When Little Richard, whose music and style influenced everyone from the Beatles to David Bowie, passed away recently I couldn’t help feeling sad that Prince isn’t around to pay tribute to the artist who was most obviously inspired his look, his attitude, and his sound. Prince – even in stories celebrities tell about collaborating or hanging out with him – seemed to pop up fully formed out of nowhere as the mysterious, sexy, funky Purple One, as seen (very Little Richard-esque) on the cover of Purple Rain. Even interviews with him don’t delve much into who influenced him, or who he went on to influence (nearly everyone in pop music), and his thoughts on those questions remain largely unanswered because of his tragic, untimely death in 2016 left his autobiography, The Beautiful Ones, unfinished.
In these uncertain days, live Internet performances by talented musicians are a source of entertainment, unity and comfort. Monica LaBonte, a stalwart of the Front Range singer-songwriter scene for the past decade, has been playing original tunes and covers over Facebook Live since April, in a weekly concert dubbed “Coffee and Tunes With Monica Marie.”
LaBonte was one of the lead singers of the Monocle Band, a Boulder-based Americana/folk group that played its last-ever gig at the Fox Theatre on January 18. LaBonte’s son, Cadence, was born almost a year ago, and she’s currently focused on raising him with her husband and readying her solo debut. The Colorado Springs native has been playing her Facebook Live gigs most Fridays, in the late morning, while Cadence naps in the next room. I spoke with her last week while her husband watched the baby. (READ THE INTERVIEW AT WESTWORD.COM HERE)
“We never dreamed that this would be a lifetime career,” Murder by Death singer-songwriter Adam Turla says, reflecting on the gothic-Americana band’s twentieth anniversary. “We just thought we were little artists doing our weird counterculture.”
Turla formed Murder by Death as a teenager in Indiana and now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he and Murder by Death cellist Sarah Balliet, who is also his wife, own and operate an Italian restaurant called Lupo, named after one of the group’s albums. To call Murder by Death “indie” would be a gigantic understatement, as the cult success never even booked a hotel room until it had played almost 500 shows, sleeping on floors and in a tour van for years.
“Our whole thing was, ‘Get in front of people, make them notice you, and hopefully they’ll come out next time,’” Turla told me recently, while Murder by Death was in Colorado for its annual Stanley Hotel residency.
Boulder native LuLu Demitro and her brother, John, first formed a hard-rock band together as teenagers, calling it Branded Bandits and enlisting a former Foothills Elementary classmate, phenom Forrest Raup, on drums. After parting ways with Raup and making their way Spinal Tap-style through other drummers, the Demitro siblings (now 25 and 27) reunited with young Raup a few years ago, and Pink Fuzz, as the group is now known, was born.
John — who also plays in the Denver rock-and-roll band the Velveteers with another Demitro, their younger sister, Demi — plays guitar and sings in Pink Fuzz, while LuLu sings and plays bass. Pink Fuzz’s blazing debut album, Speed Demon, was released in 2018 to glowing reviews from lovers of the hard stuff. However, John and Lulu’s songwriting, aided by the production and engineering of Todd Divel at Silo Sound, is more complex and infatuating than glitzy L.A. hard rock and carries no trace of sludge/stoner metal.
Friday, February 21, at Lost Lake, Pink Fuzz — which just released a searing EP called Vitals that was also produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Divel — will open for the all-female Australian band Stonefield. Already a grizzled veteran of the road, LuLu spoke with me by phone from Pink Fuzz’s tour van on the way to a recent gig in Crested Butte.
The Open Road Brings Marcus King Back to Colorado
by Adam Perry for Denver Westword
Young singer-songwriter and blues-guitarist extraordinaire Marcus King – who plays the Boulder Theater on February 14 and the Ogden Theatre on February 15 – recently moved away from his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, to branch out musically in Nashville. King was contacted by Black Keys frontman and esteemed producer Dan Auerbach – a Nashville resident himself – and the resulting collaboration, which includes performances by a slew of legendary Nashville musicians and songwriters, is the excellent new album, El Dorado.
Tracks like “The Well” have a tinge of the Black Keys’ dirty garage blues, but King retains his own character – soulful, Southern, intermittently sweet and scorching – throughout the record, which represents his first time writing and recording without the Marcus King Band.
King, who has really only had a few weeks off here and there from touring since he was a teenager, spoke with me by phone before a recent gig in Eugene, Oregon. Read the interview at Westword.com here.
Debbie Harry’s exciting new autobiography Face It is a stark contrast to Patti Smith’s creative new book Year of the Monkey. The latter finds Smith, who added Best Selling Author to her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career with 2010’s salad-days autobiography Just Kids, ruminating on her dreams, saying goodbye to old friends and, as one of her best songs goes, continuing to “fuck plenty with the future.” Harry, the longtime force of nature behind Blondie, spends 350 pages recounting essentially as much of her 70-plus years on Earth as she can remember.
The Los Angeles pop-rock band Saint Motel made it big, especially in Europe, in 2014 with the summer hit “My Type,” a brash, clubby tale of “a man who’s got very specific taste” and finds “loving in the air” but never quite describes whom he takes home. Led by romantic frontman A.J. Jackson, Saint Motel — now on Elektra Records — has since played theaters, clubs and festivals around the world and appeared on mainstream TV shows such as Today and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The group’s new release, The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Part 1, is the first in a series of three EPs that will fit together eventually as the band’s third album. Part one begins with a Vegas-style number called “Old Soul” that finds Jackson crooning about “seeing heaven in the moonlight” while regaling someone he’s just met but feels he’s known forever.
The new EP is a silkier side of Saint Motel, which plays the Ogden Theatre on Tuesday, January 28. Westword caught up with Jackson to talk about the new record and more. Read the interview at Westword.comhere.
The energetic Front Range-based band Dovekins was born in 2009, when singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Griff Snyder and Stelth Ulvang had the madcap idea to sail from Hawaii to Seattle. Hitchhiking back to Colorado after their failed attempt, they wrote songs and played them at open mics along the way. Back in Denver, they cemented the lineup — which included five members, all rooted in the city’s folk-punk scene.
“The formation of Dovekins was like an undeniable force of nature, like strong streams of water flowing together,” says Dovekins veteran Laura Goldhamer, an acclaimed Denver musician and filmmaker. “For a good while, our creative forces ran and stayed together. We were like a playful litter of puppies together, which is beautiful, but at certain points, people’s individual boundaries can get over-stretched, and each pup feels the need to reassert independent creative courses to flow where each wants and needs.”
Dovekins played equal parts gritty mountain-town folk and ambitious wide-eyed indie rock; the group released one studio album (Assemble the Aviary, in 2010) and toured relentlessly before disbanding with a final show in Austin in October 2011. Although its members have played a few reunion sets since then, including at the 2018 Treefort festival in Boise, they haven’t performed together again in Colorado — until now.
Brittany Howard’s new album, Jaime, is her first solo effort. The project takes its name and inspiration from her older sister, who died in 1998 after a battle with retinoblastoma, a disease Howard herself has dealt with, causing partial blindness in one eye.
The singer, now 31, was inspired by her sister to write poetry and play music. And she has made a life of it.
After two hugely successful albums with Alabama Shakes, Howard — who plays Denver on November 14 and Boulder on November 15 — has blossomed with Jaime, which is genre-defying, powerful and at times downright funky and fun.
They don’t make ‘em like Jim Marshall (1936-2010) anymore.
Not unlike Allen Ginsberg, Marshall – known mostly for his iconic photos of rock stars – was not just present but at the center of numerous peaks of American culture, from the early ‘60s San Francisco immortalized via Kerouac books and live Miles Davis albums to Bob Dylan’s babyfaced Greenwich Village days, the summer of love, Woodstock, Monterey Pop, the Beatles’ 1966 adieu at Candlestick Park and much more.
Marshall, with a tinderbox of a personality and a love for guns and drugs, was given access to capture, and also experience, intimate moments that are now cemented in music-geek lore. He was just feet from Johnny Cash and Dylan when they performed “Girl From the North Country” together; he was close to such massive moments not just because he was a great photographer, but also because Marshall’s subjects (from John Coltrane to Janis Joplin) felt kinship and a sense of faith.
“”People trusted Jim Marshall,” Graham Nash once said, “and it showed in his work.”
`A new coffee-table book, called Show Me the Picture, juxtaposes some of Marshall’s best-known photographs – like Cash at his hallowed Folsom Prison and San Quentin performances and Marshall’s shot of the Allman Brothers that ended up on the cover of the At Fillmore East album – with a biography of Marshall and quotes from dozens of people who knew him well.