Florence may not be Colorado's best-known vacation destination, but it was a great first stop on your faithful Reverb correspondent's brief hiatus from the deadline-driven world of altweeklies. And while that meant no column last week, there was still plenty of live music to catch. So before we move on to upcoming shows, here's my report on how I spent my summer vacation.
Let's start with Florence's inaugural Americana Music and Art Festival, which was the perfect way to introduce a visiting friend to some of our area's best musical acts. After just one wrong turn, which brought us to everyone's favorite Supermax prison (fondly known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies"), we found our way to Florence's Pioneer Park, where the festival's third day was kicking into gear with a noontime performance by the Grant Sabin Band.
Set highlights included a gritty cover of Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail" as well as a show-stopping rendition of Sabin's own elegiac "Devil of Mercy." For the latter, the band was joined onstage by a three-piece horn section and We Are Not a Glum Lot frontman Sam Erickson, who totally nailed an extended guitar solo that was an unexpectedly bluesy departure from his own band's more experimental rock inclinations.
From there, it was on to a second stage for a set of engaging originals by Chauncy Crandall, who's easily one of Colorado's best singer-songwriters. He's an extraordinary vocalist with a knack for intensely heartfelt lyrics. An ode to his sister, who died four years ago, was particularly moving: "Ain't a day go by," he sang, "I don't wish it'd been me instead."
I'd definitely recommend picking up his excellent Every Song Is About You album, and checking him out when he shares an afternoon bill with the J. Miller Band at the Silver Tongue Devil Saloon on Aug. 26. (Speaking of which, don't forget that Creating a Newsense is doing a big reunion benefit at the same venue this coming Saturday.)
Next came sets by El Toro de la Muerte, who were outstanding as usual, Fort Collins-based bluegrass band Finders & Youngberg, and Florence's own Flumps, who were proud, as frontman Dino Beli noted, to get their favorite musicians to come play their hometown. A rendition of the band's crowd-pleasing anthem "Sunshine" was the perfect closer for the first in what will hopefully become an annual Colorado tradition.
Other personal highlights from last week included Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys' performance at Stargazers (once the sound got straightened out) and the long-awaited Colorado debut of South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord, featuring the sveltely aberrant Yo-Landi Vi$$er and a solo rap from emcee Ninja in which he extolled the virtues of sipping Dom Perignon ("It's like an angel peed in my mouth").
Can the coming week compare? Probably not, but it could come close if you make it out to the Happy Ass Ranch this Friday through Sunday for the Time Traveller's Circus, which will feature a ton of musicians ranging from the aforementioned Grant Sabin and El Toro to the Hopeful Heroines, Tango Red Tapestry and Melting Temple. There will also be a variety of dance, circus and postmodern vaudeville stuff; you can read more about it on p. 19, then visit happyassranch.com for the full lineup.
If you can't make it to the festival, you can still catch Melting Temple at Zodiac on Friday, which bassist Jacob Carver tells me is both his and frontman Jose Garcia's birthdays. Then again, that could just be a ploy to get you to buy them shots. I'd check birth certificates.