Monthly Archives: August 2016


Album: Far From the Silvery Light

Artist: They Say The Wind Made Them Crazy

Label: Tofu Carnage

Release Date: July 08, 2016

They Say 7-9

The Upshot: Improvisational, ghostly aural hypnosis with overtones of classic psychedelia, tribal folk, free jazz, and black metal from this Dallas guy-gal duo.


There’s always been an experimental community lurking at the fringes of the Texas music scene. More often than not, the Lone Star State is characterized in terms of its thriving blues and roots, but going all the way back to the mid ‘60s there were outfits like the Red Crayola/Krayola intent on dissolving traditional song structures and boundaries and probing both the inner spaces and the outer limits. This became even more explicit in the ‘80s when the Butthole Surfers arrived, and then again in the ‘90s when you had an entire movement (so to speak) of psychedelic sonic pharmacists clustered in the Denton/Dallas/Fort worth region.

The latest heir to this avant tradition is Dallas’ Tofu Carnage label, which via the likes of post-rockers Sans Soleil, black metal combo Dead to a Dying World, and jazz-punks Unconscious Collective excels in thwarting listener expectations and probing the psychic undercurrents of sound and vision. (Writing about the latter group in a review of its 2014 album Pleistocene Moon, yours truly hailed its “atavistic” inclinations and “skronky, jazzy, punk-improv music”… Shifting gears at will and turning on the proverbial dime, Unconscious Collective makes their chaos sound easy, pushing the listener relentlessly until he or she bleeds (or suffocates).”) Now comes They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy, featuring U.C./D.T.A.D.W. guitarist Gregg Prickett on axes, bass, flute, and shakers, and Sarah Ruth Alexander, who has guested with U.C., on dulcimer, harmonium, recorder, and bells, plus vocals that are at turns ethereal and operatic.

A 2LP set, Far From the Silvery Light marries intimacy to desolation, wraith-like elegance to primal flourishes, a duality that comes through most vividly on 16-minute track “Comancheria.” Here, a double-tracked Alexander coos, yips, and ululates as if channeling a distant coyote or wolf —at various times on the album her chant style of vocals resembles traditional Native America sing—and also adding textural recorder trills. Meanwhile, Prickett plucks out skeletal modal riffs that steadily rise in volume and intensity, eventually becoming clouds of fuzz en route to a chaotic climax, then gentle denouement. (For all you trainspotters out there, the tune suggests a marriage between late Quicksilver Messenger Service fretboard wizard John Cipollina and Krautrock legends Ash Ra Tempel.) Elsewhere one hears overtones of Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins (the harmonium-powered “Holy Longing”), John Fahey and Yma Sumac (the finger-style minimalism and octave-spanning singing of “Obsidian in Aorta”), and even black metallish splatter jazz not far from the Unconscious Collective’s killing fields (“Red Blood Green Grass,” awash in brutal swipes of distorted guitar improv from Prickett and vocals that turn into shrieks of near-terror from Alexander).

Challenging stuff, yes, with nakedly emotional swings between serenity and unease, but utterly mesmerizing in the final estimation. One readily imagines that when the pair play live, no setlists are drawn up and no two performances are even remotely similar as they offer sonic sacrament to their transfixed tribe. (You can listen to a stream of the entire album online at the Tofu Carnage BandCamp page.)

Consumer Note: As with the aforementioned U.C. album from 2014, this platter is pressed on gorgeous colored vinyl, the wax a kind of translucent pale green that actually had me checking to make sure it wasn’t glow in the dark vinyl like one used to encounter during the colored vinyl and picture disc craze of the early ‘80s. It’s not, but if you view it from across a semi-darkened room illuminated with the right kind of light source, it almost resembles, appropriately enough, a full moon—from the silvery light, indeed.

DOWNLOAD: “Comancheria,” “Obsidian in Aorta”



Album: Colvin & Earle

Artist: Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin

Label: Fantasy/Concord

Release Date: June 03, 2016



The Upshot: A loose feeling that reflects the fact these two longtime friends can simply trust the mutual familiarity factor to steer the proceedings as needed. 


At first glance, it seems like an unlikely pairing. Yet on first listen, the skepticism can be shoved aside. In truth, Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin share a common bond, because each has known their share of individual challenges, Earle as a former substance abuser and Colvin as an individual who overcame depression and other personal demons.

These days however, each of them rank among today’s most important musical voices, both boasting an indelible catalog that’s elevated them to Americana’s highest plateaus. That said, Colvin & Earle fits Colvin’s MO especially well, given that the album’s quotient of cover songs likens it to last year’s Uncovered, the second set of songs that’s found her retracing familiar favorites. For this, their first collaborative set (despite having known each other for nearly 30 years), they show that they share similar musical tastes by covering four songs of enduring appeal — “You Were On My Mind,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Raise the Dead,” and Tobacco Road” — and rendering them with a superbly crafted sound that reflects both inspiration and affection.

With Buddy Miller overseeing the production and a crack back-up band in tow, the duo keep things loose and unconstricted, sharing casual harmonies that are poignant, but generally not too precise. There’s a celebratory tone inscribed in each of the album’s offerings overall, a spirited sound that characterizes the material, regardless of origin. “Come What May,” “Happy and Free” and “Tell Moses” exemplify a cool, carefree attitude that rings with acoustic guitars, stirring melodies and the kind of back porch revelry that downplays any hint of posturing or pretence. Not exactly a dynamic duo, but a well-primed pairing nonetheless, Colvin & Earle has a loose feeling that reflects the fact these two longtime friends can simply trust the mutual familiarity factor to steer the proceedings as needed. That casual cool simply works well.

DOWNLOAD: “Come What May,” “You Were On My Mind,” “Ruby Tuesday”

VIJAY IVER & WADADA LEO SMITH – A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke

Album: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke

Artist: Vijay Iver & Wadada Leo Smith

Label: ECM

Release Date: March 25, 2016


The Upshot: The music simply translates deep musical respect and chemistry into moments of artistic fire and great beauty – the sound of modern jazz in full flower.


Teacher and student, mentor and mentee – it’s a collaboration as old as human interaction. A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke displays that relationship as jazz. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, whose career reaches back to the creative explosion that was Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, has long served as teacher to pianist Vijay Iver, whose star has swiftly risen in the past decade. With no rhythm section to get in the way, Iver and Smith simply let their relationship flow.

The multi-part title track, of which most of the record consists, stands as testament. Iver provides a constantly shifting background, moving rhythms to and fro and adding classical runs across the foundation. Smith contributes piercing open bell lead lines and soulful mute work, complimenting Iver’s playing rather than cutting through it, even when both are at their most rambunctious. The lack of a rhythmic anchor sometimes gives the songs more free form than they actually need – there’s a difference between playful interchange and self-indulgence. But most of the music simply translates deep musical respect and chemistry into moments of artistic fire and great beauty – the sound of modern jazz in full flower.

DOWNLOAD: “A Divine Courage,” “A Cold Fire,” “Marian Anderson”


SIN ROPAS – Mirror Bride

Album: Mirror Bride

Artist: Sin Ropas

Label: Jealous Butcher

Release Date: February 12, 2016

Sin Ropas 2-15

The Upshot: The Marshall, NC, duo’s fifth full-length LP finds the band digging deeper into its core attributes, but with more focus than on any album since 2003’s Trickboxes on the Pony Line.


Up in their mountain redoubt of Marshall, North Carolina, Sin Ropas—the husband and wife team of Tim Hurley and Danni Iosello—dwell in a musical world unto themselves, creating a haunting and compelling tableau of songs oblivious to the tides and tastes du jour of popular culture.

Mirror Bride, the duo’s fifth full-length LP, finds the band digging deeper into its core attributes, but with more focus than on any album since its darkly brilliant sophomore release, 2003’s Trickboxes on the Pony Line. Here, in the scratchy, burbling noises, disembodied banjo-plucking and creaky organ that slowly open “Save Me a Place” into a swirl of layered guitars and full-throated choruses, Sin Ropas inhabit as few can the tension extant in the collision of melody and noise. (Brian Deck, who excels at integrating those contrasts, mixed the record.) The crawling pace of “Brush for This” recalls Trickboxes‘ narcotic “Floorboards,” and represents another Sin Ropas strong suit—Iosello shadows Hurley’s weary vocals and provides junkyard percussion warped enough to conjure the distortions of a nitrous high (there’s even a marvelously disorienting chant reminiscent of the “everybody’s got one” outro on the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”).

Sin Ropas’ music has always had a cinematic quality to it, but one that’s more experimental film than wide-screen epic; more micro than macro. On “Summer Bug,” over an up-tempo bassline and rattling drumbeats, Hurley’s guitars creep like time-lapse kudzu into every corner of the song, vines of razor-sharp riffs overlapping shadowy keyboards. “Broken Beaches” opens with acoustic barre chords sliding languidly from one fret to another while cello embroiders the melody and the duo’s vocals float overhead. They draw out the word “sleep” into a multisyllabic plea so long the tension eventually snaps into cathartic, guitar-driven choruses and marching percussion that could accompany grainy black and white newsreels.

The reductive call would be to label Mirror Bride and Sin Ropas “indie rock” and slot it with the other bands that emerged from the Red Red Meat/Chicago Petri dish (“Crows,” a rocking outlier, even sounds like a throwback to the Jimmywine Majestic years). But the North Carolina mountains-by-way-of-Chicago tells a richer back-story, played out in LP’s final tracks. The title cut is a swampy, backwoods blues built around grimy slide-guitar licks—likely played on one of the home-made cigar box instruments Hurley builds—as well as Iosello’s clanking percussion. It’s a primal Waits-like number shorn of the persona and redolent of sticky pines and burning embers. Closing out the record is “Tourniquet,” a sparsely arranged lament of shambling electric barre chords over which an e-bow line traces an anguished melody. Like the traditional blues found in the DNA of every type of rock ‘n’ roll, Hurley and Iosello tap into the suffering that is existence for their inspiration, lifting it into the light in the process—yes, as Hurley sings here, “all the angels bring jokes and bad luck tea.” But they also bring us the cleansing catharsis of music like Mirror Bride, and for that we can be grateful.

DOWNLOAD: “Save Me a Place,” “Silver Brow,” “Summer Bug,” “Mirror Bride.”

 Note: The LP is also available with a short story collection of the same name, written by Iosello. It includes an audio download with readings by the author, Tim Hurley, Califone’s Tim Rutili, Haley Bonar, actor Angela Bettis, and more.

LOOK PARK – Look Park

Album: Look Park

Artist: Look Park

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: July 22, 2016

Look Park

The Upshot: A little mellower and a little more introspective, but just as impactful as Chris Collingwood was two decades ago when he first started showing up on the radio.


Those still desperately waiting for a new record from northeast Power Poppers, Fountains of Wayne are still out of luck, but they can rejoice in the stellar first solo-ish effort from front man Chris Collingwood, going under the moniker Look Park.

I stop short of calling this one a full-fledged solo effort because Collingwood brings along members of Cracker and Winterpills to help fill out the music and eschews the eponymous title.

The 10-song debut still inherits some of the infectious nature of his pervious band, but the influences are much broader here, pulling in everyone from The Zombies to The Hollies. The songs are not as joyous either, with a tad bit of melancholy mixed in here and there; so those simply wanting little more than another “Stacy’s Mom” are advised to look elsewhere. That being said, lyrically, Collingwood is at his finest here and songs like “You Can Come Around if You Want To” and “Save Yourself” are career highlights.

A little mellower and a little more introspective, but just as impactful as he was two decades ago when he first started showing up on the radio, Collingwood is proof that growing up and growing older isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

DOWNLOAD: “Aeroplane,” “You Can Come Around if You Want To,” and “Save Your Self”



Album: Maladies EP

Artist: Intelligence Service Band

Label: Wiener

Release Date: January 01, 2016


The Upshot: Vancouver upstarts’ latest slab of psychedelic rock that engages from the opening drone to the final stab of guitar.


Once and a while a hidden gem comes round’ and ends up on my desk. Hailing from Vancouver, the Intelligence Service Band, on their latest Maladies EP take the Moon Duo’s approach to minimalist psychedelia that rotates on a singular groove.

Opener “Distraction” is a really cool number that is revolves around some muscular drumming and an addictive retro organ line. Alex P’s spoken word vocals are almost a dead ringer for Low’s Alan Sparhawk. The song is 14 minutes long and at the midway point seems to repeat itself, but upon a closer listen the second half of the song includes some really killer hallucinatory guitar that left me hoping the song wouldn’t end. “Driving to my Sun” reminds me of the post Spacemen 3 band The Darkside; cue up the Darkside’s “She Don’t Come” from the album All That Noise. “Driving to my Sun” is a 3-minute song that shows the band can compact a cool idea in the space of a sentence instead of a paragraph. “School Me” is a vehicle for Alex P. and Heather Campbell’s back and forth banter.

Alex P. has a really distinct sounding voice. I also really enjoyed how Heather’s voice seemed to provide soothing relief tempering Alex’s weirdness. The interplay of male and female vocals worked really well and shows a smart use of each band members talents. In the future I would say this the band should stick to what’s been presented on this EP of having a healthy mix of shorter songs and ones where they just let things evolve.

All in all, what’s been presented on this EP has whetted my appetite for their forthcoming record Transgressors due out soon and produced by Chris Woodhouse of Ty Segall and Fuzz fame.

DOWNLOAD: “Distraction (Here Comes Dror)”  “Driving to my Sun” “School Me”


The Cure 6/8/16, Kansas City

Dates: June 8, 2016

Location: Starlight Theater, Kansas City MO

Cure 4

Onstage June 8 at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre for the smartly-titled “The Cure Tour 2016,” Robert Smith & Co. romped through the back catalogue for three hours and 31 songs of good ol’ Goth fun. Check out some video clips from the show below as well.


My struggle to see The Cure (the all-time greatest “Goth” band… The Smiths and Bauhaus can suck it) has been a long and tenuous one—whether a matter of geography, financial collapse, surgery (my Cerebral Palsy and the accompanying shit have ruined at least two of my chances), or a wife who told me no last time Bob and the boys were in town. (Now an ex-wife, it should be noted.)

Therefore, with the June 8 tour stop in Kansas City, MO, my drive was resolute, my goal was in sight and it would not be taken away from me. For months, I contacted PR people, the venue, anyone I could reach to get me in the door. Divorce had taken the buying a ticket option off the table so it was press clearance or ingenuity.


Upon arrival, I discovered that the clearance was not there, not a surprise. I would have to watch, listen, imagine from behind the black steel bars, like Johnny hearing a train rolling by but he can’t be saved; I would not be allowed to see The Promised Land. I sat on the stone bench, smoked a cigarette, took out my notebook and wrote of my defeat. As “Pictures of You,” “Plainsong,” and “High” travelled across the air, I sat near tears scribbling in my notebook, cursing luck, the ground, the security guards, anything within ear shot; making my exclusion from the show even bitterer.

However, it would seem that the real show was out front. A firetruck and an ambulance parked directly in front of me, the red and blue lights flashing away in the darkness, apparently will be my only chance at a light show on this night. It seemed someone called 911 on what was believed to be a dying homeless man (he was overheated and drank too much). In the midst of all this chaos stood the Goth Tinkerbell, a gorgeous woman in black, makeup streaked by tears and worry, waiting for her boyfriend, pacing on a grass covered hill, clearly trying desperately to hold back tears and worried thoughts. She told her story to security (she was openly weeping at this point), finally giving in and going to watch the concert. I watched her walk away alone, over the hill, past the crowd, and gone.

Just as the band was laying down the first notes of “Lovesong,” the long lost boyfriend burst forth from the parking lot. Jesse, I learned, had to work, he was worried… she cried as she listened from a distance. Was she crying for her man or losing faith that she would ever see Smith. I do not know if they found one another,r but I do have hope against hope that their story ends beautifully, not in a crash of despair and loneliness; fodder for yet another Cure song.

Then, after about 30 minutes of lamenting my fate, relegated to the outer limits, to parts so near yet so far, a saint swooped down and eased my pain. “If you take the snacks to the car, you can go in,” I was advised. This show would be monumental in the fact that I, no Rhythm Jones, actually danced in public at a concert, and I refuse shame. It was amazingly freeing. I’ll probably never do it again.

The saint, the triumphant hero, the coolest security guard I’ve ever dealt with—an absolute fucking gem.

I was in, I was there. Robert Smith in the flesh, one of the finest lyricists of my generation, was there on the stage, smiling a big red smile and singing of moonlight, spiders, identity crisis, and the urge to cry and laugh as the world burns down.

Admittedly, the set list was one of the weakest on the tour. No “Killing an Arab,” no “Letter to Elise,” no “Friday I’m in Love.” However, I did get to experience “Kyoto Song,” “In Between Days,” and I song that I’ve loved endlessly, the fantastic “Burn” from the original soundtrack of The Crow.

The Cure were excellent, all I dreamt of. They were at the top of the game and, with a three hour, 31 song, four encore setlist, the show did feel like a joyous goodbye and a long, breathtaking red lipstick-stained farewell kiss. [Below: The Cure posted a fan-sourced montage of video clips to their YouTube channel of the Kansas City show.]




Pictures of You



A Night Like This

In Between Days

The Last Day of Summer


Stranger Day


Kyoto Song

The Caterpillar


Just Like Heaven

2 Late

Last Dance

Prayers of Rain



It Can Never Be the Same



Shake Dog Shake

Never Enough



A Forest


Hot Hot Hot

The Walk

Let’s Go To Bed

Close to Me

Why Can’t I be You?

Boys Don’t Cry


Under the Big Black Sun, by John Doe

Title: Under the Big Black Sun

Author: John Doe

Publisher: Da Capo Press

Publication Date: May 06, 2016


Did the world really need one more book about Punk Rock? Particularly by someone who stood at Ground Zero? Yes. Yes, it did. Below, check out some choice videos.


There are bookshelves crammed with tomes about Punk Rock and plenty of those deal with the L.A. punk scene of the late ‘70s. But few are as refreshingly personal as John Doe’s Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk (Da Capo Press).


Though X founder and one of the godfathers of the L.A. punk scene, John Doe, pulled together the focus of this book, there are plenty of personal essays from his friends and fellow band and scene mates to help fill out this book, which he co-wrote with journalist/archivist Tom DeSavia. (The jacket credit reads “with Tom DeSavia and friends.” Meanwhile, Billie Joe Armstrong penned the foreword.)

Before the hardcore kids from Orange County took over the scene in the early ‘80s and turned it into an agro excuse to pummel other kids, punk rock in Los Angeles was a refuge for oddballs of every ilk that had trouble fitting in with their peers. It was a patchwork of Glam kids/Bowie acolytes, Rockabilly refugees, upstart fashion designers, East Coast immigrants, wayward military brats from port cities and Mexican kids who dug loud guitars. This disparate collection bonded over a common need to find solace in likeminded folks, as described again and again in personal essays throughout the book.


Along with Doe’s moving recollections of first emigrating to L.A. from Baltimore and finding Exene Cervenka (his bandmate and one-time wife) within days and starting the wildly influential band X, there are hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking memories from The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey, Mike Watt, Henry Rollins and many more. The book also includes dozens of stunning black and white photographs from many of the journalists who documented the scene from its infancy.

Did the world really need one more book about Punk Rock? If you’re asking about this one, then yes. Yes, it did.

Bonnaroo Festival 2016

Dates: June 9-12, 2016

Location: Manchester, TN


This is your brain on 100 degrees in the shade. Any questions?


This year marked the fifteen year anniversary for Bonnaroo, and they made sure it would be one to remember. From the addition of real flushing toilets in Centeroo, great food venders, top notch lineup, and a great sponsor like Miller Lite, this year was off the charts.

Miller Lite Girl

miller lite 2

waterslide girl

Peace girl

In the Tennessee June heat, with temperatures reaching close to 100 degrees for all four days, sunscreen, water, and minimal clothing is a must. No one seemed to care too much as they made their way from stage to stage or to the water mushroom.



Chvrches, on the What Stage on Friday afternoon, with Lauren Mayberry singing her heart out and running all over the stage, sounded great and the large crowd was singing along and dancing throughout the set.

Halsey fire

Halsey 2

Up next on the second largest stage was Halsey with such songs as “Gasoline”, “Colors”, “Castle” and “New Americana”. Halsey took the stage in a sexy outfit and green hair and proceed to rock it! Halsey persona on stage matched her outfit and her attitude complete with pyros.

j cole

Jermaine Lamarr Cole, aka J. Cole, played on the Main Stage and even brought out Chance The Rapper to perform “No Problem”; this was a surprise as Chance wasn’t even on the lineup for the weekend.

lcd soundsystem2

LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem 1

LCD Soundsystem had the late night spot on the What Stage, which was perfect for a late night dance party. LCD Soundsystem wins the award for having the weekend’s biggest disco ball—with a huge one that came on a crane system from the rear of the stage to finally come to rest right over the head of James Murphy. The stage lights bouncing off of the disco ball were very cool, but also being able to see the large crowd in the mirrors of the ball was a trip.

At 2 a.m. it was time for the sounds of Zed’s Dead. You would think with the day’s heat and a full lineup already in the books that people would be crashed at two in the morning, but you would be dead wrong. Zed had the packed crowd over flowing the This Tent. The crowd was in full dance rave action and left me wanting to see Zeds Dead again as soon as possible.

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton had a 4 p.m. spot on the main stage during the afternoon, and the heat wasn’t about to let up. This didn’t seem to matter, as the majority of the festival crowd had made their way over to hear this overnight sensation. Stapleton has single-handedly brought back classic country music. With his wife playing and singing next to him on stage, this was a festival highlight for many festival goers.

Nathaniel Ratliff

I first saw Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at the Beale Street Music Festival earlier this year. With a 7 p.m. spot Saturday on the This Tent, Nathaniel’s soulful voice highlighted a mixture of blues, soul, and gospel (great horn section too). And if you think you haven’t heard him yet you are probably wrong: Rateliff is featured in a new Kia commercial, as well as some of his riffs being played in other commercials. He’s definitely on the one-to-watch list.


The Haim sisters played Saturday night on the Which stage and gave an outstanding performance, including a tribute to Prince with “I Would Die 4 U”

macklemore 2

macklemore 3


Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were next on the What Stage at 10:15. From the time Macklemore came on the scene with “Thrift Shop” he has been in the spot light and continues to put out hits. After about five or so songs, lightning was moving into the Manchester area and the organizers had to evacuate Centeroo for safety, promising to continue as soon as the all clear was given. After about an hour delay, the all clear was indeed given and the shows were back on, with Macklemore being able to finish his set.

Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt’s show was also interrupted but continued on after the lighting, with a lot of country fans and women who love country men with muscles. Sam is not only a popular country singer, but has written several hit songs for other big name country artists.

Ellie Goulding1

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding played at around 12:30 on Saturday after the lightning delay. Ellie had a lot of energy as she danced around and hardly stood still the entire time. Goulding has sold over six million albums and 20 million singles worldwide, and has collaborated with top producers such as Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Zed, and Diplo. This set was a non-stop dance party way into the morning hours.

A much anticipated act this year for Bonnaroo was headliner Pearl Jam. With hits like “Even Flow”, “Jeremy”, “Daughter”, “Corduroy”, and many more they were a great choice to headline. This was the first time back on the farm since 2008.


Miguel gets the award for best onstage dancer of the weekend. His late night set was a high energy set that of course included a favorite of mine “Simple Things”. Go view the video and download the song after you finish this article!


The Super Jam this year was a little different than years past, with a Tribute to Tennessee hosted by Kamasi Washington. This was a good show with the exception of a weak performance from front man Stephan Jenkins (Third Eye Blind), who joked about missing the rehearsal. He covered “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. Chicano Batman played a great funky version of “Shaft” by Isaac Hayes. Nathaniel Rateliff covered “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”. Miguel then took the stage to cover Justin Timberlake’s hit song “Sexyback”.

dead&company 2

dead & company

Dead & Company was Sunday’s Headliner and they didn’t let us down. With a non-stop jam session, this was one of the best highlights of the weekend. How can you go wrong with all these great musicians, and with John Mayer, and Bob Weir out front, the crowd was mesmerized throughout the extended set.

Well, back to real world, until next year on the farm where the high fives are a plenty and the people radiate positivity.


UMS (Underground Music Showcase) 7/28-7/31/16, Denver

Dates: July 28-31, 2016

Location: Various Venues, Denver


At multiple venues on South Broadway in Denver, the indie rock was a-rockin’. Above: The Yawpers.


16 years on and Denver’s UMS festival is still rolling along. This year there were a few hiccups as the website didn’t work the first few days so no one knew what times certain bands played unless you went down there. Also, a few bands played at different times (like a half hour before their scheduled time) but the festival organizers did have an abbreviated schedule so no worries there (and hey, earlier is better for me).

Though the festival actually started on Thursday the 28th the kick off was the night before.  I really wanted to get down to the 3 Kings Tavern and catch Whitney (outta Chicago, ex- Smith Westerns) but work contraints kept me at home. Heard they killed it. Damn!
sunflower bean1

Thursday night was a little light (no main stage bands) but both STRANGE AMERICANS and BAD LICKS brought the noise at the Hi Dive to a good crowd.

Friday night I really wanted to catch The Lollygags (The Hornet) and Colfax Speed Queen at the Hi Dive but was wiped out. I did catch the amazing LEE FIELDS  and the ALLAH LAHS on the main stage. The former brought our his best James Brown vibe (think Charles Bradley, too) and knocked it out of the park with his killer band while the latter , straight from L.A., brought their jangly, 60’s Sunset Strip meets Laurel Canyon vibe and had the crowd eating out of their hand.

Stayed at the Main Stage for Saturday night and thought I missed RESIDUAL KID (who I keep hearing good things about) but did catch the lovely, drowsy FUTUREBIRDS (who can rock like hell, too) and the caveman grind of THEE OH SEES (a must-see if you’ve never seen them).

By Sunday I was spent and thought I missed the VELVETEERS and BANDITS at the Hi Dive I did catch THE YAWPERS. A punk/blues trio who called Denver home and had a ton of energy and attitude while NYC’s SUNFLOWER BEAN brought their Sonic Youth-ish, downtown vibe to the Mile High City and the crowd loved it, (including me, my favorite band all weekend; the photo above and the one below are of the group). Bonus points for the bass player chicks’ sneering like Penelope Houston did back in the day.

Another well put together UMS festival that a lot of hard work went in to. I’m sure the UMS brass are working hard on the lineup for 2017 already. Talk to me, I’ll give you some suggestions.

sunflower bean2