3 Kings Tavern Lights Go Dim: Micah Schanbel Solo Set

Last night I took my wife to see Rusalka at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  The evening was a gift for our 1 year anniversary and I have to say I really enjoyed my first opera.  That being said, it didn’t take us long to get back into our own element.  A quick change in the car into street clothes and what felt like our own skin, we were at the Hornet on South Broadway within minutes. A couple beers, some quick bar food and then over to 3 Kings Tavern for some music in our native tongue.

This year I am trying to branch out a little when it comes to my live music experiences.  I feel like Denver has a lot to offer in the form of a local scene and I don’t feel like I’ve taken advantage of that, always finding myself gravitating to national acts at the Bluebird, Ogden, Larimer and Summit.  So when Virgil Dickerson posted an announcement that two of his Suburban Home Records artists would be playing 3 Kings, I figured it would be the perfect balance to the evening.  Neither Micah Schanbel or Lizzie Huffman are local, but they are signed to a local label, so I figured this counted as branching out.

The funny thing about the Denver-based Suburban Home Records is that I learned about it from a blog based out of FloridaNinebullets is my #1 resource when I’m looking for the dark side of country.  The whiskey and beer soaked misfits that you won’t find on the CMAsLucero, Drive-By Truckers, Drag The River, Glossary, Two Cow Garage, etc.  Ninebullets became a daily visit for me last year and I started noticing that a lot of these albums were on Suburban Home Records and the more I started to follow this label, the more I realized I had stumbled upon a local goldmine of music.  So when the owner suggests a show in Denver, I’m going to make it if I can.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time to catch Lizzie Huffman, but her album is streaming here, check it out!  Luckily we did get there just in time for Micah Schnabel‘s set.  Micah is the lead singer of Two Cow Garage, one of my favorites right now.  They remind me a lot of Lucero, but with a few less years on the road.  Vocals like Ben Nichols meets Conor Oberst.  I didn’t get into them until recently, but their latest album has been on repeat for months and I was a little afraid I would be disappointed by a solo set from Micah.  I thought it might be lacking without the band.  I was wrong.

First off, Micah looked nothing like I expected.  In this inner-connected world, it’s not often I am surprised by an artist, but having never seen a photo of this guy, I was shocked.  I think I expected a Hank III and what I got was a disheveled, tattooed, glasses/v-neck wearing hipster…punk?   Interesting.  But to be honest, I couldn’t give a shit less what he looked like, because his voice was right on.  He didn’t need a band up there to create the energy he needed, in fact he put off more energy than the album does, all by himself.

To say he was by himself is misleading though.  Evidently, Micah has a devoted, almost rabid, following here in Denver.  The front of the stage was packed with a diverse cluster of guys ranging from their 20’s to 50’s that knew every word and weren’t afraid to sing along.  At one point I heard a guy next to me mention to his friend “I wish I loved anything as much as that!” referring to the guy with the blue bandanna who was jumping up and down and screaming the entire set.  Micah took this energy in and spit it back out at the audience in true punk fashion, even busting his guitar string half way through, only to finish the song off and then continue on with Lizzie‘s guitar.

The set last just over an hour and included songs from his solo album, When The Stage Lights Go Dim, as well as various Two Cow Garage tracks, including my two favorite songs, Jackson, Don’t You Worry (written to his nephew) and Soundtrack To My Summer (a true story).

$6 cover, shots of tequilla and PBRs  flowing like wine and great music…I have to say I will be back at 3 Kings the next time Micah or Suburban Home Records are there.

American Static
Cut Me, Mick
Playground Princess(?)
Girl Named January
God and Money
Jackson, Don’t You Worry
Throwing Rocks At The Sun
No Shame
Folksinger’s Heart
Soundtrack To My Summer
Skinny Legged Girl
Duran to my Duran(?)
Sally I’ve Been Shot
Your Humble Narrator
Falling apart on the witness stand(?)

  2 comments for “3 Kings Tavern Lights Go Dim: Micah Schanbel Solo Set

  1. February 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Thanks so much for making it out to the show, for discovering Suburban Home, and for supporting our acts and helping to spread the word on my little label. One small correction. Suburban Home is based in Denver, Colorado. Ft Collins is great and definitely a home away from home, but we are proud of being in Denver. Thanks so much for reviewing the show; next time, catch Lizzie she was amazing.

    • February 14, 2011 at 9:07 am

      Will catch her next time! Not sure where I got Ft. Collins, but went ahead and updated that. Looking forward to the next show.

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