Back in 2001, a decade before his untimely passing, local blues legend John-Alex Mason aced Telluride's Acoustic Blues Competition, widely regarded as one of the genre's most prestigious honors. Now, Colorado Springs bluesman Big Jim Adam has taken home that same first-place award.
In addition to prizes including a Dobrato Resophonic Vibrato Guitar valued at $1,200, the Colorado Springs bluesman was awarded a prime-time slot on the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival's main stage, performing for thousands in between sets by Anders Osborne and Trombone Shorty.
Within 48 hours of last week's win, a video went up on YouTube (tinyurl.com/bigjimadam) of Big Jim showing off his prize, the price tag still hanging off it. "This is a real treat for an old guy like me," says the musician with characteristic modesty, before putting his new instrument to good use with a cover of Keb Mo's "Henry" and its altogether appropriate chorus:
I can hear the Delta calling
From the light of a distant star
I can see my future
And I can feel my past
When Henry plays his steel guitar
You can give Big Jim an extra-large congrats in person when he plays this Friday's installment of the House Concert Series at Raven Nest at Aspen Valley Ranch. Find out more about the Woodland Park show — along with future gigs at Motif, Stargazers and the Crystola — at jimadamblues.com.
Before we move on to a few other upcoming gigs, I want to mention Zodiac's 40th Wake of Gavin Rogers last Friday, which, in addition to odd birthday skits, sea shanties and readings from Finnegan's Wake, featured a memorable performance by the recently formed Chauncy Crandall Band. While I was a bit disappointed to see that the talented singer-songwriter has done a kind of reverse Dylan-at-Newport by abandoning his distinctive electric guitar in favor of a more conventional acoustic, the overall sound was more-than-ably filled out by a backing band that included Grass It Up's David Jeffrey on guitar and mandolin, and the Jack Trades' Todd Bruington on drums. By set's end, the Hopeful Heroines' Harriett Landrum and Xanthe Alexis had joined in on violin and backing vocals for what turned out to be an altogether impressive show. Go ahead and mark your calendar for Oct. 17, when the band will be playing Front Range Barbeque with Dave & Chuck opening.
As for the more immediate future, look for Fidel RedStar's return to Union Station this coming Friday. The conscious hip-hop group fronted by Ahmad Hassan Mitchell — who was half of Accumen alongside the ReMINDers' Samir Zamundu — has been keeping a low profile in recent months while spending time in the studio, so this will be a good opportunity to get reacquainted.
Also on Friday, over at the Black Sheep, Indy Music Awards "People's Choice" winners Claymore Disco, along with Get Along and Foster, will be doing opening honors for Churchill, the Denver indie-folk outfit who've just signed to A&M/Octone Records, home to Maroon 5, K'Naan and Hollywood Undead.
And finally, here's a big bonus round of congratulations to the recipients of this year's Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards, which were announced Friday. In the Popular Music Solo/Duo category, the top honor went to the Changing Colors, with the aformentioned Big Jim Adam & John Stilwagen and Joe Johnson as runners-up. The Flumps, meanwhile, were named Best Band, followed by the J. Miller Band and Inelements. All great live acts, so be sure to catch them next chance you get.