Concerts: k.d. lang & The Siss Boom Bang, and Keb' Mo' w/ Sunny War

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Time for our first August concerts! These two shows sold out quickly--both artists are favorites of Gardens concert attendees. And after reading Rick's reviews below, I found out that both have new albums out this year . . . yet another reason to enjoy these concerts.

k.d. lang & The Siss Boom Bang w/ The Secret Sisters
Thursday, Aug. 4 – York Street
Doors at 6 p.m., concert starts at 7 p.m.
Sold out!

Keb' Mo' w/ Sunny War
Sunday, Aug. 7 – York Street
Doors at 6 p.m., concert starts at 7 p.m.
Sold out!

Here are some pre-concert reviews of these artists, courtesy of Gardens’ member Rick Hum. Thanks, Rick! We love reading these artist's bios before each show.  

k.d. lang was born as Kathryn Dawn Lang on November 2, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, the daughter of Audrey and Adam Frederick Lang. When Kathryn was nine months old, her family moved to Consort, Alberta where she grew up with two sisters and one brother. Her father was a drugstore owner but left the family when lang was twelve. She attended Red Deer College where she became fascinated with the music of Patsy Cline. She formed a Patsy Cline tribute band called the Reclines in 1983.

Singing at country and western venues in Canada, lang made several recordings that received very positive reviews and earned a 1985 Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. She accepted the award wearing a wedding dress and made numerous tongue-in-cheek promises about what she would and would not do in the future. Fulfilling the title of "Most Promising" she has won eight Juno Awards.

lang's career received a huge boost when Roy Orbison chose her to record a duet of his standard, "Crying," the collaboration won the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 1989. In 2003, she won her fourth Grammy Award, this time for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her collaboration with Tony Bennett on A Wonderful World. In all, k.d. lang has been nominated for 11 Grammy awards and won four.

In a January 13, 2008 Sunday Times interview lang states, "When she [lang] isn’t working, she is mostly a homebody, living quietly with a girlfriend she refers to as ‘my wife’ and her two dogs.” In 2010 lang was in Nashville, working on a new country album, titled Sing it Loud. The album was released in spring 2011 by k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang.

Siss Boom Bang includes Joe Pisapia (guitar, bass, piano, assorted keyboards, pedal steel, banjo, ukulele, mandolin), Daniel Clarke (piano, organ, guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, and the occasional go at “the chick magnet,” k.d.’s banjo), Fred Eltringham (drums, percussion, and a few chords on guitar), Josh Grange (guitar, steel guitar, banjo and piano) and Lex Price (bass, acoustic & electric guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, tenor guitar). Daniel Clarke, Fred Eltringham and Josh Grange all played with the Dixie Chicks. Eltringham and Clarke also played together with the Court Yard Hounds.

In a review in the Guardian and Observer, k.d. lang introduces the Siss Boom Bang as "the men that changed my life," and certainly their presence looks to have
re-energized her. lang is a beaming and ebullient figure … easing her spectacular and pitch-perfect voice into every corner of Miss Chatelaine and winning a standing ovation for an understated yet mesmerizing reading of Cohen's Hallelujah.

Keb' Mo' was born Kevin Moore on October 3, 1951 in Los Angles. He had an early appreciation for the blues, gospel music and was an accomplished guitar player as a teen. He started his musical career playing steel drums and acoustic bass in a calypso band; then played in a variety of blues and backup bands through the 1970s and 1980s.

Mo’ started recording in the early 1970s with Papa John Creach (from Jefferson Airplane); he played on four of Creach’s albums. Keb’ Mo’ released his self-titled debut album in 1994. His second release in 1996 Just Like You included his good friends Jackson Brown and Bonnie Raitt. This album was his first of three Grammy awards in seven nominations.

In 1998 Keb’ Mo’ portrayed Robert Johnson in a documentary film, Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl? In 2003, Martin Scorsese collaborated with many blues musicians including Keb' Mo' to put together a series of films entitled The Blues.

The touring band for Live & Mo’ in 2009 was Keb' Mo' (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Jeff Paris (vocals, mandolin, keyboards), Les Falconer (vocals, drums), Reggie McBride (bass, vocals) and Clayton Gibb (electric guitar, dobro).

Keb’ Mo’s next album The Reflection is due to be released on August 2, 2011. The show at Denver Botanic Gardens is the third stop on the tour for this release. Keb’ Mo’ says The Reflection takes him to a good place emotionally. “It lulls me down into that slower groove, and I like that.” The Reflection was written and recorded over a period of three years, that included his relocation from Los Angeles to Nashville. Self-produced, the 12-song set features duets with India.Arie and Vince Gill, as well as performances by Dave Koz, Marcus Miller, Mindi Abair and world-renowned studio musician David T. Walker.

Sunny War is described by Michael Simmons in LAWeekly as a guitarist with fingers like Robert Johnson’s and a voice like Billie Holiday. She was born Sydney Lyndella Ward 20 years ago in Nashville to a bohemian, single mother. They moved every couple of years to Colorado, Michigan and California.

She can’t pinpoint where she picked up her startling Delta authenticity but credits Nashville and says, “My mom’s boyfriends listened to blues.” War began playing guitar around age 7, is largely self-taught (“I have tricks that I do and my own system for every chord”) and began fingerpicking while mimicking the Beatles’ "Blackbird."

While the blues is her foundation, the singer is by no means a revivalist. Some tunes have the staccato chord structure of punk rock, others are utterly idiosyncratic. Peter Stampfel, co-founder of the legendary Holy Modal Rounders, is a fan: "I really like how her songs don’t fit in the standard blues forms."

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At the Gardens

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