It's a complaint you'll hear in most cities that aren't New York, London, Austin or, um, Dubai. And it goes something like this: Where are all the goddamn motherfuckin' music venues in this town?
Colorado Springs is no exception to the rule. Whenever two or more musicians gather in one place, someone's likely to bring up the state of the local scene, and the response usually isn't optimistic.
Which is a shame, really, since in any given week, there are more shows worth going to than the laws of physics make possible.
And it looks like there'll be more, especially now that the City Auditorium is waking from its extended live-music slumber. This Friday the venue plays host to Twista, the platinum-selling emcee who featured Kanye on his Grammy-nominated 2003 single "Slow Jamz."
Twista can reportedly pronounce 11.2 syllables per second. (Marques Houston cannot do that, so he's stuck with the opening slot.) A week later, on July 22, New Orleans' best swamp-pop band the Iguanas will hit the same stage.
Also newly risen from the dead is the Navajo Hogan roadhouse. The Nevada Avenue hangout with the Giant Neon Indian Head out front has a storied history — all of which predates my arrival in town — including stints as a strip club, dance club, live music venue, and biker-friendly bar/eatery, which it still is. From what I'm told, the club also picked up some of the slack after the much-loved 32 Bleu pulled the plug in 2005.
Opened during the Great Depression by union organizer Nicholas Fontecchio, the venue was intended as a working-class alternative to The Broadmoor, the only other place in town with live music. (See? Things were worse back then.) After befriending local Native American miners, Fontecchio became fascinated with Navajo culture and modeled his nightclub after their sacred dwellings, including two large domes said to have been constructed without a single nail.
Now rechristened Johnny's Navajo Hogan (new proprietor Johnny Nolan also runs Southside Johnny's), the cleaned-up but still colorful venue opened for business three weeks ago, booking bands like Chuck Snow & the Lo-Fi Cowboys and Wrestle with Jimmy.
On Sunday, I stopped by to hear Jake Loggins, whose band is hosting a weekly blues jam on the Hogan's back patio. Despite a brief gale-force storm and bassist Noel McFarlane having to leave after the first set, Loggins and drummer Dean Woodward still carried on brilliantly as a White Stripes-style power duo.
In addition to covers of "Hey Joe" and "The Thrill Is Gone" — the latter featuring a soulful, upper-register vocal from Woodward that avoided the standard-issue imitation B.B. King growl — the duo also played "Backassward Blues" and other selections from Loggins' long-awaited debut CD, Have a Nice Day. The disc features a dozen originals, and I especially recommend the ska-inflected "White Picket Prisons" and the revved-up "Fool," which captures the feel of early Paul Rogers and Free. A ridiculously fluid guitarist and, as it turns out, surprisingly talented songwriter, Loggins is also the only musician I've seen who can sing an entire song with a lit cigarette hanging from his lip.
For the week ahead, we've written about Buckwheat Zydeco and Blues Under the Bridge elsewhere. That leaves Friday open for Inelements' CD release show at the Black Sheep. The incendiary alt-prog-metal heroes will be joined by Malakai, Matterhorn and Split Second Massacre, so don't miss it.