The fact that temperatures are beginning to dip into the mid-40s is an all-too-sobering reminder that the outdoor festival season is quickly drawing to a close. (And yes, I know that Atmosphere and Common sold out last January's Icelandic Winter show at Red Rocks, but that was just crazy.) Thankfully, the sun shone brightly on this past Saturday's What If Festival, where I managed to catch fine sets by both the ReMINDers and the Flumps.
The event also served as a sendoff for the ReMINDers, who, following a rare string of local gigs — including the Indy Music Awards Festival and a Black Sheep show with the Flobots — are about to go on the road with Brother Ali's Mourning in America Tour.
While the Colorado Springs duo has played lots of far-flung locales — including Leipzig, Berlin, Prague, and a number of cities in Italy and Morocco — this will be their first full-fledged American tour. Playing 27 cities in just five weeks means they'll be spending most of their time either on stage or in transit, but it should be well worth it. After all, Rhymesayers recording artist Ali has earned a sizable fan base with his series of appearances on late-night shows hosted by Craig Ferguson, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon (where he was backed by house band the Roots).
This Tuesday marked the official release of new albums from both artists: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color is Ali's fifth, while the ReMINDers' Born Champions is the follow-up to the couple's 2008 debut. I picked up a copy of the new CD after their What If performance and it's hugely impressive, from the sepia-tone Clifton Johnson photos that grace its triple-gatefold sleeve to long-awaited studio renditions of live favorites like "I Remember" and "You Can Count on Me."
Throughout the album, Aja Black's stunning voice and Samir Zamundu's lyrical flow create one of the most pitch-perfect combinations of hip-hop and R&B since the Fugees, while their politically and socially conscious rhymes continue to mature. Consider this verse from "Sail You to Saturn":
Asking God why
Did her boyfriend black her eye
Will he be satisfied
When he beats her till she dies
Personally, I'd love to see this tour result in Born Champions being picked up by Rhymesayers, after which labelmates like Murs and Atmosphere emcee Slug could guest on the duo's singles. Stranger things have happened.
Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a couple gigs to look out for this coming week.
The Alan Joseph Trio, who'll play Motif on Saturday, will be changing things up Sunday with a surf-inflected instrumental gig at Stargazers. Jazz guitarist Joseph is promising music "inspired by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and the grand genre of American surf-rock," although he admits that he won't be playing "Having an Average Weekend," the Kids in the Hall theme song for which the shadowy Canadian band is best known. (I somehow forgot to ask Alan if he'll at least be playing the group's "We're Not a Fucking Surf Band." Sorry.) The free show is the most recent in a monthly series of showcases hosted by local '60s revivalists Starburn, who have a penchant for wearing tie-dyed shirts and playing Vanilla Fudge covers.
And finally, don't forget the free Rock the Campus Showcase this Friday, which will kick off at 4:30 p.m. in UCCS' upper plaza and feature eight local acts, including Fidel Redstar, Kopesetik Soul and Made Up Minds. It's bound to be one of this summer's last great outdoor shows, so don't miss out.