Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Five Out Of Seven Days To Play The Blues In Denver!

That's right. Right here in our town you can jump up on stage and play blues five nights a week somewhere in town. Denver has an awesome blues scene with very generous hosts, so whether you're coming down to my jam tonight at Bushwackers, or Michael Hornbuckle hosting the revolving jam tonight at Ziggies , or Herbs downtown, here is the current definitive list of Denvers available blues jams with my comments and impressions. Sunday through Thursday. Make one of the jams work for you and GET OUT AND PLAY! Go to different jams all the time so you can hear other artists. So many great musicians are out there, you don't want to miss out! 

I know I'm missing some, so if you know of one I don't have listed, let me know and I'll update the list. 

If you see me, tell me you read it here and I'll buy you a drink! 

  1. Ziggies- on 38th Avenue. 4923 W. 38th 8-midnightish Hosted by two different bands every other Sunday. One is Doc Brown’s Blues Band, the other Sunday is Blues Allstars with Steve Magnano and Rick Davis, one of my favorites.
  2. Bushwackers- 1967 South Broadway. 7-11 (recently, it used to run till 1am, but the owner is getting old I guess) A long standing standard used to be hosted by Michael Hornbuckle and often times his brother, Brian. Michael is one of Denvers finest guitar players and gigs nationally. Often plays with 103.5 the Fox’s band, the Groove Hogs. He’s an amazing singer and player, but runs a poor set because he didn't pay any attention to the sign-up list. Now it's hosted by Johnny Vaughn, very capable host and excellent guitar player with the Groove Hogs from 103.5 the fox again, only he's their full time guitar player. Also plays with the Brian Hornbuckle band. If your “jammin” in Denver, Bushwackers is a must go venue. It has one of Denver’s coolest sunken bars and best lounge chairs anywhere. Have to go at least once. Go often if you love it. Dive scene with bikers and homeless, toothless folks mixed in with DU students. It’s cool.
  3. The Roadhouse- Ristau’s Roadhouse. Whatever. 2035 S Sheridan- 5-9pm. That’s the problem with this one, it starts too early for me. But if you like to get an early start, this place is great. Biker Bar fully, I usually wear my steel toe boots here. All bikers, excellent crowd, they’ll love you. Mostly a crowd of listeners vs. players, which is why this place is great. Not everyone is there to play. They go to see live music. Hosted by Wendy and one of my good friends on guitar, Bob Lindsey. Bob is one half of the Trouble Bros band, and he and his brother Tom used to host the best Blues Jam in Denver, by far, Wednesday nights at Bushwackers. It’s gone downhill ever since they left, until I took over recently, of course (!)but Bob does a nice job here with Wendy. If it started later I’d be there every Sunday. Update: I've heard a rumor that someone else is running it now and Bob and Wendy are out, but it's still running. Anyone know?
  4. Boulder Outlook. Don't know too much as I haven't attended this one but you can never go wrong in Boulder. Rotating hosts every Sunday
  5. El  Chapultapec  Sundays with David Booker- from a reply, haven't been to this but we all know El Chapultapec is famous
  6. El Chpultapec II on 38th, just east of Ziggies. Funk jam. Don't remember who hosts this but Sherman (the machine) is on drums. Can't go wrong anywhere Sherman is playing. 
    1. Morrison Holiday Bar- 403 Bear Creek Avenue- Hosted by Rich Reno, definitely one of the best blues/jazz guitar players west of the Mississippi. Rich is a great, great guy. This is a nice place to play, but don’t drink too much. The Morrison cops are everywhere when your done, and you have to leave sooner or later! Usually this place is pretty empty, but it’s a nice place to “practice” before you put things in front of a crowd.
    2. Ziggies, see above, they host an acoustic open mic on Monday’s. Never been, Monday’s are usually slow so I don’t go out much, but you really can’t go wrong at Ziggies.
    3. Oskar’s Blues in Longmont. Hosted by Erik Boa. Never been. Heard it’s pretty good. Erik’s Tuesday at the Lincoln’s Roadhouse is a great jam, very well attended.
    1. ZiggiesRev. Hooch hosts on Tuesday. I’ve played there from time to time. Steve is a great guitar player, and very nice to play with. Sometimes it’s crowded, sometimes not.
    2. Lincoln’s Roadhouse. Hosted every Tuesday by Erik Boa. Excellent attendance, long lasting jam (was at The Q and Herman’s Hideaway before moving to Lincolns). Erik runs an excellent jam.
    3. Boulder Outlook- Again, I haven't been here but thanks to a nice reply from a viewer we have this to go to as well (he also pointed out a very mean allegation thing I said before I edited this, thanks!- Don't want to hurt anyones feelings or bring them down, this is to get us all out and playing, bringing everyone up and endorsing all the jams in town- I'll apologize personally to my offendee) 
    1. Bushwackers- Hosted on Wednesday night by Your’s Truely. Awesome guitar player, singer, Really good guy. You all should go support his jam more often ‘cause he’s super cool and runs an excellent set. Very good host for a blues jam. Goes by the list and makes sure everyone gets to play. Put’s together good sets, and jumps up and helps out whenever he’s needed. Awesome dude, attend his jams if you can, he’s just great. Heh, heh.
    2. Ziggies-Melanie Owen Padilla hosts on Wednesday’s now it seems. Haven’t been to it, but Mike, their guitar player is a good guy. Like any Wednesday gig, Ziggies will probably be well attended here
    3. Herb's Hideout- 2057 Larimer. I have only been here a couple of times. Parking is a drag, but the place is great, and your downtown, what can be wrong with that! Not sure why I don’t go more often, I only hear great things about it. Hosted by Eugene (Eugene Sings the Blues band) and he’s a regular everywhere in Denver and good. The only downside when I’ve been there is it seems to be a house band for the whole night and the jammers sit in with them. That’s pretty different.
    4. Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret- hosted the first Wednesday of each month by Tempa ( of Tempa and the Tantrums fame), this is a great venue, taking you back to the Roaring 1920’s speakeasy’s or so. Big basement bar, big stage, decent staff helping out. This one could become a regular for folks since it’s only once a month anyway and is such a good venue. Parking is an issue, and you’ll have to walk a block or so with your gear, so pack light and leave your amp at home, they’ll have a Fender Blues DeVille to use. -Heard a rumor this is cancelled now. Anyone know for sure?

    1. Lakewood Grill-  8100 Colfax Ave-. Hosted now by drummer Robert Fiorino, used to be hosted by Rich Reno. See above. Lakewood Grill is where I got my “blues jam” start back when another guy hosted it years ago. Great place. Usually a good crowd. The usual bass player Bob Abbott is one of the coolest cats in the land. No matter what you should go here at least once. They have great food too! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Post

So as a long time blues jam attendee and as a recent blues jam host here in Denver, I decided it's time to start a Denver Blues Jam blog. I'm took over hosting what has been a long and historically well attended jam at Bushwackers, 1967 South Broadway, that began suffering from poor attendance. We seem to have turned it around with some really packed nights, but like all jams, attendance is up and down. I'm hoping this blog helps promote this and all other local blues jams and encourages musicians everywhere to get out and play. 

Brand new first timers, veteran blues jammers and professional musicians alike can enjoy our jams. I'm hoping for comments on how to improve the jams across town, encourage new players and get regulars to be, well, more regular. Maybe the brown bottle flu can help with that! Gross. 

Anyway, this first post will promote my jam. 1967 South Broadway at Bushwackers. If you've never been to Bushwackers, you're missing out on one of Denver's best "dive" bars. With a sunken bar, lounge chairs and an overall "Vegas Dive Lounge Gone Bad" character that must be seen. Two pool tables and a patio out back for the smokers. The staff are great, the drinks are cheap and plenty strong. One comment I read online in a review was "Psychedelic Biker Bar". Pretty cool.  If you ask me it's Jimi Hendrix meets Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack on Harley's. 

We don't have any illusions as the host band that we are great, although we hope to hone our set list for some serious blues entertainment and history, combining great song choices and solo talent with historical "where did this song come from" samples. Things like Led Zeppelin's Lemon Song turning into The Killin' Floor, which is where Jimmy Page took the riff from. Or Hendrix's Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) into Muddy Waters Rollin' and Tumblin, again, where Hendrix took the vibe from a medley of Rollin' Stone, Still a Fool and Rollin' and Tumblin'. 

Our goal is a quick opening set, then getting the jammers up and playing. No 45 minute to an hour opening sets for the hosts. We're jammers just like you. I know you want to play, so we get you up to do just that. Another thing. I know most of you work the next day and don't want to be out until 1am, so send me an email to let me know you want to get up early at I'll sign you up for an early set so you can get home at a reasonable hour but still get up and play every week. I know how it is to have to work the next day. Get in early and I'll get you up early. If you can hang out afterward and listen to the other jammers play, great, but if not, don't let that hold you back from coming down. We will accommodate!

I'm a rare blues jam host. I LOVE Blues Harp, so harp players are not just welcome here, but encouraged to come on down and join us. Nothing takes you down to the Delta or up to Chicago faster and easier then well played Blues Harp. Here's my first tip to new harp players at any jam: If you play harp, play between vocals, not on top of them. That's why harp players get such a bad rap. Playing all the time, especially over vocals. A harmonica is generally not a rhythm  instrument in the full backing sense, but a horn, so play as such. Let the guitar and  mostly the bass and drummer back the song up. Play horn stabs and solo when you're asked to, not all through the song.