As common as it may be for music fans to complain about a lack of venues around town, that perception tends to overlook local house shows and performances in warehouses, galleries and other below-the-radar venues.
The latest example happens this Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Urban Steam, the recently expanded coffeehouse just downwind from the Martin Drake Power Plant. In fact, it's so last-minute that, as of Monday night, a Denver gig was still listed on the musicians' website for that evening and their publicist had no idea the Springs show was happening.
Anyway, hopefully you'll see this in time to catch Portland's Jenn Rawling and Basho Parks, arguably one of the best contemporary folk/Americana duos around, and definitely THE best one to virtually live on the road as they constantly tour across America and Europe.
"They're both really charming people living the dream," says local musician Alex Koshak, who booked the Urban Steam show after the Denver mixup. "They tour the country in their customized van, which is named the Cloud King, and they're both really talented musicians."
Koshak first met the couple a year ago, when they contacted him about setting up some shows on their way to Colorado. "I was listed as a contact for DIY shows in the Spring on some website somewhere," says the musician, who quickly became a friend and admirer. "Jenn writes great songs. Some of them will break your heart, others will lift it from the depths of sadness. And Basho lays down some seriously tasty violin licks and vocal harmonies."
The show is free, by the way, although donations to the musicians are definitely encouraged. Catch it if you can.
Meanwhile, let's turn to two local CD release shows happening later this week.
When his old Cool for Cats collaborator Jeremy Facknitz recently came back to town for a brief visit, Nick Davey was quick to pounce on the opportunity to get him and his wife Lindsay Weidmann to record harmony parts for songs on his new As Good As It Gets album.
"I literally dragged them into my basement studio, turned on the mic, and said 'Sing!'" says Davey of the couple, whose parts were all recorded in one take. The British ex-pat, who's been a fixture on the local music scene for seven years now, will be celebrating the end result this week with a pair of CD release shows.
"I've never been able to pin myself down to one particular genre," says the singer-songwriter, whose new album shuttles between rock and folk, with forays into gypsy jazz and classical styles along the way.
Davey set out to make the new album less produced-sounding than previous releases. "It's closer to a live show," he says, "and that lets the melodies and harmonies come through strongly without too much fancy production."
The stripped-backed arrangements match the personal nature of songs like "Abyssinian Girl" and "Children of the Future," both written about his recently adopted Ethiopian daughter.
Other As Good As It Gets highlights include "Derby Dames," which the local roller derby outfit has taken to using as its theme song, and "2000 Miles," a twangy number he wrote for Adam Leech's forthcoming A Nickel and a Nail documentary. "I love my new lap steel guitar," he enthuses, "which gives some tunes an authentic country groove."
You can catch Davey performing at Rico's on Friday evening — with his two partners-in-harmony sitting in — as well as an encore performance Sunday afternoon at Stir Coffee House.
Meanwhile, local musician/DJ/beatmaker Animus Invidious has been feeling altruistic lately. Earlier this year, he released a series of free custom "performodule" devices for use with the Ableton Live sequencer, which ended up being featured on the software company's website.
Now, he's set out to create 31 beats in 31 days — he'll be on No. 12 when this issue hits the racks — and is posting them at soundcloud.com/animusinvidious. Averaging two minutes in length, the original compositions go well beyond the parameters of beats as they're defined in the hip-hop and dance worlds.
"Technically, they're beats plus melodies," says Animus. "I wouldn't call them full songs because they don't have a resolving structure, but they are more than just snippets."
Whatever you choose to call them, the tracks will continue to be posted on a daily basis for the next few weeks. "Each will be available for one musician to claim and use to add to or remix," says the electronicist, after which he'll be polishing all 31 tracks and offering them as a free CD on his Bandcamp website. He also expects some of the tracks will show up in future solo and collaborative projects.
As to what inspired all this in the first place, Animus blames it on fellow local musicians Charlie Milo and Jefferson Michael Oakley, who somehow convinced him to help mix a five-song EP in four hours.
"Working within an arbitrary ridiculous deadline," he insists, "can be exhilarating."