Envy Alo: A Danceable Fusion

By: Will Baumgartner

"It never ceases to amaze me what three people can do with a guitar, drums and a Hammond organ. I recently got the opportunity to master Envy Alo's new EP and I was excited to hear so many great rock, funk, and hip hop influences, all wrapped up into their own unique sound. I can't wait to see what these cats come up with next and really hope I can be a part of it!"

-Alan Evans, Soulive

There you have it from the mouth of Alan Evans, the drummer of Soulive, one of the most popular jazz/funk fusion bands on the planet: Envy Alo, a trio of young Front Range musicians, are already well on their way to a bright future after only eight months of existence as a group. While their instrumentation is the same as Soulive, and they obviously share a lot of the same influences and tastes, these boys definitely have their own distinctive thing going on: a stew of jazz, funk, rock that is not only technically impressive, but tremendously exciting and infectious, and definitely dance-friendly. I couldn’t stop moving the last time I saw them live!

In anticipation for Envy Alo’s upcoming performance in The Pamlico Sound’s latest Funkstravaganza (five funk bands in one night at Cervantes’ Other Side this Saturday, June 18th), I recently spoke with keyboardist Aaron Pettine and guitarist/vocalist Kevin Hinder to get some insights into their process, progress, and plans. Check it out:

You guys have been around for less than a year and are already making pretty big noise on the local scene. How did your group come together, and what do you think were the key elements in your rapid rise?

Aaron: Kevin and I knew each other from attending James Madison University in Virginia for our undergrad studies. After we both relocated to Boulder, we met Tyler Gwynn (drummer) through mutual friends. After a few jam sessions with him, we knew we had a unique sound and chemistry and decided to move forward as a band.

Tyler and I both had been playing in other Front Range bands for a while now (Booster and Tenth Mountain Division respectively), so that helped us attract some of the fans from those bands to see this new project. We had developed great relationships with many of the local venues too, who were gracious enough to offer Envy Alo opening slots and gigs within our first few months of being a band.

Kevin: Another key element was just the initial drive that we wanted to do something different. A lot of bands in the area have that typical “jam band” sound, and we really wanted to create something unique. We had the tools already in place individually to do something new, and so far it seems like people enjoy it!

Kevin Hinder.

Kevin Hinder.

With your unusual and rather sparse lineup- keyboards, guitar and, drums- you create a very full, rich sound. How do you accomplish this?

Aaron: It’s simple really: add a synth bass line, swirling organ chords, furiously fast, yet tasteful jazz-rock guitar licks, and a danceable funky drum groove, and boom, that’s our sound!

Speaking of sound, I hear echoes of a lot of familiar sounds and styles within Envy Alo. The obvious comparison would be to the great funk-jazz trio Soulive, but not all your influences seem to be so contemporary. Some of the “organ trio” groups of the 60’s come to mind, as well as the solid classic groove of Booker T. & the MG’s. Who have some of your main influences been, both compositionally and in your individual styles as players?

Aaron: As a keyboard player, it's legends like Jimmy Smith, Booker T., Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder. I also got a lot of my influences from current players like Neal Evans (Soulive/Lettuce), and Beau Sasser (Kung Fu) as well. I’d say my biggest influence is John Medeski from Medeski Martin & Wood, who I was lucky enough to study under in 2015.

Kevin: When I was a kid, I went through a heavy Hendrix phase, and was into heavier rock and the blues. But as I got a little older I started listening to bands like Phish and Widespread Panic, Derek Trucks, and Umphrey's McGee. I would say Jimmy Herring is probably my favorite guitar player out there, but when I really started studying music, my focus shifted to jazz with players like Pat Metheny and John Scofield (probably #2 to Jimmy Herring for me).

Aaron Pettine. 

Aaron Pettine. 

Your music is rewarding on both an intellectual level and a visceral one. Musicians get plenty to appreciate in terms of skill and complexity, while your average concertgoer gets a solid dose of dance music. Has this been a conscious thing? How do you approach creating music like this?

Aaron: [It has] absolutely been a conscious thing. We want to challenge ourselves in the music we write, but we also want it to be accessible and fun for the listener and concertgoer. Finding that happy medium can sometimes be the toughest part but it's one of the great joys of writing our own music.

One of the things that keeps your music interesting and exciting is while your primary focus is clearly on the funk/jazz side of the spectrum, there are also occasional flavors of rock. Where does this varietal spice come from?

Kevin: I think listening to an extremely wide range of styles helps us to draw on those influences and place some of that into our own sounds. Whether it’s conscious or not, it definitely comes through in all of our playing and writing. A Tribe Called Quest is a big influence in that regard, since they mold hip-hop with jazz, funk, rock, and more all into their sound.

Tyler Gwynn.

Tyler Gwynn.

Yet another thing that sets Envy Alo apart is the fact that not all of your stuff is strictly instrumental; you have some actual songs with well-written and interesting lyrics. What songwriters have influenced you?

Kevin: I’ve been listening to Jim Croce a good bit lately, and his lyrics are so well developed, funny, and his flow is so good. The obvious ones come to mind [too]: Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards. I also love Jerry Joseph. The imagery in his writing is so strong and deep, you can tell he has really been through some shit and has a lot of demons and skeletons in his closet, so pulling on his writing is big for me.

Do your compositions come completely realized from individual band members, or are they more often group efforts?

Aaron: It’s a little bit of everything. A lot of earlier tunes came to be through us just jamming, liking something, and putting some structure to it. Recently, Kevin and I have been doing a lot of writing on our own, either chord structures or lyrics or both, and then we get together and finish it up with Tyler.

Listen to Envy Alo's debut EP One Time

I’m very excited for your performance at The Pamlico Sound’s Funkstravaganza show this Saturday. Can the audience expect any special treats from y’all at that performance?

Aaron: Yes! We will have some special treats in store. We are very excited to play our first show as Envy Alo at Cervantes’- it’s one of our favorite Denver venues!

What the hell does “Envy Alo” mean, anyway?

Aaron: It’s a play off of the Spanish word “envialo” which means “ship it”. It’s a term we use when we need to spur one of us to really rock something.

Kevin: Basically, we just replace every verb related to doing anything with “ship it”.

Watch Envy Alo's live performance of "Manic Depression":

I never could have figure that one out on my own! So what’s on the horizon for Envy Alo? Where do you see yourselves a year from now? Anything our readers should know about in advance?

Kevin: We have a summer full of dates we’re ready to announce soon, and we will be playing some of the bigger local venues too, so we’re pretty jazzed about that. We were just booked to play at a music festival in Taos, NM in September, which will be our first festival. Sometime in the fall, we plan on recording a full length album. We’ve been talking to Al Evans from Soulive about recording in his studio out East, so we have some pretty lofty goals. We’re ready to dive in headfirst and become the best and most unique band we can be!

So make sure to “ship it” with Envy Alo and all of the great funk bands on the Funkstravaganza lineup this Saturday at Cervantes! Keep up with Envy Alo on Facebook.

-Will

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Why You Should "Ship It" Tonight at The Lazy Dog With Boulder's Envy Alo

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Ship it. Ship it good. 

If you take a smack of Booster, a sprinkle of Tenth Mountain Division, and toss in an accomplished guitarist who’s new to the Boulder scene, what Boulder band do you have? Envy Alo. Formed just a few months ago, members Aaron Pettine (keys) and Kevin Hinder (guitar) have actually known each other for years. They met while attending James Madison University in Virginia and then both moved to Boulder in the years following to pursue music. The two had wanted to form a project together for quite some time, so after linking up with Tenth Mountain Division’s Tyler Gwynn (drums), Envy Alo was born. The group has quickly become known for their “old-school organ-trio jazz funk and newer, heavier rock and fusion stylings.” And tonight, they’ve got a sweet gig at The Lazy Dog! So before you catch their funkadelic show this evening, read our chat with EA’s Aaron Pettine for the deets on the band:

We know that your trio formed last October, and that this is a new project for all three of you, so tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on since your inception.

We are so new that pretty much everything we are doing right now is a ‘new project’. [For our live shows] we are continuously writing new material while also coming up with our own takes on our favorite covers. We are very excited to be heading over to KMG Studios Boulder at the end of the month to record a 4-5 song EP. Because a big part of what we do is improvised live and in the moment, taking away that element and compressing things into this neat studio version is going to be a challenge. But it’s one that we are very much looking forward to tackling.

Righteous. When are you planning to drop that?

We are hoping to release that sometime in March or early April. We’ve got a lot of plans and goals for 2016 and are looking to expand our music and fan base while also performing as much as possible. We are in the early stages of planning a summer tour on the East Coast as well; roughly ten dates in late summer from VA to VT.

Kevin, Tyler, Aaron.

Kevin, Tyler, Aaron.

On the road is always a good place to be. That’s great! And we’ll keep an ear out for the EP. So we’re curious- what’s up with your name?

The short story is that it’s basically a play off of the Spanish word Envialo, which means ‘Ship It’. This has been a saying among the three of us, whenever we need to rock something or get something done, we’ll say “Ship It!”

Nice. Lots of plans to “Ship It” tonight we’re guessing?

Yes- The Lazy Dog is one of our favorite local venues and really a staple here in Boulder for the type of music we play, so we are beyond excited to play our first show there tonight. We’re also excited that we’re supporting a very badass Denver band, Cycles.

Sweet! So head over to The Lazy Dog tonight and get weird with Boulder’s Envy Alo! Keep up with all things EA here.

Watch Envy Alo perform their track "Hottentot" live:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 09/11 & 09/12

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Another weekend is upon us Boulderites. And there’s a lot of great music happening. Here are our picks:

Today (Friday, 09/11)

arleigh kincheloe, lead singer of sister sparrow and the dirty birds.  

arleigh kincheloe, lead singer of sister sparrow and the dirty birds.
 

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds at The Fox Theatre 830PM-Close

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are a seven-piece rock outfit from NYC. Though they’ve been making music since 2008, their self-titled debut album wasn’t released until a couple of years later. But from there, the band blewwww up. Since 2011, they’ve been playing 150+ shows a year, and this summer alone they hit 15 festivals, including Loveland’s Arise. They’ll rock your bones and the show is less than $20 so hit the Fox tonight.

jebediah almond of the almond butters. photo credit:   Hannah oreskovich    

jebediah almond of the almond butters. photo credit: Hannah oreskovich
 

The Almond Butters at The No Name Bar 10PM-Close

We have mad love for the Butter boys. After months on hiatus, they played a show back in July that we wrote about here. They have several fall performances on the books and some new material planned for their show tonight. It’s finally your chance to put on your best britches and party down with the Butters. Don’t miss it y’all.

Tomorrow (Saturday, 09/12)

shafer.  

shafer.
 

Danny Shafer CD Release with special guest Paul Kimbiris at eTown Hall 7PM-930PM

Shafer is a Boulder-based musician who plays 200+ shows a year, and as Marquee Magazine said, "Rarely has one singer songwriter caused such a stir.” Not only is he a talented performer, but he books music for a lot of local venues, and he runs Conor O’Neill’s open mic night. He’s an essential part of the Boulder music scene. And tomorrow is Shafer’s CD release show for his latest album, “Weddings, Floods, and Funerals.” Paul Kimbiris, who we wrote about just yesterday, will be opening the show. To see both of these musicians for only $15 is a steal. Get your tickets here. Now.

forrest lotterhos, cody hart, and matty schelling of asalott.  

forrest lotterhos, cody hart, and matty schelling of asalott.
 

Asalott at The No Name Bar 10PM-Close

It’s been a minute since Asalott has had a show and we are thrilled they’re back at it! We first featured Asalott in a July article here. They have a Middle Eastern trance sound with a hip-hop pulse and they’ll be bumping things around behind the big brown door tomorrow night. It’s impossible to sit still during their performances, so go sway to Lotterhos’ sick hammered dulcimer skills.

polaroid of pettine from misfire. photo credit:   becky guidera    

polaroid of pettine from misfire. photo credit: becky guidera
 

Misfire with Realtalk at Owsley’s Gold Road 7PM-Close

Misfire is a supergroup of sorts consisting of Aaron Pettine of Booster (keys), Ara Verbano of Realtalk (bass), Cameron Heitmeier (guitar), and Peter Wills formerly of Shane Tully and the Rain (drums). After watching the Booster/Realtalk show at the Lazy Dog a few weeks ago, we have a feeling the energy at this show will be insane since various members of both groups are involved. Pettine told us Misfire has no set list planned for tomorrow- it’s all improv- so get ready to groove! Anddd we’re planning a Realtalk feature later this month, courtesy of Nikki Steele, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, hit this show and dance all night.

bhat,


bhat,

Valerie Bhat at Johnny’s Cigar Bar 9PM-Close

Bhat is a local singer/songwriter who plays a mixture of folk, rock, and blues covers, along with some original tunes. She’s played a number of venues this summer and hosts the Open Mic Night at the Eclectic Cafe in Louisville. Go check out her rich vocals and skilled guitar playing at good ‘ol Johnny’s.

So many great sounds. See you out there, Boulder!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Booster: No Guitars, Please.

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Sometimes funk doesn't need guitars.

Rocket Fuel. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Rocket Fuel. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Between the tantalizing food trucks, the fresh produce, and the people watching at the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, it’s hard not to have a great time. But Boulder band Booster brought an extra special treat to the market recently. They label themselves as “funk, fusion, rocket fuel.” And that last part should tell you that Booster is not your typical Boulder funk band. Why?

“We don’t have guitars.” says Aaron Pettine, the driving force behind the band. “We wanted to be different. We thought- let’s write songs where the bass leads or where the trumpet leads. And it kind of fell into place. So that’s what sets us apart.”

It does. And based on the energetic crowd of people they had dancing during their set, Booster must be doing something right.

Pettine, groovin'. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Pettine, groovin'. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Booster started with Pettine (keyboards) and Mike Lehman (drums) about 8 months ago. The two first met in college in Virginia and played in a band called Laser Pistol together, which Lehman says was “like jam rock; like Phish.” After moving out here specifically for the music scene, the two worked on several projects until eventually things fell into place with Alex Vouri on bass and Les Miller on trumpet/percussion with Booster. The four-piece has already played with some notable Boulder bands, including Na’an Stop. And they have a gig coming up with Realtalk at the Lazy Dog on August 28th that you should definitely check out.

Did I mention they play all original material too?

“We write everything. Everything is original and we’re working on things weekly.” says Pettine. “For something [like a BCFM set] where we play for four hours, there is some improv happening. But [in our regular sets] a lot of what we’re doing is what we’ve written. We don’t do covers.”

Groovy.

Tap Tap. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Tap Tap. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

You can go dance at one of Booster’s summer events here. The guys also have studio plans for the fall, but until then check out their music here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.