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MeadowGrass, Territory Days kick off summer’s music


Radkey, a trio of punk-rock brothers, will bring their melodic sensibility and fine songwriting to the Black Sheep on May 24. - ICH VIA WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
  • Ich via Wikipedia Commons
  • Radkey, a trio of punk-rock brothers, will bring their melodic sensibility and fine songwriting to the Black Sheep on May 24.

With Memorial Day weekend finally upon us, so, too, is the MeadowGrass music festival. The 11th annual installment of the much-loved family-friendly event, presented by the Rocky Mountain Highway Music Collaborative, takes place May 24 through 26.

While we profiled the lineup back in March when the finalized performer list was announced, you’d be forgiven for not having it memorized, the names coursing through your mind like a silent mantra, while you watch your custom MeadowGrass hourglass that’s been counting down the past two months. Here’s a quick rundown to refresh your memory:

Friday, May 24, features Tenderfoot Bluegrass, Mama Magnolia, The Two Tracks, Daniel Rodriguez (formerly of Elephant Revival) and Woodshed Red, with a late-night performance from A New Brain for Arnie.

The next day, May 25, sees Whiskey Kate, Patrick Dethlefs, Heavy Diamond Ring, Shannon McNally, The Mammals, The Ballroom Thieves and Tea Leaf Green, with the late-night set courtesy of The Jauntee.

Finally, May 26 closes things out with Roy Schneider and Kim Mayfield, Roma Ransom, Meadow Mountain, Upstate, Eilen Jewell, Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express, and probably the big-name headliner, Reckless Kelly. Sunday’s late-night performance finds Blue Frog bringing the festival to conclusion.

Something that could easily have slipped by in the meantime, however, was the arrival of new music from two artists appearing at MeadowGrass 2019. Heavy Diamond Ring, the Denver-based folk-rock quintet featuring Sarah Anderson and Paul DeHaven (formerly of Paper Bird) released the single “Wild Things” mere weeks ago. The track is a helping of contemporary indie-folk that goes down easy, augmented by some subtle, snaky guitar work, walls of harmony vocals and Anderson’s attention-grabbing vocals.

Daniel Rodriguez has kept busy so far this year, releasing the EP Your Heart, The Stars, The Milky Way in February and the single “Colorado” in early April. The five-track EP is a soulful, mysterious collection of songs that range from the spectral touches on “Dolores” and “Johnny” to the sing-along chorus of “Steal the Night Away,” which sounds worthy of Laurel Canyon in the early ’70s. The standalone “Colorado” draws from more rustic folk corners, and is no less memorable or hummable.

Of course, Memorial Day weekend also means it’s time for the long-standing Old Colorado City festival, Territory Days, and the 44th annual edition brings its customary variety of music. This year, attendees can look forward to performances from Brandon Lay, the Michael Hornbuckle Band, Ryan Chrys & the Rough Cuts, and the Northern Wind Native American Dancers, along with a variety of local favorites, such as Hipbone, The McDeviants, Gravel and Rikki Dee Hall and The VooDoo Hawks.

Outside the festival fare, fans of punk, garage rock and quality rock songwriting of any stripe would be well-advised to catch Missouri’s Radkey, who return to Colorado Springs and take the Black Sheep stage on Friday, May 24. The power trio, comprised of home-schooled brothers Isaiah, Solomon, and Dee Radke, recently dropped a new entry in their ongoing “waterfall” release No Strange Cats, adding the tracks “P.A.W.” and “Basement” to the five tracks found on the Spiders EP from January.

Radkey’s music frequently blends explosive punk energy with a superb melodic sensibility, and the tracks released in the expanding No Strange Cats collection are no exception. “P.A.W.” is volcanic garage-punk, railing against discrimination to anthemic effect, while “Basement” dials up the sweet melodic lilt amidst the guitar crunch, not unlike one of Joey Ramone’s more heartfelt moments. Elsewhere, “Spiders” is downright blistering, and “Rock & Roll Homeschool,” in my opinion, is an early contender for the best song title of 2019.

Finally, the 20th season of the Denver Film Society’s Film on the Rocks series, which screens a variety of films at Red Rocks Amphitheatre throughout the spring and summer, will feature some familiar faces during the preceding musical sets. Local indie/shoegaze standouts Spirettes will perform ahead of the May 28 screening of Bohemian Rhapsody, while Briffaut will perform, along with Denver dream pop quartet Tyto Alba, before the June 17 screening of Mean Girls. The full schedule for Film on the Rocks is available at

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