The best jam-band shows in December

SAT-TUES | STRING CHEESE INCIDENT at 1STBANK | 12/28-12/31 String Cheese Incident will be presenting its twentieth-anniversary celebration with various openers during its New Year's run at 1STBANK Center. The group has Bootsy Collins joining forces on Saturday, December 28, and confetti rockers Flaming Lips on Sunday, December 29. Past SCI New Year's shows have been real spectacles, so don't be surprised if the place is a circus, perhaps with aerialists and all. Mixing many genres from psychedelia, bluegrass, latin, jazz and more, the band attracts a colorful array of fans bearing light-up toys and butterfly wings. This one's sure to be a memorable run.

See also: All upcoming concerts in our constantly updated concert calendar

FRI & SAT | MOE. at OGDEN THEATRE | 12/6-12/7 moe. return to Denver fresh from recording a brand-new album. These jam-band veterans are celebrating their 25th anniversary next year, yet they're still creating interesting new stuff while also refreshing old classics. Bassist Rob Derhak spoke with us recently and said the band is excited to get back to the energetic Colorado crowds of moerons. The outfit doesn't rely on tons of lasers to excite an audience, just group communication and lots of improvisation to keep your ears tuned in to what's coming next. Keep an eye on Backbeat for a full interview with Derhak.

YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND at BOULDER THEATER | 12/27-12/31 Yonder Mountain String Band is a fast-paced string band that manages to blow your mind with its excellent technicality while toying with your emotions with heartfelt lyrics. Together the four guys work in musical harmony, with animated lead singer and mandolin player Jeff Austin always delighting the crowd. While the Flood Benefit show the band is hosting on Monday, December 30, is sold out, you can still get tickets to these exciting string-shedders on the remaining four dates.

SAT-TUES | UMPHREY'S MCGEE at FILLMORE | 12/28-12/31 These guys have steadily climbed up the jam-band ladder over the years, wowing crowds across the country and consistently packing Red Rocks. Lighting director Jefferson Waful is considered to be one the best lighting designers out there right now, and his work is definitely something that should be seen at least once. The musical changes on stage are quickly followed by stunning light cues.

FRI | LETTUCE at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | 12/13/13 Lettuce, which has been throwing down the funk forever, celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year. The all-star musicians met at a musical program at Berklee College of Music and have been providing audiences with high-energy wild dance parties ever since. Sharing this bill at the Fillmore is crazily talented keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident with his own band, which brings just as much fire to every show.

FRI & SAT | PARTICLE at ORIENTAL THEATER | 12/27-12/28 Formed in L.A., Particle blends elements of funk, electronica and rock to create a sound called livetronica, a subset of the jam-band world that uses electronic tools to go along with the live instrumentation during live shows and improvisation. The group toured in a side project in 2005 called Hydra, with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, giving the act some older head cred points -- as well as some really cool stories as they tour endlessly for their dedicated fan base, Particle People.

THURS | VINCE HERMAN & FRIENDS at CERVANTES' | 12/19/13 When Leftover Salmon vocalist and overall Papa Bear Vince Herman takes the stage at Cervantes', he'll be billed as "Vince Herman and Friends." Considering he has some of the most musically talented friends on the planet, the show should have the exuberant festival feel that his personality naturally brings to the stage. The last time the outfit came through, it was playing an after-show party following Phish at Dick's. This show should only be a tiny bit less out of control.

FRI | MELVIN SEALS AND THE JERRY GARCIA BAND at QUIXOTE'S | 12/27/13 Many may call them a nostalgia act, but when your history is as storied and amazing as that of Melvin Seals, let them talk. Seals and company have been continuously touring ever since Jerry's death as an homage to the man who began it all, and Seals commands a lot of stage presence in his own right, with his Hammond B3 organ blaring loud and proud, demanding that everyone listen. Seals keeps the flame alive with the Jerry Garcia Band, playing reverent covers as well as tossing in new material.

PICKIN' ON DEAD/PICKIN' AT YO MAMA'S HOUSE at CERVANTES' | 12/12/13 Members of local Phish and Grateful Dead cover band Dead Phish Orchestra get together with various special guests to play bluegrass renditions of Grateful Dead classics. This night goes up a level, as there will also be a show of bluegrass renditions of Widespread Panic classics after the Dead review. These always end up being pretty wild parties -- something about those strings...

SAT | ATOMGA at PARK HOUSE | 12/14/13 When eleven-piece Afrobeat local dance machine ATOMGA takes the stage at Park House, the act is guaranteed to get bodies moving. With horns blaring and percussion beating the roof off, this band, which got together in 2011, is quickly gaining a name for itself and its live performances around the state.

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Leslie Simon