I'm not one to type in all caps, but if you haven't voted in the inaugural Indy Music Awards, SERIOUSLY, WTF ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Deadline's July 14. Ballot's on our homepage. Do it now. I'll wait.
OK, on to this week's other business ...
Any possible questions about the vitality of the Blank-Tape Records "imprint" were laid to rest last weekend at the Zodiac. The Pueblo-based label, which recently opened a Colorado Springs office, curated a two-evening Blank-Tape Circus, featuring label founders Haunted Windchimes, affiliated local artists, and a few out-of-town guests.
Friday's festivities kicked off with Katey Sleeveless, who'd just driven 800 miles in an ailing RV that was miraculously cured by a local mechanic in the Zodiac parking lot. Often sounding like Björk having her way with unheard Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie songs, Sleeveless sings originals like "Take Your Land Back, Campesinos" and "The Government Seems to Have a Hard Time Passing Bills about Things that are Free," which serve as reminders of folk music's oft-politicized origins.
Next up was Denver's phenomenal Ian Cooke, who accompanied his own quirky vocals with stunning, live-looped cello arrangements. The composer's dramatic, experimental music proved surprisingly accessible, particularly on the song "Rot," which was underpinned by an infectious dance-floor rhythm tapping out on the cello's bridge. Cooke is finishing a new album, and tells me he's planning to throw a CD release party down here sometime next month.
The Changing Colors followed with a set whose highlights included fellow-Blank Tapester Joe Johnson joining in on a beautiful rendition of "No Wedding," one of the more mournful songs off their Ghost of Red Mountain debut. They also played their half of an upcoming split single they're doing with the Haunted Windchimes, and were joined by the latter's Desirae Garcia on the Everly Brothers' "All I Have to Do Is Dream."
The Windchimes have grown considerably since the Pueblo-based trio was featured three years ago on our cover. Upright bassist Sean Fanning and harmonicist-mandolinist-concertinist-etceterist Mike Clark have become adept at creating a fuller ensemble sound that doesn't distract from the group's original charm.
As much as I enjoyed all four of Friday's acts, I passed on Saturday's show in favor of Hot Tuna at the stunning Fort Collins-area Mishawaka Amphitheatre. Raging river, lush mountains, big brown bear across the street — if you haven't been up there, go.
As for the coming week, definitely hit Modbo on Friday for Charlie Brown & the Great Gospel. I caught Brown and his backing band — which is really just his steel guitar, suitcase kick-drum, tambourine and wailing vocals (think Woven Hand and 16 Horsepower) — a couple weeks ago, and can't recommend him highly enough. You can also pick up his newly released debut album, The Priest, for free or donation, at the show or online.
As for Saturday, Chris Bullock will bring his autoharp-vs.-laptop project, Tall City, to the Zodiac, along with copies of his own new CD, Soft Sunlight, each featuring a handmade cover.
I should also mention the diverse Black Sheep lineup — including Conjugal Visits, Tango Red Tapestry, Stab Crew, Blighter, Six Generals, Milogic, Bullhead*ded and Sonic Vomit — at Friday's What's Left Fest/Barbecue. And yes, Stab Crew is saying this will be its final gig ever, but we're pretty sure we've heard that before.
The What's Left folks, by the way, will also be passing out their freshly photocopied fifth issue. In addition to the titular politics, past issues have included as many as five musician interviews, which is more than the Gazette conducts in a full year. OK, maybe not, but close ...