It is Sunday again, and time to settle in with a big bowl of Ramen to review the past week’s adventures. Ramen? Have things really gotten that bad for bloggers in Fort Collins? Well, considering that I haven’t added advertising to my blog yet and have no sponsors, there is an element of poverty behind my lunch options, but this particular bowl of Ramen is also about using stuff up before the move 10 days from now. (Today’s lunch is Hot & Sour Ramen, which is a packet of chili-flavored Ramen noodles, with a tablespoon of rice vinegar, a tablespoon of dried onion flakes, half a small can of mushrooms, and frozen onion & pepper strips, frozen spinach and a few frozen shrimp added once the noodles are cooked.) Anyway, on to the music…
My favorite shows of this past week
At the very top of my list this week is Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy. These guys played a fantastic show, as always. There are bands here in Fort Collins with a horn section, and that play excellent music, but there are no local bands on my radar that sound quite like this Wichita, Kansas band. They play a lot of old American folk songs, including union songs and prohibition era stuff, along with some great originals, all with high energy and the same precise instrumentals as we appreciate from our best fast bluegrass bands. This band is on tour and heading towards Alaska now, but I told them they’d be welcome to relocate to Fort Collins when their tour is over.
My second favorite show of the week was the Friday night Summer Session concert in Old Town Square, which this week was Liz Barnez and Hazel Miller. Liz was joined on stage by two of the members of the Escape Goats on drums and bass, plus the talented Cary Morin on pedal steel guitar. This super-group played an excellent show, warming everyone up for Hazel Miller’s return to the Old Town Square stage. Hazel’s show filled the space in front of the stage with dancers and kept the whole square packed all the rest of the evening. Her performances channel the style and energy of all those great old-time jazz singers I am too young to have seen live- Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald- plus a healthy dose of funk, blues and Motown that contemporary audiences easily relate to. She’s also one of those performers who, no matter how big and famous she might be, makes everyone around her feel appreciated, including the often under-appreciated crew running sound and lights for her shows. If I was a young musician looking for role-models, Hazel Miller would make an excellent role-model.
And in my third-place spot this week, not surprisingly, is Tyler T., again. His schedule doesn’t have him playing much in Fort Collins again till the beginning of August, but he turned up as a last-minute addition to 2 different shows this week, opening for Chris Berry of Pangea at Hodi’s on Thursday and playing at Bj Kinney’s show at Equinox yesterday, a ‘battle of the one-man bands’ in which as far as I could tell they both won, the prize being a bunch of munchkins eager to try out Tyler’s didgeridoos and excited about carrying gear out back to the performers’ cars after the show. I always like Tyler’s shows, but my favorite of hi shows this week was this show with Bj, for which Tyler joined Bj to play guitar for some of Bj’s songs, and Bj joined in on a few of Tyler’s songs. Some of these collaborations were more successful than others (and the instrumental bits on Tyler’s rather new song “Greedy People” seemed to get a bit muddled this time ’round) but I prefer live music that is not just reciting the same notes in the same exact patterns as went into the studio recordings. The shows where artists play on each other’s songs or where they feel comfortable trying stuff that might not work generate some really great music that would not otherwise have been possible.
Bands/ Artists I Saw This Week
Plus the Hodi’s comedy open mic and funk jam on Monday night and the Avo’s open mic on Tuesday.