The Frantix were the precursors to the Fluid, who helped popularize the grunge movement that shook the galaxy last decade. For that reason, the music on this disc (issued by Afterburn Records, an indie imprint out of Australia) is of historical importance -- but it's about as academic as a high-school dropout on a three-week bender. The rip-roaring title track sets a stage that the rest of the disc burns to the ground.
In no short order, the localpalooza called the Rock In' Freak Fest landed one of the organizers in the pokey, left another with a shiner and a splitting headache, garnered an assault charge for one local radio personality, bankrupted a local zine and left more than thirty local acts high and dry. Talk about a freak fest.
Known for performing marathon-length shows to rival Bruce Springsteen or the Grateful Dead, Ween played an abbreviated but remarkable set last fall to a standing-room-only crowd -- one that showered New Hope, Pennsylvania's finest with giddy praise, hand-made cards and a liter of Jack Daniels. The intimate, daytime setting found Gene and Dean trotting out both classics and rarities, honoring every request from "Reggaejunkiejew" to "Chocolate Town." Mang, oh mang!
Denver is crammed with every far-fetched country-music spinoff imaginable (Pentecostal Goth country?), but Out on Bail sticks out like a stubborn weed among all the hayseed wannabes. This wet-behind-the-ears quartet takes the bleak grace of Johnny Cash and crams it into the guttural sloppiness of old Bay Area punk like Crimpshrine and early Jawbreaker, combining twangy guitar, lopsided distortion, coed vocals and a skin-splitting honesty. A co-release with Pariah Caste is due soon, but until then, you'll just have to catch Out on Bail in its natural state: live, sloshed, and hemorrhaging gritty, tender heartache.

Best Metal-Scrapper Turned Authentic Bluesman

Willie Houston

When Willie Houston sings the blues, he draws from a deep reservoir of personal experience, including heartache, poverty and years of backbreaking labor in the Louisiana swamps. Still an engaging and soulful performer at 76, the Junkman adheres to a timeworn sound that grabs listeners with honesty and conviction.
Not long ago, Otis Taylor was a Boulder antiques broker, and uninformed observers of the local music community considered him to be something of an antique. How wrong they were. In the mid-'90s, Taylor reinvented himself as a modern bluesman, and since then, he's earned the kind of critical acclaim that most artists never experience. He's nominated for four W.C. Handy awards -- the blues equivalent of the Grammys -- and he probably won't leave Memphis empty-handed when the awards are distributed next month. After all, his latest disc, 2003's Truth Is Not Fiction, on Telarc Records, was named one of the top ten albums of the year in any genre by the New York Times and wound up on two different top-ten lists in the Washington Post. Some antique.
Jack Redell is an American classic in the making. Some day, folks will speak of Redell's time here with a reverence generally reserved for Tom Waits and Jack Kerouac. Hell, word has it the Thin Man has named a drink named after Redell in honor of the amount of time he's spent there. And since last year's brilliant, full-length Famous American, the prolific troubadour has written two binders full of unreleased songs. He has a haunting storytelling ability that recalls Nebraska-era Springsteen delivered with the fierce conviction of a young Johnny Cash and the timbre of Jay Farrar. Talk about a burning ring of fire.
It took three years for Victoria Woodworth to produce and unearth Faultline, her first solo recording. It took much longer than that to collect the wealth of experience and emotion at its heart. A small person with a big voice and a poetic bend, Woodworth concentrates on the Important Issues: longing, love and loneliness; faith, awakening and self awareness; memory and hope. But her work isn't bogged down by its own psychic weight. She's a songwriter's songwriter, a student of the chorus, the build and the bridge -- and her style suggests artists we can only assume are her teachers: Emmylou Harris, Patsy Cline, Gram Parsons. Woodworth often plays live with her band, the Heroes, though she is a fine solo performer, as well. Hopefully, the next record won't take three years. We can't wait that long.
Gothic Theatre
A decade ago, the Gothic Theatre was a pit: dank, dirty, with crappy sound and ripped-up seats left over from its Prohibition-era, weekend-matinee heyday -- the perfect setting for punk shows back before the style became sterilized. In 1999, the Gothic underwent a makeover more radical than the one performed on Michael Jackson's nose. The venue's original art-deco atmosphere was rebuilt from the ground up -- the beautiful wraparound balcony is the perfect place to chill, drink and listen -- and its warm, natural acoustics are augmented by one of the best sound systems in town. Performances at the Gothic are now real events, whether they're blues, soul, indie rock, industrial, metal, jazz or even that new, squeaky-clean punk rock.

Soiled Dove Underground
Eric Gruneisen
Everything about the Soiled Dove is rock-solid. Located in the heart of LoDo, it provides an intimate experience unlike any other room. The stage is situated so that there isn't a bad seat in the house, the distance between performer and patron is negligible, and the lights and sound are simply stellar. With a consistent lineup that caters to the best local and national emerging artists, the Dove has become Denver's place to play. And Above the Dove, the venue's rooftop patio, is the perfect place to chill between bands.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of