Metal connoisseurs, Jackson and Midnight Ultra

by Chris Aaland

The road trip beckons yet again. For the first time since Van Halen’s “Monsters of Rock” tour hit Mile High Stadium in 1988, I’ll see Metallica play live tonight at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. The fact that my traveling party includes one of my happy hour buddies and two of my favorite bartenders only adds to the mayhem.

Kimmie and I have done the concert thing together before. We guzzled dozens of complimentary Coors Lights together in the VIP tent during the Beach Boys’ rain-soaked set this summer at Fort Lewis. Four second row tickets: $400. Four VIP passes: $200. Kimmie belting out “I Get Around” from one of the Bob’s Johns behind the south goalpost: priceless.

The real treat will be attending an old-fashioned rock show with Dave Alexander, a 49-year-old metal connoisseur who regularly heads to the Q for the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Motörhead. Dave and I have seen blues and alt-country acts together, but this will be my first rock concert in his presence. It feels like watching Wimbledon at Centre Court with Her Royal Highness.

Strangely, he’ll pop his Metallica cherry tonight. What he has in store is a hair-raising, ear-splitting display of sweat, hair and testosterone. Seeing Metallica from the pit isn’t nearly as awe-inspiring as watching the crowd from the side. The synchronization of the collective head banging would impress Chinese gymnastic judges.

The chance to see James, Lars, Kirk and Robert isn’t the only road trip worth taking this week. KOTO-FM, community radio for Telluride, welcomes Joe Jackson to the Palm Theatre on Friday. I saw Jackson in concert three or four times in the ‘80s. His career includes dabbles into new wave rock, big band jazz, classical overtures and MTV-style pop. He broke onto the scene in 1979 with “Look Sharp!,” a guitar-driven, cynical affair that rivaled the best work that fellow Brits Elvis Costello and Gram Parker were putting out at the time. Whenever Jackson seemed to find a formula that worked, though, he’d switch gears like he did with “Jumpin’ Jive” two years later — a blast of jump blues déjà vu that harkened back to the days when Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan ruled the roost. British singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore opens the Telluride show at 8 p.m.

The Andreas Kapsalis Trio returns to the Summit tonight (Thursday) for a 9:30 p.m. gig. Kapsalis draws comparisons to Stanley Jordan and the late Michael Hedges with his eight-fingered virtuosity. No less a visionary than Dave Brubeck has hailed Kapsalis (who covers Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk.”) The guitarist’s journey is as unique as his fretwork. When he was 18, he severed a tendon in his left hand while working as a luthier’s apprentice. He began using his right hand to tap the fret, producing what would become his signature style.

The Badly Bent plays its last public local show of 2008 when it performs at Steamworks at 9 p.m. Friday. The Badly Bent is a past winner of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition and has been singing and picking that high and lonesome sound for more than a decade.

Denver jam band Midnight Ultra plays back-to-back nights at the Summit on Friday and Saturday. A name check of the bands they’ve shared the stage with includes Bill Kreutzman, Ivan Neville, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jerry Joseph and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Their sound incorporates equal parts rock, funk and jazzy improve.

Drive west to Dolores to check out the Lawn Chair Kings at the Hollywood Bar on Saturday. Baby Toro, a post-punk Americana duo, opens the show at 8 p.m.

The Kirk James Blues Band has a pair of regional dates on tap this weekend. Friday night finds them at Blondie’s Pub & Grub in Cortez at 8 p.m. On Saturday, they play at Legends Lounge & Grill at 8 p.m.

La Plata Electric Association and Ska Brewing host the Bodo Bash to benefit United Way of Southwest Colorado tonight from 5-7 p.m. at Ska’s new world headquarters. Live music, tours of the new brewery and complimentary appetizers from Zia Taqueria are available for a suggested donation of $1 at the door. Half of the proceeds from beer sales will also benefit United Way. Last year, LPEA raised more than $28,000 for United Way through employee contributions and creative fund-raisers like the Bodo Bash.

Joe Jackson plays Telluride's Palm Theatre this Friday

This week’s Top Shelf list looks at 10 highlights from Joe Jackson’s eclectic catalog:

• “Got the Time,” from “Look Sharp!,” 1979. The most rocking cut on Jackson’s debut features Graham Maby’s catchy bass line and angry guitar from Gary Sanford. (Actually, I could pick any track from this one.)

• “I’m the Man,” from “I’m the Man,” 1979. A stellar cut from Jackson’s second album of new wave in the same calendar year.

• “Jumpin’ Jive,” from “Jumpin’ Jive,” 1981. A heaping dish of Cab Calloway jump blues.

• “The Verdict,” from “Body and Soul,” 1984. Classical and jazz intersect on this horn-driven number that features a crescendo of Gary Burke’s powerful drumming.

• “A Slow Song,” from “Night and Day,” 1982. While the two MTV staples (“Breaking Us in Two” and “Steppin’ Out”) made this Jackson’s best-selling album, the seven-minute finale showcased his soulful vocals and introspective songwriting.

• “Man in the Street,” from “Big World,” 1986. What audacity. The three-sided album of new tunes was recorded live in front of a small club audience. Jackson demanded their silence, however, so no applause is heard whatsoever.

• “Live 1980/86,” 1988. A double-live album, culled from four vastly different tours. “Is She Really Going out With Him?” appears three times, including acoustic and a cappella versions.

• “Nocturne,” from “Will Power,” 1987. Jackson’s first full-on experiment with classical. He conducts a symphony on four tracks, then plays a solo piano piece on the fifth.

• “Oh Well,” from “Laughter & Lust,” 1991. Aside from his big band album, Jackson shies away from covers. This rocking version of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac classic is an exception to the rule.

• “Beat Crazy,” from “Beat Crazy,” 1981. Odd rhythms and the rare lead vocal from Graham Maby.

If I tell you what I’m doing today, will you shut up and get out of my way? E-mail me at



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