Blistering hot weather has officially arrived in Colorado Springs, and a lot of us have the first-degree sunburns to prove it.
Seems like it was just the weekend before last when mild seasonal temperatures and a light rain accompanied Bones Jugs N Harmony on the patio at Front Range Barbeque. As an enthusiastic crowd spilled onto the sidewalk, the Champaign-Urbana band performed old-timey originals that were saved from jam-band tedium by well-played steel drum and donkey-bone percussion. The climate was equally accommodating for Rough Age and the Wild Hares' performances on the rooftop patio at Brewer's Republic later that evening.
This past weekend was, for me at least, a very different story, beginning with the wind-swept cattle ranch where Steve Earle & the Dukes played a two-hour, career-spanning set that exceeded already high expectations.
From early hits like "Guitar Town" and "Copperhead Road," to songs he wrote and recorded for HBO's Treme, to latter-day masterpieces like "Invisible" and "The Revolution Starts Now," Earle and his extraordinary band put on a show that's guaranteed to be among the year's best. Chico Basin Ranch, which doubles as a working cattle ranch and educational facility, also turned out to be a pretty magical place, one that time seems to have all but forgotten.
Earle, who was interviewed in these pages last issue, also brought along his favorite husband-wife duo, The Mastersons, as opening act. The talented couple, who just happen to play guitar and fiddle in Earle's band, will be releasing their sophomore album on New West next month.
Then on Sunday at Memorial Park, the gods of weather took vengeance on those who ventured out to this year's Springs Spree. It was worth it, though, to see Chuck Snow's new trio, who for at least the moment are named The Rat Bastards, as well as Tiny Barge & The Big Chill, whose charismatic combination of engaging soul and showmanship made me regret having waited so long to see them.
For those who want to keep the festival spirit alive — albeit in a more sonically disruptive form — this Friday and Saturday will bring us both the What's Left Festival at the Black Sheep and Foothills Gutfest at Sunshine Studios.
We wrote about the What's Left event — which will feature local and remote bands from punk-rock to hip-hop — in a recent column, but you should definitely refresh your memory by visiting the festival's Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Gutfest can once again be relied upon for a host of death metal bands whose names would surely offend your parents, and maybe even you. Like, for instance, Corpsefucking Art, Sadistic Butchering, Vomit God, Spattered Entrails, Stages of Decomposition, Amputated Genitals, Leprous Divinity, Harvest the Murdered, Forged in Gore, Putrid Pile, Machete Dildo, Zombie Hate Brigade and Torn The Fuck Apart.
You know, that kind of thing.
Moving on to considerably less extreme matters, high-profile sportswear company Vans has made local singer-songwriter Miette Hope the first-ever recipient of its new educational scholarship award.
In the world of music, Vans is of course best known for its annual Warped Tour, which has been hauling punk-pop, alt-metal and other high-decibel acts from city to city for two decades. But earlier this year, the apparel giant dialed back the decibels with the announcement of its "Vans Berklee Off the Wall Presidential Scholarship." The educational initiative will pay for the indie singer-songwriter's tuition, room and board at the Berklee College of Music for the next four years.
According to the prestigious Boston music school's original press announcement back in February, "Off the wall is a state of mind, thinking differently and embracing people who love art, music, action sports, and/or street culture. The ideal candidate for the Vans Berklee Scholarship will demonstrate the off-the-wall spirit via their personal self-expression through music."
In addition to her solo gigs, the recent Palmer High School graduate also performs as a member of Edith Makes a Paper Chain, the "haunted circus act" co-founded by her mother, Sarah Hope, five years ago. While Miette has no local shows planned for the immediate future, she'll be joining Edith for upcoming gigs in Beulah and New Mexico. After that, she says, "Vans plans on featuring me at their store in the Chapel Hills Mall in mid-July, but we don't have a date yet."
And finally, now is the time to turn to p. 36, or click on csindy.com, where the ballot for this year's Indy Music Awards awaits you. It'll take just minutes, and the act you save may be your own.