Elle King at Denver Day of Rock in Denver, CO on 5/26/18

Elle King and her band The Brethren

Denver Day of Rock has become a Memorial Day weekend tradition. An entire day of live music on multiple stages spread out through the 16th Street Mall (over a mile of shops on a pedestrian pathway).  It raises money for Amp the Cause that works with over 50 charities to improve the lives of local children and families. Similar to past years, it brought local and national acts to entertain the masses. However, this year the headliner was a swearing, smoking, drinking, breast flashing musician named Elle King.

Elle King – All photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess

King is the offspring of actor/comedian Rob Scheider (the Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo comedian) and formal model London King.  Her musical style is a combination of Wanda Jackson and Mae West.  King appeared on stage in a jacket embroidered with rainbows, mushrooms, and, marijuana leaves. She wore a hookah pen on a chain around her neck.  I am guessing the electronic vaporizer was full of “rainbows” that she smoked throughout her performance. The Brethren, her five-piece band, wore all white with tan jackets looking like country versions of Andrew W.K. 

After starting her show with the anthem Baby Outlaw, King noticed some young people in the crowd.  She promised to be on her worst behavior on their behalf.  King also stated, “Altitude is a thing here. And I forget that every time I drink.  If I talk some sh*t, it’s not my fault.”

Elle King and The Brethren

After playing a set of literally good songs (Good for Nothing Woman and Good to be a Man), it was time to play the blues.  The biographical Chain Smokin’ Hard Drinkin’ Woman showed off her passionate voice while The Brethren channeled their inner John Lee Hooker. During the dance/rap song It Girl, King advices, “Next time they talk some sh*t/All you have to do is blow them …. a little kiss/Or you show them your t*ts.” That’s when she flashed her pink bra to the delight of the crowd. King changed things up again with the gospel inspired Ain’t Gunna Drown from her Grammy nominated debut album Love Stuff.

That’s when some technical issues almost derailed her incredible performance. King introduced her favorite song The Beatles’ Oh, Darling.  That’s when her microphone feel apart making her sing unplugged while encouraging the audience to sing-along.  The sound guys got her mic working just in time for her to finish the classic song beautifully with amplification.  King ended with her hit Ex’s & Oh’s.  When she was leaving the stage King quoted Joan Jett, “Give them what they want and leave them wanting more.” And that’s exactly what she did.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be wearing a hookah pen full of rainbows.

Nikki Lane and Carl Anderson at Globe Hall in Denver, CO on 5/15/18

Nikki Lane and Jon Shoemaker

It was an eventful first day of the tour. The band was testing out a different set list while breaking in their new bass player. Nikki Lane was wearing a newly acquired hat that was “just a little too small.”  The opener Carl Anderson and his guitar player Sam Wilson were playing Denver for the first time. They performed on empty stomachs due to the venue selling out of barbecue before they could order. The food shortage could of also contributed to the crowd being too drunk for a Tuesday.

Nikki Lane – All photos by
the Rock and Roll Princess

A break up and an unexpected encounter at a flea market shaped Nikki Lane’s career. After working in the fashion industry, Lane decided to become a singer out of spite after splitting up with a country musician. After she met Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys randomly at a flea market, Lane convinced him to produce her second album. That record received high praise from the music industry.  She was declared the First Lady of Outlaw Country. That gave her the opportunity to open for Loretta Lynn and Chris Stapleton.  Now she is touring in support of her third album Highway Queen.

The song 700,000 Rednecks set the tone of for the evening with Nikki Lance confessing “I travel around from town to town/I do the best I can everyday/I drive long hours and I don’t get to shower and I ain’t going to brag about the pay.” After playing a number of songs from her latest release, Lane switched to All or Nothing from her first record.  Her breathy vocals inspired many of the women in the audience to sing-along. An enthusiastic fan with a light-up boa and a cartoonish tiny hat belted out the lyrics with such passion it almost stole the spotlight from Lane.

Alex Munos and Nikki Lane

The show suddenly stopped because of technical difficulties with bass player Jon Shoemaker’s equipment.  Lane quickly went backstage to retrieve a bottle of whiskey and a glass bottle of Coke.  She talked to the audience while enjoying her spirits and chaser.  When the problem was finally fixed, Lane passed the bottle (of whiskey not Coke) to the crowd. This is the second time I witnessed alcohol being distributed to the fans by the headliner at Globe Hall. It might be some kind of unspoken tradition.

Jack Pot ended the set with a clever comparison of love and gambling (it even had Viva Las Vegas in the chorus).  The band came back for the encore playing Mickey Newbury’s Why You Been Gone So Long. As Nikki Lane left the stage, her bottle of Coke spilled at the base of her microphone stand while the crowd poured out into the blackness of the night.

  

Carl Anderson and Sam Wilson

In the middle of his set, supporting act Carl Anderson heard a voice in the crowd requesting Different Darkness. The song describes the similarities Anderson has to his estranged father. “Same wanderlust, met with a different darkness/I can see his face in mine.”  His dad was a drifter/folk-singer who Anderson last saw him when he was just six years old.  When he was a teenager growing up in a small town in Virginia named Wolftown, Anderson discovered he shared his father’s gift of music. He sang songs with melancholy themes accompanied by Sam Wilson’s atmospheric haunting electric guitar playing.  Despite his somber lyrics, Anderson appeared delighted about his Denver debut. He smiled at the crowd, showed off his dancing skills, and even made John Denver jokes.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one asking the singer to pass me the bottle.

Pokey LaFarge and The Constant Tourists Globe Hall in Denver, CO on May 3, 2018

Pokey LaFarge and Adam Hoskins – all photos by 
The Rock and Roll Princess

Globe Hall, the former Slovenian and Croatian meeting hall built in 1908, was the perfect venue to see Pokey LaFarge. His timeless style and classic sound are reminiscence of the historic building. The employees permitted a fan named Christina to lavish the headliner two bottles of red French wine before his last show of a two-night engagement. LaFarge appreciated her generosity so much he dedicated the show as well as toasted her several times throughout his performance.

Pokey LaFarge

The band has been performing without their multi-instrumentalist Ryan Koenig since a horrible accident in December.  He was hit by an automobile while walking on a sidewalk in Charleston, SC. Donations were accepted for his recovery at the merch booth. There was also an open space on stage in his honor where he sang, played the harmonica, and scratched the washboard. Here is the link to the Ryan Koenig Recovery Fund: www.youcaring.com.  Despite missing Koenig, Pokey LaFarge was in a jovial mood fueled by the gifted wine.

The band started out with Better Man from the Manic Revelations album released last year.  Followed by his crowd pleasers Something in the Water, Goodbye, Barcelona, and Pack It Up. The set list was sprinkled with new songs written for an upcoming album. LaFarge stated, “We are working on it.  Not necessarily knowing when we are going to record it.”

Pokey LaFarge

Some boisterous members of the audience interrupted the show to inform LaFarge that a member of their party was celebrating a birthday.  That’s when the band played Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son.  It didn’t make any sense, but it silenced the obnoxious concertgoers immediately.  This might be an anti-birthday mind trick LaFarge acquired by playing music for a living since he was seventeen-years-old.

The band ended their main set with Devil Ain’t Lazy, Central Time, and Hard Times Come and Go. They came back for an encore that included a flawless version of Fats Domino’s It’s You I Love.  LaFarge declared the band only rehearsed it once that afternoon. The show ended with Roger Miller’s King of the Road.  LaFarge urged the audience to sing with him karaoke style, “Trailer for sale or rent, room to let, fifty cents/No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes.”  It was an ideal song at a classic location sung by a traditional musician.

The Constant Tourists

Married couple Nate and CassieSanchez announced their band The Constant Tourists were playing for one night only from the far away land of Thornton (a Colorado suburb).  They played a whimsical set covering several genres. Hey Diddle Diddle introduced the band’s playful lyrics and Cassie’s glorious trumpet playing. Nate switched to an Irish brogue for the song Green as Stone scattered with Mariachi like yells. Cassiesang in French for her part of the duet Love is Dumb while Nate played a kazoo solo.  To mix the styles up even further, Cassie brought out her accordion for their tango song entitled wait for it …. Tango. Nate sang the lyrics in Spanish and English.  After their set, the couple asked the audience to buy some merchandise because their three-year-old child needs some new shoes. The band’s next performance is at the Mile High Flea Market on June 9th. 

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one expecting Christina to bring me some French wine.