Joshua Hedley, Kelsey Waldon, and Extra Gold at Globe Hall in Denver, CO on 10/19/18.

Joshua Hedley and his band The Headliners

After years of playing Nashville honky-tonks, Joshua Hedley became a legend in the local music scene. He mastered the fiddle and learned every classic country song. Hedley performed with everyone and everywhere in the music city. When he began to front his own band, Jack White (my personal Lord and Savior) signed him to Third Man Records. I expected Joshua Hedley to appear dressed in a flashy country western suit with a cowboy hat like he’s pictured on his album cover of Mr. Jukebox. But when he stepped on stage, Hedley was just wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and a baseball cap. He announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen this is an informal show.”

Mr. Jukebox

Hedley began with the classic Willie Nelson’s Night Life that seamlessly flowed into Hedley’s original song I Never (Shed a Tear). The tunes could easily have been on the same 1960’s era album. After playing mostly original material, the band left Hedley alone on the stage. He proceeded to take requests from the audience for their favorite country classics. The crowd yelled out for Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, and Jimmie Rodgers songs. Hedley played them flawlessly (his nickname is Mr. Jukebox for a reason). When someone yelled out for a Marty Stuart song from the 1980’s, Hedley replied, “His songs are too new.”

After the band came back to join him, Hedley covered Johnny Paycheck’s Colorado Cool-Aid – What is Colorado Cool-Aid?/Well, its a can of Coors brewed from a mountain stream/I’ll set you head on fire an’ make your kidneys scream.” After that epic tale about drinking and a switchblade, Hedley confessed that he didn’t understand beer. “It’s a long way to get to where you want to go.” That’s when he asked someone to bring him a shot of Jack Daniels. The band closed with Mr. Jukebox the title track to his album and the slogan on the sweatshirts the entire band was wearing. Hedley yelled, “We are trying to sell the f*ck out of these.”

Kelsey Waldon

Singer songwriter Kelsey Waldon was the second artist on the bill. Her retro-sound is also influence by classic country. After graduating from high school in Western Kentucky, Waldon went straight to Nashville to pursue music. Her set consisted of autobiographical songs about Tennessee, tobacco, and heartbreak. Waldon also performed my favorite Neil Young song Powderfinger. She previewed a new track about bourbon from her upcoming album that will be released next year. Waldon whispered, “Thank you for being quiet with me. Now Josh is going to turn it up.”

Extra Gold

Local band Extra Gold started the evening of music. Lead singer Evan Holm and steel petal player Ben Waligoski suspiciously have the same long hairstyles I wore in the 80’s. The band played a Merle Haggard whiskey song. That started a theme of drinking tunes that were performed throughout the night. Original songs about Northern Michigan and a girl named Emily (complete with yodeling) made the crowd nod along to their country swing. The band will have an album release party on November 30th at the Hi-Dive in Denver.

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one refusing to drink Colorado Cool-aid. It doesn’t sound healthy.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Black Pumas at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO on 10/13/18.

St. Paul and The Broken Bones – All Photos by
The Rock and Roll Princess

Almost everything about the Birmingham Alabama band St. Paul and The Broken Bones symbolizes Alabama. They have recorded in the iconic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama known for turning out hits for Aretha FranklinWilson Pickett, and Otis ReddingBen Tanner of the Alabama Shakes produced their first LP. Even the band’s latest album has Alabama’s state flower in its title Young Sick Camellia.

Paul Janeway, the lead singer for St. Paul and The Broken Bones, confessed to the audience that he almost cancelled the show. But since Janeway managed to rally his voice, he yelled “You better get ready to dance your asses off.”

Andrew Lee (and his hair) and Paul Janeway

As soon as Andrew Lee sat down behind the drum kit, his long wavy hair was blown back like a Beyonce video by a hidden fan. Not to be out shined by the luscious locks, Janeway was dressed in a sparkling choir robe. It was fitting because their new material has more of a disco feel than their previous soul sound. The song LivWithoutU would fit in nicely on any late 1970’s Earth, Wind, and Fire album. They didn’t ignore their older material. The horn heavy Like a Mighty River, the blues confessional Grass is Greener, and their radio hit Call Me were all performed to the delight of the rambunctious audience. When the band slowed it down for the ballad Bruised Fruit, a scary large soundboard guy yelled at the crowd to shut up. That’s when silence swept over the Ogden. At that moment, Janeway belted out, “You’re in me when I sting/You’re in me I bleed/You’re in me when I pray/You’re in me when I leave/Till the light go out some day.” The band slowly left the stage one at a time while Lee stayed behind the drums with his hair still moving with every heartbreaking hit to the snare. The state of Alabama would be proud.

Black Pumas

Black Pumas from Austin, Texas warmed up the crowd with their unique sound of psychedelic soul. Adrian Quesada put aside his multiple producing projects (ExpectationsHoney Bun and Echo Hotel) to play the guitar in Black Pumas. Watching lead singer Eric Burton perform, I would be inspired to start a band with him as well. The crowd swayed back and forth during the hypnotic Black Moon Rising the title track on their newly released album. The band closed with The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby transforming it into a powerful soul song repeating the line, “Ah, look at all the lonely people.” Overcome with emotion, Burton leaped into the crowd while the band continued to play. Just when he appeared back on the stage, the song suddenly ended.

See you at the next show. I’ll be in a sparkling choir robe with a fan blowing back my luscious locks.

 

Against Me!, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, and A Giant Dog at Summit, Denver, CO on 10/9/18.

Against Me! – Photos by The Rock and Roll Princess

The punk band Against Me! dove back into their past at the newly remodeled Summit on Tuesday night. They performed their 2007 major label album debut New Wave in its entiretyButch Vig who worked with NirvanaSmashing Pumpkins, and Green Day was the producer. The tracks combines Against Me!’s punk attitude with Vig’s more polished sound. It became one of the year’s most critically acclaimed recordings. The album changed the band from being an underground secret to opening up for Green Day and Foo FightersNew Wave’s song The Ocean contained a glimpse into the lead singer’s future by stating, “And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/My mother once told me she would have named me Laura.” And a few years later, singer Thomas James Gable would transition into Laura Jane Grace.

Laura Jane Grace

It wasn’t your typical rock show. LGBT outreach organizations informed the crowd by the merch booth about everything from transgender haircuts, drag shows, and support groups. Punks stood next to transgender people. Transgender punks stood next to soccer moms. And I stood in the back away from the mosh pit. The backdrop was New Wave’s album artwork of a tiger by Laura Jane Grace. That’s when Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger (of course) played over the house speakers as the band took the stage. They played every track from New Wave in order. Androgynous teenagers began to crowd surf while a mosh pit arose in front of the stage. Grace stopped the show and warned the crowd they were about to play the album’s most despised track Animal. The only sign of annoyance was a shoe thrown across the crowd (missing my head by a few feet). After the song finished, Grace declared, “Now we don’t have to play that ever again.” Against Me! also performed a number of songs from their other Butch Vig produced album White Crosses. The crowd sang-a-long enthusiastically to I Was a Teenage Anarchist and Rapid Decompression. Against Me! finished their set from Laura Jane Grace’s autobiographical Transgender Dysphoria Blues –  “You’ve got no hips to shake/And you know it’s obvious/But we can’t choose how we’re made.”

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

The second band on Tuesday’s night line-up was Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. After a recent collaboration with Till Tuesday’s Aimee Mann, Leo is finally getting national attention after a long critically acclaimed music career in New York. With his eclectic band The Pharmacists, Leo mostly played material from his latest solo album The Hanged Man. The songs addressed current politics (Moon Out of Phase), sexual abuse (You’re Like Me), and loss of fortune (Can’t Go Back). In contrast, the band delivered the dark subject matter with upbeat melodies. Adrienne C.N. Berry almost stole the spotlight with her amazing harmonies and remarkable saxophone playing.

 

A Giant Dog

The opening band’s lead singer Sabrina Ellis and guitarist/singer Andrew Cashen have been creating music together since they were in high school. They led their quintet A Giant Dog through a spirited set of songs about sex, drugs, and mental health. Wearing nothing but a yellow leotard, Sabrina Ellis’ raw energy and brazen sexuality held the diverse audience’s attention. Ellis asked everyone to take care of themselves before playing Roller Coaster – “Finally lost your mind/On this roller coaster ride/Stuck up at the top/An ugly stranger by your side.” As a result in their growing popularity, A Giant Dog opened for my personal Lord and Savior Jack White on his latest tour in their hometown of Austin, Texas.

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one ducking shoes in a yellow leotard.