First the bad news: The area music scene will have to get by with one less venue this coming winter. Scott Hunt, owner and manager of the Silver Tongue Devil Saloon, tells us he had to pull the plug on the Green Mountain Falls venue due to financial constraints.
"I am not sure whether or not I will reopen in a better location," he says, "but it looks grim."
Indeed, while the live music industry as a whole has fared somewhat better than digitally downtrodden major labels, most of those revenues are flowing into the coffers of mega-promoters like Live Nation and AEG.
The Silver Tongue Devil's closing is especially disappointing in light of the fact that its music bookings were becoming considerably more ambitious. Over the last year, the venue brought in national touring acts like indie-rock hitmakers Cracker and New Orleans' prestigious Joe Krown Trio. It was also home to numerous local acts, including a reunited Creating a Newsense playing a breathing-room-only benefit for Waldo Canyon Fire relief efforts back in August.
Which brings us around to better news. Creating a Newsense co-founder Joe Johnson, who booked a number of the Silver Tongue Devil's touring acts this past year, released a new album this past Monday called A Cold Christmas Moon. Actually, it's not a Christmas album; the title is taken from Woody Guthrie's "1913 Massacre," which he covers on it.
What makes this project particuarly interesting is the fact that most of the covers are songs by other local musicians, many of whom are making cameo appearances on the album.
Among them are the Haunted Windchimes' "Swimming Through a Dream," Jason Miller's "O'Lyda" and Chauncy Crandall's "Vices (Justified Sins)," as well as songs by Changing Colors, the Mexican and Broken Spoke.
"Most of those songs," Johnson tells us, "feature sit-ins from the original artists, all doing parts differently than usual."
The digital-only collection — which is available for download through Joe's Bandcamp and Facebook pages — is a fundraiser for local children's charity Life Support, which is a division of Catholic Charities and Marian House.
Meanwhile, Colorado Springs composer and recording artist Steve Barta has accomplished something that I'm pretty sure no other local musician has managed, at least not during the five years I've been in town. Earlier this month, the Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 55th annual Grammy Awards. Among the five finalists for Best Children's Album is a collaboration between the Colorado College instructor and former Firefall member Mark Oblinger called JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. The album features vocals by Al Jarreau and Dee Dee Bridgewater, who have 10 Grammy Awards between them, so I have a good feeling about this.
Actually, there'll be another Grammy nominee in town this week, albeit just for one night. Jimmy Hall, who will headline the Crystola with Kate Moss & Friends on Friday, picked up a Best Male Vocalist nomination for his work on Jeff Beck's 1986 album Flash. More recently, he was backed by Stevie Ray Vaughn's band Double Triple on the 2003 Triple Trouble album. But for many, Hall's most important credit is as frontman for Wet Willie, who scored a hit with "Keep on Smiling" and were arguably the funkiest band to come out of the whole Southern Rock movement.
Then on Saturday, Midgard will be splintering the core of night, turning the stars to ash, and engaging in other death metalish activities during the reactivated Colorado band's CD release show at the Black Sheep, with Try Redemption and Nuk-L-Hed doing opening honors.
And finally, you can catch recent Indy cover subject Grant Sabin in two very different settings this coming week. He'll be at Rico's on Saturday, and then share a bill with Chauncy Crandall at Meadow Muffins' New Year's Eve Bash, which, with Dick Clark being dead and all, just might be your best Auld Lang Syne option.
However you end up celebrating, be safe out there, and we'll look forward to seeing you back here again next year.