- Courtesy The Green
- The Green, playing the Black Sheep on Jan. 24, should chase away your winter blues with their sunny, roots reggae vibe.
In the group’s decade-long career, they’ve consistently topped the Billboard reggae charts, most recently with 2017’s soulful and generally sunny LP, Marching Orders. Good vibes and sleek beats are sure to be found in abundance (and, if they break out their eclectic take on The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” some impressive guitar pyrotechnics, as well).
Meanwhile, Georgia emcee Jarren Benton makes his return to Colorado Springs on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Club de Leones, where he’ll take the stage with Seattle’s own Aaron Cohen in support. Benton, whose early output included the mixtapes Huffing Glue With Hasselhoff and Freebasing With Kevin Bacon, seems to enjoy making stops here, having played shows at the Black Sheep for the past two years.
In January 2018, Benton joined forces with fellow emcees Dizzy Wright, Audio Push, Demrick, Emilio Rojas and Reezy for the quickly recorded One Week Notice. He reunited with producer Kato in July 2018 for the collaborative album Yuck Fou, released on Jay-Z’s ROC Nation label. His latest appearance was a guest spot on Chris Webby’s late 2018 mixtape, Next Wednesday.
Cohen, for his part, released the well-received LP See Red in March 2018, his debut full-length project following three mixtapes.
Also making a triumphant return to the Springs is the long-running California hardcore punk act Total Chaos, who play the Black Sheep on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Rob Chaos’ anarchic collective saved the proverbial day last year by stepping in for Oi! veterans The Exploited, who were forced to cancel their show due to frontman Wattie Buchan’s health issues.
Joining Total Chaos is a terrific one-two punch of local punk: the fairly new outfit Whammer — check out their tracks “Muppets on a String” and “Flesh Is Commodity” for a blast of ferocious crust punk — and The Sleights. The Sleights likely need little introduction if you’ve followed the local punk scene for any length of time, and they are set to release the LP Something Wasted This Way Comes on Feb. 8, which is good news for all of us. Until then, you can whet your appetite for the upcoming album with the singles “Red Letter Days” and “Idiot Savant,” currently available on the group’s Bandcamp.
Finally, let’s take a moment to appreciate a somewhat unsung feature of the local music ecosystem: the open mic night. While the concept itself is frequently the target of pop-culture derision or apathy, the many open mic offerings in town (for example, the weekly efforts led by musicians Andrea Stone and Charlotte Rogers at the Zodiac and Bar-K, respectively) often provide valuable opportunities for musicians and audience members alike.
Singer-songwriter Joe Johnson knows this well, being both a veteran and host of open mic performances and a “songwriter showcase” series at Manitou Springs’ Ancient Mariner in the early 2000s. Four albums and countless tour dates later, and having recently completed an extensive national tour in support of his latest LP, Morgantown, Johnson is returning to that very familiar stage to host a weekly “Songwriter’s Open Mic” on Monday nights, a combination of his two past “foundation gigs” at the Mariner.
“I’m excited to be home and to be able to share what little I might have learned while pursuing my dream of making a hundred dollars a night and sleeping at truck stops,” jokes Johnson, before rattling off a veritable who’s-who list of local songwriters who played “future hits or forgotten gems” at past Mariner open mics and showcase series: Mike Clark, Jason Miller, Xanthe Alexis, Grant Sabin.
The list, he hopes, will go on. Just don’t plan on doing covers of “Mustang Sally” or “Wagon Wheel.”
“This is for songwriters to try out new material or hone their craft. I look forward to meeting folks I don’t know, talking about the art we share a passion for, and I look forward to hearing them express that onstage.”
In addition, you can catch Johnson performing two weekly residency performances during the winter: Wednesday nights at Shae’s and Friday nights at Front Range BBQ.
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