Old 97’s and Strange Americans at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO on 6/5/16

Sunday night had numerous options in the Denver Metro Area for live music. There was The Cure at Fiddler’s Green.  I couldn’t attend because of my strict no black clothing in the summer policy.  There was Bare Naked Ladies at Red Rocks.  I couldn’t go because lead singer Steven Page was kicked out of the band in 2008.   I choose to see Old 97’s at the Bluebird because of their influence over the alt-country movement, legendary live shows, and…. free tickets.  Thank you Rockmount Western Wear for your contribution to my musical endeavors.

Old 97’s (all photos by the Rock and Roll Princess)

Old 97’s were named after a Johnny Cash song entitled Wreck of the Old 97.  The Dallas based band were pioneers of the alt-country movement in the mid 1990’s. Their songs titled Stoned, Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On, and Most Messed Up describe their sound better than I can.

The four piece band took the stage to Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass’ A Taste of Honey.  If you don’t know the song, look for the record Whipped Cream & Other Delights in your parents record cabinet (it’s the one with the naked girl covered in whipped cream).  When the background song faded, the roll coaster fast paced guitar driven night began.

Rhett Miller

Rhett Miller lead the band with his Elvis hip moves, a mostly unbuttoned shirt, and 360 degree guitar strumming. When he sang Dance with Me, a couple near the front did just that with some fancy twirls.  The audience bounced to the music while some fans sang along to every word to every song.   Fighting off “feeling like he was going to vomit” lead guitarist Ken Bethea mostly stayed to the side of the stage unless he was called upon to shred.   Philip Peeples, the greatest drummer alive according to the bass player, kept the music driving along like a freight train throughout the night.

Bass player Murray Hammond not only provided excellent back group vocals, he sang lead on a few songs dressed in a fine looking signature Rockmount Western Wear Shirt. Did I mention that they generously gave me tickets to the show?   When he sang the bittersweet Valentine with the lyrics “it’s a lonely, lonely feelin’ when your valentine was wrong.” You could feel the heartbreak.

Rhett Miller, Philip Peeples, and Murray Hammond

Miller stated that “all songs are like your children, but some need to be droped off in the wilderness because you are sick of them.” That was his introduction to Nineteen stating that they recently rescued it.  Rhett Miller granted the request of a fan he met before the show and played the romantic Question that has been featured in the television shows Scrubs, Ed, and Scorpion.  After ending the night with the ultra fast Time Bomb, they left the crowd in a frenzy. Two guys (older than I am … and I am the old guy at the show) fought over the set list like teenage girls.  The security guy “guarding” the stage was too busy texting to notice.

Strange Americans

Denver’s own Strange Americans were the opening band.  They impressed the audience with their self described “raw, a bit loud, unapologetic, and honest” roots rock.  Lead by trucker hat wearing Matt Hoffman, the bearded five piece played an enthusiastic tight set.  Trent Hoffman played lead guitar and backing vocals.  Whenever a song hit it’s peak, his left leg would magically stomp up and down like a puppy getting it’s belly rubbed.  The highlight was their song Places II with the haunting lyrics “remember when we had nothing at all.”  They will be performing at the Westword Music Festival at the end of the month if you want to see Trent’s magical leg movements.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one shamelessly mentioning Rockmount Western Wear that hopefully will be supplying me more free tickets, or a shirt, or some boots.

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