Another several-night stand at Red Rocks this weekend: The Avett Brothers play three shows at the World's Only Natural Amphitheater. Elsewhere, Ms. Lauryn Hill will confound you with a bunch of songs that sound absolutely nothing like the hits your remember. And Joan Baez goes from Denver to Fort Collins. The rest of our picks follow.
This weekend, Ride Festival will bring a lineup including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Spoon and the Wood Brothers to the mountains. "It is festival season for us. that's what we do all summer," Says Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers. "Telluride is known as one of the ultimate festival stops. For us, it's a little remote, but we try to make it work."The Avett Brothers Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. July 11; 7:30 p.m. July 12; 7:30 p.m. July 13
The country is awash in Americana fever as scores of rock-radio favorites dabble in the sounds of yore. It's part of a search for authenticity when so much pop is heavily synthesized, and partially a need for the warm, fuzzy blanket of an imagined yesteryear. Though it might be cute, many of the current banjo-picking types fail to elevate their style beyond gimmick. A huge exception is the Avett Brothers, a North Carolina act helmed by, yes, brothers Scott and Seth. Sure, they're nominally folk-influenced, with their relatively stripped-down, deeply earnest sound and penchant for things like harmonicas. But what sets the Avetts apart is a serious, genre-defying talent for songwriting. Their melodies soar and stick, regardless of the folksy window dressing.Cowboy Mouth Bluebird Theater : 9:00 p.m. July 11
Making country-twinged pop-rock since 1990, Cowboy Mouth pulls from influences like The Clash -- heard loud and clear in its tribute "Joe Strummer" -- to create its own brand of blues-friendly rock n' roll with a goofy lyrical twist. The band has produced almost as many live albums as studio work, and though radio airplay has been fairly elusive, Cowboy Mouth has found a devoted fan base across the U.S.Dick Dale Moe's Original BBQ & Bowl : 8:30 p.m. July 11
Dick Dale is one of the most influential living musicians. If Dale hadn't blown the first 48 guitar amplifiers Leo Fender had brought to him, guitar amps as we now know them may have taken longer to develop. Dale, who invented surf rock, used to pay the Beach Boys fifty dollars to open for him in the early days. Dale's influence on rock and roll since the 1950s is immense, and he has shared the stage with legends while being a legend in his own right. He was a seminal influence on Jimi Hendrix, who immortalized Dale in song.Selina Albright Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 9:00 p.m. July 11
Selina Albright tried the saxophone once. She got dizzy, though, and that's pretty much all it took for her to realize that the sax wasn't for her.
"I'm just going to use my lungs for my vocal cords, and that's it," says Albright, whose father, Gerald, is renowned in contemporary jazz and R&B circles for his sax playing. "It's really hard to play the saxophone. It sounded horrible. It sounded like an elephant when I tried it. I don't think I have that calling."Joan Baez Mishawaka Amphitheatre : 8:00 p.m. July 11
It took decades, but Joan Baez has finally overcome her stage fright. The legendary folk singer and activist, who initially found fame during the folk renaissance of the 1960s, partnering with Bob Dylan on stage and fighting for a wide range of causes into the '70s, '80s and '90s, says she's discovered a newfound sense of creative comfort and inspiration in the past several years. The past decade has seen the most dramatic growth for Baez. A 2009 episode of the PBS seriesAmerican Masters
revisited her musical achievements and turned a new generation on to her work.Lucero Aggie Theatre : July 11
After a decade together, Lucero's starting mixing things up a bit with the addition of a horn section on 2009's1372 Overton Park
. That album -- the Memphis band's only with Universal -- sparked the tired debate amongst followers about what happens when a group signs a major-label deal and perhaps grows a bit tired of the same stylistic structure that has dominated its past albums.On Women & Work
, Lucero takes more of a country-soul route a la Gram Parsons andSticky Fingers
-era Rolling Stones.Nate Birkey Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 9:00 p.m. July 12
Although Nate Birkey grew up in Evergreen, the trumpeter spent a lot of time in Santa Barbara, where he split his time playing in jazz clubs and with local indie-pop band Spencer the Gardener. For the past five years, Birkey has lived in New York City, where he's refined his jazz chops with some of the city's finest players, like Phil Woods, Dave Liebman and Gerald Clayton, as well as opening for Diana Krall. Birkey not only bears a slight resemblance to Chet Baker, but his wispy vocals and warm trumpet tone also recall the lauded horn player, as evidenced by Birkey's latest jazz/gospel effort, Just a Closer Walk. An adept and lyrical improviser, Birkey should feel right at home playing two sets at Dazzle with Denver-based pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Dru Heller.Bob Weir & Ratdog Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. July 12
Since its early days as a duet comprising Bob Weir and self-styled acoustic bassist Rob Wasserman, Ratdog has experienced its share of musical evolution and personnel shuffling. Counting late Chuck Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson and members of San Francisco's jazz-based Charlie Hunter Trio among its alumni, the group morphed from a juke-joint blues outfit to a jazzier ensemble before achieving what Boneheads -- the Ratdog equivalent of Deadheads -- consider to be its finest and most inclusive incarnation.S. Carey Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. July 12
As S. Carey, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sean Carey's solo material is definitely in line with the work he did as a part of a part of Bon Iver's back-up band -- and his voice is also a sweet but resilient focal point of a soothing Midwestern sound, Whether Carey's singing from behind the piano, guitar, xylophone or the varying wind and percussive instruments to which he's familiar, the gentle performer channels Brian Wilson, James Taylor and Iron & Wine with comforting ease.Dragondeer Larimer Lounge : 2:00 p.m. July 13
Dragondeer, the long-running side project of Swayback frontman Eric Halborg, has always been something you got to see once in a great while -- like if you happened to be at the JINXED! jam night at Rockbar a few years back. In contrast to the Swayback, Dragondeer has an acoustic guitar and harmonica as its base, propelling Halborg's signature soulful croon. The resultant bluesy psychedelia isn't so much 13th Floor Elevators as it is the sort of thing Led Zeppelin might have done had it gone the way of space rock after its third album. The band's intricate instrumentation and tightly accented rhythms (Cole Rudy's on lap steel and mandolin, and Carl Sorensen's on percussion) convey an openness of spirit. Halborg couldn't have picked a more able crew to realize his own cosmic blues.Ms. Lauryn Hill Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. July 13
When Ms. Lauryn Hill performed at the Fillmore in 2012, she showed that her presence was dynamic -- simultaneously gruff and feminine -- and her abilities are absolutely undiminished despite having been absent from the music world for a number of years. From demonstrations of her powerful range singing to patois-laced toasting to straight up ripping verses, the elevation wasn't an issue for her breath control. She was a force on stage, and not just vocally. While commanding the spotlight, she was simultaneously leading the band, using hand signals to extend bridges, accelerate the tempo or push her back up singers into harmonic exploration.
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