FRI & SAT | THE BLACK CROWES at OGDEN THEATRE|11/15-11/16 In the late '80s, many young musicians were embracing the myth of the '60s. In 1989, the Black Crowes (due at the Ogden Theatre on Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 16) emerged from that cultural backdrop with a bluesy, '70s-hard-rock edge and jangle-inflected improvisational inclinations, presaging virtually every element of the most recent wave of classic-rock revisionism. Their debut album, 1990's Shake Your Money Maker, was a massive success on the strength of the band's take on the Otis Redding staple "Hard to Handle." Famously tumultuous interband dynamics notwithstanding, the Crowes have persevered -- partly because they grew into a great rock-and-roll band, and partly because there is no denying the charisma and wit of frontman Chris Robinson.
FRI | NAS at SOGNAR'S SHREDDED BEATS, CERVANTES | 11/15/13 Though he is a legend in most every rap fan's book, Nas suffers an inescapable qualifier of his own making: the inability to escape the shadow of his legendary debut. This had even led some to label Nas overrated, but the rest of his work is only weak in comparison to his greatest. It's clear that no rapper could have adequately followed Illmatic because the album remains, to this day, hip-hop's greatest, most perfect treasure. And even if he hasn't made another classic album, per se, Nas has earned plenty of other accolades that would make a lesser rapper's career.
FRI | DELTRON 3030 at BOOM FESTIVAL, 1STBANK CENTER | 11/15/13 Deltron 3030 isn't so much a group or an album as it is a mode of thought, and there are few hip-hop albums (or albums of any genre, for that matter) with the cinematic quality of this act's self-titled debut. Dan the Automator created deeply textured and darkly evocative soundscapes, aided by Kid Koala's turntablism, as a backdrop for Teren Delvon Jones (aka Del tha Funkee Homosapien, aka Deltron Zero) to tell the tale of how he becomes Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion. Similar to Dan the Automator's earlier work with Kool Keith, Dr. Octagonecologyst, but more coherent and accessible, this album proved that hip-hop could successfully travel to a place that only geeks had gone before: Silly non sequiturs, outer space fantasy and ridiculous characters all became fair game, and so did the out-crowd that relished them. Deltron 3030 returns to Denver with a new album, Event 2, as part of the Boom Festival, which is being headlined by Excision and features Funtcase, Cookie Monsta and more.
FRI | BLITZEN TRAPPER at BLUEBIRD THEATER | 11/15/13 Songs like "Fletcher," a rambling, electric guitar-infused ballad from Blitzen Trapper's 2011 album, American Goldwing, like much of the act's music, feels like it's part of a larger narrative. Written by the quiet and mysterious frontman Eric Earley, that song like others from the album strike a chord that's almost Odyssean: From the heartbreak to the wild times to the self-reflection feelings, it's as if they're part of a continuous life journey in which a man is trying to make his way home.
FRI | BUTCH WALKER at LARIMER LOUNGE | 11/15/13 Although the two records that Butch Walker made with the Black Widows were collaborative efforts, from songwriting to production, Walker opted for a more personal approach on his new five-song EP, Peachtree Battle. The album is about his father, who passed away in August at the age of 72 and was featured in the new documentary Butch Walker: Out of Focus. Walker is a revered songwriter that seems to write incisive reflective songs as easily as he pens hits, having worked with Pink, Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy and Train.
SAT | 3OH!3 at SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | 11/16/13 3OH!3 formed in 2004 as an irreverent, outrageously humorous dance pop band. Founded by Boulder natives Nathaniel Motte and Sean Foreman, 3OH!3 quickly caught on with audiences locally and then well outside of Colorado with its 2007 debut, 3OH!3. But it wasn't until the group's 2008 album that the band rose to fame on a national scale, partly due to joining the Warped Tour that summer, where it shared the 'stage with future pop star Katy Perry. This year, the band released its most refined and sonically interesting album to date, Omens.
FRI-SUN | HI-DIVE ONE/TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY at HI-DIVE | 11/15-11/17 In November 2003, Matt and Allison LaBarge took over the space at 7 South Broadway (formerly occupied by Quixote's True Blue) and rechristened it the hi-dive. Since then, the small club has hosted a slew of lauded local and national acts, including Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Yeasayer and more. Last year, Matty Clark and Josh Terry bought the place with some investment help from their friends, a group of scene veterans that includes Desoto, Devon Rogers, Xandy Whitesel, Holland Rock-Garden and Curt Wallach. Building on the club's established renown, the new owners have continued to book the same caliber of shows. This weekend, the Hi-Dive's One and Ten Year Anniversary will be marked by a weekend-long celebration that includes reunion performances by Monofog, Red Cloud and Machine Gun Blues, as well as contributions from Zebroids, the Photo Atlas, Empty Palace (former MGB), Warhawk, the Royal, Ark Life and Joe Sampson.
FRI | JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY at DAZZLE | 11/15 Since forming in Tulsa nearly two decades ago, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has changed its line-up nearly as many times as the band's chameleonic approach to music has changed over the course of 21 albums. While the act has delved in a multitude of styles, including rock, funk and electronica, there has always been a communal ear bent toward jazz, especially in the extended improvisations. JFJO's latest effort, 2011's Race Riot Suite, a long-form conceptual piece that tells the story of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, is an ambitious piece that's a bit more rooted in jazz than more recent efforts.
FRI & SAT | GREENSKY BLUEGRASS at GOTHIC THEATRE | 11/15-11/16 For the better part of the past fifteen years, this band from Kalamazoo, Michigan, has toured like it was a life mission. True to its name, its roots are in bluegrass -- but there's also an improvisational side to the music that recalls the more interesting guitar work of Jerry Garcia. On the strength of hundreds of shows, not to mention a mastery of the art form, Greensky Bluegrass won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition in 2006. Combining covers of traditional songs with excellent original material, the group is at its best in the live setting, as the All Access series of live albums attest. Greensky's extended improvisations, like some of the best music from the Allman Brothers and the Dead, are more inspired reinterpretation than indulgence.
SAT | MONSTER MAGNET at MARQUIS THEATER | 11/16/13 Dave Wyndorf is the sole remaining member of Monster Magnet, which was founded in 1989. Earlier in his life, Wyndorf had played in Shrapnel, an early punk band that was managed by "Legs" McNeil, of Punk magazine fame. After Shrapnel ended, Wyndorf learned to play guitar and started writing heavier music more akin to the hard rock that had excited him growing up rather than the punk with which Shrapnel had been associated. After initially going by Dog of Mystery, Wyndorf's new band took its permanent name from one of his childhood toys. Monster Magnet found commercial success with its 1998 album, Powertrip, which featured the hit single "Space Lord." Having injected stoner rock into the mainstream, Monster Magnet has found the time to explore outside that genre, particularly on 2013's psychedelically tinged Last Patrol.
SAT | RITTZ at ROXY THEATER | 11/16/13 The artist to whom Rittz most frequently draws comparison is Yelawolf, more for their shared fast cadence and Southern twang than anything else, but also for their endearing underdog mentality and refusal to sacrifice their individuality for greater mainstream success. It's probably not coincidental, then, that the moment it became clear that Rittz was a force that could no longer be ignored was his flawless guest verse on "Box Chevy pt. 3" on Yelawolf's breakout mixtape, Trunk Muzik. Since then, Rittz has released his own studio debut, The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant, to both critical and commercial success.
SUN | GEORGE CLINTON at ORIENTAL THEATER | 11/17/13 Making music since the mid-1950s, George Clinton is an enduring musical force that extends far beyond sound. Clinton is a movement in himself, a colorful cultural noisemaker who has, over the last five decades, taken funk from the white house to the depths of the cosmos and back. Whether you're sixteen or sixty, a George Clinton & P-Funk show will move you, with textured bass-bouncing rhythms and harmonies that ride from dirty to gospel-like. Clinton conducts his orchestra with rainbow hair swings and hand gestures, but his scratchy, happy voice and toothy grin are what keep all eyes and ears on one of the most enduring figures in modern music history.