Face it: Valentine's Day isn't necessarily the happiest of holidays for everybody. Sure, there's that mythological cherub who goes around piercing people's hearts with love-soaked golden arrows, but let's not forget those three ancient St. Valentines who were persecuted and martyred so that Hallmark would have a holiday to celebrate between National Blood Donor Month and St. Patrick's Day.
In other words, Valentine's Day can be as good a time as any for the blues. Which makes Friday an especially good time to catch Otis Taylor at the Crystola Roadhouse. Described by the New York Times as "one of those musicians who are too good to be famous," the Boulder-based Taylor is the most acclaimed trance-blues artist to come along since the late Junior Kimbrough, and justifiably so. With songs like "Coming with Crosses," "Lay on My Delta Bed," and "Sand Creek Massacre Mourning," count on him to see your blues and raise you a few more.
If you prefer a more conventional Chicago-style brand of blues, you can get a rollicking headstart on the holiday when Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin takes the stage at Ivywild this Wednesday. No stranger to our area — the former Muddy Waters guitarist's Vizztone label released local guitar prodigy Austin Young's debut album last year — Margolin will be joined by Denver harp player Al Chesis for an intimate evening of songs and storytelling.
Following up on last week's Rocky Mountain Highway news, the upstart Colorado Springs non-profit raised more than $10,000 from its Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which came to a close this past Sunday. Next up on the organization's agenda is booking shows for Meadowgrass, the Americana-inclined Memorial Day weekend festival whose 2013 performers included Blitzen Trapper, Anais Mitchell and Kristin Hersh.
Moving on to the more immediate future, two local music institutions have anniversaries on the horizon. On Friday, February 21, Sunshine Studios will be holding its 6th anniversary concert featuring Minneapolis industrial-rock band American Head Charge, along with openers Righteous Vendetta, Cathercist, SmackFactor, and The Dub Project. If you can't think of a gift, you can stream it online at justin.tv/sunshinestudioslive.
The following night, Zodiac will hold its annual masquerade ball to celebrate its third year as a music venue, performance space and downtown hipster hangout on the site of the old Rocket Room.
Meanwhile, those who prefer a lower-key environment will be pleased to know that the new Wild Goose Meeting House café and restaurant has added a full music menu to its offerings. I caught former Charlie Milo trio guitarist Ben Pratt there on Saturday, playing a set of "aggressive dinner music."
Actually, the musician's tone and volume suited the intimacy of the venue, something that can't always be said about performances at the similarly sized Rico's a block away. Pratt's original music also avoids supper-club cliches; even covers of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" — thankfully sans whistling — sounded way better than they should on unaccompanied electric guitar.
Future Wild Goose bookings include indie-folk singer, songwriter and pianist Hillary Hand on February 22; rocksteady, reggae and ska band Mo Mungus on February 27; and Gypsy jazz band Mango fan Django on February 28.
And finally, local rock fans will want to keep February 22 open for "Up 'Til Dawn," a cancer benefit for Dawn Kelly, mother of Black Sheep security guy Monte Kelly. The Black Sheep fundraiser will feature a performance by resurrected post-rock instrumentalists Matterhorn, alt-metal excursions from last summer's Indy cover-story subjects Inelements, and sets by Autumn Creatures and Tiger Wine. Hearing some of Colorado Springs' best bands while supporting a worthy cause should make for a perfect Saturday night.