Category Archives: music

R.I.P. J.J. Cale

We lost a music legend last week when J.J. Cale climbed that stairway to rock heaven.

He was a humble and somewhat elusive singer-songwriter from Oklahoma City, pretty content playing roadhouses and small theaters for fifty years.  Cale was a tough act to catch, so I’m feeling pretty lucky to have seen him play a few times.   The Gothic theater in Denver and the Sweetwater in Mill Valley come to mind, perfect venues for his sound.

Ahhhhh….J.J. Cale, J.J. Cale.

Rest in peace buddy.  When Neil Young says that you, and Jimi Hendrix are his guitar idols…you’re in.  You’re rock royalty,  And with your recent passing, you too shall pass into the halls of rock gods!

Folksie blues in the 70’s –

Saucey in the 80’s –

In 2004, with Eric Clapton backing him up –

One of my favorite J.J. Cale songs – “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma” set to a photo tribute.


Wheelchair Sports Camp

Life Begins at 1340

Press play.

Just a few months ago I caught myself flipping through a paper, hand on forehead, scouring local music venues for upcoming bands I’d heard of.

“Who the hell are all these bands I’ve never heard of?” I wondered.

Four years into parenthood and my ipod had become a stagnant cesspool, a tireless rotation of familiar artists, devoid of new music. I was disconnected, out of touch.

Enter the Open Air at 1340 AM (or stereo online). I had completely lost hope that a radio station like this could ever exist, mixing eclectic gems from the past with new local music, and beyond.  It’s like being hit in the head with a huge musical bat. Except, of course, that when it hits, you feel no pain.

On this station you will not hear “world class pop” or commercials (listener supported, pony up!). So it’s best to go into the Open Air, with an open mind.

Paper Bird – St Louis

Chimney Choir – Ace of Spades

Lumineers – Ho Hey

Walk off the Earth – Somebody That I Used to know

Heard this song the other day on the radio but I had no idea it was five people sharing one instrument…

Best New Radio

Finally, a radio station worth listening to. No commercials, no repetition. Music that’s new, and music that’s old. Music that’s local, music that’s bold. Folk, funk, hip-hop, rock, Colorado Public Radio’s new station Open Air offers up a refreshing mix of music. So turn on, tune in, and move on up.

“Eat the salty peanuts out the can”

It’s funny how sometimes you hear a song that seems familiar to you, but you can’t quite place it. Maybe you grew up hearing the song on the radio, but you never had the vinyl sleeve to study up on. Who sang it? When did it first come out? You’ve probably heard it a hundred times, yet you know nothing about it. Yes it’s an oldie, but it’s a goody.

“CIS-co KID,WAS a FRIEND of MINE.” (The upper and lower case letters are supposed to convey the rhythm of the song, but like my dancing, it probably doesn’t). Can’t go wrong with the funk, right? As much as I’ve enjoyed that song over the years, I knew surprisingly little about it. That is, until a few nights ago.

The band War came out with “Cisco Kid” in 1972, three years before I was born. I always assumed the Cisco Kid was a an outlaw, maybe like Billy the Kid? Something of a badass, as the song suggests. Turns out the character comes from an early twentieth century American movie, a cruel outlaw romanticized as a heroic Mexican caballero.

The point is, for as many times as I’ve heard that song, it took three friends, one radio, and two smart phones to actually listen to the song.

“HE drink WHISkey, PANcho’d DRINK the WINE”

Yeah I remember…

“They RODE sunset, HORSE was MADE of STEEL”

Ride baby, RIDE!

“EAT the SALty PEAnuts OUT the CAN”


Sunday Funday

The first time I ever saw Widespread Panic play live they opened for Blues Traveler at Red Rocks on the Horde Tour. If I remember correctly, it was the Forth of July weekend and Panic ripped up the stage. That was nearly twenty years ago, the year nineteen-ought-ninety-three.

It wasn’t long before Panic was headlining multiple nights at Red Rocks, a summer tradition we’ve all grown accustomed to here in Colorado. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all those years, never, ever, miss a Sunday show.

Yesterday was a perfect example of how the band rewards fans for enduring the two previous nights shows and returning for the Sunday, or as we like to call it, “Funday” show.

Now, let’s be clear about this; one does not simply “attend” a Panic show at Red Rocks (or any other venue for that matter). It is a rite-of-passage, a process, a ceremony full of rituals and preparations months in the making. Tickets over the years have become more and more difficult to obtain, and good seats in the general admission venue are fought over tooth and nail. With rumors swirling that the band is struggling internally, there is a very real chance that a much needed “break” for the band will turn into a “breakup” and we’ll never see Panic perform at Red Rocks again. (Until their reunion tour, tentatively scheduled for next summer.)

With the added sense of importance associated with this weekend, we armed ourselves with tarps and duct tape. Twelve friends in three cars were dispatched in a staggered fashion, no one incident could thwart our efforts. With just an hour before the doors to Red Rocks would swing open and the race to claim space would begin, our first team left Denver. An unspeakably late departure with little chance of getting in line soon enough to stake out respectable space. Were it not for an ace up our sleeve, we would have seen yesterday’s show from the nose bleeds, pretending the distorted sounds didn’t bother us and that it was worth the view.


If you’re going to go see Widespread Panic’s last performance at Red Rocks for fuck sake man, do it right. We were like a team of professional riders, breaking wind for our teammates so they could trust forward in the final sprint to the venue. One would think the lead car breaking down en route to the venue would scuttle dreams of good seats, not so my friend, not so. With multi-layered safety measures in place and a dose of good luck, a team member was lost, but the team very much still in the race. With just fifteen minutes to doors open, our lead team rendezvoused at the Trading Post with the critical contact (names withheld) and were quickly whisked through a backstage security line and “vous la”, three tarps on rows eight, nine and ten, School’s side.

While my personal interest in Widespread has waned since the passing of founding lead guitarist and namesake of the band Michael “Panic” Houser back in 2002, they proved yesterday that they can still rock it like they used to. The first set was a mix of mostly older music off their first few albums, and by most accounts it was an improved sound compared to Friday and Saturday nights. The second set they blasted out of the gates with a cover of “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” (The Guess Who) and followed it with another cover, and another, and another, and another. The entire second set was covers, An unheard of event.

As if that wasn’t enough, they came back out for an encore and completely floored the audience with a rendition of Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” where lead guitarist Jimmy Herring, for the first time in the show, seemed to earn his keep by smoothly transitioning into the sexiest, most sultry version of “Gilded Splinters” I have ever heard. When the music stopped, I looked up and saw J.B. shouldering his mandolin, I knew it could only mean one thing…

“Everybody’s waiting to find the last drink, the last word to say, the last place to go, the end of the show.”

Thank you Widespread Panic for what I will fondly remember as the best show ever, except, of course, for all the other “best ever” shows we’ve seen over the years.

And more importantly, thanks to all my friends that made it happen.