Weekend's best live bets: String Cheese Incident, Chris Daniels, Mayhem and more

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See Also: Chris Daniels is back after a harrowing battle with illness Q&A with Slipknot's Clown Q&A with Julie Libassi of the Raven & the Writing Desk Q&A with JT Nolan of Beats Noir! Q&A with Zoe Jakes and David Satori of Beats Antique

Welcome to the weekend! A parade of longtime local favorites dominate the dance card over the next couple of days, starting tonight with the second night of the String Cheese Incident's three-night stand at Red Rocks, the return of the Procussions at Summit Music Hall and culminating with Chris Daniels at Swallow Hill tomorrow night, celebrating the release of his new album, the fittingly titled Better Days. If that wasn't enough, there's a can't miss all local bill tonight at the Oriental featuring the Raven and the Writing Desk, Ian Cooke, Go Star, Hindershot and Bonnie and the Beard and much more Mayhem awaiting you. Page down to get the full rundown on this weekend's best live music bets.



See Also: String Cheese Incident Winter Carnival at 1STBANK reviews

The String Cheese Incident, which formed nearly two decades ago, has taken a few breaks from touring, but over the last few years the Boulder-based newgrass act has shifted back into full gear starting with a trio of dates at 1STBANK Center last year and this three-night run at Red Rocks, which kicked last night and runs through Saturday night. Aside from a number of live discs, the band hadn't released any new material in seven years until earlier this month when the six-piece released the new single, "Can't Wait Another Day," from a forthcoming album which is in the works.


When the Procussions, who formed in Colorado Springs in 1998, moved to Los Angeles nearly a decade ago, the then trio was one of the most promising hip-hop acts to emerge from the Centennial State, certainly the first to earn widespread recognition outside the region. Early exposure on Power 106 and URB magazine bolstered the group, which eventually earned a spot on the revamped Rawkus Records roster. With Rez parting ways with the act and Mr. J Medeiros devoting time to his solo career in recent years, the outfit has kept a low profile. The Pros return home to a different and much more vibrant scene, one that now includes acts like Wheelchair Sportscamp and the ReMINDers, both sharing this bill and pros in their own right.


See Also: Q&A with Julie Libassi of the Raven & the Writing Desk

Julia Libassi and Scott Conroy met while attending Tufts University and played in and around Boston with their band Stop Switch before moving to Denver in the summer of 2009. Upon arriving here, the pair sought out potential bandmates on Craigslist. A terse comment to their post -- essentially proclaiming that hipsters from the East Coast were unwelcome, accompanied by an image of a Colorado license plate reading "No Vacancy" -- might have cowed other people, but the plucky duo ultimately found other bandmates and immersed themselves in the scene. Choosing a name taken from Alice in Wonderland -- The Raven and the Writing Desk -- they wrote dark yet soothing music worthy of the moniker. Tonight at the Oriental, the act shares a must-see all local bill that also features Ian Cooke, Go Star, Hindershot and Bonnie and the Beard.


Too many country-music purists of the past couple decades brag about keeping the true sound of country alive. Oklahoma native Jason Boland, though, just does just that. Armed with a catalogue of gritty, twangy songs, Boland and his Stragglers have spent the last twelve-plus years crisscrossing the country and building up a grassroots following, one that knows and feels authentic Americana when it hears it. The group's Comal County Blue -- and particularly its keening, fiddle-laced single, "Bottle by My Bed" -- is a rich, deep and elemental work that doesn't sound retro as much as it yanks out country's roots and replants them in the modern world.


See Also: Q&A with Zoe Jakes and David Satori of Beats Antique

Beats Antique, a trio made up of producer and show-stealing belly dancer Zoe Jakes and a pair of classically trained multi-instrumentalists, David Satori and Tommy Cappel, has crafted a sound that has roots in dubstep, hip-hop, indie rock and even Middle Eastern music. The act's often primal show includes Jakes and fellow belly dancers wearing animal masks, gyrating and seducing festival crowds across the country. Beats Antique headlines the second day of the Wanderlust festival, where Ziggy Marley, Gramatik and MC Yogi are also slated to perform.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.



See Also: Chris Daniels is back after a harrowing battle with illness

The image is stark and simple: a vintage truck painted a deep indigo, a battered brick wall behind, and the words "Better Days" spelled out in simple fonts above. For Chris Daniels, the cover art for his latest solo release is open to interpretation. "That's my old truck. I got that when I was seventeen," says Daniels, frontman of Chris Daniels and the Kings. "For some, I think that image means that better days were in the past. For others, because the truck is fixed up and looks brand-new, better days are in the future.... That's what the theme is. You get to identify where your better days are." (Continue reading full profile)


In a time when singer-songwriters are as plentiful -- and nearly as indistinguishable -- as the corporate coffee shops lining the streets of tony shopping districts, Will Hoge stands out like a homegrown roaster serving his hand-picked beans in a secondhand mug in some bohemian boutique. Hoge's raspy, soulful voice is as expressive as it is authentic: Every word he sings sounds genuinely heartfelt, like he's lived it, whether he's indulging his Southern-rock roots on cuts such as "Pocketful of Change," doing his best Otis Redding on "When I Get My Wings" or singing with a pained resignation on ballads like "Goodnight/Goodbye." And Hoge's songs are affecting even when he's not doing the singing. Just ask the Eli Young Band, which has made "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," a song Hoge co-wrote, a country staple.


Although JT Nolan and Paul Mullikin appear to be polar opposites -- the former was exposed to music through the Chicago bar and club scene at an early age, and the latter is a multi-instrumentalist who plays for the Boulder Philharmonic -- Beats Noir! finds them meeting on common ground. The project is firmly rooted in hip-hop, with Mullikin handling MC duties (as well as keys, drums, percussion, beatbox and guitar), while Nolan sings and plays guitar, but with the help of bassist Matt Skellenger, the two also incorporate a number of other genres. While cuts like "Hypnotic" on the band's debut, 13 Tracks From the Dark Side of the Beat, have a distinct Gorillaz feel, there's a jazz element present on tracks like "Tom and Artie," in which Nolan drops a bunch of Tom Waits's lines from "Just Another Dime Store Novel" over a Artie Shaw samples and a thick beat, all of which makes for an interesting exploration of the Dark Side.


Taking its name from the Capitol Hill neighborhood where its founders met, Poet's Row is an indie-folk outfit made up of Emily Hobbs and Mickey Bakes. Exquisite Corpse, the duo's latest EP, is a delightfully organic collection of sparse, harmony-laden tracks reminiscent of Gram Parsons's duets with Emmylou Harris. The often downright spooky inflection of these minimalist songs is a welcome accompaniment to a glass of brandy and a wool blanket during Colorado's cold winter nights. Titles like "Haunted," "Ancient Game" and "Don't Wake the Dead" provide a bone-rattling contrast to the down-home friendliness of Hobbs's sweet-tea vocals and Bakes's Ryan Adams-style melancholy.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.



See Also: Q&A with Slipknot's Clown

Now in its fourth year, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is one of the nation's premier metal and hard rock tours. This year's edition features Slipknot, Slayer and Motorhead on the main stage, and Anthrax, the Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandra and Whitechapel on the Jägermeister Stage. With 42,000 people attending the first two shows of the tour, the festival is off to a hell of a start.


While there are a number of forward thinking improvisers in the area, trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist Janet Feder are at the top of the list. Having performed and recorded with former Colorado residents Bill Frisell and Ginger Baker and a number of other luminaries like Don Byron, Miles has one of the most gorgeous trumpet tones in town as well as being a superb improviser. Feder has long been hailed for her prepared guitar skills and has worked with avant-garde heavy hitter guitarists like Fred Frith, Elliott Sharp and Henry Kaiser. Tonight, the two team up for a fundraiser for Mission Supports, a nonprofit committed to the personal development and care of Denver citizens who have intellectual developmental disabilities and are presently on the Medicaid Waiver waiting list for funds and critical services.

Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows.

Compiled by Stacy Ward

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