Now that we've gotten a reprieve from icy roads and sub-zero temperatures, 'tis the season to celebrate with a weekend slate of unusually eclectic shows.
Let's start off with Black Pegasus' annual "Rap Presents" Christmas Toy Drive. Now in its fourth year, the event takes place at Rawkus this Friday, with Black P headlining a bill that includes Greedy Green, No Paper Boys, the Famm and a half dozen other acts. DJ Sh3vy will man the turntables, with proceeds and donations going to Toys for Tots.
Also on Friday the 13th, you can catch an all-too-rare appearance by Inelements. The band, which is halfway through writing the full-length follow-up to this summer's The Warning EP, will bring its alt-metal stylings to the Black Sheep on a bill with Sick Puppies and The Letter Black.
Or you could head over to Johnny's Navajo Hogan for the first of a two-night stint by Casey James Prestwood & the Burning Angels. Denver's sultans of twang will be showcasing songs from their new Honky Tonk Bastard World album, which carries on in the tradition of the Louvin Brothers, the Long Ryders, Gram Parsons and Dwight Yoakam.
Earlier in the evening, in the comfort of a heated tent at Acacia Park, Jake Loggins and his band will be dispensing blues, rock and funk as part of the Skate in the Park Series.
Then on Saturday, you can roam into more country/Americana terrain with the Jason Miller Band at the Townhouse. Plus, if you wake up early enough, you can skate on back to Acacia Park at noon for Mango Fan Django and Edith Makes a Paper Chain.
Rounding out the weekend, the Ancient Mariner will hold an early Sunday afternoon Patron Appreciation Party featuring the promising new Barrel House String Band. Together for just a few months, mandolinist James Galloway, guitarist Caleb Powell and upright bassist Adrian Bradford Alexander already have a solid command of the dawg-music tradition pioneered by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia. Later in the evening, you can head over to Stargazers for the Flying W Wranglers Holiday Show, where the displaced but undaunted group will draw upon its 60-year legacy of traditional cowboy music.
And finally, for the many fans of Johnny Smith, the legendary Colorado Springs-based jazz guitarist who passed away six months ago at age 90, Denver's Dazzle jazz club will be hosting a tribute concert this coming Sunday. Guitarist Dale Bruning and pianist Neil Bridge, both of whom spent years playing in Smith's band, will be joined by bassist Mark Simon and drummer Paul Romaine.
The quartet will be playing Smith's compositions — including "Walk Don't Run," which the Ventures would make one of the best-known instrumental rock songs of all time — as well as "Moonlight in Vermont" and other songs that have long been associated with the late, great jazz pioneer. The show will also include stories and reminiscences from jazz historian Jude Hibler, who was Concord Jazz's publicist back when Smith was recording for the label. For more info, go to dazzlejazz.com.