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Showcase shifts, MeadowGrass firsts, and a timely benefit 

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Does Joe Pug look like the kind of guy who would steal songs?

Of course he does. Or at least that's what we're led to believe after discovering that he'll be doing a workshop on that subject at this weekend's MeadowGrass Music Festival. (Hard to imagine where you'd pilfer songs like "The Great Despiser" and "I Do My Father's Drugs," but I guess we'll find out.)

The wily Chicago singer-songwriter is one of four MeadowGrass performers who'll be leading workshops, which is a first for the festival. The full workshop lineup will be 23 String Band's "Arranging Fiddle Tunes" (Saturday, 1:30), Anais Mitchell's "Storytelling in Song" (Saturday, 3:30), Hot Club of Cowtown's "Playing Western Swing/Hot Jazz" (Sunday, 1:30) and, of course, Pug's "How to Steal Songs" (Sunday, 3:30).

Another first for the Memorial Day weekend festival, now in its fifth year, will be a screening of Rock N Roll Mamas, the new film featuring Kristin Hersh along with Zia McCabe of the Dandy Warhols and hip-hop artist Ms. Su'ad. Throwing Muses co-founder Hersh, who's also among Saturday's performers, will be interviewed at the screening by Fuel/Friends blogger Heather Browne.

All of the above events will take place in the Ponderosa Lodge on the grounds of La Foret Retreat & Conference Center, a brief crawl from the main stage. In addition to the aforementioned participants, there'll also be performances by Blitzen Trapper, Sera Cahoone, the David Mayfield Parade, Hot Club of Cowtown, Dawes, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West and nearly a dozen other worthy national and local artists. Find the complete schedule, including info on late-night indoor concerts and other activities, at meadowgrassmusicfestival.org.

Moving along, we previewed a trio of CD-release shows around town, featuring Bullhead*ded, Burn the Maps and the Changing Colors, in last week's column. Not to be outdone, Autumn Creatures, Knight in Colors and Mobdividual are also releasing new albums and will be performing, all on one bill, June 6 at the Black Sheep.

I should also mention that I caught Changing Colors' album-release concert at the Loft this past Saturday. The show found Conor Bourgal joined by his brother Ian, Desiree Garcia, Inaiah Lujan, Mark Benning and Alex Koshak, various combinations of whom are featured in an ever-growing array of groups here in town. (As a former Northern Californian, it reminded me of how all the area's "freak-folk" acts you'd see live would invariably feature at least a few members of Vetiver and Devendra Banhart's band.)

Saturday's show highlights included Bourgal and Garcia sharing vocals during a full-band performance of the haunting "True Love Knows," as well as a number of solo numbers. The set ended with covers of Josephine Foster's "Stone's Throw From Heaven" and Leonard Cohen's "Bird on the Wire," and from there it was on to Meadow Muffins, where Grass It Up was playing some esoteric covers of its own — on cigar-box guitars, no less — ranging from the traditional bluegrass number "Salty Dog Blues" to Snoop Dogg's more modern classic "Gin and Juice."

As for upcoming shows, a few changes are on the horizon for the Showcase at Studio Bee. After this Thursday's season-closing event — featuring performances by Austin Young & No Difference, Stray Suns and the aforementioned Knight in Colors — the popular series will be moving to the first Friday of each month, expanding to year-round status, and rebranding itself as Colorado Native Live, which ties in to the Sunday-night radio show on 103.9 KRXP-FM. Hydrogen Skyline and Get Along will launch the local music showcase's new incarnation, which will continue to offer free admission, a cash bar, and a 6:30 p.m. start time.

Meanwhile, the Raven Nest at Aspen Valley Ranch is kicking off its Summer Concert Series this coming Friday with a homecoming performance by Cahalen Morrison with his West Coast cohort Eli West. Upcoming concerts will feature Out of Nowhere on June 28, Waiting on Trial on July 26, the Sister Brothers on Aug. 23, and Brendan Hannigan on Sept. 6.

On Saturday, June 1, look for the return of the weekly Acacia Park Summer Concert Series. The opening event will feature various Kings of Space acts, including Grant Sabin, the Full Moon and Alex Koshak's Charioteer project. Afterward, wander over to the alley next to Modbo, where Swelter and Burn, PsychoTease, M.o.D.T. and Cruxxes will all be doing after-party sets.

And finally, a special benefit concert will be held Wednesday, May 29, for Tim Zahn at Stargazers. Proceeds from the event will help defray medical expenses resulting from the much-loved keyboardist's massive, paralyzing stroke. The concert will feature a tribute jam with performances by Tribe, Shakedown Street and Voodoo Hawks. Find more info at stargazerstheatre.com.

Send news, photos and music to reverb@csindy.com; follow our updates at tinyurl.com/indyreverb.

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