It's a busy weekend in Colorado -- local favorite Railroad Earth is in town, the Toasters' tour heads south and there's plenty more. Our picks for the best shows over the next few days are below.
If the legendary, mad Mardi Gras injuns of the Wild Tchoupitoulas have a 21st-century equivalent, it's Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk. Started in 2003 as a side project by the acclaimed keyboard player (and son of Aaron Neville), the band has become one of the fiercest, hardest funk bands on the festival circuit. Strutting second-line rhythms bump booty with funkadelic shakedowns, saxophone skronk and freestyle MC interjections in an urban shock-out that rocks like a hurricane and preaches a fiery gospel of inner-city solidarity and renewal. "Don't let them haters piss you off!" shouts Neville on the Family Stone-esque "Shake It Off." "We just need some space to breathe." And space to stretch the nastiest grooves across what remains and what will be of the New Orleans landscape. Co-headliners the Greyboy Allstars will bring the funk as well but they lean more on the jazzy tip.Kill Frenzy Bar Standard : January 23
Dirtybird is a notorious American house label that's become increasingly widely known, thanks to its artists consistently scorching (and subverting) dance floors at massive festivals and bigname clubs all over the world, collectively raising the bar for house music. The label is already well known for picking and choosing only the best artists to sign, and this also has a lot to do with its ascendance. One of those artists is Kill Frenzy, a house DJ and producer from Belgium whose focus on Chicagostyle dirty house has captivated dancers for many years. His sound is a great deal sexier and more upbeat than his moniker suggests, but don't be fooled -- there's a sharp edge lurking beneath the beats that will sneak out and nick you when you least expect it, and it surprises and delights house enthusiasts the world over. Join in the frenzy when he plays Bar Standard on Friday, January 23.Jukebox the Ghost Larimer Lounge : January 23
Jukebox the Ghost's breakthrough debut,Let Live and Let Ghosts
, led the group on a two-year touring binge, topped by an opening slot for like-minded ivory tickler Ben Folds. Rather than make a tired sophomore record centered around its status as exhausted road warriors, the piano-guitar-drum trio lightened up its oft-dramatic tracks for Everything Under the Sun. The aptly titled collection of optimistic piano jingles plays like secular Sunday-school party jams.
Muscle Beach hi-dive : 9:30 p.m. January 23 Some people may remember Rebecca Williams from her time fronting garagepsych outfit Thee Dang Dangs. That project showed promise in its synthesis of raw, emotional vocals and hazy but urgent melodies. Following the dissolution of Thee Dang Dangs in 2014, Williams bought a van that she could live in and work out of with her brother, drummer Joshua Williams. They named the resulting musical project the Savage Blush, and used their flexibility and mobility to tour and experiment with traveling to different recording studios and spaces. The Williamses released their debut album, Quattuor Ante Meridiem, in October 2014. Hazier than Rebecca's Thee Dang Dangs material, the songs were written late at night, when she often felt a drive to work on her music until dawn. The Savage Blush weaves together the unvarnished sensibilities of rockabilly with the expansive atmospheres of psychedelia; catch the act Friday, January 23, at the hidive.The Toasters The Black Sheep : January 23
While America's mainstream obsession with third-wave ska didn't peak until the mid-'90s, when acts like No Doubt, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish were ruling radio, the Toasters were doing it way back in 1981. The band is fronted by Robert "Bucket" Hingley, who moved to New York from Dorset, England, bringing with him a penchant for the more traditional Jamaican-rooted two-tone ska revival of the '70s. The Toasters were able to ride a little of the popular wave with their 1997 hit "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down," and they have produced more than a dozen studio and live albums during a still-thriving career. Hingley also founded Moon Ska Records, which not only functioned as a vehicle for Toasters releases but became a hub for lesser-known but equally important third-wave acts like the Slackers, Mustard Plug and Hepcat (not to mention Caribbean ska originator Laurel Aitken). History aside, the Toasters have kept the happy, danceable and friendly side of ska alive with a style that suits both the punks and the rude boys and girls.Railroad Earth Ogden Theatre : 9:00 p.m. January 23; 9:00 p.m. January 24
The music of Railroad Earth isn't easy to classify, although most people are happy to label it "jam band" and move on. Still reading? Good, because while there's definitely some "jamming" going on in the live show, this is not some guitar-noodling Phish knock-off. Bluegrass lies at the heart of Railroad Earth, but it's a wide-ranging, omnivorous strain that isn't afraid to ditch tradition and have some fun. As a result, you get all the banjo, fiddle and mandolin you'd expect, but it's fused with electric guitars and drums, and prone to weird tangents that might touch on anything from Celtic to jazz. It's a frequently surprising and relentlessly upbeat sound that's at its very best live, regardless of what you call it.The Good, The Bad & the Dazzle: For a Few Dizzles More: Dave Devine & Friends Play the Music of Spaghetti Westerns Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 9:00 p.m. January 24; 9:00 p.m. January 25
As a guitarist, Dave Devine is as adventurous as he is widely versed. With his Relay project, Devine and company explore rock, experimental and ambient settings, while his work with the Static Trio is also forward-thinking, with hints of pop and electronica. Devine is also a proficient jazz player and has a performance degree in classical guitar. Given the guy's wide-ranging skills, it's not surprising that he and some friends will be diving into Ennio Morricone's scores from the Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West. Devine's single-night homage to Morricone sold out last year; this year's program, which coincides with the final week of the National Western Stock Show, is a two-night affair.Bluegrass at the Buffalo Rose The Buffalo Rose : 8:00 p.m. January 24
Marni Pickens wasn't always the easy-going bluegrass picker she is today. "I'm a rocker chick," she says. "Even though I grew up in Colorado, I never listened to much country or bluegrass at all." After moving from Colorado to New York City at eighteen years old, Pickens started playing bass in punk bands. In the twenty years she spent in the city before she moved back home, she played in a slew of projects and alongside legends like Joey Ramone and Ronnie Spector. It wasn't until she joined Giddyup Kitty that she began to really appreciate bluegrass.In the Whale Hodi's Half Note : January 24
"On a Roll," the first of three songs on Eric, In the Whale's bombastic EP, tells a story that could fit seamlessly into a vintage Sam Peckinpah Western: "Forty-five hours to the Mexican border/I got the sheriff's daughter and he's breathing down my shoulder," sings Nate Valdez. Instead of old cowboy music, though, the soundtrack to this tale of a fugitive's flight is utterly modern rock and roll. Valdez belts out emotive power-pop vocals and strums distortion-laden power chords with vigor. Eric Riley, meanwhile, beats out a 4/4 drum line that's danceable in every sense of the word. "Girlfriend," a desperate, frantic plea for a romantic partner, and "Sunbeam," a moody and violent declaration, show the same broad mix of powerful rock and compelling stories. The release is all the more impressive because it's the work of just two people.The Devil Makes Three Fillmore Auditorium : 9:00 p.m. January 24
This Santa Cruz-based trio warps time and space by mining the traditions of bluegrass, Appalachian folk and a smidge of ragtime to produce throwback roots music that deserves the country designation far more than anything coming out of Nashville.Particle Bluebird Theater : 9:00 p.m. January 24, Fox Theatre : 9:00 p.m. January 25
No one's particularly fond of playing the desultory "sounds like" game when it comes to music, but whatever. In Particle's case, an A-meets-B-meets-C type of comparison is warranted. This middle-aged California-based quartet really does resemble a sonic collage comprising the Grateful Dead, Roy Davis Jr. and the Chemical Brothers as it whips crowds into a frenzy with blends of mellow grooves, psychedelic freakouts and long improvisations.
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