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The Tejon Street Corner Thieves will be back home and playing The Black Sheep Friday.

The new year is upon us, and though touring acts are laying low for the winter, there are still a healthy number of artists showcasing the wonderful talent we have right here in Colorado. This week, we can put the loud amps away, and pull out an acoustic guitar because there are some awesome folk, Americana and bluegrass shows happening along with a new album from Joe Johnson.

Johnson is known in Colorado Springs for his blues-inspired country music. As 2020 and 2021 took from many of us, Johnson decided to record some of the songs he’d written a few years before as a reminder to people that we go through loss and are not alone. The product was Dark Horse, Pale Rider.

“I tried to design this album in such a way that people can take some hope in the fact that we all experience darkness, pain and isolation and we are not ever truly alone,” he says.

Loss isn’t a new experience for Johnson, but when the pandemic hit, he noticed it was a new feeling for many people, so he decided to revisit some songs to make people feel not alone. 

“I have dealt with loss as far back as my earliest memories. The idea and reality of people and experiences being finite is interwoven into who I am at this point,” Johnson says. “The bulk of these songs were written in 2018-2019 while touring. I was on the road a lot and spending far too many nights alone in my thoughts, so I wrote quite a bit.

“The situation we faced during the pandemic brought so many people to a similar point that I felt like I had something to say that could really resonate. So I collected the material that I felt would make a good representation of the emotions I and most people I know were dealing with — isolation and fear.”

During the process of creating the record, Joe lost three very important souls. His mother Janis Stringfield, and fellow musicians Duane Mark and Iggy Igloo. He decided to dedicate the album to them and even got to perform it in full for Iggy in the hospital. “I was able to spend one day with him by his bedside at the hospital,” Johnson says. “I played the entire album for him, front to back. He told me ‘Man, this album is the one.’ I’m forever thankful for that day with him.”

Dark Horse, Pale Rider was released on Dec. 22, 2021, and is available exclusively at joejohnson.bandcamp.com.

This weekend is packed full of awesome shows all around town. On Friday, Jan. 14, Nathan Archer returns to the stage with his Rough Age project at Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Restaurant with guests MR3. You can also head to Lulu’s Downstairs in Manitou Springs Friday as Rootbeer Richie & The Reveille bring their special brand of swamp pop with special guests Dear Rabbit. Saturday, If you’re feeling like some singer-songwriter action, make your way up to Palmer Lake Pub for Brandon Henderson and Taylor Biskup.

Tejon Street Corner Thieves have been busy. Like really busy. They recently completed their epic 14-week tour with Amigo the Devil, and it was a life-changer. “It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The emotions were overwhelming, the experience was overwhelming, and the work was overwhelming,” laughs banjo badboy Connor O’Neal. “It was a great experience and introduction to ‘the big leagues.’”

They’re now playing a special headlining set at The Black Sheep on Friday, Jan. 14, with Red Mountain Boys. A return to the local stage is always fun and needed. “I’m just glad to be home! We’re so used to doing local bar gigs and busking around the Springs, and I’ve missed so many of our friends and fans here. Headlining or not, this is our town. And we just want to party with everyone,” O’Neal says. “It’s nice to get out, but Colorado Springs is and always will be something special. People always joke like ‘Don’t forget us little guys,’ and the truth is, you ain’t little.” He continues, “Colorado Springs is the biggest support system, biggest fan base and biggest influence of TSCT. I know The Black Sheep is a few blocks from Tejon Street, but we promise, the energy will be the same.”

OK, we can pull the loud amps out of the closet now. On Saturday, Fort Collins Indie rock group Lady Denim will be playing a rescheduled show at Vultures. If you’re into something a little harder, head next door to The Black Sheep for a local metal show with The Guise of a Demon, When Darkness Falls, Diabloso and Beyond Forgiveness. Sunday will bring a night of comedy and music — The Wheel of Doom. Comedians Leslie Fox, Nate Roppolo and Aaron Wentz will bring this special interactive comedy act that involves spinning (you guessed it), a wheel. The night will start with music by Grimmly and end with the progressive rock of Get The Axe

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