Tejon Street Corner Thieves provide musical sustenance 

click to enlarge The Tejon Street Corner Thieves made national headlines for their creativity. - PHOTO BY GABRIEL ROVICK @F4DSTUDIO
  • Photo by Gabriel Rovick @F4DStudio
  • The Tejon Street Corner Thieves made national headlines for their creativity.

The road back to live music took yet another turn on Tuesday, June 30, as Gov. Jared Polis announced that bars and nightclubs in Colorado would again be closed for “in-person service,” reasoning that the risk of COVID-19 transmission was too great in establishments where mixing and mingling are inherent to the experience.

This probably doesn’t come as any great surprise. There’s also still a bit of a gray area here, as bars that serve food can remain open if they adhere to social distancing guidelines. Does that mean local musicians could perhaps perform live at bars that function as restaurants, from a safe distance away from the patrons? Honestly and realistically, that will probably come down to any given bar’s relationship with its performers, but safe money would obviously still hold out for caution, especially after witnessing the uncertainties and difficulties that similar venues in Denver have had reintegrating live music.

There’s an unchanging grim reality that people gathering in an enclosed space and performing, even with responsible precautions, is a risky endeavor these days — I mean, probably don’t think about this too hard, but consider how many fluids you’ve seen leaving a singer’s mouth, especially as they’re nicely backlit from the stage. And if you’re a wind player? Yeesh, forget it.

Of course, caution was notably thrown to the wind (and probably a lot more than that was the flung into the wind) on June 27 in Petros, Tennessee, where country singer Chase Rice held a concert that was, by all photographic and video evidence, mask-free and tightly packed. The move drew considerable criticism and ire, including from musicians such as Jason Isbell, Kelsea Ballerini and The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle.

But hey, I’m sure everything will be fine there. This year has taught us, after all, that bad, panic-inducing things don’t happen every day, and actions definitely don’t ever have any consequences. Oh, and to cheer you up even more, that show was merely the first on Rice’s planned summer tour. Pretty good!

All these varied setbacks seem to point to a universal conclusion: The live music scene across the board is going to look very different from here on out, and artists will likely have to get (even more) creative on how they go about getting their music to fans.

click to enlarge The Thieves get funny in a new video. - PHOTO BY GABRIEL ROVICK @F4DSTUDIO
  • Photo by Gabriel Rovick @F4DStudio
  • The Thieves get funny in a new video.
Trashgrass/outlaw blues standouts Tejon Street Corner Thieves are a perfect example of this creative and adaptive thinking. They’re easily one of the busiest and most prolific touring acts based locally, and when their touring plans were put on hold, they took to the streets, quite literally, playing “drive-by” performances to neighborhoods of listeners on their front porches. The approach garnered attention from a variety of media outlets, from ABC News to Metal Injection, and inspired many bands across the country to do their own drive-by shows.

Unfortunately, the band’s bus shows were sidelined in mid-June due to issues with their bus, but, lest you think none of us are allowed to have anything nice, ever, you can still enjoy some fresh new music courtesy of the Thieves, as they dropped a new EP, Demons, through Amigo the Devil’s new label, Liars Club.

The EP’s three tracks are strong ones, walking an appropriately crooked path through the Thieves’ rickety blues and haunted Americana. The sing-along refrain of “Lay Low” will circle your brain like a murder of crows, while the hard-drinking “Demons” backs Shawn D’Amario’s powerhouse vocals with blistering fiddle and what sounds like a whole jailhouse’s worth of backing gang vocals. The driving “Never Meant to Be” also received a highly amusing video treatment, which features D’Amario and banjoist Connor O’Neal playfully masquerading as some of their favorite fellow alt-country and dark folk artists — their impersonations of Orville Peck, Days N’ Daze and Bridge City Sinners, among others, will likely haunt many a dream.


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