The Colorado Sound – March 27 (repeat Dec 9 2009)

This weekend was the UMX (Ultimate Music Experience) in Denver – the official auditions for the 39th annual CHUN People’s Fair, being held June 5 & 6.  I was there emceeing the event.  I ran an “encore presentation” of my December 9, 2009 show “My favorite songs of 2009.”  These were the tracks that found their way most often played in my personal mp3 player, my car stereo, and on my home computer … Next weekend will be a new show Vol. 2 Episode 13 w/ some new music.

Martin Gilmore “Don’t Talk About Hard Times” from Martin Gilmore (2009)
The Beautiful Loser Society “Talkin’ to the Devil” from Aim Low (2008)
GT and the Sidewinders “Lonesome Cowboy” from Across America (2009)
The Hollyfelds “She’s Got You” from Black Heart Blue (2009)
Gregory Alan Isakov “Big Black Car” from This Empty Northern Hemisphere (2009)
Lelah Simon “To Be Oblique” from Third Week of April (2009)
Churchill “I Still Remember” from Churchill (2009)
Boulder Acoustic Society “Slip Baby Slip” from Punchline (2009)
Euforquestra “Soup” from Soup (2009)
Fierce Bad Rabbit “Everything Is Alright” from Everything Is Alright (2009)
Kyle Hollingsworth “The Way It Goes” from Then There’s Now (2009)
Fred Hess “For Thomas” from Hold On (2009)

SHEL “Hello” from Try to Scream (2009)
Saints “Colorado” from Saints (2009)
Honey Don’t “Who Took the Jukebox” from Honey Don’t (2009)
Mike Schikora “I’ve Got Something On My Mind” from This Cowboy’s In Love (2009)
Ben Markley “One for Cedar” from Second Introduction (2009)
Reed Foehl “Wolves” from Once An Ocean (2009)
The Informants “Salvation” from Crime Scene Queen (2009)
Todd Adelman & the Love Handles “Sorry” from Todd Adelman & the Love Handles (2009)
Bobby Walker “CC Rider” from Git It (2009)
Angie Stevens & the Beautiful Wreck “Give It On Back” from Queen of This Mess (2009)
Melissa Axel, Modern Tuba & Friends “Sleigh Ride in Bora Bora” from Sleigh Ride in Bora Bora (2009)
Aakash Mittal Quartet “Ishaa” from Videsh (2009)

MMMM – the very first one (moved)

Up & Coming – March 2010

Andrea Ball – Dial Tone
Genre/Style: Rock, Pop, indie/alternative
Born and raised in Denver, Andrea began studying piano at age eight. She received a music degree at the University of Colorado and has been performing in the Denver area since. Her debut, Dial Tone, is set for a March 23 release. Recorded by John Macy & Nathan Johnson at John Macy’s Studio in Denver. Andrea is one of a couple dozen Colorado acts appearing in two separate Colorado showcases at the 2010 SXSW. The album features Andrea Ball (piano, guitar, vocals), Neil McCormick (bass, banjo), Carl Sorensen (drums, melodica), Dan Craig (electric guitar, vocals), Chris Eagleton (synths), Kailin Yong (strings, saw), Bethany Speer (cello), Jason Klobnak (horns).

Fierce Bad Rabbit – All I Have Is You (single)
Genre/Style: Rock, indie/alternative
Fort Collins based Fierce Bad Rabbit released one of the top indie/alternative rock debut records of 2009 with their self-titled debut that contained the “hits” Everything Is Alright and Sink Like A Stone. According to band leader Chris Anderson, their new album should be out this summer – but in the meantime the new single is available to download for free at their website.

Joel Decatur – Seeking the House-Builder
Genre/Style: Rock, pop
Joel enlisted Kris Smith (James Taylor, Natalie Merchant, Josh Ritter) to produce his debut album. Although Joel’s personal description of his music is Americana/Folk, there is nothing on the album that represents either genre. The album features performances by Kris Smith (drums), Matt Tahaney (bass), Sam Kassirer of Josh Ritter’s band (piano, keys, organ and vibraphones); Brad Smith from Blind Melon makes an appearance on bass on the track, Trust. Nick Duarte from Fort Collins’ band Post Paradise adds some guitar and vocals to Bitter Days and guitar on Dancing On Our Graves. Amy Morgan, also from Post Paradise, adds some beautiful cello to the track, I Won’t Ask. Ryan Spraker from Eli “Paper Boy” Reed & The True Loves, banjo on Run, Run, Run. Jason Lawrence from NH band, Flawd, electric violin on two cuts, Bitter Days and Dancing On our Graves.

The Autumn Film – The Ship and the Sea
Genre/Style: Pop, adult alternative
“Like a post-collegiate Fiona Apple jamming with Snow Patrol, [The Autumn Film] serves up a piano-drenched sincerity topped off with a voice that’s wise and heartbroken beyond its years” ~The Onion. Their debut album, Safe and Sound, earned them the praise “Best Band to Come out of Nowhere” by The Westword. The new album is sure to bring them considerably more praise, and hopefully airplay.

The Big Motif – The Big Motif (ep)
Genre/Style: Rock, blues-rock, funk, reggae, jam
What started out as a three piece featuring three high school kids a few years ago has turned into a four piece of remarkable virtuosos who are still “teenagers.” The group ranges from 18-20 years of age, yet founding members Tony Pacello, Hunter Roberts and Jeff Jani have been playing together for 5 years. Originally called The Runnin’ Wild Band, these guys hooked up by winning a Fox Radio / Lewis and Floorwax on-air competition for the best young musicians in Colorado. During the RWB 5 year run, they got the chance to play hundreds of shows inside and outside of Colorado, including sharing the stage with Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ted Nugent, and Johnny Winter. Hot off the press, The CD features a blend of styles including blues, jazz, funk, reggae and psychedelic rock, c0-produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Dave Beegle.

Great American Taxi – Reckless Habits
Genre/Style: Rock, roots rock, americana, jamband
Produced by Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) and featuring Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), this is GAT’s second cd following their 2007 debut “Steets of Gold.” Their sound is a concoction of swampy blues, progressive bluegrass, funky New Orleans strut, Southern boogie, honky tonk country, gospel, and good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll. According to the band’s website, the 13 tracks on Reckless Habits gleefully stretch the boundaries of American roots music with a nod to both tradition and the future. …including the likes of Gram Parsons, the Grateful Dead, Bill Monroe, John Hartford, and more.

John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty

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HOT RELEASE – March 2010 – #1 OTB (out of the box)

John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty

I’ve know John Common for several years now. I’ve either booked John solo, in a band (Rainville), or done some acoustic gigs with him… all told probably a hundred times (easily) over the years – and that doesn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen him perform where I didn’t book the show. I own every one of his records (at least that I know of), and have played cuts from all of them on The Colorado Sound over the years. So, when asked if I’d write down my impressions of his newly released John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty (Free School Records, 2010) I deemed it an auspicious personal challenge. Objectivity flies out the window when you’re this close to someone else’s most intimately crafted art (edit: esp that of a friend).

In Rainville, John explored his alterna-roots rock-gutter jazz-county folk vision of life in America, taking us on a journey down a road “between two towns,” along barren stretches of gravelly whisky-voiced grit and dust packed in alongside a “convenience store killer,” “broken flower,” and “five-dollar shower.” Let’s call that John Common 1.0. That journey ended somewhere around 2004.

John Common 2.0 showed John weary of the road, and actually may have begun with a request to record a duet with Opie Gone Bad lead vocalist Jake Schroeder in 2004/2005; the Beatles classic “Dear Prudence” (released on Mountain Homegrown Vol. 4). The fact of circumstances – however vague – does not diminish the newly-classic reworking of the song, nor the style in which John 2.0 emerged, the noise-folk-art rock bridge of Good To Be Born (Free School Records, 2006). Here, John along with co-producer Scott Davies (drummer for Opie Gone Bad), reached out and grabbed onto what I perceived to be the muse of Brian Wilson, recording layers upon layers of sound that in effect appeared aurally as a photograph with such depth-of-field to nearly appear three dimensional. This team, including Jeremy Lawton as mix master, finished this journey as Why Birds Fly (Free School Records 2007) in a seamless fashion, making more noise and becoming much more incoherent and messy. I could tell by this record and in conversations with my friend that he had once again become uneasy, unsettled, and needed to “get in the car and drive.” Only where to was the question … for all of us including John.

Enter John Common 3.0, with Blinding Flashes of Light and the record Beautiful Empty (Free School Records, 2010). I’ve always thought John exuded a certain kind of emptiness — not of the kind you’d see in the eyes of soul stealers, but more like he empties his soul with every word he writes and every note he sings and so becomes empty all over again, until the next filling and emptying and so on and so on…that kind of emptiness. I have heard that JC 3.0 started as John traversed Eastern Europe sometime around 2008, perhaps as I’ve heard and read that he felt he had nothing left to say musically. I have also heard that JC 3.0 happened when John returned from Europe and met singer-songwriter Jess DeNicola. Jess certainly brings out yet another side of John we’ve never heard before. There’s tenderness in John’s voice singing with Jess that I haven’t heard before — a dreamy wistfulness he toyed with in John Common 2.0 but didn’t quite realize somehow. Jess brings that out in him…she’s perfect in the role, matching him emotionally every single step of the way – as clear and as powerful and meaningful in phrase and voicing – forging a singularity of voice uncommon among most male-female singing duos.

Throwing objectivity straight the hell out the window, this is the most complete John Common record yet. It is truly one of the most endearing and magnificent albums I’ve ever had in my collection. The lyrics are those of the poet–laureate, insightful, and glaringly crisp in their focus. The music is the equal to anything ever done by any great pop music arranger. Beautiful Empty is full of mystery, intrigue, loneliness, pain, and searching — and there’s no direct answers here…there’s no salvation, no redemption – although there is hope, optimism. All put together we get one of the most sophisticated and intelligent adult pop records of the past several decades. It’s John traveling as he has always, only this time his journey moves far past the gritty highways of Rainville and the messy existentialism of Why Birds Fly.

If it’s possible that song titles are any indication at all they say what needs to be said about John’s vision of himself and of life … Can You Hear Me, Same Scar, Wide Open World, Good Heart, In My Neighborhood make up the first half of the album before “intermission” (track six). Thinking About God concludes the second chapter … but before we get there, we visit Walter Whitman; experience how Love Is A Shark; Turnaround; Don’t Follow Virginia; and hear about The Man Who Could — that would be John .. who could and does in JC 3.0 show us he has much more beautiful emptiness to share.

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