The Black Sheep’s 2020 Bernstock brings music for everybody 

click to enlarge The Vegabonds, supporting their fifth LP across North America and Europe, bring their Southern rock sound to The Black Sheep.
  • The Vegabonds, supporting their fifth LP across North America and Europe, bring their Southern rock sound to The Black Sheep.

If there’s one thing I know everyone out there loves, it’s endlessly rehashing the 2016 election. And though the media keep marching us down memory lane, driving everyone’s blood pressure to levels matching the amount of money in politics, there’s one throwback to 2016 that looks to be a boon for local music lovers of all stripes — the return of The Black Sheep’s Bernstock.

The 2016 edition of Bernstock, a musical rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, showcased a wide variety of regional talent, and this election cycle’s lineup for Friday, Feb. 7, is similarly stacked, featuring performances from False Report, Why They Fight, Castele, Gloomy, Had I Known, Innerspace, Sleep Academy, Keep Me Speechless and MNMLST. Surely a tough roster to miss, even for the most apolitical amongst us.

The en masse showcasing of local talent is a running theme this week, as the following night, Feb. 8, Bar-K plays host to The Double And, the duo of multi-instrumentalist Rachael Michaels and drummer extraordinaire Emily Gould, joined by The Short-T.E.R.M., shoegaze trio Stale//Mate, and a back-to-back showing from Had I Known.

That same Saturday night, Stargazers Theatre presents another installment of its ongoing Songwriters Circle series, this evening featuring acclaimed singer-songwriter Edie Carey and, essentially, a who’s who of local songwriting that needs little introduction: Joe Uveges, John Hooton, Joe Johnson, Grant Sabin and Mike Clark.

Edie Carey, a nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter who Colorado Springs can now happily claim as its own, was the winner of the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Competition in 2012 and earned a slew of awards for her 2014 LP with Sarah Sample, ’Til the Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort. Throughout her career, she’s shared stages with luminaries such as Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Brandi Carlile and Shawn Mullins.
Meanwhile, The Black Sheep hosts one of the best contemporary voices in Southern rock — an often misunderstood and underestimated genre — with the “Alabama-born, Tennessee-bred” quintet The Vegabonds, who take the stage on Tuesday, Feb. 11, with Austin-based quintet Mike and the Moonpies in support.

The Vegabonds re-leased their fifth LP, the appropriately titled V, in January 2019 through Blue Élan Records, and its eight tracks are filled with the compelling mix of melancholy and triumph that the genre offers at its best. “Generation of Happiness” is an immediate standout track, cranking up the volume and moody edge for frontman Daniel Allen’s portrait of 21st-century working-class precarity. Elsewhere, tracks like “Everything I Need” and “Best I Can” offer revved-up, engaging storytelling that fondly recalls the late Tom Petty (perhaps via Whiskeytown, thanks to guitarist Richard Forehand’s terrific, fuzz-box garage riffs), while the gentler “I Ain’t Having It” possesses an easygoing charm buoyed by Beau Cooper’s lively keyboards.

Finally, the latest offering in the UCCS Presents concert series features A Far Cry, a Grammy-nominated string orchestra with an adventurously unorthodox approach to and presentation of the art music canon.

The Boston-based chamber orchestra is self-conducted and employs a collective, democratic method of rotating leadership — a strategy that has guided the group toward an impressively diverse output of concert programs and collaborations, from legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma to jazz pianist/electronic musician Vijay Iyer to hip-hop artist Moe Pope. In a musical landscape where “novelty” in orchestral programming often feels a bit gimmicky and stale, A Far Cry’s artful eclecticism is refreshing, indeed.

For the orchestra’s performance at the Shockley-Zalabak Theater on Feb. 11, they’ll be exploring the broad theme of “memory” with their program — most literally with their memorized performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major (an extreme rarity for orchestras, perhaps for obvious logistical reasons) and more conceptually through works from Edward Elgar, Mozart and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s sublime Cantus in Memoriam of Benjamin Britten.


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