After all our raving about John-Alex Mason's new album, Jook Joint Thunderclap, in last week's AudioFile, it was nice to see just how well the local bluesman's new material translates to the stage. Saturday's album-release party at Front Range Barbeque was predictably packed, as Mason and his band served up originals like "Riding On" (our current favorite from the new album) alongside covers of blues classics like Willie Dixon's "My Babe" and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'."
Mason, who returned to Colorado Springs last summer after a year in Portland, Ore., and recently opened for B.B. King at the Pikes Peak Center, was in fine form, as was a stripped-down version of his band that included bassist Todd Edmunds, harpman Ronnie Shellist and the especially kinetic drummer Alya Sylla.
Cody Burnside, grandson of late bluesman R.L. Burnside and brother of Cedric Burnside, was also on hand, providing backup vocals as well as the occasional rap. While hip-hop elements usually fail when mixed into other musical genres, Burnside manages to beat the odds, no doubt because the rapper was raised in a Southern blues household.
And as long as we've got the blues, here's more good news: T-Model Ford is back with a new album and, better yet, a return visit to the Triple Nickel Tavern. The 90-something Mississippi blues icon, who came through here just last September, returns to the club April 25. Booker Damian Burford says tickets ($12/adv, $15/door) will go on sale soon, so stay tuned.
This time around, Ford will be touring with members of GravelRoad, the Seattle group that serves as backing band on Taledragger, released last month on Alive Records. Expect new tracks like "Big Legged Woman" to fit in with the crazy juke-joint fervor of T-Model favorites like "I'm Insane" and "Chicken Head Man." Even though Ford suffered a stroke less than six months before his last gig here, he clearly cannot be stopped. As he promised in our cover story last year, he'll be on the road "long as the good Lord let me live."
And since it's never too early to warn the relatives that you can't see them this Memorial Day weekend, here's the latest on the newly announced lineup for MeadowGrass. Situated in the rustic utopia that is La Foret in Black Forest, the festival has confirmed its first wave of bookings, which includes former X-man John Doe, Be Good Tanyas co-founder Frazey Ford, sensitive indie-folk hero Damien Jurado and even-more-sensitive Americana artist D.B. Rielly. Also scheduled are the Haunted Windchimes, Yarn, Horse Feathers, Sons & Brothers, Nathan McEuen, the Mitguards and Sandra Wong. More details at meadowgrassmusicfestival.org.
As for this week's shows, you could always start with ska-punk purveyors Less than Jake at the Black Sheep on Thursday. On Friday, Union Station hosts an album release party for Denver punks Bad Engrish, whose songs "Let's Pogo" and "Oi! Drunks" tell you pretty much all you need to know. Then it's time to head north Saturday for either James Brown's main man Maceo Parker at Cervantes, or Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli fame opening for some group called Public Enemy at the Ogden. And if you still haven't gotten your fill of pop-punk by Sunday, you can go see Guttermouth at the Black Sheep.
That's all we got. So until next week, good night and god bless.
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