'I'll have to come back here," declared Calvin Cooke at Blues Under the Bridge this past Saturday. "I didn't know hobos had it so good."
Granted, most probably don't. But the festival-goers sprawled beneath the Colorado Avenue overpass were definitely having a good time, thanks to this year's wealth of talent, which ranged from the Springs' own Justus League to touring acts like John Hammond and Cooke's own sacred steel band, the Slide Brothers.
As always, there were moments of magic specific to the festival's unique setting. "I hope the train comes through now," said Cooke as his band launched into "Catch that Train," one of the standout songs on the consistently outstanding debut album, Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers.
With the tracks behind the stage still empty, the 69-year-old slide guitarist, whose colorful history you can read about in last week's Indy interview, gave it another try. "Somebody call that train up and tell it to come on over here!" he shouted late in the set. And sure enough, the locomotive arrived during the band's final number, its caboose passing the stage just as the song came to its end.
Much later that night, the scene was less idyllic but no less attention-getting when the band Beard served up a set of psych-punk originals at the Triple Nickel. Together less than two years, the Albuquerque outfit had a sound that's somehow familiar but impossible to place.
Lead vocalist Moso Beard and lead guitarist Karie Beard (yes, it's one of those bands) delivered the kind of slow-building dynamic that reminds me of bands like the Drones and the Pixies. Others I spoke to after the set cited the Foo Fighters — definitely one of Beard's favorites — as well as '90s bands like Rorschach Test and the Catherine Wheel. Go to reverbnation.com/beardisbullshit to judge for yourself.
Meanwhile, here's a nice development: The Flying W Wranglers, who were displaced after the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed the historic ranch from which their name came, have found a new home this summer. The group is continuing its 60-year singing-cowboy legacy with Tuesday and Wednesday evening shows at Texas T-Bone Steakhouse West (4659 Centennial Blvd.).
"We were not involved in the ranch, just had fond memories of it since we moved here 22 years ago," says Mary Crimmins, who runs the restaurant with her husband Dave. "So when they announced that they had to cancel their summer dinners and shows, we picked up the ball and booked them in our restaurant as a home away from home." For reservations, call 260-2372.
Moving along from Flying Wranglers to Angry Samoans, punk-rock refugee Gregg Turner will be coming up from Santa Fe to play Modbo this Saturday. After co-founding the aforementioned '80s L.A. punk band — which was reasonably angry but not especially Samoan — Turner moved on to New Mexico and formed the psych-garage band Blood Drained Cows.
More recently, he's been going the solo artist route. "It's more in the vein of goofy, '50s-ish folk-rock," says Turner, mentioning Jonathan Richman "for lack of a better analogy."
Turner's not kidding. Just listen to a song like "The Pharmacist From Walgreens" — which finds Turner strumming his electric guitar while delivering lines like, "He says, how is Mrs. Hoffman? / Well she's just doing fine, sir / Tell her there's a new generic / OK, I'll be sure to remind her" — and it's hard not to think of Modern Lovers classics like "Ice Cream Man" and "I'm a Little Dinosaur."
You can find "Pharmacist," along with other originals like "I Dreamed I Met Lou Reed," "I've Become Flaccid From Eating Bad Acid," and a surprisingly unironic cover of "Eve of Destruction," on his highly recommended new album, Gregg Turner Plays the Hits. Give it a stream on Mog or Spotify, and maybe pick up a CD at the show Saturday.
This Friday, meanwhile, you can catch a Nashville for Black Forest benefit at Cowboys, with performances by Dakota Bradley, Jon Pardi and American Idol alumnus Lauren Alaina.
Elsewhere this weekend, Brass Monkey, the Beastie Boys tribute band that features members of Malakai, Tree of Woe and Grindscape, will be playing a free show on Saturday at the Black Sheep. Also on the bill is Goya, who'll be doing a Pantera tribute, and A Sin Thing, who will most likely be performing as themselves, although I cannot guarantee that.