Boulder-in-the-Round is bringing the local singer/songwriter community together the first Wednesday of every month.
Were it not for the giant black letters above the corner garage entrance tugging at your curiosity from the otherwise industrial-looking parking lot, you might miss the Vapor Distillery in East Boulder. When you enter, there are a couple of red, oversized booths to the right, a few tables down the center, and black and red seats along an L-shaped bar to the left. Gin, an arrosta coffee liqueur, and a pumpkin cordial are just some of the delights you browse on the menu to sip before the show begins. You’re there for Vapor’s Boulder-in-the-Round event.
The Boulder-in-the-Round is a monthly gathering put on by Boulder musicians Theresa Peterson, Hunter Stone, and Wilson Harwood. For each BITR, this trio invites four local musicians to play. The artists sit in a row near the garage entrance of Vapor and play original songs, one after the other. When they get to the fourth person, it goes back to the first artist and another round begins. The format is a refreshing break from the traditional open-mics around town, and Theresa credits the "round" idea to Hunter, though she is the force driving the monthly production.
“It’s something he picked up back East!” she smiles. “Originally we were playing at Hunter’s house and were inviting people over monthly and then things with the venue sort of fell into place. We’ve been having these since December. It’s great! It’s an excuse for me to gush to local musicians and be like ‘I love what you’re doing but I also have something to offer you!’”
Emily: This girl has some power in her pipes. She’s up first in the round and is on piano with a commanding presence. Her melodies are dreamy behind her low-toned, sultry vocals. She’s from Denver and is self-described as intellipop, a genre categorized by ‘pop structures and lyrical smarts’ represented in bands like Alt-J and Django Django. She builds crescendo swells on the keys that lead you into her musing lyrics and just when they sound the most forceful, she lets them fall faintly into a soft silence. Awesome.
Eric: Eric’s next & is switching things up with his Appalachian dulcimer. I dig this. Eric is more folky, cradled in the mountain roots of his instrument. He powerfully plucks away, holding the dulcimer as if it’s an extension of himself. It’s entertaining enough just to watch him play, but on top of this, you realize his choruses are Americana-catchy when you have a moment to stop watching his fingers. Lucky for you, he’s Boulder based so the chances of catching a live show are in your favor.
Theresa: Theresa (also Boulder based) is third in the round on guitar. Her voice is clear, bright, and flows through the air with a gentle but persuasive pull. One of the most powerful moments of the night is when Theresa plays her waltzy “Sing Me to Sleep”. Slowly, the bar mellows into a hush and is eventually silent halfway through the piece, intently focused on her drowsy, whirling lullaby-like sound. It’s beautiful. Watching everyone remain quietly present in her playing is a testament to her talent.
Antonio: Antonio resides in Longmont, CO and wraps up each round for these Front Range artists. He calls himself a “small town, big soul songwriter” and this rings true most in his song “Cloud 9000”. It's a song that you would listen to on a Sunday morning drive through Sunshine Canyon, or at dusk on a summer night cracking beers with friends around a campfire. His lyrics find home in the simple life of small town living (he’s even got a track titled “Simple Life”) backed by soft guitar strumming for an overall easy-listening energy.
After seven or eight rounds, the night winds down and you finish your gin. You chat with Theresa, Hunter, and Wilson, who are great hosts and make you feel welcomed and a part of their event (and who by the way have a gig coming up together where awesome harmonies and Stone on a ukulele have been promised). You walk out of the garage and down the ramp to you car until next month, when a new set of artists will bring you into their individual music worlds one after the other, again and again. Boulder-in-the-Round.
Keep an eye out for the next Boulder-in-the-Round here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.