Painter Remington Robinson has an unlikely inspiration in Eduard Albert “Billy” Meier, the Swiss author and photographer who claims to have had repeated contact with extraterrestrials. About fifteen years ago, Robinson discovered Meier while surfing YouTube; he eventually traveled to a tiny town in Switzerland to visit with the one-armed UFO scholar. Today, Robinson’s painting of Meier hangs prominently in his Boulder studio.
“I think that the movement he’s created with his literature very well could be the most important event that has happened in history,” Robinson says, “but 99.99 percent of people don’t know about it. He says that the meaning of life is to evolve our consciousness and to expand in all areas of knowledge and wisdom and also just be more peaceful, loving. He says there are human beings throughout the universe and that applies to all of them, and I just liked that.”
Over the weekend, my partner and I visited New York City for a quick, long-awaited trip to see old friends. It was great to see them, explore Manhattan and Brooklyn, and witness how good New York is with COVID-19 restrictions, like requiring vaccination cards to enter bars and restaurants, compared with much of the United States. We were also fortunate enough to squeeze in the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s final night of a seven-show comeback run at the historic Beacon Theatre on Broadway.
Built in 1929, the Beacon holds almost 3,000 people and was originally enjoyed as a silent-film wonderland. The Beacon has hosted everyone from Queen to Leonard Cohen, and the Allman Brothers Band famously played over 200 shows there. The ornate venue was renovated in the late 2000’s – reportedly for Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones film Shine A Light.
Derek Trucks is, of course, Allman Brothers royalty and he and his bandmate/wife, talented singer-guitarist-songwriter Susan Tedeschi, are lovers of music history, so it was no surprise that the Tedeschi Trucks Band not only blew the roof off the Beacon for the grand finale of its residency but also brought out former Allman Brothers guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes for the Beatles’ “A Little Help From My Friends,” the blues staple “It Hurts Me Too,” and a rousing pair of Allman classics: “Dreams” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”
One of the great live albums in rock history, the Allman Brothers Band’s 1971 classic At Fillmore East, features a legendary performance of “Elizabeth Reed” that finds Dickey Betts and Duane Allman dueling and harmonizing on lead guitar, and Haynes and Trucks did the original Allmans justice and then some at the Beacon on Saturday night. Also, Bob Dylan is known to conclude tours at the Beacon, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band seemed to tip its cap to Dylan with a deep, dark version of “Down In the Flood” on Saturday.
As my Westword interviews in recent years with both Tedeschi and Trucks point out, the couple puts a big emphasis on doing justice to their heroes by focusing on soulful, genuine, relevant original tunes inspired by them instead of making a living doing covers. The performance we caught at the Beacon was in line with that vision, with the mesmerizing, articulate intensity of Trucks’ slide-guitar solos juxtaposing Tedeschi’s bluesy wail and tough-as-nails lyrics like, “Do I Look Worried.”
It was a bucket-list treat just to see anything at the Beacon, let alone one of the great live bands of our time. I’m from Pittsburgh, but San Francisco is where my heart lives, and all my years seeing shows at the Warfield honestly lost a little luster after experiencing the European-style glory of the Beacon, which is easily the most beautiful indoor venue I’ve been to in the states.
That history, detailed by Young in Camping Grounds, essentially begins with Civil War veteran reunions but is also tied to the brutal treatment of Indigenous people, segregation, class issues, women’s rights, homelessness, and political protest from the Depression-era “Bonus Army” campers to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Young started teaching at CU in 2009. Living in Boulder, she hasn’t camped much herself in recent years because, in her words, she can “easily access the outdoors,” and camping “is a distant third to hiking and skiing.” However, Young — who holds a Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego and grew up taking frequent camping trips all over the western United States in her father’s VW Beetle — has a longtime love of Rocky Mountain National Park, which is mentioned numerous times in Camping Grounds. She uncovered plenty of Colorado history while working on the book.
Read my interview with Ms. Young, including five surprising things about Colorado camping history, at Westword.com here.
Electronic indie-pop sensation Sylvan Esso did not go into hibernation when the pandemic began in early 2020. In fact, from starting its own record label to launching a podcast, releasing a third full-length album last year and performing on just about every big-time late-night television show, the North Carolina-based duo arguably became even more famous post-pandemic.
Singer-songwriter Amelia Meath, who is also a third of the revered all-female vocal trio Mountain Man, spoke with Westword by phone recently before a gig at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles during Sylvan Esso’s ongoing tour, which stops Tuesday at Denver’s Mission Ballroom, where the group will play its first indoor show since before the pandemic began.
Westword: How have these first few shows been, getting back to performing for audiences instead of into cameras?
Amelia Meath: Oh, my gosh, I mean, just incredibly euphoric and wonderful. It just feels really wonderful to get to do my favorite thing and, because this job is so surreal anyway, my favorite thing during the pandemic was being like, “Live performance isn’t over, but people definitely don’t want to see you anymore.” [Laughs.] So it feels really wonderful to realize that I’d been fretting about this evil nightmare illusion over tricks that my brain was playing on me and not reality.
The English electronica artist Elderbrook, aka Alexander Kotz, is a pretty big deal on the other side of the Atlantic. He released the platinum-selling dance anthem “Cola” in collaboration with CamelPhat in 2017, a few years after starting to make waves as a solo artist at the age of 21. A Grammy nomination and a series of club tours introduced Elderbrook to the United States in 2018, and his debut full-length album, Why Do We Shake in the Cold?, dropped last year.
Kotz, who performs solo on the road, isn’t just your typical banger-producing British electronic act, however. Gems such as “Feels Like a Sunday” and “Talking” have a quirky, effectual vibe usually found in folk pop; Elderbrook just happens to utilize electronic instrumentation. Just before traveling to the States for a tour that includes a return to the Fox Theatre in Boulder and his Red Rocks debut, the London-area native spoke with me by phone from the English countryside. Read the interview at Westword.com here.
“Red Rocks is something we look forward to every year,” says singer-songwriter/guitarist Susan Tedeschifrom her home in Jacksonville, Florida, where the Massachusetts native has lived for twenty years. “To me, Red Rocks is very Colorado, and you’re loving nature and just soaking it all up. If you’re that kind of person, it’s just incredible. We know it’s an honor, and we don’t take it lightly. It kind of blows my mind every time we go there. It seems like a sacred place.”
Tedeschi and her husband, all-star slide guitarist and Allman Brothers royal Derek Trucks, have been touring and recording together with the blues-rock Tedeschi Trucks Band since 2010; the act has performed at Red Rocks countless times. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was the first time in what seems like an eternity that it didn’t make the trek to Morrison. In fact, for the first time since both longtime performers were in elementary school, they didn’t step on any stages for a solid year.
“The first few months, we were actually planning on taking off,” Tedeschi recalls, “but after about four months, we were like, ‘What the heck is happening?’ It was really weird and surreal, but we stayed busy.”
They stayed busy mixing the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s new album, a 2019 live performance of the classic Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, with Phish’s Trey Anastasio sharing lead-guitar and vocal duties, and also surprised their record label with another album that’s currently in the works.
Ten of the Best Summer Bike Rides In Denver and Boulder by Adam Perry for Denver Westword 6/18/21
Ten years have passed since I graduated from commuting on a one-speed bike around my former home of San Francisco to cycling adventures in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belize, Belgium, Slovakia and elsewhere. But mostly, after moving to Boulder, I bike the Colorado Rockies. Why? Because they’re there.
If you can ride a bicycle and have access to either a great road bike or, really, any bike with generous gears, enjoy these ten scenic Front Range treks. To absolutely butcher and co-opt a phrase from Bilbo Baggins: It’s dangerous business going out your door, but if you step onto a bike, there’s no knowing where you might pedal off to.
The secret to the success of Low Boy bass drum beaters is largely the hard work, vision and loving dedication of co-founder Jeremy Brieske — but getting the company off the ground also had a lot to do with an accident.
“For the prototype,” made in 2014, “we sent drawings of what we wanted, and I didn’t specify, but assumed, that one end was gonna be rounded off,” Brieske explained recently in a workshop in his Denver home. The idea was that each side of the beater would be a different material (felt, leather, wood or lambswool) and thus give drummers a different sound depending on which side they used to strike the bass drum.
When the prototype arrived, one side was flat. Brieske and his former partner, Chris Gregori, who has since left the company, were disappointed, thinking they’d have to start over and send the maker new instructions.
“I’ve spent most of my adult life in record stores. This is the most organized, cleanest record store I’ve ever worked in,” says Bart’s Record Shop vinyl buyer and former Cavity guitarist Jon Martinez, who’s been employed at Bart’s for over twenty years and is a veteran of now-defunct legendary Boulder record shops like Trade-A-Tape and the old Wax Trax.
“It’s been refreshing to work under these circumstances,” Martinez said from behind a Pink Floyd mask while pricing stacks of used vinyl on a recent Thursday evening. “Everyone’s working very hard to make the store a great place. That’s not necessarily the case in all the other stores I’ve worked in. This is the one that hits all those sweet spots — and also, records are booming right now, and I’m astonished.”