TELLURIDE – Forget what you may have heard. Rock ‘n roll is alive and well, being righteously personified by Boulder’s own West Water Outlaws. A sum of their heavy, distorted guitar riffs, thumping bass, wide open drums, and Blake Rooker’s vocals reminiscent of yesteryear greatness that defined heavy rock, the Outlaws are Colorado’s answer to push button DJs and pop oriented one timers. Offering an alternative to the saturated computerized Front Range music scene, they quickly took their sound from house parties to clubs, playing for beer and food. You know, how eventual rock stars are supposed to come into this world.
Rather than portraying themselves as a retro act that pulls on nostalgic strings, the Outlaws are the next in a progression of the traditional instrumentation that facilitated Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Doors. The state seems to be digging it, too. Sold out headliner slots at the Fox in Denver and offering support to the Royal Southern Brotherhood and Rival Sons are among their bragging rights. They tour half as many days as there are in a year, and somehow still pumped out a brand new self-titled album this month. The bold new tunes carry the needed weight to push their legacy even further into the rock lineage, without leaving out the maturation any band that want to be multidimensional in their range of catalog.
West Water Outlaws, Sat., Feb. 15, Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 10 p.m., $7/$10
Miller Creek to Jam the Moon
The first notes of Miller Creek’s jump off track “The Ship” from their self-titled 2010 release features a clean solo piano line that quickly jumps into a bouncy vocal narrative that seems meld old school classic rock with new wave jam band accents. Frontman and guitarist Mike Simmons swerves through a riding story about the metaphoric sailing vessel before a retro organ movement by keyboardist Ryan Maynes switches to a raw Steinway sounding piano solo. The consistent rhythm section mixes perfectly, and the combination of all these tones at once sets the pace for a band that has captured the essence of throwback rock and everything musically inclined listeners like about modern derivatives. They can dig deep into danceable yet organic live electronica on “Prague” as easily as they nestle into a country washed folk ballad on “San Francisco.” Overall it seems they can approach any genre they want and make it their own to varying degrees.
Formed in Missoula, Mont. the four piece has been at it for ten strong years. Lineup change and constant touring have hardened their sound in the live setting. They also claim to write music every day, thus keeping their repertoire vast and understanding of the rock landscape current. Their dedicated fanbase the Creek Freaks have come to expect spontaneity at every show, making it easy to follow the band on tour. They made it through Colorado last Summer, skipping over Telluride, but we will get one night with the band this time. Luckily it will also be Valentines Day, so grab a date and plan on instigating some slow dancing when they break down into the brand new tune “Colleen.” Trust me.
Miller Creek, Fri., Feb. 14, Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 10 p.m., $3
Salmon Head Up the Hill
Leftover Salmon travel up the hill to headline a gig at the Telluride Conference Center Sunday. “We thought we’d give it a try up there this year, move it around, and see what kind of trouble we can get into,” said Leftover frontman Vince Herman. “Telluride is a legendary place, and people there have legendary amounts of fun. It is a town with a healthy ski bum population, which is getting more rare, and they are always a good, rowdy crowd to play to.”
Leftover Salmon, Sunday, Feb. 16, Telluride Conference Center