Love Hope Strength Presents. 3 Kings Tavern. 04.21.12

Saturday turned out to be one of those days when I truly feel for those who do not live in Denver, Colorado.  The morning started out in line for Record Store Day at Twist & Shout.  This was my third RSD at my favorite mile high record store and once again the crowd was much larger than the year before.  Personally, I have my doubts that a day of binge shopping is going to save these independent institutions, but it’s still great to see so many people line up to show their support for something we will all miss when it’s gone.

Later in the afternoon we spent some time down off Parker & Valencia for Copper Kettle Brewing Company’s 1 Year Anniversary.  Copper Kettle is one of the many neighborhood breweries to open their doors in 2011, adding to an already incredible scene being called the ‘Napa Valley of Beer’.  Day 3 of the four-day event included a beer garden in the parking lot, live bluegrass music, excellent food from The Biscuit Bus and a special tapping of an Anniversary Barleywine.  At 13% abv, it felt a little strange to be drinking it out of a plastic cup in the middle of a sunny day, but I’m not complaining, it was a damn good beer.  The Belgian Golden Strong, the Black Belgian Quad and the award winning Mexican Chocolate Stout provided the perfect buzz for a Saturday afternoon.  After that, it was time for a short rest before heading down to 3 Kings Tavern for the Love Hope Strength Bone Marrow Drive with Arliss Nancy, Micheal Dean Damron and Micah Schnabel.

Although none of the bands on the bill are actually based out of Denver, I consider them all local.  Anyone on Suburban Home Records is local in my eyes.  If you live in Denver and are even the least bit interested in music and/or craft beer, you are familiar with Virgil Dickerson.   The man behind Suburban Home Records also promotes live music at various establishments around the city — merging the best of music and beer, whenever and wherever possible.  It’s rare that one of his artists will come to town to play a single show and then move on.  This weekend was no exception.  Mike D, Micah and the boys from Arliss Nancy not only played at 3 Kings, they also had a gig in Colorado Springs, an acoustic set at Illegal Pete’s and a daytime set at Denver Beer Co.

I can’t speak for all the performances, but those of us at 3 Kings were witness to another great showcase of some of the best in this alternative country music scene.  Ft. Collins-based Arliss Nancy split the night right open with a set comprised almost entirely of tracks from the ‘best of the year’ contender, Simple Machines.  I’ve been following this band for awhile now and I have to say I’m shocked by how much they’ve grown in the past couple years.  Watching them on this particular night, I couldn’t help but think they have the potential to be the next Lucero or Drive-By Truckers.  Cory and GB have the same chemistry as Cooley and Hood as they take turns leading the band.  And their unrestrained energy is infectious.  The sound might not have been great, and Micah’s guest spot on “The Crease” drowned out, but none of that mattered — it was all about getting out there, having some fun, kickin’ some ass and pounding beers.  Just like the aforementioned bands, Arliss Nancy arn’t trying to be cool, they just are.

For those of you who don’t know, Michael Dean Damron is from Portland, OR and is the frontman for I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House.  Mike D (as he’s known by his friends) is a long haired, burly looking dude who would make you shit your pants if you ran into him in a dark alley, but looks can be deceiving.  This is a guy who will pick up a guitar, pour his heart out to you, sell you a t-shirt/album/CD for whatever you can afford to pay, and then buy you a beer with the money.  Every time I’ve seen Mike, he’s silenced a drunk crowd with confessional songs about the rough life on the road, the rough life at home and the rough life growing up.  Throw in an ‘angry-at-the-fucked-up-world’ political point of view and you’ve got Mike in a nutshell — a big man with a powerful voice to express his personal stories.  On Saturday night he split his set with material from across his career, along with a cover of Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”.

Micah Schnabel from Columbus, OH is one of the frontmen for Two Cow Garage, but he’s also a brother in this Suburban Home family.  Schnabel comes through our fine city quite a few times a year and it’s always a treat.  No matter where Schnabel is performing, it always feels like you’re in a friend’s living room.  Do you know how it’s usually irritating when someone in the crowd is singing louder than the person on stage?  Well it’s never like that when the audience is singing American Static (5,4,3,2,o000ne!) over Micah’s raspy voice.  It’s a family affair.  GB, Mike D, people from the audience, all on stage — it’s all within the boundaries of having a good time.  Covering Gin Blossoms and Prince arn’t even off limits!  Just Micah, his friends, his family and his guitar — I have to say, I have never put $6 to better use!