This weekend brings plenty of good concerts to Colorado, including jam veteran moe., jazz mainstays Medeski, Martin & Wood and producer/DJ duo Nervo. The rest of our picks follow!
Veteran jam-band act moe. celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, yet the band is still creating interesting new stuff while also refreshing old classics. 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.Medeski Martin & Wood and Alarm Will Sound Macky Auditorium Concert Hall : 7:30 p.m. February 6
Over the course of the twenty-plus years that Medeski Martin & Wood has been together, the trio has released two dozen albums and developed an innate sense for laying down a groove. But while keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and Colorado-bred bassist Chris Wood clearly know their way around jazz and funk, they're also madly adventurous musicians who aren't afraid to take chances. So it's not surprising that MMW is teaming up with Alarm Will Sound -- a forward-thinking, twenty-member New York-based ensemble dedicated to performing contemporary music -- for this pair of Colorado shows to premiere a new body of work that the two groups created together.Neal Cassady Birthday Bash Mercury Cafe : 8:00 p.m. February 6
When music promoter Mark Bliesener was traveling through Europe a decade ago, people would ask him what he knew about On the Road. He knew plenty, and when he returned to Denver, he decided it was high time to start the Neal Cassady Birthday Bash, in honor of Denver's self-described "unnatural son," who inspired not just Jack Kerouac but an entire generation. "I was always kind of amazed that people in Denver didn't worship and honor the legacy of Neal Cassady, a guy I think is the most important twentieth century pop-culture figure to emerge from Colorado," says Bliesener. "Possibly more than John Denver and John Elway."Nervo Privé Social Club : February 6
Production and DJ duos are practically a dime a dozen these days, but there's something special about the two women who make up Nervo. They're twin sisters (Miriam and Olivia Nervo) who hail from Australia and have meshed their passion for pop music with their love of big clubs and sweaty warehouses. These ladies aren't a gimmick, either; their skills in the studio have earned the respect and collaboration of musicians from Kylie Minogue to Armin Van Buuren. It should go without saying that there's no one else making music like Nervo in today's electronicmusic scene, but just in case: Nobody but Nervo is as skilled at melding highenergy remixes of pop classics with the eternal ticks, clicks and rhythms of pure techno. (Check out the twins' treatment of "Need You Tonight" in their December 2014 Nervo Nation set for a prime example.) The twins will be at Prive Social Club for the inaugural REVOLUTION:Fridays event on Friday, February 6.Dieselboy & Downlink Beta : February 6
Whether he's producing the fastest, tightest, most insistent drum-and-bass tracks you've ever heard or dropping a set that's pure whomp-based dubstep, it's clear that Damian Higgins selected an appropriate moniker when he started making music as Dieselboy. His sound is immediately identifiable -- slick, dark and powerful, with an underlying rumble and mechanical precision that evoke an engine boasting more horsepower than a NASA shuttle. His high-school musical meanderings included playing drums in the marching band and deejaying for dances at his alma mater in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Once he got beat-matching and mixing down, production was the next obvious step, and by the mid-'90s, Dieselboy was one of the most respected bass-oriented mixmasters and producers in the game.Jonathan Kreisberg Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 7:00 p.m. February 6
Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg's playing conjures the duality of New York. The guy's a badass, burning up the fretboard like Jimmy Bruno, with a swaggering bravado that's pure Gotham. At the same time, there's an evenness to his attack in which every note has clear and distinct resonance, lending the material an air of sophistication.Jeff Austin Band Bluebird Theater : 8:00 p.m. February 6
Jeff Austin is an integral part of the worldwide jam and contemporary bluegrass community -- the staple mandolin player was a founding member of Yonder Mountain String Band, and over the years, he has played with the likes of Keller Williams and members of String Cheese Incident and North Mississippi Allstars. Through his expert playing, Austin has single-handedly transformed the smallish stringed instrument into a powerful source of melody and rhythm, prominent in all of the work he creates. Plus, Austin might be the only man who can head bang while playing the mandolin and look awesome doing it. With Sarah Siskind and Caribou Mountain Collective.Ben Howard Fillmore Auditorium : 7:00 p.m. February 7
Ben Howard is an English acoustic singer/songwriter with a folk sound inspired by the Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens records he heard as a child, as well as American blues artists like Robert Johnson and Skip James. Howard was originally headed towards a career in journalism with a focus on surfing, working on a journalism degree and writing for a surf magazine. But he dropped out of school just six months shy of graduating and gave up on journalism once his music started getting such an enthusiastic response. Howard has a unique voice that recalls Tracy Chapman and his guitar style is also distinctive because he often taps the body of the guitar with his knuckles in between strumming to add a percussive effect.Dangerous Nonsense Carioca Cafe (Bar Bar) : February 7
If punk has any meaning now as an ethos, a band like Dangerous Nonsense embodies it. To start, there are no guitarists in the band, flipping the usual instrumentation of the genre on its head. Because of that, this trio also doesn't bother with the three chords that have forced a lot of punk music toward convention. Dangerous Nonsense has plenty of attitude and never throws out empty platitudes in its lyrics. Its 2013 album Discharge is something like an art-rock, feminist, anarcho-punk statement about everyday injustices, and it's rendered with a poetic intelligence and sharply irreverent humor. The band plays Carioca Cafe (also known as Bar Bar) on Saturday, February 7; live, Dangerous Nonsense brings a strain of tenderness and compassion to go with its aggression, giving its shows a surprising depth and diversity.G. Love & Special Sauce Boulder Theater : 7:30 p.m. February 7
Back in the summer of 1994, college radio stations every so often played a song that sounded old yet kind of new. It started with a drumbeat, followed by a guitar and bass riff. Then came a voice, a lazy drawl somewhere between rap and song. This was the era before Shazam and even Internet music downloads. But it didn't take detective skills to figure out the song was called "Blues Music," because those were the two words uttered most often. Two decades later, G. Love & Special Sauce continue to kick out their hip-hop, rock 'n' roll, funk and blues. With Matt CostaMelissa Aldana & Crash Trio Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge : 9:00 p.m. February 7
Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana made an impression with two strong albums on Greg Osby's Inner Circle label (Free Fall and Second Cycle) and then, at the age of 24, the Chilean modernist went and won the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition in 2013, topping a field of formidable colleagues. Last year, Aldana and Crash Trio released their self-titled debut album on Concord. She'll bring her fiery, poised and expressive sound to Dazzle on Saturday, February 7.Scott H Biram 3 Kings Tavern : February 7
Scott H. Biram abuses himself at will, running his stomp board through a bass cabinet and his '59 Gibson hollow body through a reverb unit, and screaming into a harmonica pickup to make his vocals good and muddy. With a raw immediacy that recalls Hasil Adkins, Bob Log III or Denver's own Reverend DeadEye, Biram specializes in a twisted hybrid of gutbucket, hillbilly and godless metal. He'll praise the virtues of moonshine and titty bars one minute, then tongue-lash city slickers and hippies the next. With Jesse Dayton, The Drunken Cuddle and Luke Scmaltz of King Rat.The Wailers Gothic Theatre : 7:30 p.m. February 7
As the backing band for Bob Marley during the years that the great man wrote the music that catapulted him to international fame, the Wailers may not have been direct contributors to the reggae giant's vision of a better world, but they certainly created the sound that made that vision so appealing and accessible. After Marley's death, in 1981, the band ultimately came to be led by bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett, who still leads the Wailers today. Barrett, a pioneer of reggae bass playing, was also a member of Lee "Scratch" Perry's house band, the Upsetters. Rather than depend solely on the material they wrote during their time playing with Marley, the Wailers have put out numerous albums over the past thirty years and continue to tour and remind people that reggae is not just a commodity. Tonight, the Wailers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Legend by performing the album in its entiretyDavid Amram's America Chautauqua Community House : 8:00 p.m. February 8
David Amram shared a close connection with Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and other Beats, while also being a jazz musician who collaborated with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus and Oscar Pettiford. Amram has also composed more than a hundred orchestral and chamber works in addition to scoring the films Splendor in the Grass and the Manchurian Candidate.
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