By: Kyle Donovan
Denver's Dogs Got Flavor like to wear red pants and play funk rock.
When was the last time you walked into a bar and immediately started dancing?
As I walked through the entrance of The Squire Lounge on East Colfax this summer, I had the insatiable urge to start gyrating and throw my hands recklessly into the air- I just couldn’t help myself. A big, dumb grin plastered itself on my face as I approached the stage. The band enticing this animalistic response out of me was Dogs Got Flavor, a familiar quintet made up of mostly Boulderites and CU grads. Joseph Riedel, the band’s lead singer and frontman was belting a ridiculously high note, his long hair shaking as his vibrato rattled the rafters. A dozen patrons and musicians were cheering, reveling in the sonorous electric guitar work of Tony and Nick Milano, the band’s guitarist brothers. Peter Warekois and Dillon Dubois held down a tight, funky rhythm section that had the whole crowd bobbing and dancing with an unmistakably locked-in groove. Peter’s smooth and subtle bass riffs were so tightly tied to Dillon’s percussive style that they seemed to gel together, truly in the pocket. It had been a while since I had seen a local band that could push me to drop my inhibitions completely with precisely zero drinks in my bloodstream. Despite this, I ordered a whiskey sour and joined the crowd, grooving out to the tunes, hoping that the band’s set wouldn’t end for another hour. Sadly, it would be their last tune of the night.
As another singer-songwriter jumped on the stage and implored a motley crew of musicians to join him, I greeted these magnificent men and we stepped outside. They welcomed me to the Squire and started to tell me more about this open mic, in the heart of East Colfax. Just a few blocks down from the Ogden and the Fillmore, a group of twenty or so musicians gather every Sunday night to commune, play music, and enjoy each other’s company.
"It's a really fun atmosphere to play, improvise, meet other people, other musicians,” Joseph told me, “and it's really freeing because there's no pressure- it's not a gig, it's just a jam and an open mic with a lot of friends."
This informal open mic features a whiteboard, open for new sign-ups, though there’s not much of an official order. Nic Jay, the host of the weekly event, reads the first few names from the whiteboard to start the evening off. As the night goes on though, the order of things becomes far less formal. The regulars of the event call themselves the “Starlight Squires,” and even have their own facebook page. You’ll also notice that red pants are a theme for them– from the signup list to the group’s profile picture, if you come to the Squire Lounge on Sunday night, you should expect to see at least half of the musicians on stage wearing pants with a red hue.
This crew includes the members of Dogs Got Flavor, who often serve as a house band for the event. When a new singer-songwriter shows up and wants to play a tune or two, you’ll often see Peter and Dillon backing him up with a solid rhythm section. Nick or Tony might hop up on guitar, and Joseph is often singing harmonies. All of this networking and community-building has culminated in a weekly residency for the band on a different night of the week- they’re calling them “Thick-Ass Thursdays.” Each Thursday in October, the band has played a set all their own to a crowd at the Squire.
Joseph would later tell me, "The test is bringing what the Squire knows our sound to be to Thursday- and seeing if people will show up on Thursday just to see us." So far, it’s been a resounding success. Their final Thursday show will feature the full group, reunited after Dillon has been out of town for a fortnight. On the 29th of October, you can expect unstoppable gyration and a plethora of tight-knit tunes out of Dogs Got Flavor. I know I’ll be there.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.