If the springtime snowstorms of this week have you longing for hotter days, you can always dream about the forthcoming festival season. True, prospects for another Monolith Festival at Red Rocks are still looking grim, but there are plenty of events being lined up closer to home than should help keep the seasonal affective disorder at bay.
The biggest outdoor event so far is the two-day MeadowGrass Music Festival (meadowgrass.org), which returns for its second year on Memorial Day weekend at the La Foret Conference and Retreat Center (6145 Shoup Road). Grant-Lee Phillips will headline the Saturday show, following sets by Gregory Alan Isakov, Grant Gordy Quartet, Martha Scanlan, Antero Junction and the Genuwines.
Sunday's lineup features the Greencards, Great Lake Swimmers, Sons and Brothers, Elephant Revival, Palmer Divide and Cahalen Morrison. The festival is held in a big old meadow surrounded by acres of pines, and word has it that this year there'll also be a big old tent, just in case inclement weather pays a return visit.
Also confirmed for May is Colorado College's annual Llamapalooza Music Festival. This year's lineup will include reggae's legendary Toots & the Maytals along with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who've become the best-known purveyors of a distinctive New Orleans musical tradition and add a hefty dose of funk. The rest of the May 8 lineup is more tentative as we go to press, but will most likely include Oakland hip-hop duo Zion I as well as Big Gigantic, a more electronically inclined project from Motet saxman Dominic Lalli.
If your tastes run more toward East L.A., you can head down to Pueblo that same evening, when the Colorado State Fairgrounds will play host to the triple threat of War, El Chicano and Tierra. Of course, the purveyors of "Low Rider," "Spill the Wine" and "Cisco Kid" need no introduction. But the politically charged, early Santana-esque El Chicano and its spinoff band Tierra are no less worthy of your attention.
And speaking of worthy, local musician Tommy Dorr's ongoing campaign to save the City Auditorium continues April 20 with a reggae fest featuring Savannah, Ga.'s Passafire; Lincoln, Neb.'s Cornerstone Dub; and Denver's own SlaughterHouse Rootz. Dorr deserves credit and support for trying to keep the historic, 87-year-old venue from going the way of the Springs' public trash cans and police helicopters.
(By the way, you may want to act fast on the latter, since one of those two choppers has already been snapped up by an undisclosed online buyer. And no, it's not al-Qaida, because they couldn't pass the background check. Just be aware that the remaining aircraft is being sold in "as-is" condition.)
All of which leaves just one question: What the hell is going on with Blues Under the Bridge? After some uncertainty as to the event's future, promoter Amy Whitesell let us know a few days ago that the festival is, in fact, on. That's good news for anyone who's attended previous Blues Under the Bridge fests; last year's fiery closing set by Bettye LaVette was easily one of 2009's best. This year's lineup has yet to be finalized, but you can grab your calendar and set aside July 17 right now.
Reverb columnist Adam Leech will return next week. Send news and pics (in as-is condition) to firstname.lastname@example.org.