Doc Rotten at 7th Circle Music Collective in Denver, CO on 4/18/18

7th Circle Music Collective is not your typical venue. A small building near Mile High Stadium is the passageway into a DIY music space.  Once inside a tattered sign states, “Do not bring in any: glass, drugs, weapons, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, elitism, or bad attitudes.”  Two easygoing volunteers explained there was no entrance fee, but a suggested donation. After contributing the requested amount, we discovered there was no alcohol or food available.  One of our friends immediately fled (he later returned with a six-pack).

Stage entrance

At that moment, we heard guitars buzzing beyond the door. Following the music, we found our way into a courtyard. A few people were lingering around someone selling beaded jewelry. A garage with graffiti all over it contained a small stage with a band doing a sound check.  After the musicians declared the levels were good enough, the punk band Doc Rotten started their show.

Doc Rotten

The band fired up the crowd with their opening song Brass Tacks.  Drummer A.J. Martinez played some impressive thunderous fills that persuaded everyone hanging outside to come into the garage. Lead singer/guitarist Wes Bentley sang with such punk spirit it looked like he was about to lunge into the audience. Better Days was next with almost every member of the band singing a verse while Andy Kay held the chaos together with his impressive guitar riffs.  The song describes how music can help people deal with life’s challenges.  “When we lose all control/When we hear that rock and roll/It gets us through when times they have changed/Here’s to Better Days.

Wes Bentley
Gates was the first song they played from their new EP. It was full of heavy base, stomping drums, rhythmic time changes, and lyrics proclaiming something about, “Never coming home” all in less than two minutes. 
A thin man dressed in all black wearing a bowler hat attempted to jump on the stage during their cover of a classic Cock Sparrer song.  When he fell, the band invited him to grab a microphone.  A grinning Bently stated, “I am glad to see a display of true punk rock.”  The title track of their latest EP Sick and Suffering explored the complicated issue of drug abuse.  It’s a serious song because it’s the longest one of their EP (three minutes and fifteen seconds). The set ended with Listen Up! Doc Rotten encouraged the audience to sing along to the chorus that repeats the phrase, “Punch You in the Skull.”

Doc Rotten drums

The release of their EP Sick and Suffering has given the Trenton, NJ punk band a great reason to hit the road.  Their April tour took them through six states in a van that sleeps all four members (not comfortably). The 7th Circle Music Collective was their second Denver show (they headlined the Streets of London Pub the previous night).

After the show Wes Bentley told us a few tales of the tour. Highlights were staying at a musician outpost in El Paso, TX, visiting the beaches in Pensacola, FL, and yet another guy rushing the stage.  The band will be in Japan in September and Europe in October spreading the joy of Doc Rotten music to the world.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one rushing the stage in a bowler hat.

Kiefer Sutherland and Rick Brantley at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO on 4/17/18

Kiefer Sutherland and band

We needed to seek shelter from the dangerously high winds on Tuesday before the show. So we ducked into the Goosetown Tavern across the street from the Bluebird Theater. Just after my first sip of beer, actor/musician Kiefer Sutherland walked into the bar.  He joined his band in a booth while the entire establishment glanced his way.  Sutherland was very kind and gracious to everyone.  I was waiting for the perfect moment to approach him.  But he left as soon as I went to the restroom.  I am still cursing my bladder.

Kiefer Sutherland – All Photos by 
The Rock and Roll Princess

Over seventeen-years-ago Sutherland started a record label named Ironworks.  He signed Rocco DeLuca among many others (Sutherland has DeLuca’s album title I Trust You to Kill Me tattooed on his arm). The artists on his label encouraged Kiefer Sutherland to create his own music. After a successful debut album and tour, Sutherland is back on the road playing songs from his upcoming record.

The crowd consisted of fans that grew up on his movies such as The Lost Boys, Young Guns, and A Few Good Men (to name just a few). His role as counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer from the television series 24 was being passionately discussed when all of a sudden The War on Drugs’ Under Pressure started to blast over the PA.  A few moments later, Kiefer Sutherland and his band took the stage. That’s when he transformed from an actor into a musician.

Michael Gurley and Kiefer Sutherland

Sutherland started with the autobiographical country songs Reckless & Me and Going Home.  His colorful past is perfect material for country songs.  The pace picked up with Patti Loveless’ Blame It on Your Heart. The band played the country standard with just the right honky tonk touch.  The song about his first love entitled Saskatchewan (Sutherland grew up in Toronto) made the intoxicated audience bob their heads.  It also caused the girl in front of us with a Canadian flag to lose her mind.  She waved it proudly blocking the view of everyone behind her.

The title track from his first album, Down in a Hole started the rock portion of the evening.  Guitar players Michael Gurley and Austin Valleijo traded licks while Sutherland jammed out right beside them.  Towards the end of the night, they played Tom Petty’s Honey Bee highlighting the excellent drumming skills of local hero Jess Calcaterra from Granby, Colorado.  Sutherland thanked the crowd multiple times.  He was truly grateful for the crowd showing up to support his music.

Rick Brantley

Rick Brantley was raised a Baptist preacher’s son in Macon, Georgia.  His father’s musical tastes from The Allman Brothers to Billy Joel inspired him to create music.  After high school he moved to Nashville, TN and became a songwriter.  He is now performing his own songs opening up for John Hiatt, Steve Earle, and lately Kiether Sutherland.  His soulful voice and powerful song writing almost made the too drunk for a Tuesday night crowd quiet down and listen. The begging request for love song 40 days and 40 Nights started his set off strongly.  Tumbleweeds was introduced by explaining how his dream of becoming a cowboy morphed into a hope of becoming a policeman. His song Hurt People depicts the horrors of abuse. “Everybody’s got a reason for losing faith/I guess everybody’s got a scar they just can’t erase/You live a little while, you’re gonna have one too/You live a little longer, I bet you leave a few.”  After the song, Brantley joked that razor blades could be purchased at his merch booth.  He ended with his father’s favorite song, Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness complete with boot slams.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one missing a celebrity encounter.

The Darkness and Diarrhea Planet at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO on 4/7/18

Justin Hawkins

The Darkness is fighting to keep rock and roll alive by embracing all of its ridiculousness.  Front man Justin Hawkins wears skintight leopard print jumpsuits zipped down to his navel (a little something for the ladies).  With a remarkable falsetto, he sounds like a hard rock version of Barry Gibb. The lead singer crowd surfs, leaps from balconies, and frolics around the stage.  This resulted in their current trek around North America being called Tour de Prance. The Darkness has a catalog of tongue in cheek songs that rival the comedy band The Flight of the Concords with a joyous heavy metal sound.

The Darkness – All photos by the Rock and Roll Princess

The English band started their sold out Gothic Theatre set with Open Fire from their Viking themed album The Last of Our Kind.  Justin’s primal wailing along with his brother Dan Hawkins‘ frantic rhythm guitar playing made the mostly male audience jump up and down with their fists in the air.  Bass player, self-help book author, and shiny yellow suit owner Frankie Poullain introduced One Way ticket to Hell ….and Back with a cowbell solo (you can never have enough cowbell).

Frankie Poullain and the Cowbell

Rock royalty is a member of the self described “world’s most epic rock band.” Rufus Taylor, son of Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor, has been playing drums for the band since 2015. Justin complimented Taylor’s drumming with a Shakespearian reference nobody understood (oh, the English sense of humor).  After playing three songs from their debut album Permission to Land, the band came back for an encore.  Wearing nothing but tiny blue shorts, Justin played a slowed down blues version of I Believe in a Thing Called Love on the guitar while the audience sang the lyrics.  But the show wasn’t finished yet.  Justin climbed up to the balcony and jumped into a sea of testosterone during their final song Love on the Rocks with No Ice.  After crowd surfing through the audience, he climbed back to the stage stating, “The audience usually smell like raw sewage.  But I was lucky because this crowd smells like marijuana and saliva.  I liked it.”

Diarrhea Planet

As the band left the stage, the house music played Time of My Life from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  Two intoxicated bros attempted to re-enact the famous dance lift scene from the movie with horrible drunken results.  It was the perfect end to a night of goofy entertaining music.

Diarrhea Planet, the band with four guitar players and a horrible name, opened the show. They were having a blast with their high energy celebration of guitar rock. The musicians were more polished than their headlining performance at the Larimer Lounge back in November.  The band packed in as many songs, crowd surfing, and guitar solos as the thirty-minute set allowed.

 See you at the next show.  I’ll be in a skintight leopard print jumpsuit playing the cowbell.