Telluride Blues & Brews Festival | September 12 - 15 | Telluride, CO

Although it took us driving through an apocalyptic storm, the trip to the 20th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival was well worth the anxiety. Nothing a little Xanax couldn’t cure; my nerves were at ease. We made it bright and early on Friday and had the sunshine tease us while we set up our campsite. For a second, I may have broken a sweat. We learned from last year’s adventure to plan for every season and so I packed: Hunter boots, a zero degree jacket and sleeping bag, skirts to twirl in, and a rain jacket. It rained just about every other hour while we were there. It would rain, never too hard, and then the sun would peak it’s rays out and dry our skin just enough to forget.

20th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

20th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival

Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

I was excited to see the raspy gypsy queen, ZZ Ward. She was the first act that I caught and I was, of course, impressed. She had great energy and presence and man, that girl has style. She was channeling a young Stevie Nicks in her over-sized coat and floppy hat. There were definitely festy-trends throughout the weekend which caught my eye. Denim pearl snap shirts, various boot styles, layers, ponchos, and aztec patterns. You definitely knew you were in southern Colorado at a festival. Even Allen Stone really honed in on the trend in his fringe vest. He was vibrant and a great compliment to ZZ Ward and though he experienced some technical snafus halfway through his set, his band backed him up and I would never have known had I not been in the photo pit.

ZZ Ward Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

ZZ Ward

Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

Allen Stone Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

Allen Stone

Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

Friday's music continued with Gary Clark Jr. who was soulful with smooth vocals. The weather was beginning to change and Gary's bluesy tunes carried us into the night as the temperature began to drop - just a bit. He played his well-known songs like, "Right Now" and "I Don't Owe You a Thang" which had the mountain folks dancing.

Gary Clark Jr. Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

Gary Clark Jr.

Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

There's something about being in Telluride surrounded by green, lush mountains with massive spires jutting out while listening to live music. The San Juan Mountains are breath-taking; from the streets of Telluride you can see a massive waterfall nestled between two peaks. It's as if it makes the music sound that much sweeter.

20th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival

20th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival

The Black Crowes closed out Friday night and while it rained a bit during Gary Clark Jr.'s set, the sky cleared up just in time. Chris Robinson was able to light up the stage for all in attendance. His unusual dance moves added an entertaining element to the night with all of his twirling and Jagger-esque moves.

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes

Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

If it weren't for the Grand Beer Tasting on Saturday afternoon, the crowd's spirits may have been a bit down considering the amount of rain we received that afternoon. We weren't phased, though. With over 50 microbreweries and over 200 beer selections, the festy-goers had beer in their belly's and music on their mind. I discovered a coconut Porter from Horsefly that I can't stop dreaming about. The New Mastersounds were great drinking music for the beer tasting. Their quick, upbeat tunes kept the chugging pace at an all time high. Guitarist Eddie Roberts took a seat through the set due to a broken foot but he didn't let that slow him down one bit.

Rebirth Brass Band closed out the Grand Beer Tasting followed by a later afternoon set from the Mickey Hart Band, drummer for the Grateful Dead. Playing a solid mix of both Mickey Hart material and classic Grateful Dead, they had us twirling in the rain with songs like "Bertha", "China Cat Sunflower", "I Know You Rider" and "Fire on the Mountain".

And then, Jim James. I overheard someone say that perhaps they hadn't done enough mild-altering drugs to get it. The set was dark and mysterious and while it rained quite a bit, it added a special element to the evening. He opened the set with "State of the Art (A.E.I.OU.)" and swiveled around the stage with his crazy hair in his purple suit. Things would slow down at times and then he'd pick up a guitar and just rip shit. There was a time and a place and a rainy Saturday night in Telluride, was the time and the place.

Jim James of My Morning Jacket Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

Jim James of My Morning Jacket

Photo Credit: Amanda Spilos

The Denver weather and the potential to return home to a flooded basement, caused us to leave on Sunday. It rained early Sunday morning and cleared up for a fantastic last day. Anders Osborne and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe gave folks something to look forward to on their last day. I've seen both in the past, though I was still bummed I missed them.

Telluride Blues and Brews Festival is something I will continue to attend. The scenery, the people, the music, the food, and the beer will keep me coming back

Must See Bands for Riot Fest Denver

This weekend hordes of concert lovers will head east to Byers, Colorado for a dose of rock, hip hop, indie, punk, and all other flavors of musical bliss. The 1st Annual Riot Fest Denver will take place on the grounds of May Farms and host two awesome days of music. The Chicago based festival expanded it's lineups this year to include city's such as Denver and Toronto. With its carnival atmosphere it has become one of the fastest growing music festivals in the country. This years lineup caters to a variety of fans, we narrowed down our top five "must see" bands to check out. (In no particular order)

Bosnian Rainbows | Saturday | 1:15-2:00 PM | Rock Stage

Photo by Robin Laananen

Bosnian Rainbows is a new band featuring Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes), Nicci Kasper (Kudu, KRS-ONE), Deantoni Parks (John Cale, The Mars Volta), and Omar Rodriguez Lopez (The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In). The group formed during the summer of 2012 and will release their self-titled debut LP in early summer 2013 on Sargent House. While the four members respective pedigrees are as distinctive as the names they're attached to, the group itself is an entity all its own, unlike any other project any of them have been in. You could argue that they're using it to redefine their entire approach to making music.

This new approach also functions aesthetically. Onstage, the members group themselves together so closely that the backline, once assembled, is literally a single structure. Stalking the front of the stage is vocalist Gender Bender, a shape-shifting conduit of interstellar energy, seizing the microphone like a dagger. No stranger to the spotlight, her shamanistic presence in Bosnian Rainbows elicits a physical response from much of the audience, enraptured with her trance-like gesticulations and impassioned pleas. Behind her, Rodriguez Lopez conjures abbreviated barbs of dissonant funk from his guitar, lost, it seems, in the sheer ecstasy of the moment. In this context, his legendary status as a progressive rock icon seems virtually incidental, and much of what he's know for remote. To his left sits Parks, the human timepiece, playing the drum kit as nobody has before him. And, as if machine-like precision were simply par for the course, he is simultaneously playing a keyboard. Famously cool, Parks is the picture of control, effortlessly firing out rhythms at once both funky and robotic, unaware of the supposed impossibility of what he's doing. Which brings us to Nicci Kasper, the keyboard protege, his concentration fixed on the task at hand. Masterful in focusing his instrument's infinite possibilities, be they incessant low-frequency throbs or soaring, symphonic flourishes, Kasper's contribution to the band's sound brings with it an emotional depth which can only be described as epic. 

The story of Bosnian Rainbows is one you might typically expect to emerge from the fertile, cross-breeding ranks of constantly intermingling artists. Rodriguez Lopez befriended Gender Bender after seeing her duo, Le Butcherettes, perform in Guadalajara in 2009. While working on arrangements for that band's debut album, Sin Sin Sin, Omar (at first strictly producing, but eventually playing bass on the album as well) and Gender Bender discovered an inspiring collaborative spark between them. Around the same time, Rodriguez Lopez began a series of studio projects with Parks and Kasper during repeat trips through New York. Le Butcherettes, meanwhile, relocated to Los Angeles, and soon found themselves touring with Jane's Addiction, the Yeah Yeah YeahsFlaming LipsIggy and the StoogesQueens of the Stoneage and Deftones. Soon after, Rodriguez Lopez joined Le Butcherettes on bass as a fully-fledged member and in 2012, he released Octopus Kool Aid, the first of a series of solo albums featuring Gender Bender on vocals.

A tour of Europe in support of Octopus Kool Aid had been booked for August, so Rodriguez Lopez, Gender Bender, Kasper and Parks convened in a Hamburg studio in order to rehearse. Committed to distancing himself from the "dictator" role he'd become infamous for in The Mars Volta (as well as the ORLG), and reinvigorated from his recent stint in the reformed At the Drive-In, Rodriguez Lopez shifted gears, seizing the opportunity to start a new group. Rather than rehearse Octopus Kool Aid, the quartet spontaneously birthed a collaborative songwriting process which produced immediate, inspiring results. With each of the four contributing equally, the new group quickly developed its own direction and vision, taking on a life of its own. Omar is eager to point out that this group should in no way be mistaken for one of the many incarnations of his solo band.

Christening themselves Bosnian Rainbows, they embarked on the tour and set about developing their skills as a live band, refining their new songs and defining their aesthetic. By the time the tour ended, the web was buzzing with excitement. Invigorated by that success, the group ventured into Hamburg's Clouds Hill Studio that October and recorded what would be their debut album. The music they recorded is remarkable, haunting and powerful. Bosnian Rainbows is no less adventurous or fearless than the music the four of them have previously released, but perhaps it's more immediate, more accessible. The reference points are wild and varied: early 80s post-punk and new wave, corrosive synth-pop, and Peter Gabriel'So album being a noteworthy influence. The songs themselves are anthemic, yet still personal, from the grey-stained melancholia of "Worthless", through the widescreen, slow-burning drama and romance of "Turtle Neck", to the churning and intense catharsis of "Mother, Father, Set Us Free". It's clear, however, that these tracks are only a beginning; this is a group with abundant with life, a future that could stretch as far as they want it to.

Bosnian Rainbows have been on the road consistently since August 2012, touring extensively in North America, Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. They made their U.S. festival debut at last September's Fun Fun Fun Fest, and appeared at Festival Vive Latino at Mexico City's Foro Sol Stadium in March 2013.

Their debut self titled album comes out on June 25, 2013 on Sargent House and in Europe on June 28, 2013 on Clouds Hill. 

Brand New | Saturday | 7:15-8:15 PM | Roots Stage

Brand New is an alternative rock band from Long Island, New York, and consists of lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Jesse Lacey, guitarist Vincent Accardi, bass guitarist Garrett Tierney and drummer Brian Lane. Most recently, Derrick Sherman joined the band on tour in 2006. The band was formed in 2000 in Merrick, New York and partly consists of former members of the band The Rookie Lot and Taking Back Sunday. Brand New has toured with many bands including Thrice, Beneath the Sun, Crime in Stereo, and mewithoutYou. The band has released three studio albums so far, Your Favorite Weapon (2001), Deja Entendu (2003), and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006). On February 12, 2007, in an interview with BBC Manchester, Lacey stated that the band plans to release another album. 

They initially had a pop-punk sound, with stirring lyrics, and an unusually intricate sound for a band of this genre. Their second album showed a matured lyrical direction and a departure from their earlier pop-punk sound. Their current sound has more in common with indie-emo bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate and Straylight Run. They became part of the Long Island, New York indie/hardcore scene with the likes of The Movielife, From Autumn to Ashes, Glassjaw, and Taking Back Sunday, whom they are supposedly close friends with, but have had their share of misunderstandings. They have released three full-length albums and two EPs. Their first album, Your Favorite Weapon, is their only album which captures their early pop-punk sound. It was supported by a stint on the Warped Tour. The song title "Seventy Times 7" from Your Favorite Weapon comes from a verse in the bible (From Matthew 18:21-22 "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."), and is a shot at Taking Back Sunday's John Nolan, who has been rumoured to have slept with Jesse's girlfriend at the time. The Taking Back Sunday song "There's No 'I' in Team" is a response to it. After a reconciliation both bands have performed these songs with one another. 

The band also acknowledged that Your Favorite Weapon wasn't their best work, and they re-recorded the single "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" and placed it on their site as a free download. The second album, Deja Entendu, saw a change in the band. When Brand New recorded Your Favorite Weapon, they were still very young (lead guitarist Vin was still in highschool), which explains the album's teenage, angst ridden tendencies. But with Deja, both the lyrics and the members were decidedly matured, scripting instead lines about meeting girls at bars, regret, family sickness/fear of a loved one's death, and self-mockery. The band came into the mainstream with their song "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" which fell into heavy rotation on many radio stations during the summer of 2003, while they were on the Vans Warped Tour. The band's videos have also previously been on Fuse TV, MTV, and MTV2. It was at about this time that the band received the false "emo" moniker. That single was followed up with the decidedly moodier single, "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades". Both singles cracked the UK top 40, making them more successful in the UK than in the US. Between May 2004 (with the release of the UK Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows CDS B-Sides) and June 2005, no new material was released by Brand New and no new information was publicly released to fans. During that time however, the band was signed by Interscope Records, a major label. 

In June 2005, Brand New launched a new official website (which they promised to update more often) and announced they have been recording. They also confirmed rumors that Jesse Lacey (lead singer) had been "sick", "had surgery", there "were multiple things wrong with [him]" but stated that "most of them have been fixed". In early 2005, Jesse was admitted to the hospital where upon it was learned that he had appendicitis and had surgery to remove his appendix before any further trouble could occur. In 2006 they teamed up with producer Dennis Herring (previous work has included Elvis Costello). His studio, Sweet Tea, is a house/recording studio filled with vintage instruments and recording equipment. In January 2006, nine unmastered, unnamed demos were leaked to the internet. These nine demos suggested a new expansion of the Brand New sound, a recognisable progression from Deja Entendu. One of the songs on that demo, Untitled 8, is an earlier version of the song Sowing Season. The mellower mood is fashioned with an expansion of instrumental features, such as the introduction of piano on Untitled 7, and whilst the lyrics tend towards bleakness there are also occasional shining moments of optimism. Some of the original demos have been adapted and played live in the shows of the band's Summer 2006 tour, along with a new song "Take Apart Your Head", now officially titled "Degausser". The first single was originally going to be "Sowing Season" but Interpunk featured an article that named "Jesus" as being the single, which was later somewhat confirmed by Brand New featuring live performances of it on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on January 19, 2007. Both songs appear on their third album entitled "The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me". In Late 2006, Brand New played a one off concert at the Brixton Academy, London. At which some of the "Untitled" songs were played, and showed a much deeper side to the band. 

At the same time, confirming some songs that were later used on the album. The long anticipated 3rd album is now on sale. Though Jesse initially felt that the songs stolen and released early were no longer usable, the leak focussed the band into working harder and going the extra mile to make the songs on it the best they could possibly be. Tracks 6 and 8 from the demos ended up on the album, both expanded and with intricate rock riffs that across other tracks show a newfound musical maturity. Indeed, "Limousine (Ms Rebridge)" recalls OK Computer while songs like the instrumental "Welcome to Bangkok" have been compared to Mogwai. Lyrically, TDAGARIM themes are stronger - love, loss, adjusting to a world without a father figure. The accompanying artwork shows a distorted collage of random images - the Scream masks, a blurred wolf, a guitarist from 1983 - and the liner notes dedicate the album to all those "who left between the start and finish of this recording". They appear to leave answering phone messages in a hidden track before Sowing Season, and references to the recording or the recording process crop up several other times. 

Overall, the album represents a definite departure from Brand New's earlier sound - many fans have found it hard to adjust, especially those coming to the band through Your Favorite Weapon. Preorders of the album came with the "Sowing Season" single, the B-side to which was demo number 3 and called "aloC-acoC" to avoid any copyright issues. A mastered version of the demo recording of "Luca", the Reprisal version, was also included in UK versions of the album. Brand New headlined the London branch of the "Give It A Name" festival in 2007. It took place on April 28th. Jesse has also hinted that the band's next release will be a six-song EP featuring new versions of the remaining demos. Official website:http://fightoffyourdemons.com 

Brand New is an alternative rock band from Long Island, New York, and consists of lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Jessey Lacey, guitarist Vincent Accardi, bass guitarist Garrett Tierney and drummer Brian Lane. Most recently, Derrick Sherman joined the band on tour in 2006. The band was formed in 2000 in Merrick, New York and partly consists of former members of the band The Rookie Lot and Taking Back Sunday. Brand New has toured with many bands including Thrice, Beneath the Sun, Crime in Stereo, and mewithoutYou. The band has released three studio albums so far, Your Favorite Weapon (2001), Deja Entendu (2003), and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006). On February 12, 2007, in an interview with BBC Manchester, Lacey stated that the band plans to release another album.

Iggy and The Stooges | Saturday | 9:25-10:25 PM | Roots Stage

In VERY short... Iggy and The Stooges is an American rock band from Ann Arbor, Michigan first active from 1967 to 1974, and later reformed in 2003. Although they sold few records in their original incarnation and often performed for indifferent or hostile audiences, the Stooges are widely regarded as instrumental in the rise of punk rock, as well as influential to alternative rock, heavy metal and rock music at large. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Public Enemy | Sunday | 5:00-6:00 PM | Roots Stage

In the late Eighties, Public Enemy introduced a hard, intense, hip-hop sound that changed the sound of hip-hop. PE's inventive production team, the Bomb Squad, tailored a unique, noisy, layered avant-garde-inspired sound that incorporated sirens, skittering turntable scratches, and cleverly juxtaposed musical and spoken samples. The group features two vocalists with wildly different styles: Lead rapper Chuck D, who delivers anti-establishment rhymes in a booming, authoritarian voice, and his sidekick/jester, Flavor Flav, who broke in with taunts, teases, and questions.

The members of Public Enemy came together at Adelphi University on Long Island, where Carlton Ridenhour studied graphic design and worked at student radio station WBAU. There he met Hank Shocklee (future brainchild of the Bomb Squad) and Bill Stephney (future Def Jam executive), and the trio became fast friends, talking philosophy, politics, and hip-hop late into the night. After rapping over a track Shocklee had created, "Public Enemy No. 1," Ridenhour started appearing regularly on Stephney's radio show as Chuckie D. Def Jam cofounder Rick Rubin heard a tape of the rap and started calling Ridenhour.

At first the rapper shunned Rubin, feeling he was too old to begin a career as an entertainer. But he eventually came up with an elaborate plan that involved Shocklee as producer, Stephney as marketer, and DJ Norman Rogers on the turntables. He recruited his Nation of Islam cohort Richard Griffin to, as Professor Griff, coordinate the group's backup dancers, the Security of the First World (S1W), whose members carried fake Uzis and did stiff, martial-arts moves as a parody of Motown-era dancers. Ridenhour enlisted old friend William Drayton, who, as Flavor Flav, would act as a foil to Chuck D's more sober character.

Calling themselves "prophets of rage," Public Enemy released their debut album, Yo!, Bum Rush the Show, in 1987. A more sophisticated version of early East Coast gangsta rappers like Boogie Down Productions or Schoolly D, the group at first went nearly unnoticed except by hip-hop insiders and New York critics. The second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, took the pop world by storm. Reaching Number 42 (Number 1 R&B, 1988), it was immediately hailed as hip-hop's masterpiece and eventually sold a million copies. Nation contained the minor hit "Bring the Noise" (Number 56 R&B, 1988), which foreshadowed Public Enemy's knack for controversy, with Chuck D calling Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan a prophet. Having referred to rap as "CNN for black culture," he castigates white-controlled media in "Don't Believe the Hype" (Number 18 R&B, 1988).

In May 1989, just after the group released "Fight the Power" (Number 20 R&B, 1989), the theme song for Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing, Professor Griff, who had previously made racist comments onstage, dropped a verbal bomb. In an interview with the Washington Times, he said Jews are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe." Public Enemy leader Chuck D responded indecisively, first firing Griff, then reinstating him, then temporarily disbanding the group. When Griff then attacked his band mates in another interview, he was dismissed permanently. Chuck D responded to the fiasco by writing "Welcome to the Terrordome" (Number 15 R&B, 1990), a ferociously noisy track in which the rapper asserts, "they got me like Jesus." That lyric fanned the coals of controversy yet again, with Chuck D himself being branded an anti-Semite.

Public Enemy followed with its first Top 10 album, Fear of a Black Planet (Number 10 pop, Number Three R&B, 1990), which explored the nature of white racism in songs like "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "911 Is a Joke" (Number 15 R&B, 1990), and called on African-Americans to unite in "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (Number 20 R&B, 1990) and "War at 33 1/3." By the end of 1990, DJ Terminator X had left for a solo career, followed by the exits of Bomb Squad members Shocklee and Stephney

The Replacements | Sunday | 10:30-11:45 PM | Riot Stage

The Replacements were an alternative rock band which formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1979. The band originally started off as a punk band who began to incorporate folk and power-pop influences in their sound to become one of the leaders of the early alt-folk set and one of the flagship bands of the American 80’s post-punk scene, as well as a major influence on 90’s indie rock. 

The band was wild and vivacious, featuring vocalist and guitarist Paul Westerberg and Chris Marsthe drummer as well as the Stinson brothers Bob playing guitar and Tommy playing bass. 

They were infamous for their hard drinking lifestyles and their ragged stage performances, notorious for coming to shows too drunk to play very well at all, or sometimes just performing entire sets of covers.

The sound of this band showed off the very best of independent rock n’ roll. More than possibly any other band since the Rolling Stones, the Replacements embodied the spirit of rock n’ roll, from their raucous performances, drug addictions, charismatic and romantic frontman, and wild, basic rock n’ roll songs. At any given time, almost any list of “The Best Rock Albums Of All Time” will include either the album Let It Be or Tim, and usually both. Their sound started off as a classic-rock influenced punk style, to a melodic hardcore sound reminiscent of local buddies Hüsker Dü and progressed into a (relatively) straightforward but heartfelt rock style with a number of highly soulful ballads from the heart of Westerberg to round out the mix.