“Owning the Merc is a dream come true,” says Rainbow Shultz, who runs the historic Jamestown Mercantile—about a dozen miles northwest Boulder at 7,000 feet above sea level—with her husband, Adam Burrell. “I can’t imagine anything that could be more fun than this life, in the center of a community.”
The Mercantile, which serves food and drinks and live music, was established 130 years ago, when Jamestown was a thriving mining town. The population today is about 250, but on Independence Day each year the town buzzes and swells with social electricity for the annual Fourth of July festival, which most believe started over 100 years ago with feats-of-strength “mining events” such as a pick-and-shovel contest.
Dora Silver says she put together the Ukraine benefit headlined by DevotchKa Saturday, May 28 at the Mercury Café in Denver “because of the powerless feeling of watching the war unfolding in front of our eyes and wanting to do something to help.”
According to Silver, DevotchKa’s Nick Urata (her son-in-law) was recently invited to play in Italy to raise money for people in Ukraine trying to rescue families trapped in bombed-out buildings, and instead decided to work with Silver to raise money for Ukraine right here in Colorado.
Silver connected with the Ukrainian community in Denver and got the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA), which has been around for 100 years, involved. The organization helps deliver humanitarian aid of many kinds, from food, water and medicine to generators.
“That’s just scratching the surface of what these women can do,” Silver says. “All of the money UNWLA raises goes to the source of need.”
“For me and my family,” she explains, “it’s also personal, because my children’s father and grandparents were from Minsk and Kyiv and, sadly, most of their [ancestors] were wiped out during World War II for being Jewish. I have seen firsthand the sadness and loss that generations bear through these atrocities, that quiet, hidden sadness that is passed on through generations.”
“So what can we do but show up and sing out our support and love in the way we can?”
Through partnership with the iconic Mercury Café, Silver and the Ukrainian National Women’s League are teaming up with an all-star lineup of Colorado musicians to not just raise money for Ukraine but ensure it goes straight to the source.
Boulder’s own Ted Thacker, whose song “I Cried Like a Silly Boy” was famously recorded by DevotchKa and ended up in the movie I Love You Phillip Morris, will perform at the benefit concert with his band, under his Red Tack moniker. Thacker is well-known around here for fronting Baldo Rex and Veronica, and is passionate about the effort to aid Ukraine.
“The war is definitely the saddest, most horrifying world event that’s happening in my lifetime,” Thacker said by phone. “I’m glad all these people are coming together for it. I get in tears just thinking about it—every day we hear more things, especially the way these poor young Russian soldiers are being brainwashed into these atrocities. It’s insane, being brainwashed into thinking what they’re doing is right, bombing apartment buildings and refugee convoys. It’s horrific.”
“What people are paying for to see this show is not just the music but to be part of something important in the world right now,” Thacker says. “We have to do something.”
Thacker refers to Silver—who is currently helping Trinidad, Colorado, develop a music scene—as “The godmother of the Denver indie music scene.”
“She is awesome,” he exclaims. “If you go out to a show, she’s likely gonna be there. She’s everywhere at once. I don’t think she sleeps. This was her idea. She called her good friends at the Mercury and said, ‘I wanna put this show on.’ Next thing you know, she’s texting me saying, ‘I need you on it.’”
Silver also got in touch with members of Elephant Revival, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and more for the benefit show. Silver cites Thacker’s “presence and joyful personality”; DevotcKa’s European sound, “the deep-seated memory of where we all started in this melting pot of America”; Slim Cessna’s “heart-felt gospel revival”; and Bonnie Payne’s “voice that transcends you into another realm” as keystones of how she envisions the Ukraine benefit at the Mercury being “the most beautiful experience possible for all that come to help us, help the people who are suffering in Ukraine.”
For his part, Thacker says he’s not writing any songs for the event, as he prefers to leave political songwriting to “geniuses like Neil Young or Joe Strummer or Bob Dylan,” but he does have a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover planned for the Mercury show.
“I was listening to Willy and the Poor Boys recently and ‘Effigy’ came on, and I just started weeping because it’s so powerful,” Thacker shares. “The lyrics are perfect for this. It’s an anthem for all times. [John Fogerty] wrote it during the Vietnam War, with that same kind of feeling as what’s happening now. It’s a great song. I hope we pull it off.”
Benefit for the Refugees of Ukraine featuring DevotchKa, Bonnie Paine, Slim Cessna and The Red Tack. 6 p.m. Saturday, May 28, 2199 California St., Denver. Tickets are $55 at the door, or $100 with a signed poster. Donations will also be accepted by contacting the Mercury Café, 303-294-9258.
When my sixth-grader, Sidney, and I were biking home from school yesterday I started idly singing Phoebe Bridgers’ “Kyoto,” which has been one of Sidney’s favorite songs since we saw Bridgers famously smashing a guitar on Saturday Night Live and subsequently discovered her wonderful album Punisher backed up the angst with serious talent.
“Why is that song in your head?” Sidney asked, and I avoided the question before we had a quick dinner at home and I shared, on the way to Red Rocks, the surprise that we were about to finally see the 27-year-old California native, and four-time Grammy nominee, in concert.
Unlike the Olivia Rodrigo show we saw together at Mission Ballroom last month, proof of vaccination was required at Bridgers’ Red Rocks show—one of the first stops on her lengthy “Reunion Tour”—and the average age seemed more like 16 to 30 rather than 10 to 16. Approximately 5% of the crowd wore the glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas Bridgers and her band wore on Saturday Night Live, and as the opening act (Bridgers’ eccentric former band Sloppy Jane) took the stage, the lines for merchandise snaked all the way up both sides of the legendary 70-row amphitheater. READ THE REST AT BOULDERWEEKLY.COM HERE
Hands On the Wheel Poised for breakout, Boulder-born Pink Fuzz focuses on forging its own path by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 5/12/22
For all its energy and immediacy, Pink Fuzz’s 2021 release Live at Silo Sound is the product of more than a decade of hard work by the Boulder-born hard-rock outfit.
After meeting as students at Foothills Elementary and forming a band as teenagers, Pink Fuzz has cut its teeth in the Colorado music scene, releasing one searing full-length studio album, along with Live at Silo Sound. The trio now looks poised to explode onto the national scene, like one of Kerouac’s “fabulous roman candles exploding across the stars.”
Charismatic bassist and singer LuLu Demitro explained by phone recently that the seamless musical eruption of Live at Silo Sound is the result of she and her brother, John, putting in countless hours—along with phenom drummer Forrest Raup—at the height of the pandemic.
“We had been practicing so much,” she explains. “We had been writing and practicing all the time. We were feeling really tight. I think it’s a great representation of us live, especially because you can hear everything. We were able to mix it how we’d like people to hear us when we’re playing live.
Bursts of wind inspired intermittent screams from a mass of young people and their parents as they stood in line outside Mission Ballroom for the second show of a two-night run by Olivia Rodrigo. The line snaked from 41st Street out along Brighton Boulevard.
“The survey is over,” my 12-year-old, Sidney, joked as we waited in the cold. “It’s only teenage girls here.”
As we neared the entrance, Sidney pointed at a nearby ambulance and said, “That’s in case some teenage girls kill each other tonight.”
I first met Greg Schochet in 2017 when he toured with Gasoline Lollipops in Belgium and Holland, filling in with us on lead guitar when Donnie Ambory was unable to travel. He’s good-natured and bright, able to crack up a room full of people with an onstage joke or lighten the mood with a zinger when tension gets tough on the road. With his elegant cowboy hats, Western shirts, jeans and boots, Schochet doesn’t immediately cut the image of someone born and raised on Long Island.
Over tacos at Torchy’s in Boulder recently, Schochet laughed when told he doesn’t come off as a New Yorker at all.
“I can if I need to,” he jokes.
Schochet, winner of the 2021 Rockygrass flatpick-guitar contest, released his first solo album (a slick, well-crafted Colorado-country record called Amblin’ Man) last year after decades as a renowned sideman in various highly regarded Colorado bands. However, he doesn’t feel like the project represents a veritable coming-out-of-the-shadows moment.
“I’ve been playing around here a long time,” Schochet, who sings lead and plays multiple stringed instruments on the new album, says. “I’ve been a pretty big part of everything I’ve been involved in, and I’ve established some element of a musical personality. It wasn’t that big of a leap in a way, but the reception was so good that it felt good right away, and it’s a really good record, I think.” READ THE REST AT BOULDERWEEKLY.COM HERE.
Perhaps the signature sentiment of Jason Pierce’s career as the frontman and sole permanent member of the band Spiritualized can be found on 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space: “All I want in life’s a little bit of love to take the pain away”—repeated while a lush, anthemic monolith builds around Pierce’s vocals.
The album became the Abbey Road for lovers of indie rock. However, on the phone with Pierce (aka J Spaceman) recently from his native England, he shared that discovering a certain Motor City madman at a young age had more of an effect on his trajectory than other classic-rock icons one might assume informed the grand psychedelia of Spiritualized.
“They used to sell LP records in the chemist, in the center of town,” says Pierce, born in Rugby, Warwickshire. “One day, I was flipping through and saw the Stooges’ Raw Power and just fell in love. It made sense in my life. Maybe I saw somebody like an ally: If they can do that, I can do anything. It really did change my world. It felt like I’d discovered this secret. Nobody else knew this record; nobody else knew what it was about.”
A Melting Pot of Rock ‘n’ Roll 50 Years In, Los Lobos Isn’t Going Anywhere by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 3/3/22
It could be argued that Los Lobos is American music’s Statue of Liberty—a genuine melting pot of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, traditional Mexican music and even punk rock; 50 years with its core original members intact; and a never-ending quest to create exceptional and relevant original music rather than rest on its beloved catalog.
According to co-founder Louie Pérez, the American tradition of democracy is a Los Lobos keystone as well.
“For the last 48 years,” Pérez says, “we respond to other band members’ requests for anything, even if it’s, ‘Hey, can we pull over for a second? I need to run in here.’ We don’t question it. If it’s worth it for you to ask, it means something. Maybe it’s a tribal way of operating—I dunno.”
Nissi’s 2.0 The Lafayette music venue is returning with expanded capacity, refreshed menu by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 2/3/22
When Marc Gitlin took over Nissi’s in Lafayette back in 2009, it was flailing after three years of irrelevance.
The original ownership “had a nice concept, but they struggled defining what they were,” Gitlin said in a recent phone interview. “It was supposed to be a coffee shop with music, and then they kept changing in an effort to make money. I gave them advice for about four months and then they asked me if I’d like to acquire their struggling business. I saw potential in it, and I’d done music and restaurants my whole career.”
Ihad dreamed for years—decades—of seeing a baseball game in the Caribbean. In April of 2017, I spent three unforgettable days in Havana, Cuba, and have been kicking myself ever since for not splurging on a taxi ride to an Industriales game. In January of 2020, just before COVID-19 made virtually all travel impossible for a while, I skipped an opportunity to see a Caribbean World Series game during a trip to San Juan because my partner and I fell in love with the city and its beaches and didn’t want to spend any of our red-eye weekend in Puerto Rico seated in an old, decrepit baseball stadium.
But I absolutely adore old, decrepit baseball stadiums. (READ THE REST AT BOULDERWEEKLY.COM HERE)