While performing "'Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me" last Saturday, Garland Jeffreys interrupted his song to beg the late bluesman not to call him home just yet. "I've got a new album out," he pled. "The press loves me. Even my wife loves me again."
The crowd did, too. Backed by guitarist Gabriel Gordon, the legendary New York City troubadour — who was interviewed in last week's Independent — gave his all during a nearly two-hour set at the Lion's Lair, the cash-only, painted-black Denver dive that more typically plays host to punk and garage bands. (Trivia note: The site was formerly home to a jazz club where Dexter Gordon and Billie Holiday are said to have played.)
Opening with "Coney Island Winter" from his acclaimed 2010 release, The King of In Between, Jeffreys drew from a musical career that dates back to his college days with Lou Reed, including classic tracks like "Spanish Town" and his obligatory anthem, "Wild in the Streets." Jeffreys will be playing with a full band at the SXSW festival in March, so catch him if you're down there.
My other weekend music fix was the first installment of thwOnk, a monthly showcase for local experimental musicians at the Heart of Art Café, the west side artspace formerly known as the Loft. Highlights included a set by Mobdividual, otherwise known as Brian Elyo. The unaccompanied electric guitarist used three amplifiers — I'm told he's used five in the past — and a couple delay pedals to create a beautiful noise that could stand up to My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields or wall-of-guitars experimentalist Glenn Branca.
The lineup also included a set from Animulo, the art-funk duo featuring bassist Charlie Milo and Animus Invidious, who used two videogame controllers to turn E-40's "Tell Me When to Go" into a glitched-out magnum opus. If you're reading this in time, they'll be up in Denver this Thursday (Jan. 26) at the D-Note.
In other news, Sandusky Youth — the one-off post-punk-power-pop cover band propagated by the Lo-Fi Cowboys' Chuck Snow and Collin Estes along with Lazy Spacemen's Alan Stiles and Jerry Minson — appears to be taking on a life of its own. "We're going to continue on as a full-time band and focus on original stuff," says Collin. "We're choosing a new name, though. At least I hope so ..."
As for the coming weekend, blues fans will find Alvin Youngblood Hart and Valerie June at Smokebrush on Saturday, followed Sunday by back-to-back John-Alex Mason Scholarship benefit jams at Shove Chapel and Venue 515.
Saturday night will also bring us indie-synth-folk-popsters Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, whose "Shoe Fits" landed at No. 7 in Amazon's Best Songs of 2011. Hats off to Triple Nickel booker Jacob Slann for scoring this one.
Saturday also promises to be a big night for vintage punk fans, who can head down south to Pueblo on Saturday to see Agent Orange at the Senate Bar or venture up north to Denver to hear the Descendents and Hot Water Music at the Fillmore.
Of course, if you're not mobile, you can still download an in-depth interview with Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan on the Mostly Harmless Podcast, a weekly audio-zine recently launched by the Black Sheep's Damian Burford. Says one of his iTunes commenters, who first caught Ragan "singing in the summer sun with all his heart and soul" at the 2001 Warped Tour: "I thought he sucked." Surely, he now knows better. Go hear it at mostlyharmlesspodcast.com.