With summer already in full swing, it’s amazing to me that we’re more than halfway through 2007. Before you know it, the NFL preseason will be upon us and the kids will be back at school. Make the most of July before it’s too late with this spate of upcoming shows. And try not to blow your hand off on the fireworks.
Arguably their finest outing since The Trinity Sessions, the album that introduced them to the world, At the End of Paths Taken, signaled a shift and substantial evolution for the Cowboy Junkies. The Canuck quartet’s rootsy, folky sense remains intact, but guitarist Michael Timmins’ songwriting delves even deeper into relationships and life in a manner that is neither trite nor heavy-handed. Meanwhile, sister Margo’s vocals capture the emotion of the lyrics perfectly—likely because so much of the subject matter is as personal to her as it is to her brother; it’s all about family. CJ has definitely moved to a new frontier in their craft, and it shows tremendous promise. Chautauqua Auditorium/July 14/8 p.m./$32.50+/303.440.4666
There isn’t a lot that hasn’t been said about the Jester (as dubbed by Don McLean) already. One of the most important figures in popular music history, Bob Dylan is certainly an American troubadour unmatched. Most often associated with protest songs and ’60s folk, it would be a grave mistake to suggest his contributions to music lay only there. Indeed, everything from his introspective songwriting to his crappy singing voice influenced generations after him in a manner few others can claim—maybe Hendrix, Elvis and The Beatles. And despite the fact that his career spans almost 50 years, he continues to put out relevant material: last year’s Modern Times proves the man is still at once Woody Gutherie and Robert Johnson; a proletariat American voice with the heart of a bluesman. Hopefully, this show is only one of plenty more Red Rocks stops on his Never Ending Tour. Red Rocks Amphitheatre/July 19-20/7:30 p.m./$55/303.640.7300
While her music is good, and has been since she first started touring in 1991, Ani DiFranco’s musical contributions have been greatly overshadowed by her brilliant success as a completely DIY performer. Despite offers of houses made of gold and fountains of diamonds, or whatever else the major labels threw at her, she’s released every album on her own label, Righteous Babe records, turning it into the most successful independent label in history. Hopefully, it will endure this most recent phase of her career; either age or impending motherhood has taken its toll on the punk-folk rocker, and last year’s release, Reprieve, was a subdued outing, rife with texture, but without the bite of earlier works. She has since given birth to her daughter, Petah Lucia, so we’ll see if sleepless nights and changing diapers energizes her; we’re guessing it will. Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield/July 22/1 p.m./$40+/720.865.3500