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07-13-2009Red Rocks news: The return of Gotta Get Mean>Gloria, tributes to Michael Jackson and sit-ins from old friends; Twitter and MySpace posts reveal plans for 2010 and beyond; What's in store for the rest of 2009

The 18th annual Red Rocks show has come and gone, and with it yet another successful chant - or at least, 2/3 successful. After a frenetic few weeks of campaigning, plus an unprecedented midstream adjustment, the 2009 winner of the CHANT POLL was a hybrid beast: Gotta Get Mean>Gloria>Gotta Get Mean. The first indication that the chant had been heard actually came a month ago, when the band slid into Gotta Get Mean out of a jam after You, Me & Everything. It marked the first playing since 2003, and the Gotta Get Mean>Gloria segue on the 4th was the first since November of 1998.

Other special treats at Red Rocks included a pair of tributes to recently-departed music legend Michael Jackson: a cover of the Jackson 5 tune "I'll Be There" - featuring old friend Jono Manson on vocals and guitar - and a verse of Jackson's "Billie Jean" inserted into "Brother John" near the end of the set. Manson also joined the band on the latter tune, reprising his vocal take as heard on the album-closing rendition from four. Finally, frequent collaborator DJ Logic joined the band for a bass and turntable jam between "How You Remember It" and "You Reach Me", and then came back later in the set to contribute to "You, Me & Everything".

In other news, some recent tweets and Myspace updates have shed a bit of light on the band's plans for 2010 and beyond. According to a blog entry on his myspace page, Jono is "in the midst of a song-writing project with John Popper", which appears destined to yield fruit soon, as the two are slated to work together on an album early next year. John also mentioned via Twitter that he's due for a new hip replacement surgery and is hoping to hold out until November to have it done. More tweets revealed that the band may be headed back to Europe in 2011 before celebrating their quarter-century mark in 2012, when in John's words they will be "extremely busy".

In the meantime, the tour bus rolls on, a minor fender bender between Las Vegas and Phoenix notwithstanding. The band hooked up with their friends from Shurman out on the west coast, and even had a few sit-ins with lead singer Aaron Beavers on the most recent setlist staple "I Want You To Want Me". It does not appear that there will be much more for the band in 2009 beyond August other than a handful of dates in September and October - John's deadline of November for his hip surgery seems to indicate the Punta Gorda show a week prior to Halloween may be the end of the road for this year, and additional tour dates have been few and far between for a month now.