What: James and The Devil
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399
More info: foxtheatre.com
James and The Devil pop up regularly at Boulder venues like Conor O'Neill's, but it might be time to get used to seeing them on bigger stages.
The band just won Westword's Best of the West battle, earning them a gig playing before a Film on the Rocks movie, $4,000 and a three-track EP recording at The Decibel Garden. On Friday night, they'll headline the Fox Theatre for show being thrown by the management company they recently signed with, Creative Management Innovations.
They're already putting that money and studio time to use, working on a new full-length album to be released this summer.
"You're always working on the next thing," fiddler Dave Ross said. "We're just working on new songs that have surfaced and just trying to keep it going -- trying to keep the positive energy going in the right direction and trying to get the music out there. You gotta constantly be on top of getting music out to the fans."
It's been about two years since James and The Devil's debut LP, Altitude Sickness, and Ross thinks that time, and the 200-300 shows they've played since, will turn into noticeable improvements on the next record.
"What's the word? It's gonna sound probably a little more advanced. We've had that much more time to mesh with each other," he said.
The problem with Altitude Sickness, the band decided, was that it didn't quite capture the feeling they project when they play live. It's a common problem for this kind of roots-rock-meets-bluegrass kind of music, but rather than attribute the missing energy to not being directly in front of people, Ross thinks it's the pressure of a studio.
"Sometimes it's hard to capture that same energy in a studio. Not to mention being in a studio is nerve-wracking, you know?" he said. "By the time you save up the $10,000 for the album and it's time to make it happen, you kind of end up battling nerves and all other things. It affects the energy."
It's hard to say exactly what James and The Devil sound like, beyond some sort of rock and bluegrass fusion. Ross grew up playing fiddle and had some classical violin training that he says put his own style somewhere between the two.
"It's a mashup of what everyone can bring to the table. Our vocalist has a real knack for singing real fast lyrics and real thought-out lyrics. And the drummer is from a rock background, the bass player's from a funk-rock background, our guitar player ... has played in punk bands, rock bands. We all come from different background, and instead of coming together and just trying to be a pop band or just doing bluegrass ... we try not to put any boundaries on our songs."
After the Fox show (and, Ross points out, after finals are over for the students in the band), James and The Devil are gearing up for a big summer. They'll wrap the new album, play that Red Rocks gig and set out doing what they do best, the festival circuit.
Feel the live energy for yourself Friday night, and don't miss the openers, fellow CMI-signees Branded Bandits and Birch Street.