By the time you read this (assuming you do so in a timely fashion), I'll be deep in the heart of Texas at SXSW, somehow trying to decide who to go see from among more than 1,200 bands from around the world. Yeah, heartbreaking, I know.
Even so, one group I'm hoping to see after I get back, assuming I'm alive and awake and still have some portion of my hearing, is Alameda, the quietly beguiling Portland, Ore. band who will be playing deep in the heart of Colorado Springs on Thursday, March 24.
The group, which has been compared to introspective yet powerful artists like Nick Drake and Low, will be performing at S.P.Q.R., the former Rubbish Gallery space that was annexed by the Modbo folks back in December.
Modbo co-owner Lauren Andrus calls Alameda's sound "simply lovely and rich."
"I adore diverse instrumentation, and their use of cello and clarinet makes for a really distinct and beautiful tone," she notes. "Our venues are so live, acoustically speaking, that I think they'll sound great."
Although frontman Stirling Myles grew up in the Denver area, this will be his band's first time performing here. Myles says he got in touch with the venue after it was recommended to him by Ian Cooke, a Denver musician who has toured with another quietly beguiling Portland band called the Decemberists.
"Colorado Springs has always been an unknown alien territory," says Myles, pretty much echoing the way the rest of the world looks upon us as well.
OK then, so let's talk about Portland, which has the highest concentration of sensitive indie artists bearing eclectic instruments on this entire planet. Are all Portland bands contractually obligated to play some form of chamber-folk-pop?
Yes, there is a contract," confirms Myles. "It also states that you need to have glockenspiel on every song."
Sadly, Alameda won't be packing a glock on this tour. While the band recently played its hometown CD release show as a 10-piece ensemble — including guitar, cello, two violins, banjo, drums, two clarinets, flute and French horn — Myles says the arrangements on the current tour will mostly center around vocals, cello and acoustic guitar. Should be great, anyway.
Meanwhile, for those of you already plotting your July activities, two seriously talented acts have just been lined up for this summer's Blues Under the Bridge. The Harlem-based Holmes Brothers are, in my view, the greatest gospel-soul crossover band since the Staple Singers, while Otis Taylor makes the blues sound like it was born to be played on the banjo, which is something he does with passion, intensity and originality. Blues Under the Bridge takes place July 16, and we'll keep you posted as more acts are booked.
OK, two more recommendations and I'm on the plane: The loud and lanky Antique Scream will be back at the Triple Nickel Tavern on March 22. This time the band's bringing along Witchburn, the doom-laden side-project from Jamie Nova, who's best known for fronting all-female AC/DC tribute band Hell's Belles.
And finally, Japanese comic punk band Peelander-Z, who seldom tour without their primary-colored superhero costumes and favorite three chords, will be leading chants of "Taco, Taco, Tacos" at the Black Sheep on March 24. Please don't forget to shout out for the classic "So Many Mike." Because, after all, we are all Mike.
Send your news, photos and glockenspiel-enhanced MP3s to firstname.lastname@example.org.