I get a certain stinging sensation when I hear of the passing of an artist with whose catalog I'm unfamiliar. The popular music market today is so saturated, it's nigh impossible to keep up with all the "required listening" out there, much less the fresh voices emerging contemporarily. But I always feel obligated to explore the discography of the deceased, whether out of respect or curiosity, even as I contend with that pang of embarrassment — why am I only exploring their work now?
Alas, that's the way of the digital music age. But on the other side of that coin, it's very easy to seek out an individual's works posthumously. So for every Freddie Mercury and Jeff Buckley, there don't necessarily have to be thousands of unheard Arthur Russells and Jeffrey Lee Pierces.
Unfortunately, a musical luminary and Colorado resident unexpectedly passed away on Nov. 6: Chuck Pyle, a singer-songwriter known affectionately as "The Zen Cowboy." The 70-year-old Pyle was a prolific performer for over 40 years — with many appearances at Stargazers Theatre — and renowned for his deft fingerstyle guitar technique. He was, however, even more highly regarded as a songwriter, having penned "Cadillac Cowboy" for the late Chris LeDoux, along with Jerry Jeff Walker's "Jaded Lover" and songs for John Denver, Suzy Bogguss, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. For inquiring listeners, an excellent entry to Pyle's music is his 1996 LP, Step By Step, which is filled with his humorous, heartfelt cowboy koans.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Pyle's memory can be made to the Chuck Pyle Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 726, Palmer Lake, CO 80133. In the meantime, local musicians and music fans would all do well to remember Pyle's signature mantra, "Always ride the horse in the direction it's going."
In that spirit, here are some upcoming shows worth your while:
Nothing expresses the angst of Wednesday nights like some black metal, and the Black Sheep has some genuine Scandinavian imports on Wednesday, Nov. 18, with Sweden's Watain and Norway's Mayhem, as well as Greece's Rotting Christ.
On Thursday, Nov. 19, the Black Sheep plays host to domestic metal and alt-rock offerings, led by Massachusetts' All That Remains, Memphis' Devour the Day, Sons of Texas, and supergroup Audiotopsy, which features members of Skrape, Mudvayne and Hellyeah.
The 19th also brings another night of hip-hop to Sunshine Studios, led by Boston emcee Cam Meekins and homegrown talent JUZ J and the Delinkwintz.
At the Flux Capacitor on Friday, Nov. 20, you can catch the politically charged hardcore of Austin's Insvrgence. They'll be joined by Los Angeles punk act The Beautiful Ones, Boulder's Eat the Sun, locals Crown Magnetar, and Texas punk-metal hybrids Triumph Over Shipwreck and Far From Nothing.
At the Black Sheep that night, you'll find post-punk/emo quintet Say the Word, along with Why They Fight, Bermuda Skies and Passing Out on Porches. And at Manitou's Ancient Mariner, it's blues-rock collective Justus League.
East Coast pop-punk act Handguns hits the Black Sheep on Saturday, Nov. 21, in the fellow melodic punk company of the U.K.'s Roam, Virginia's Broadside, and Indiana's Sudden Suspension.
And, finally, the one I know you've all been waiting for ... sure, it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but that can't stop you from catching Jon Oliva and his fellow purveyors of pyrotechnic Christmas-metal, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, at the Broadmoor World Arena on Sunday, Nov. 22.
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