one on the Billboard jazz charts immediately upon its release in April 2010, staying there for nine weeks before climbing back on top early this year -- wraps New Orleans traditions in the brand of contemporary trappings that appeal to people the same age as Andrews.
5. SLIM CESSNA'S AUTO CLUB @ ORIENTAL THEATER | SUN, 12/30/12 One of the most gripping live acts around these parts for the past two decades, Slim Cessna's Auto Club generally kicks up dust with equal fervor on its studio recordings. With Unentitled, the followup to 2008's Cipher, the band doesn't steer too far from its tried-and-true formula of dark country and gothic Americana while injecting most of the tracks with a decent amount of the vigor from its live shows. Each of the nine songs on Unentitled could easily stand on its own, but as a collection, the album stands out as one of the Auto Club's finest efforts and possibly its most accessible release to date.
4. THE BLACK ANGELS @ BLUEBIRD THEATRE | SUN, 12/30/12 After one listen to The Black Angels, it's almost unfathomable that the band was conceived in 2004. The Austin quartet isn't a tribute to the psychedelic rock; it defines the decades-old genre with dark organ echoes, heavy percussion and the wiry vocals of Alex Maas. Speaking to the quartet's timelessness, the band played back-up in 2008 for famed 13th Floor Elevators' leader and fellow Texan Roky Erickson. 2010's Phosphene Dream was the first release for the Black Angels on a new label, Blue Horizon Records, and an unflinching continuation of the group's Velvet Underground-inspired catalog. Local acts the Swayback and Hearts In Space open the first of this two-night New Year's stint, and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake and Chains Of Love open on Monday night.
3. THE LUMINEERS @ OGDEN THEATRE | SUN, 12/30/12 The Lumineers, who got their start humbly playing shows at the Meadowlark, just received word in October that their hit single "Ho Hey" officially sold one million copies, while the self-titled Dualtone album the song appears on was certified gold earlier this month. The band was also recently nominated for two Grammy awards, including Best New Artist and Best Americana Album.
2. YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND @ BOULDER THEATER | FRI, 12/28/12 If any band typifies the Colorado approach to contemporary bluegrass, it's Yonder Mountain String Band. The quartet built up its chops playing in venues in Boulder, Nederland and beyond in the late 1990s, and its fusion of traditional instrumentation and progressive musical structures resonated with local crowds. The quartet has spent the past year playing sold-out shows in venues across the country and appeared on The Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Despite the national exposure, the guys still consider the group a Colorado act playing Colorado bluegrass, even if they can't describe the exact characteristics of their sound. The band returns to the Boulder Theater for a four-night New Year's run from Friday, December 28 through Monday, December 31.
1. STRING CHEESE INCIDENT @ 1STBANK CENTER | SAT, 12/29/12 The String Cheese Incident, which formed nearly two decades ago, has taken a few breaks from touring, but over the last few years the Boulder-based newgrass act has shifted back into full gear, starting with a trio of dates at 1STBANK Center last year and a three-night run at Red Rocks over the summer. The group returns to the 1STBANK Center for another three shows this New Year's. Aside from a number of live discs, the band hadn't released any new material in seven years, until last summer when the six-piece released the new single, "Can't Wait Another Day," from a forthcoming album which is in the works.
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