Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at Fiddler’s Green in Englewood, CO on 7/15/16.

This show was the 20th time I have seen Lyle Lovett.  His music has been the sound track to my life for nearly thirty years.  Lovett’s songs are some of the most beautiful, dark, romantic, and funny ever written.  His live shows are a mixture of almost every musical genre with some of the most talented musicians on the planet.

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (It’s not Big It’s large)

Opener Emmylou Harris cancelled her performance due to illness.  It was disappointing because I was hoping her and Lovett would perform together.  She sung on Pontiac one of my favorite Lyle Lovett albums. But this meant more Lyle so who can complain.

The Large Band started the evening with the big band inspired The Blues Walk.  After that big booming swing song, Lyle Lovett entered the stage with his long time backing vocalist Francine Reed and Denver’s own Free to Worship Choir.  They performed the traditional gospel hymn I’m a Solider in the Army of the Lord, the very non-traditional Lovett penned Church, followed by the standard I Will Rise Up.  It was powerful enough to give this non-believer some faith.

Lovett paid tribute to recently departed singer-song writer Guy Clark by performing Clark’s Step Inside This House.   Lovett joked that his violin player Luke Bulla had the privilege to write a song with Clark and Lovett only got the privilege to ride a bus with him.  After the story, Luke Bulla performed his Clark co-written song Temperance Reel.  

Sunset with Lyle (photos by the Rock and Roll Princess)

Another highlight was the 1929 Albert E. Brumley hymn, I’ll Fly Away.  Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris performed the song together in 1996 for the Kennedy Center Honors for Johnny Cash.  I guess this was when Harris normally joins the band during the tour.  The performance was moving despite her absence.

Lovett introduced The Large Band members between performing the hits If I had a Boat, She’s No Lady, and Bears. He explained that saxophone player Brad Leall is a professor at University of North Texas during the school year and plays in the band on his summer vacation.   Lovett also conducted a comical interrogation with cello player John Hagen who only gave one-word answers about his childhood in Casper, Wyoming.  Hagen left as soon as he graduated from high school and went to college at the University of Texas where he met Lovett more than 30 years ago.

Lyle Lovett

Lovett expressed his gratitude to the audience stating, he was “thankful to perform in such a nice venue surrounded by these big buildings.”  This was his understated way to express he missed playing Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The crowd started to chant “Red Rocks.”  Lovett quieted them by asking them not to behave like a presidential debate.

Denver’s own Free to Worship Choir

The Free to Worship Choir came back for the closing hymn Pass Me Not.  Almost everyone in the band took turns singing a verse making them all smile.  It was fitting because everyone in the crowd had a smile on their face as they left the venue surrounded by big buildings.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one wondering if Emmylou Harris is feeling better.

Pedal, PWR BTTM, and Pity Sex at Lost Lake Lounge in Denver, CO on 7/7/16

Searching for some escape from the recent dark events, I found solace by attending a Pity Sex, PWR BTTM, and Petal show at Lost Lake Lounge.

I usually stick out as the Old Guy at the Show.  But in a room full of PWR BTTM fans I stuck out more than usual.  The young crowd was in all forms of non-gender stereotype dress (meaning a lot of guys wearing dresses).  Glitter was all around in tribute to the queer punk duo of PWR BTTM.

Petal

Starting out the show was Petal a vehicle for Kiley Lotz from Scranton, Pennsylvania.  She has a revolving number of musicians that come in and out of her band.  Lotz started with a ballad that shined a light on her sweet lofty voice.  Lotz told the crowd she has been crying throughout the day as a reaction to the tragedies of the week.  She tried to lift the mood and went into a grudge guitar frenzy that made the audience smile.  They played a cover of Prince’s When You Were Mine.  I was wondering if the young crowd ever heard of the song because it was a hit back in 1980.  Even if the young glittery crowd didn’t recognize the tune her version was moving.  You really can’t go wrong with a Prince song unless it’s Raspberry Beret “you know like the one you find in a second hand store.”  Petal ended their set with Sooner with wailing guitar wizardry by Ben Walsh.  The song is heart-breaking with “perpetual ache” repeated in her haunting voice.

PWR BTTM

Next was PWR BTTM.  Back in April, the band opened for Ra Ra Riot (you can find the write up for that show in the vast archives of this blog).  The band has changed in only a few months.  They have their own instruments (last time they shared a guitar), a fancy new effects board (they are still learning to use), and a heterosexual base player (sporting glitter to match the esthetics of the band).  The audience was clearly there to see them.  They laughed at every joke, danced to the rhythms, and sang along to almost every song.  If there is some kind of non-gender moment happening, PWR BTTM is leading the way.

Ben Hokins started the show by stating that they perform safe spaces shows.  “We like to rock, but don’t violate each other spaces.”  Translation – No moshing.  Finally a band that is attempting to end the insanity of being body slammed.

Having a bad hair day, Ben Hopkins wearing a summer dress with some kind of plastic fringe, asked for a hat. The audience gave him a vast array of choices.  Hopkins picked one with a tree and commented to the guy that gave it to him, “girl you have a small head.”  The mic shocked Hopkins every time he got close to it because of his metallic make-up.  Fearful of being electrocuted, he requested a sock from the crowd. A wide range of hosiery was presented to him.  Hopkins placed one of the socks on the mic and the shocking discontinued.

When Liv Bruce, wearing a half shirt and cut off shorts, took over lead vocals things got a little bit weirder.  During his song Dairy Queen a girl in the front row acted out the lyrics.  The song is about being in a shower.  So the super fan slipped on a shower cap and acted like she was taking a shower to the delight of the band.

PWR BTTM and Kiley Lotz

Introduced as someone who can really sing, Kiley Lotz, now sporting matching PWR BTTM glittery make-up, was brought back to the stage.  She joined the band for a cover of Counting Crows’ Mr. Jones.  Again I wondered if the young crowd knew the song because it was released 23 years ago.

Hopkins described writing songs in his parents’ basement while drinking wine from a coffee mug realizing he was like Bill Murray without the talent.  Leading into I Wanna Boi.  The crowd cheered when he sang, “I Want a boy that thinks it’s sexy when my lipstick bleeds.”  When PWR BTTM left the stage, many of their energetic fans followed them and didn’t return for the headliner.

Pity Sex

With the difficult task of going after a comedy queer punk show, Ann Arbor, Michigan emo band Pity Sex ended the night (insert your own joke here).  The lighting changed to a dark dim blue and the slow lo-fi music began.  Britty Drake (smooth pleasant voice) and Bennan Graves (muffled and distorted voice) exchange lyrics throughout the set.  But Drake is clearly the leader of the band.  Similar to Kiley Lotz, Drake expressed her sadness of the tragedies of week stating, “that she is going to bring everyone down.”  After a Black Lives Matter speech, they continued to play a slow emo set.

PWR BTTM stated they would be back before the end of the year.  Hopefully they will be headlining bringing fun and light into a world filled with too much darkness.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one not leaving before Pity Sex.

Blues Traveler, Thompson Square, Uncle Kracker, Sam Palladio, Oteil Burbridgeat, and Eric Krasno at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 7/4/16

 Blues Traveler has played Red Rocks Amphitheatre on the 4th of July for more than two decades.  I have attended a number of the shows including their first appearance at the venue opening for The Allman Brothers Band in 1992 (remember I am the Old Guy at the show).  The band seemed just as excited to be there as the rain soaked fans.  They expressed their appreciation by tossing out gifts into the audience.  A number of harmonicas were thrown into the crowd, a guitar was handed to a young blonde woman in the front row, and I caught one of John Popper’s signature Stetson black hats.  I guess it pays off to wait in line for hours for a good seat.  It also pays off to be a good-looking blonde chick.  Apparently, that gets you a guitar.

John Popper of Blues Traveler

Singer and harmonica player extraordinaire John Popper started Blues Traveler in Princeton, New Jersey in 1987.  I describe them as a jam band with good songs.  Surviving the 90’s jam band explosion, death of their bass player, and a number of Popper’s medical issues, the band is still vital and relevant.  My favorite performances of the night were the ballads The Mountains Win Again with Popper’s strong voice making the hair stick up on the back of my neck. Also, Cara Let the Moon with Popper’s powerful voice accompanied by keyboard player Ben Wilson bouncing off the surounding rocks.

The set list had a number of their hits such as Run-Around, Hook, and But Anyway sprinkled in with some cleaver covers such as Radio Head’s Creep and Sublime’s What I Got.  Of course, John Popper played an amazing version of The Star Spangled Banner on the harmonica because it was the 4th of July after all.

Blues Traveler all photos by the Rock and Roll Princess

They had a number of guests join them.  Oteil Burbridge a jam band base player super-star who has performed with The Derek Trucks BandTrey Anastasio, and The Allman Brothers Band came out and had a base-off with bassist Tad Kinchla. It was the finest base-off I have ever seen (it was the only base off I have ever seen).   Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno came out to play on Father John during their encore. All three openers also took turns performing with the band.


Thompson Square

Thompson Square, a Nashville pop country duo, joined the band to perform I Still Can Feel You and Matador (songs they recorded with Blues Traveler on last year’s Blow up the Moon album).  It was a highlight for me because that’s when John Popper threw me his hat.

Thompson Square was one of three openers for the night.  The husband and wife duo appeared grateful for the opportunity to play the historic venue.  They introduced themselves to the jam-band crowd very aware that the majority of the crowd didn’t know who they were.  They have multiple top ten country radio hits such as Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not.  Shawna Thompson gave a passionate performance in tight leather pants despite having a baby boy in the beginning of the year.  Keifer Thompson sneaked in some Nirvana’s Smell’s Like Teen Spirit into their set list to appease the crowd.

Uncle Kracker

Looking like someone they randomly picked out of the crowd, Uncle Kracker was the middle act.  Since Mathew Shafer aka Uncle Kracker started out as Kid Rock’s turntablist, it was fitting he began his set with Kid Rock’s All Summer Long (which is really Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama).  Shafer, quickly went through his hits.  Follow Me was the song, the crowd recognized.  The people around me didn’t know whom he was until that song started.  Later Uncle Kracker joined Blues Traveler on stage to perform Sublime’s What I Got.

Sam Palladio

Opening up the show was Sam Palladio.  Despite the fact he is a Country singer from England performing on the holiday that celebrates our independence from his native land, he was actually pretty good.  He has a recurring role as Gunner on the drama series Nashville.  If you don’t know that show (I don’t know the show), you probably haven’t heard of him.  The few in the crowd that follow the show were delighted to see the handsome brit.  When he played the song Fade into You from the Nashville series, the crowd started to pay attention.  He won the crowd over when he performed an Incubus song.  I would tell you the song, but I know as much about Incubus than I do about the Nashville series.

Blues Traveler made the crowd feel like they were joining a party instead of watching a show.  The way all the opening bands and the special guests just dropped by was part of the festive atmosphere the band created.  It’s no wonder this party has been going on for so long.

See you at the next show.  I will be the guy wearing John Popper’s hat.