Before moving on to shows past, present and future, here's a quick heads-up for all of our local musician friends out there.
Showcase at Studio Bee — the concert series that's presented many of the area's best musicians at the Pikes Peak Center's 250-capacity theater — is now accepting applications for its next season. It's open to musicians and bands who've been active in the El Paso, Pueblo or Teller county scenes; have radio-quality, all-original music (sorry, Tejon Street cover bands); and can get it together to apply online by 11:59 p.m., Aug. 5, at pikespeakcenter.com/showcaseonlineapplication.
OK then, let's move backward to last Friday's performance by Leah Samuels at the Pikes Perk up on Academy. The 18-year-old singer-songwriter's selection of covers — Beirut, Avett Brothers, Adele — offered a hint of where she's coming from musically, as did her a cappella take on Regina Spektor's "Lady," rendered in a distinctive soprano that placed it somewhere between Billie Holiday and European art song.
Still, it's Samuels' original songs — which were alternately accompanied by guitar and ukulele — that make her really stand apart from the standard-issue singer-songwriter pack. For proof, watch an excellent performance clip from Sunshine Studios' 2011 "Cancer Sucks Music Rocks" benefit (tinyurl.com/leahsamuels) or visit her bandcamp site to check out her debut album, Pigeon, where backing musicians include We Are Not a Glum Lot's Colin Foxwell on glockenspiel, accordion, violin and stuff like that. Well worth your time, I'd say.
And the same can be said for the coming week's attractions, not least of which is Saturday's community party on behalf of area firefighters. In addition to free food and beer for first responders who show proof of occupation, the event will feature tons of free performances at Manitou venues including the Ancient Mariner (Endless Youth, OFL, UNIKORD, Tree of Woe), Kinfolks (J. Miller Band, the Broken Spoke, Brian Parton, Jason Jackson) and the Townhouse Lounge (Grant Sabin, Chauncy Crandall, Funk Row Seats). Hats off to promoter/musician John Holdaway, whose kill-metal band UNIKORD, as noted above, will reunite for the festivities. More info at tinyurl.com/manitoufest.
Next up, it's local album release time, beginning with the sophomore effort by Islati the Revo, the lyrical hip-hop artist whose combination of rap and spoken word will intrigue fans of musical pioeers like the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron. The album was produced by Tall City's Chris Bullock, and will be celebrated tonight (July 25) with a performance at V-Bar.
On Thursday at the same venue, you can rejoice in the "soft release" — as in download-only, with no CD version unti August — of Made Up Minds' Of Sound Mind album. If you haven't been following the Springs hip-hop scene, MUMs is Nato and Zetfree of the Bullhead*ded collective, whose manic set-closer "Breakdown" gets a jazzy makeover on the duo's debut album. Joining Made Up Minds at the V-Bar show will be MadTrees, Milogic, Ibe Hustles, Big Ro and DJ Gravity.
As long as we're rattling off M-words here, let's not forget the celebration of Myth of Modern Medicine's self-titled and self-produced album this coming Friday at the Black Sheep. The long-awaited follow-up to 2010's Playground Bourgeoisie EP, it's a more tightly focused representation of MoMM's axe-driven pop precision, which has continued to develop since its transition from five-piece to power trio. Also on the bill is Leftmore (aka Joe Ziegler), who'll be celebrating his own new release.
And finally, here's your reminder of this weekend's Apocalypse Fest, the corpse-painted stepchild of the long-running Gathering of the Shadows that descends from the hills this weekend. After seven years as a clandestine invite-only celebration of the black-metal arts way out in the woods beyond Woodland Park, the event is moving indoors to the less combustible D.I.Y. Events Center this Friday and Saturday. And while Nachtmystium has unfortunately dropped off the bill, you'll still want to catch a lineup that includes underground phenoms Nightbringer and Velnias, both of whom recently landed deals with major labels. "The entire show is something that the city of Colorado Springs has never seen before," promises promoter Micah Wright, "and probably won't see again."