We've reached the end of May, which, for local music aficionados, is synonymous with the arrival of the MeadowGrass Music Festival. No one can be sure whether we're in for another edition of 2015's "Mud-owgrass" experience, which was like a much gentler and more polite staging of Woodstock '94, but what's certain is that Rocky Mountain Highway has assembled yet another diverse and compelling lineup to descend upon La Foret Conference & Retreat Center from May 27 to 29.
As the former mandolinist and lead vocalist of the Yonder Mountain String Band and an accomplished solo artist in his own right, Jeff Austin leads the Americana-heavy charge of the proceedings with his impressive pedigree. The lineup is further broadened with the ethereal folk of the American-Québecois Barr Brothers; the roots-rock mixed with Mexican, Irish and American traditional folk stylings of David Wax Museum; the introspective, shimmering indie pop of Denver's Strawberry Runners; and the "folk-hop" of Nashville-based Judah & the Lion, which features Colorado Springs native Nate Zuercher on banjo.
That just scratches the surface — the weekend's full lineup mixes national acts with local talent, including Jeremy Facknitz, Matt Flinner Trio, Fruit Bats, Leopard & the Vine, Smith House, Justus League, Free the Honey, Wendy Woo, Jalan Crossland, Jackie Greene, Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds, The River Arkansas, Moors & McCumber, Megan Burtt, Mandolin Orange, and the now Florida-based Chauncy Crandall.
In other exciting news, the Denver edition of Riot Fest, which will be held Sept. 2 to 4 at the National Western Complex, has announced the first wave of its lineup, with more acts to be revealed throughout the summer.
The lineup features many reunions, the most high-profile of which would be The Misfits, which will bring together original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only for the first time in over 30 years (not to mention decades of contentious legal battles).
Also reuniting are influential New Jersey post-hardcore band Thursday, who were major figures in popularizing emo music, San Francisco hardcore act Set Your Goals and Montreal indie rock quartet Wolf Parade.
In addition, while not strictly a reunion, the presence of genre-shifting postmodern pop band Ween at Riot Fest is a pleasant surprise, not only because of their reputation for being an incendiary live act, but also because it suggests their earlier semi-surprise reunion in February seems to not be a one-off affair.
Also of nostalgic interest are alt-rock heroes Jane's Addiction, who will be playing the entirety of their high-water mark LP, Ritual De Lo Habitual, albeit still without the presence of original bassist Eric Avery.
The rest of the lineup is littered with familiar names to fans of punk, alternative and hip-hop, such as Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, NAS, Deftones, Fitz & the Tantrums, Descendents, NOFX, Bad Religion, Tyler the Creator, Jake Bugg, The Dandy Warhols, and many, many more. The lineups for both the Denver and Chicago Riot Fests are now available at riotfest.org.
As if this weren't enough information to digest, there are plenty of other interesting shows coming up this week as well:
May 25 brings the ever-evocative Chelsea Wolfe to Denver's Gothic Theatre.
On May 26, the indomitable psych-rock freaks The Flaming Lips play Red Rocks Amphitheatre with the Colorado Symphony, performing what many consider to be their finest album, The Soft Bulletin, in its entirety.
For those who like their metal thrashy yet just proggy enough, long-running Canadian metal outfit Voivod hits Denver's Marquis Theatre May 26.
Meanwhile, in Pueblo, you can catch Portland's Nick Jaina with Desirae Garcia of the Haunted Windchimes at Songbird Cellars on May 26.
Rounding out a busy May 26, Stargazers Theatre will host Joe Johnson, Kate Perdoni of Eros & The Eschaton, and Xanthe Alexis performing to benefit the Little School on Vermijo music education program.
Finally, on May 28, you can go to Rawkus to catch emcee B.o.B., who has received notice not only for his music, but also for his involvement in the Flat Earth movement and for inspiring Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson to humiliate himself by releasing the worst rap single of 2016.
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