"No Rest for the Weary": Reverend Horton Heat Burns Through Denver

For three decades the Reverend Horton Heat has been raising a ruckus with its rockabilly-meets-county-meets-punk party music, frontman Jim Heath holding countless audiences in the palm of his hand like a TV evangelist. Heath is the consummate rock and roll entertainer, and age hasn’t dulled his passion for his work. Not the performing part, anyway.

“One thing that is sinking in now, is that I enjoy playing gigs now more than I did when I was younger,” Heath says. “For one thing, there’s a lot less stress involved. There are instances where, when I was young, every gig mattered so much. Looking back, I was totally misguided. The thing now is that I like the camaraderie with the guys but the traveling – I’m done. I don’t like it, but it’s a necessary evil. So I hate the traveling more than ever, but I like playing music more than ever. It’s all good. I’ve had real jobs in my life, and this is definitely not a real job.”

It’s good that Heath can put his disdain for traveling to the side; the man is always on the road as his band remains a hard-working unit. After all, in the cutthroat music industry, bands can be forgotten no sooner than they’re celebrated.

“I hear this from artists that are way bigger than Reverend Horton Heat,” Heath says. “They go and tour, and make a lot more money, but it’s not really about that. It’s about keeping it together. If they say, ‘I’ve got enough money, I’m not going to play for a year and a half,’ then all of a sudden, their best friends are out of a job for a year and a half. It’s an entity.”

The band will play two shows in these parts this week, at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Thursday, December 17, and then at the Ogden Theater on Friday, December 18. This just a few months after a triumphant appearance at Denver Riot Fest.

“That was fun,” Heath says. “I got to talk to Jack Black for a little while, and it was great to see L7 play again. It was a really smoothly operated event, which made it a lot of fun. It all worked out really good.”

Performing in Colorado (once he's gotten here, travel aside) is, according to Heath, always a pleasure and he has no preference when it comes to any Denver-Boulder divide, claiming that he enjoys the things that make the two neighboring cities different.

Boulder’s got more of a college town vibe,” he says. “Denver has a ‘major city of America’ vibe. My band can play for a heavy metal crowd one night and a country crowd the next night. We’ll play a psychobilly festival too. We do all this crazy different stuff, and I’m proud of it because I really think there’s not a lot of bands that do what we do in that regard. Especially playing our own original music.”

The band can do it all, but major Rev fan who plan to attend both shows shouldn't expect wildly different sets. Heath’s year of touring has made a significant overhaul of the set list next-to-impossible.

“I did a Christmas song for an Amazon compilation,” he says. “That took way more time than I thought it was going to take, and way more energy. And so, we were actually going to have completely revamped our set list, but we didn’t have time to do that — but we swapped out a lot of songs. I know it won’t be two completely different set lists. It’ll be very similar, but we’ll probably play a couple of different things

Due to that same workload, a new album is not coming in the immediate future, despite the fact that Heath enjoys tinkering in the studio. “We’ve got a thing we’re working on now, but I don’t want to go into it,” Heath says. “The funny thing about my experience in music is that, I can start out saying I’m going to do this, that, or the other, blah, blah, blah, but at the end of the day it’ll end up being something totally different. I don’t like to talk about stuff until it comes out. We’re always working on stuff, but it’s not going very well.”

Not to worry – the quality of these shows should more than make up for a lack of new material, especially because the excellent Lords of Altamont and the Bellrays are also on the bill. And after the stops in Colorado? More touring.

“We play New Year's in Dallas, which is our home base, then after that a tour of the southeast,” Heath says. “Next year we’ll do another Horton’s Hayride, which is a festival we do in southern California, and another Elm Street Music and Tattoo Festival, which I partner on. We’ve got a tour of the eastern part of Canada coming up. No rest for the weary.”

Reverend Horton Heat plays with the Bellrays and Lords of Altamont at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 17, at the Fox Theatre in Boulder; and at 9 p.m. on Friday, December 18, at the Ogden Theater in Denver.

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