It's a good weekend here in Denver, with hip-hop deity KRS-One playing Cervantes' and the criminally under-appreciated Ralph Gean playing Mutiny Information Cafe tonight. Elsewhere, the Gypsy Jane Cannabis Carnival brings E-40 and others to the Merchandise Mart. The rest of our picks are below.
Snoop Dogg is one of the very few performers in hip-hop who can say he's watched the genre grow old with grace. From his tumultuous times at Death Row Records to a questionable signing with the No Limit label, Snoop has soldiered on through the years to become one of the game's greatest legends. His lyrics, his California swag and his consistent ear for head-banging rap beats continually put Snoop ahead of the class. His coolness is immeasurable, and he envelops his audiences with it at his shows. Well, that and marijuana smoke. Through it all, Snoop has built the Doggfather legacy and amassed a cult following that grows with every performance and carries his hip-hop message to the world. Snoop Dogg & Tha Dogg Pound headlines Saturday night of the Gypsy Jane Jubilee. E-40, Too $hort, Warren G, Xzibit, Spice 1 are also on the bill.Ralph Gean Mutiny Information Cafe : October 3
Though now largely pushed to the corner of music labeled as "outsider," Ralph Gean, like Daniel Johnston or Dot Wiggins, simply writes accessible music that hasn't caught on with a more mainstream audience. Brian M. Clark's highly informative and detailed profile of Gean at ralphgean.com effectively makes the case for why Gean is one of the criminally underappreciated songwriters in American music. In 1996, he was on the cover of Westword, and in 1997 Boyd Rice issued a two-CD retrospective of Gean's songs. Despite that, since then you've had to catch Gean at DIY spaces and even rarer club gigs. For his show this Friday, October 3, at Mutiny Information Cafe, BAAST, a local lathe-cut imprint, is putting out Gean's first vinyl release in years. So you'll get a chance to catch the legendary performer and pick up a copy of his latest record.Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. October 3
Tom Petty's status as a rock icon may be subject to debate -- his voice is an acquired taste that doesn't suit every palate. But regardless of his scratchy, mildly twangy intonation, there's no doubt that he's one of the great songwriters of the past 35 years. From his beginnings with the Heartbreakers to his later work with supergroup the Traveling Wilburys to his well-regarded solo career, Petty's songs, accompanied by his trademark twelve-string sound, have told tales of dreaming drifters and prim and proper high-school debutantes alike. His lyrics paint gracious portraits of nameless American figures now cemented in popular culture -- a phenomenon strengthened by Petty's visual rise in the late '80s and early '90s as an MTV staple. More than a prolific musician, Petty is known as the people's rock star. When his then-label MCA Records tried to mark up the price of 1981's Hard Promises, the musician threatened to rename the album to reflect the industry price hike. The label relented, adding to the lore of an American rock star whose history is still being written.Karl Denson's Tiny Universe Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. October 3; 9:00 p.m. October 4
Karl Denson is hard to pin down. The saxophonist and bandleader may have strong roots in the traditional jazz of giants like John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, but that hasn't stopped him from exploring funk, R&B, hip-hop and myriad other genres in his two-decade-plus career. Starting as a member of Lenny Kravitz's original ensemble in the late '80s, Denson went on to push the creative envelope, exploring different textures and styles with the Greyboy Allstars and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.Mark Farina Cervantes' Other Side : October 3
Mark Farina got his start as a house DJ in Chicago alongside house-music godfather Derrick Carter, and took the Windy City's best-known electronic-music export in a different direction when he started mixing down-tempo house tracks into jazzy, funky combinations. His first Mushroom Jazz mix tape led to a club night in San Francisco and six volumes by the same name, proving that although Farina cut his teeth on the playful, energetic house tunes Chicago is known for, he can also rock the mellow, hypnotic, sensual beats of downtempo -- with a trippy, disco-infused flavor that (so far) no other acid-jazz DJ has managed to replicate.Vanilla Ice Grizzly Rose : 10:00 p.m. October 3
Most of us recall when, during the summer of 1990, Vanilla Ice urged the world to "check out the hook while my DJ revolves it" and sold ten million records in four months as the pop charts went "Ice Ice Baby" crazy. He was "cookin' MCs like a pound of bacon." He was dancing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he was inspiring white boys everywhere to hairspray their frosted blond locks into pristine flattop fades. These days, Mr. Ice is rocking more of Motocross look. But he's still keeping it Vanilla. He's got his own home-improvement TV show, The Vanilla Ice Project, on the DIY Network. And he's continued dropping new music, like 2011's WTF - Wisdom, Tenacity & Focus, with an untitled 2014 album slated for release via Insane Clown Posse's Psychopathic Records.Ten Walls Bar Standard : October 3
Mario Basanov must be doing something right under his Ten Walls musical alias. He just released his first EP as Ten Walls last year, but he's already put together a scorching two-hour-long BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix (just released on September 13) that showcases his precise yet soulful production and selection skills. And apparently the man is multitalented: His live show includes visuals he designed that make the experience a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. He's only planning five stops in the U.S. on his tour, and it's a coup for Denver to snag one of them; he'll play Friday, October 3, at Bar Standard.KRS-One Cervantes' Other Side : 9:00 p.m. October 4
KRS-One (aka Lawrence Parker) was the sole constant member of Boogie Down Productions, whose 1987 album, Criminal Minded, is often cited as the record that introduced gangsta rap to an unsuspecting world. But BDP's raps were always as literate as they were gritty, and the act quickly evolved beyond its street-level journalism, producing lyrics that spelled out political and social ills on a wider scale. The song "Beef," from the 1990 album Edutainment, must have seemed bizarre, championing vegetarianism at such an early date. But KRS-One has always been a bit ahead of the curve, and to this day remains a controversial figure not only for his music, but also for his outspoken public persona. Back to the L.A.B., released in 2010, is among his finest.DJ Logic featuring The Earful Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. October 4
Bronx native Jason Kibler, aka DJ Logic, got his start spinning records at local community events in the '80s, where he quickly attracted the attention of Living Colour's Vernon Reid and a cast of others with his hip-hop and jazz-inflected beats. Logic has since added his signature grooves to hundreds of projects by a diverse array of artists. Some of those stints have been natural fits, such as his work with Mos Def, ?uestlove, Weather Report and Prince Paul, while others have seemed to, well, defy logic -- namely working with the likes Arlo Guthrie, Phish, B-52s and Buckethead. Although the DJ has collaborated with a Dangermouse-like prolificacy over the years, his contribution to Medeski, Martin and Wood's Combustication in 1998 is what truly earned him acclaim.The Giraffes Larimer Lounge : October 4
Fair warning: The Giraffes are a rock-and-roll band. Whiskey will be consumed. Verbal abuse will whirl around the joint like water in a toilet bowl. Blood may be spilled. Handlebar mustaches will be worn. And by God, that's just as it should be. Consider Lester Bangs's comments when regarding a certain maniac named Iggy: "What we need are more rock 'stars' willing to make fools of themselves, absolutely jump off the deep end and make the audience embarrassed for them if necessary." Human middle fingers like Iggy Pop and the Giraffes serve as essential reminders that rock and roll is meant to be loud, visceral and just a little horrifying. The boys from Brooklyn dare all within earshot to rock out with their collective cock out -- literally.Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters Fillmore Auditorium : 8:00 p.m. October 4
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Robert Plant, the golden god of rock and roll, returns to Denver for his first show with his relatively new backing band, the Sensational Space Shifters. You know about the former Led Zeppelin frontman, whose recent forays include a collaboration with Alison Krauss and another with former partner Patty Griffin. The Sensational Space Shifters are mostly familiar to longtime Plant fans as well; the majority of the bandmembers were also in Plant's last long-term backing group, Strange Sensation. This time, he's added a pair of musicians -- drummer Dave Smith and riti player Juldeh Camara -- known for their work with traditional West African instruments and sounds. Those influences can also be found throughout Plant's latest full-length, Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar.Mystical as Fak Tour Fox Theatre : 8:30 p.m. October 5
Finding success in signing with Skrillex's OWSLA record label, Kill the Noise has grown into one of the heaviest producers currently touring. Jake Stanczak, the brains behind the operation, has been developing Kill the Noise's sound for years. His powerhouse club bangers melt with melodic pianos and tease the fringes of metal anthems. This burgeoning genre -- this lovely-meets-heavy blend -- blasts from the speakers, leaving you in a state of seizing bliss. He's with Milo & Otis and Ape Drums as part of the Mystical as Fak Tour.