Denver’s Avenhart have become known for their unique blend of soulful vocals, folky instrumentation, and harmonies. Just last month, they dropped their debut self-titled EP and a live music video. The group is comprised of Andrea Pares (lead vocals), Phil Heifferon (vocals/banjo), Olivia Shaw (vocals/fiddle), Payden Widner (guitar), Alex Drapela (mandolin) and Alex Goldberg (bass). This Saturday, you can catch them at Lakewood Heritage Center's Earth Day Celebration. But before they launch into full summer show mode, I wanted to chat with the crew about their formation, their new music, and their plans for the season. Read on:
How did Avenhart come together?
We formed Avenhart after meeting in Greg Garrison's Bluegrass Ensemble at CU Denver. We loved making music together and got along well, so we decided to pursue something more outside of school. We've been playing and performing together since the spring of 2014, so [we’ve been together] about three years now.
You guys have a lot going on with a six member band! What does your songwriting process look like?
It really varies from song to song. Sometimes, one of us will write a full song and bring it to the band for arranging. Other times, we craft the whole thing together. Both processes are utterly unique and impossible to compare, but I love that every song eventually finds its way to the group to be fused in a way that is meaningful to all of us. Really bonding with the song through deep arrangement work is a challenge, but it's so worthwhile. It's a little bit like going on a road trip, except that the destination is not a place, but an emotion or well-told story and the road that you take to get there is one of notes and poetry.
Listen to Avenhart’s debut self-titled EP:
What inspirations do you pull from in terms of musical influence?
Our inspirations are amorphous and constantly developing, but we ultimately just want to sound authentic to who we are as people and musicians. Our musical tastes are varied, which really helps us draw on different styles to craft the sound that feels right to us. We love creating intricate arrangements of songs that could be played with much more sparse instrumentation. There's always an element of trying to balance strong, bold grooves with more ethereal and floating melodies.
Without getting too abstract, I think that we try to find the beauty of balance through exploring how we can utilize our instrumentation to communicate something meaningful. Our lead singer Andrea Pares has an amazingly soulful strength to her voice, and we support her distinctive tone through a blend of folky arrangements with gritty grooves and intentional melodies.
Tell me more about your debut EP. What were you trying to achieve with the selected songs? How did it all come together? What do you want people to take away?
Our EP is comprised of four songs that were born from experiences in our everyday lives, or emotions that drive the way we live. I think that we were trying to translate our memories into music that is honest and real. Regardless of what people take from it, we made something that helped us explore our relationship with the world, music, and each other.
If you could have everyone who reads this article listen to one of your songs, which song would you pick?
One of our favorites from the EP is "If I Go." It's a song that represents the paradox between longing to explore the possibilities of a path not yet traveled and the beauty of opportunities that arise through growing roots in one place.
Watch Avenhart’s live video for “The Path”:
Any tours planned for the future?
Although we don't have any tours planned for the near future, we're looking forward to exploring our region more expansively this summer. We're hoping to play in Boulder, Durango, Colorado Springs, Golden, and more.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.