Premiere: Denver's Boot Gun Debuts with a Bang with Two Singles & a New Music Video

Denver’s Boot Gun have entered the Colorado music scene with a serious bang. Today, the three-piece are releasing their debut single and video for “Virginia,” a high-energy rock’n’roll track with a Southern twang, and a rebellious video featuring a slew of Denver haunts to match. And folks, one thing’s for sure, the trio comprised of Keith Lawrence (guitar/vocals), Davie Landry (bass/vocals), and Cody Hart (drums), have brought the party.

“Virginia” was recorded and mixed by Todd Divel (The Yawpers, In The Whale, The Velveteers) of Silo Sound and mastered by Hans Liburd of Burdhouse Mastering. The video was directed and filmed by Colin Anders of Slice Cinematics (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, A Shadow of a Jaguar, Dragondeer). Boot Gun also featured several friends on the track’s instrumentals including Bullfrog Baugh on harmonica, who makes an appearance in the video about 40 seconds in, Sam Janik on guitar, and Bill McKay on organ and piano.

Says frontman Keith Lawrence about the track, "Virginia came to me in multiple dreams last summer. I showed the boys the main riff and they said ‘Sounds great. Where's the rest of the song?' I told 'em I had to go back to sleep to hear [and] see the rest of it. A few months and a couple of disco naps later, we had us a rock’n’roll ripper."

A ripper it is indeed. “Virginia” is a boot-stompin’ tune rife with slashing rips, harmonica twang, and a jangly toe-tappin’ keys solo that will force you on your feet. Some of that energy didn’t enter the track until the boys rounded things out in the studio though.

Says Keith, “As a band, we all believe that a song isn't finished being written until we record it. Todd at Silo pushed for certain creative ideas that we were able to let shine on these tracks. Having Bill McKay sit in on keys helped round out the sound and bring our musical intention into fruition."

Boot Gun. Photo Credit:  Mountain Trout Photography

Boot Gun. Photo Credit: Mountain Trout Photography

Along with “Virginia” and their debut music video, Boot Gun also released their B side “Feels Like A Storm” today. While “Virginia” takes you on a wild ride, quite literally in the video, “Feels Like A Storm” is the moodier, heavy-hitting track from the trio.

Says Davie, “‘Storm’ is a song that we wrote collectively. It started with Keith singing but never felt completely right. So we argued and laughed, and laughed and argued, and I was forced to sing it… In the end, it became the beast that you're listening to today."

You can listen to “Virginia” and “Feels Like A Storm” on all major streaming platforms and catch Boot Gun live at Cervantes with Dave Watts & Friends on Friday, April 12th.

Says Davie on Boot Gun’s debut, “It’s a young band's take on all the rock’n'roll we love and grew up on. We go from A to Z, then back to A just make sure you're still with us."

Join that trip and keep up with Boot Gun here.

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

Spectra Art Space Is Our Favorite Thing Happening in Denver Art Right Now

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Last Saturday, BolderBeat entered the neon-lit doors of Denver’s Spectra Art Space to an at-capacity crowd. The gallery and event space’s latest art opening party “Colorado Vibes 3” was in full swing with walls dripping in local photography and paint work, fashion models strutting down a catwalk outfitted with black-lights, and musicians playing in the venue’s outdoor patio space. The exhibit, which is available to view over the next month, features all-local artists and a slew of mediums: pencil work, hand-drawn illustrations, mixed media, sculpture work, clothing, fashionable eyewear, photography, jewelry, and more. Whether your eye is drawn to Lexie Lund’s girl-power glitter guns and metallic tampon display, the psychedelic colored pencil work of Nick Fast, Nova Lee’s ominously friendly “ET Phone Ohm”, C.o.l.t.A.l.i.t.Y’s polaroid posters, glitchybb’s kitties, or iamnotunique’s illustrated boxy creature collection, there’s something for every art fiend at Spectra. To check out all of the artists in the “Colorado Vibes 3” showcase click here.


All photos in this feature by Ana White Photography.


Owned and operated by Sadie Young and Kayla Smith, together this lady duo have transformed their storefront on Denver’s South Broadway into a full-on art escape. Young has been hosting music and art events in Denver for nearly 10 years, and has a BFA from MSU Denver with a focus in painting. Smith is an actress and theater aficionado when she is not working at Spectra.

Says Young, “It's important for us to showcase local art because every single artist/musician/actor etcetera is a small business and small businesses are what hold communities together.”

Most everything in Spectra is for sale, with proceeds from sales and events benefiting both the space and the artist. The one-room gallery features a ton of winding niches to explore; behind it there is a covered patio and a retro CD-decorated gazebo equipped with heaters perfect for early spring nights. For “Colorado Vibes 3”, the outdoor area had bite-sized food and drink options with various singer/songwriters playing to the socializing crowd. Indoors, a DJ booth which looks as though it were blasted onto Broadway straight out of a spaceship, had artists spinning tunes while attendees gallery-perused until the synthy percussiveness of DR3AM CA$T took the stage and started a dance party.

The evening’s fashion show was a definite highlight and featured Denver designers including Ellen Bronson, Smasher Robot, KatDog Couture, iLit Designs, and Impek Apparel. From Bronson’s flashy fabrics with a rock’n’roll feel, to the black-light button-ups and bow ties from Smasher Robot, there was enough stylish garb for any Denver fashionista to drool over. Hair & makeup for the show took six hours to complete and was fabulously done by Amanda Brooke of Wonderland Hair Parlor.

Says Young, “My favorite part of the ‘Colorado Vibes’ showcase is how many new artists it adds to our growing family of makers. One of the things I am most proud of Spectra for is being a lot of artists’, musicians’, and designers’ very first taste of being a professional creative. We have been several artist’s first show and first sale, we have been musician’s first show, and designer’s first fashion show. I think we are especially unique because we actually believe in our artists and our creative community, and we would do just about anything to support them and encourage them to pursue their passions. The ‘Colorado Vibes’ format we created is a way for us to highlight the amazing underrepresented talent in Denver and present art and the creative scene in a way that's accessible to everyone, patrons and artists included. I started Spectra because I love being a resource for artists and I wanted to present the art world in a unique way including fashion, fine art, lowbrow art, music, comedy, installation, and performance in one space.”

Spectra’s mission is to “support artists and provide a space that cultivates creativity through highly curated contemporary art exhibitions, events, and detailed immersive experiences” and the opening party for “Colorado Vibes 3” was all of these things wrapped into one glittery, psychedelic ball of smiles and awesome dance moves.

Needless to say, if you haven’t yet explored Spectra Art Space in Denver, it’s time you made the trip. Not only will they send you down a rabbit hole of haute creativity; every time you go, you benefit the local Denver arts scene in more ways than one.

Says Young, “I would like for people to know that we offer several creative classes each month, as well as a plethora of fun events. We are also looking to raise money so that we can renew our lease and hire an additional employee so we can grow and continue to support the hundreds of artists in our family. We have just started a Patreon with a ton of amazing reward options [too]!”

An   iLit Designs    eyewear look by    Ana White Photography  .

Spectra has two upcoming events on their calendar: a performance night by Ahee with • AVRY • on April 25th and their “Bombastic Plastic Toy Show” on May 4th with Meow Wolf, Ratio Beerworks, and others.

Turn up your imagination today and visit Spectra! Learn more about this amazing art space here.

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

Corda Vera's Brand of Indie Is Rocking the Boulder House Party Scene

By: Taylor Falkner

Boulder, Colorado may be a land for new music, but it is certainly not a new land to the music scene. Once considered the next mecca of young musicians and “…the Berkeley of the Mountain Time Zone”, Boulder is a place for musical exploration and inspiration. It is located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, with the majestic Flatirons at the backdrop of everyday life. It helped create legendary bands like Zephyr, The String Cheese Incident, 3OH!3 and Big Gigantic just to name a few. The unique aspect of this list is that it encapsulates a variety of genres, and therefore further exemplifies how up and coming artistry in Boulder is not bound to the limits of a single genre.

This limitless sound opportunity is also expressed in the genre of indie rock. Indie originated from the concept of independent labels, but has evolved to describe “a sonic aesthetic influenced by various forms of post-punk and lo-fi music”. Moreover, indie is not overly concerned with meeting the criteria of what makes a good “commercial sound”. It is raw, and the use of at home recording equipment adds another unfiltered and imperfect dimension to the music which enriches the listeners experience. In this generation dominated by technological advancement, the D.I.Y. mentality of indie is blossoming due to the convenience and easy accessibility of online platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify. The spirit of this fresh freedom is very much alive in the city of Boulder, and it is where you can also find the beginnings of the very local band Corda Vera. As an underground, basement dwelling, house party band of Boulder, Corda Vera, swiftly takes on the essence of Boulder and the attitude of indie music in the twenty-first century.

Corda Vera.

Corda Vera.

Corda Vera is a band of four twenty-year olds, one female and three males, some of which are on the journey to obtaining a college degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Simone Fohrman (vocals), Josh Bennett (drums), Sam Sawyer (bass), and Thomas Perry (guitar) all have been brought together through the allure of Boulder. Each member has their own style and differing musical background and inspirations, which compliment each other very well in their original music. They have an undeniably otherworldly aura to them, which makes them relatable to the confusion and individual growth that many college students experience while away from home where everything is safe and comforting. Their songs manifest a perfect blend of Sonic Youth grunge rock vibes with an indie, and somewhat psychedelic, sound. Setting themselves apart from today’s millennial teenage angst, Corda Vera plays into their emotions rather than becoming a victim of them.

As the band guides listeners on a trip away from wherever they may be, the lyrics sung by band leader Simone touch base on the interpersonal connections in all kinds of relationships. Their song “Over The Edge” encapsulates this well. The dark, yet enchanting bass riff that Sam bewitches listeners’ ears with transports one to the shuffling streets, lit only by the moon, in the faraway land of Istanbul. The song sends one to face the unknown. Through every thud of the bass drum the city breathes and comes to life and then, “Bang!” A shot echoes from Josh’s snare drum and the chills run down your spine. “We’re lost in translation/building my agitation/you can’t keep what ain’t yours,” Simone croons. Immediately the tension the band has been building is released by a powerful statement that gives the listener a piece of mind. Simone’s lyrics of feeling uncertain about her own emotions towards her counterpart reflect the universal angst that anyone can relate too when they feel shorted in a relationship. Instead of shying away from this angst, Simone and the rest of Corda Vera embrace it by turning it into a powerful energy, one that makes the listener feel as if they are walking a fine line and indeed about to fall “Over the Edge.”

A major factor to the unique tone and mood that Corda Vera puts out is due to the vast array of musical influences. All sorts of unconventional things can be heard in their music from various genres, scales, and even the effects used on every instrument. Their use of the harmonic minor scale in “Over the Edge” is what gives it its eerie vibe by dancing with the devil’s note. At the same time, however, you can here an influence from The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” which helps keep the song in a mystical world of its own.

44800690_537401023391054_553652594765987840_n.jpg

In the song “Nao” Corda Vera makes you feel as if you are floating through the clouds daydreaming. With a heavy chorus and reverb, Thomas, the guitarist and Boulder native, encapsulates what it is to feel weightless and floating. The ticking of the hi-hat alters time, and the audience is left in a place where there is no up and down or left and right. In respects to most other songs called “Heartbreaker,” Corda Vera’s version is one of the band’s fastest tempo songs. Moreover, it stands far apart from sounding that of Led Zeppelin, Pat Benatar or even Taio Cruz’s “Heartbreaker,” and sounds more like a contemporary electronica song. The drums are reminiscent of that of Seal’s in his hit “Crazy” or Moby’s “Porcelain”, while the guitar bares resemblance to that of Lenny Kravitz. Mesh all of this up with chorus-driven spacey vocals, and you have something totally new.

The motley crew that is Corda Vera has led them to create a sound that they can call their own. They all have different musical influences but their love for music, courage to face unsettling truths, and their desire to just have a good time has brought them to create something unique to everything else going on in Boulder currently. By blending such a vast array of sounds and with themes based in personal experience, Corda Vera are as authentic as it gets. There is no facade that they are attempting to convey. They are a group of friends who met through their love of music at open mic nights at Innisfree Cafe on the Hill and decided to join forces. In turn, they have given the students of Boulder, and hopefully more to come, a chance of a genuine experience.

Keep up with Corda Vera here.

-Taylor

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

After 10+ Years, The Feathermerchants Are Releasing a New Record

It’s been more than 10 years since Connecticut’s Feathermerchants released new music or played a live show. In fact, you’d be more likely to find founder and guitarist Pete Veru wandering CU Boulder’s campus with his nose in a book on Dutch finance than you would on a stage. The recent Ph.D. graduate left the band in 2007 for academic pursuits; the other Feathermerchants members moved on to new lives then too. But today that’s all about to change. After 11 years, Feathermerchants have released a new record, A Pull From The Flask.

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Veru founded Feathermerchants in 1996 and has always been the band’s primary songwriter. After recording a demo with renown producer Jim Chapdelaine in Hartford, Connecticut, Chapdelaine actually joined the project. Veru then recruited bassist Drew Glackin and drummer Jon Peckman. The next year, the crew began recording their self-titled debut record and added Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston into the fold on lead vocals. Guest musicians like John Fay (The Tragically Hip) and Hassan Hakmoun also played on the debut.

Upon its release, the single “Water and Dreams” was picked up from Feathermerchants by director Frank Todaro for his film Above Freezing. The band then scored a distribution deal with Rykodisc and found themselves making waves on the CMJ college radio charts. Reviews of the record, however, were mixed and around 2000, lead singers Erin O’Hara and Allison Winston left the project and were replaced by Shannon Kennedy. It was also at this time that former Saturday Night Live bassist Paul Ossola joined the fold as Glackin left to join The Silos.

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

With a new lineup, the band found themselves back in the comfort of Chapdelaine’s studio, where they recorded their second release Unarmed Against the Dark. The album was an indie folk pop piece with “songs with deep hooks drenched in reverb.” Feathermerchants even recruited Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers; Rolling Stones) to play on a track, the song “Brooklyn Ferry” which is a tribute to Walt Whitman. Upon completion, Unarmed Against the Dark fell into the hands of a South African publicist by chance, and the band developed a large following overseas thanks to a slew of South African media features. Soon, Feathermerchants found themselves playing a number of high-profile shows at places like Joe’s Pub, on festival lineups like South by Southwest, and with other popular bands of the time like Keane, October Project, and Grey Eye Glances.

In 2006, the band released what has previously been their final record, Last Man On Earth. The band’s radio success continued on the CMJ charts, and they were even featured on National Public Radio. The band swapped Ossola for bassist Jay Wiggin and continued performing. In 2007, the group played what would be two of their last shows at Joe’s Pub and the University of Hartford’s Music for a Change series. Both of these live sets were recorded, and Chapdelaine locked away the tunes without much thought at his studio following the shows.

A Pull From The Flask.

A Pull From The Flask.

Shortly thereafter, the band parted ways amidst the dying record label industry and the emergence of live streaming services. Veru went on to academia, Kennedy also pursued an advanced degree, and Chapdelaine went on to earn 13 Emmys for his work in the music world. Peckman and Wiggin continued playing in local projects in the East Coast music scene.

Then in 2016, Veru returned to the states after a historical research stint in Amsterdam. He called Chapdelaine and the two reminisced on their last shows as the Feathermerchants. Chapdelaine invited Veru back up to his studio, where the duo spent time listening and mixing the once-forgotten recordings from their final performances. Together, they gathered 16 tracks for A Pull From The Flask.

“Jim and I sat through dozens of hours of mixing and producing. There were songs that we played during those shows that we hadn’t played since the late nineties; songs that Shannon Kennedy never [even] recorded in the studio.” Veru told us. “After putting it away for ten years, all of a sudden it sounds fresh to me again. We really were hitting our stride as a live band right when things ended. I think younger kids who were musically aware in the 90s might think so too.”

We definitely do. Chapdelaine and Veru self-admittedly enjoyed piecing together their new record, so whether you’ve been a Feathermerchants fan for years, or it’s your first introduction to this now classic 90s band, we hope you’ll share in our excitement of the release of A Pull From The Flask. You can find it on iTunes today.

Keep up with the Feathermerchants here.

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

Color Red Records’ Launch Party at Cervantes Was a Fantastic Celebration of Denver’s Music and Arts Community

By: Will Baumgartner

New Mastersounds’ guitarist Eddie Roberts clearly knows a few things: he knows how to play that guitar, of course, but he’s also very knowledgeable about great soul, funk and groove-oriented music so he knows a good thing when he hears it. Combine these talents, skills and wisdom with his obvious love of the arts community and extensive experience in the music business, and you get Color Red, his new record label. With a growing roster already featuring some of the best artists currently playing soul, funk, R&B, and hip-hop, it was no problem for the new agency to bring one of the most exciting and talent-packed shows I’ve ever attended to Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom and Cervantes’ Other Side last Friday.

Eddie Roberts. Photo Credit: J Mimna.

Eddie Roberts. Photo Credit: J Mimna.

It’s one thing to talk about supporting the scene and each other, but action is proof, and the abundance of activity at this event gave overwhelming evidence that Color Red’s focus is on nurturing our community and the musicians who populate it, while bringing along some of Denver’s best visual artists as well. More than just a “show,” it had the feel of a ‘60s “happening;” a gathering of those who love to come together to celebrate life, music, art and each other to elevate the scene and the individuals who give it vitality. Primarily a concert featuring the star-studded Matador Soul Sounds, local funk/soul masters Analog Son (who were celebrating the release of their monstrously wonderful new album Funky Mother), and the explosive, joyful music of Congo Sanchez, with DJ sets from heavyweights Quantic, Nobide and Recess, plus a patio set by the local groove collective known as Free Bear, there was also a sizable contingent of mind-blowing Denver visual artists courtesy of Matt Worldly and his Denartket group. If happy smiles, ecstatic dancing, blissful revelry and massive hugs are your units of measuring the success of an evening out, you’d have had to bring a huge tape measure to wrap around this night.

There were some “bigger names” involved, of course, but another thing that struck a pleasing chord for me was that none of these musical and visual artists were ultimately given any more star treatment than any of the others. This was a dual-venue event which flowed freely back and forth between Cervantes’ larger Masterpiece Ballroom and their Other Side next door, and from the beginning DJ sets and Free Bear on the patio to the closing All-Star Jam, every performer got plenty of attention and room to spread their talent and love.

Analog Son. Photo Credit: Jarred Media.

Analog Son. Photo Credit: Jarred Media.

I’ve been an Analog Son fan for years, and I’ve never been less than thrilled by their shows, but Friday’s set topped them all. From the minute they took the Ballroom stage, the crowd were willingly and joyfully entranced, as the band smoothly and solidly drove through a set that started strong and just kept getting better. The songs from the new Funky Mother album sounded just as assured and wild as any of their older material, and their outrageously wonderful set-closing cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” was on a level with Earth Wind and Fire’s reworking of another Beatles’ classic, “Got To Get You Into My Life”. If you still haven’t seen Analog Son live, you’ve got to get yourself to one of their shows soon. Their new album is a heavy slab of electrifying funk and soul, produced by Eddie Roberts himself, and is one of the most live-sounding studio releases I’ve heard. Since it’s the first record the band has made featuring all the members of their performing lineup, this was not surprising to me, but I’m overwhelmed by the power with which they brought that live intensity to the finished product. From founding members bassist Joshua Fairman and guitarist Jordan Linit to saxophonist Michael Chiesa, trumpeter Gabe Mervine, drummer George Horn, Will Trask on percussion and keyboardist Eric Luba, all the way to the beautiful and spine-tingling vocals of Devon Parker and Ashley Niven Fairman, everyone on this record shines like the stars they all are.

There was some overlap between Analog Son’s set and the frenzy being generated on the Other Side by the musical powerhouse known as Congo Sanchez, but while I didn’t have the luxury of catching their whole set, these guys were my big happy new discovery of the night. It was deliciously overwhelming to run next door and be hit by the delirious onslaught of their sound and presence. Utilizing live drums and guitar and featuring an irresistible vocal duo of frontmen/emcees, it was easy to see why this group resists being pigeonholed into any genre. While their overall sound is something one might call “live hip-hop,” I think it’s fitting that their Facebook page just says “MUSIC” next to the genre slot.

Matador Soul Sounds. Photo Credit: J Mimna.

Matador Soul Sounds. Photo Credit: J Mimna.

Now what can I say about Matador Soul Sounds? First of all, I should defer to the words of formidable singer Adryon de Leon when, early in their set, she protested against the use of the term “supergroup” to describe this band. “Don’t get it twisted!” she said, and then went on to explain that they consider themselves a group, period- one that has put their individual gifts together to write songs as and for Matador Soul Sounds, and for us as their beloved audience. This distinction is important because it reflects the genuine humility of all the admittedly illustrious members of the group. Yes, Eddie Roberts is part of New Mastersounds, Adryon is the singer of the great Orgone, Alan Evans has achieved renown not only as the drummer of Soulive but also as a producer and member of other projects, and Kim Dawson has gone from work with the legendary Pimps of Joytime to further build a name for herself as one of the most dynamic and hardworking singers alive. But onstage, on record, and up close and personal, they’re all just total sweethearts who never let their status or egos get in the way of the real business at hand, which is to deliver the best music and the warmest love they possibly can to us, their fans. Their performance on Friday certainly locked me for life. Every song was a treasure chest, every note was a gem, and I’ve never felt more love and joy coming off a stage and flowing over a crowd.

To return to the subject of community, the glowing memory of a night like this wouldn’t be complete without returning to the many visual artists who gave their creative energy to the event, and they were everywhere. According to Denartket founder and coordinator Matt Worldly, he was thrilled when Eddie Roberts approached him at one of their recent events about bringing the collective’s artists to this show, because the whole purpose of the group is to plug these artists into the bloodstream of the Denver area. It was impossible to ignore the essential element they brought to this celebration, and the discovery factor was greatly enhanced for me by watching these delightfully creative individuals pour themselves into it, crafting their works in the moment, sharing their insights and visions with everyone. While space doesn’t allow me to give credit to every one of them by name, they all deserve your attention and will reward it with fabulous visions to feed your hearts, minds and souls. Some of those whose work especially grabbed me were Pher01, Chris Surposa, John Vega, Parker Ledford, Derek Carpenter, and the delightful Bobbi Larmer, some of whose work has now found a place in my home. These are just a few of the great talents represented by Denartket, and we’d all be enriched by following every one of them, including Worldly himself, whose work is as otherworldly as anyone's.

I hope I’ve given you enough encouragement and inspiration to follow and discover every one of these groups and creative people for themselves, because one of the absolute and indisputable home truths of all art and the blessings it brings is that if I keep it to myself, I miss out on one of its greatest gifts, and that is the almost inexpressible pleasure of sharing it with you. If you’re already part of this community, I can’t wait to see and share with you again. If you’re just arriving, we welcome you with open arms and hearts, because without You, there can be no Us.

-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 Rock'n'Roll Won at This Year's KAABOO Del Mar Festival

KAABOO Del Mar. Photo per Alive Coverage.

KAABOO Del Mar. Photo per Alive Coverage.

This past weekend, KAABOO Del Mar Festival returned for its fourth year of bringing Southern California music fans together to celebrate and dance to musicians of all genres. Katy Perry brought the pop, Wiz Khalifa and Post Malone brought the hip hop, and Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power brought the funk. But even with these star-studded artists, it was evident that rock’n’roll stole the show this year to make the point that while your streaming service might disagree with us, rock’n’roll is alive and well.

Friday, the first day of the festival, Jimmy Eat World took the stage and set the precedent that although there were a handful of bands performing at the festival that haven’t seen a huge hit in the last decade or so, it does not mean they’re no longer making great music and giving one-of-a-kind live shows. Of course Jimmy Eat World stirred up plenty of energy in the crowd when they played classics like “Sweetness” and “The Middle,” but the group still received plenty of positive reception when they played their 2018 release “Love Never,” a song that seems to captivate everything people love about the band while still providing something new and never-before-heard.

Later on in the day, Calabasas, California band Incubus began their late afternoon set with zero apologies. Lead singer Brandon Boyd opened with arguably two of Incubus’ most rambunctious songs: “Anna Molly” and “Megalomaniac.” The energy stayed constant thereafter. For a group that has released only 40-minutes of new music in the past six years, it was surprising that the younger attendees of the festival were jumping and singing as if it was their favorite band growing up. It goes to show that these rock legends have created songs that remain memorable in the collective consciousness of American rock music.

Foo Fighters. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Foo Fighters. Photo per Alive Coverage.

To close out Friday night, Nirvana-alum-turned-Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl embodied rock’n’roll throughout the band’s set. It wasn’t just the classics he was playing that proved his incredible reign as a rock lord- originals like “Learn To Fly” and covers like Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust” were heard- but the sheer confidence and appearance that he was hardly trying, yet epicly succeeding in firing the crowd up really amped things up. At one point, teasing at his legendary status, Grohl yelled to the crowd, “We have 35 minutes left to play 116 songs!” At another point in the band’s set, a train loudly passed by, distracting the band and fans. Seizing the moment, the band played a one minute blues-sounding song just for kicks. It was just another example that proved these performers are professionals, and are still as lively and fun as ever.

Saturday was another rock-filled festival day, and this time with more of a focus on rock that is currently popular. Early in the day, Austin groove rock band Mamafesta brought a completely new style to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. With a hint of funk and plenty of jam band qualities in their sound, this melodic four piece group is one to definitely watch out for in the near future if you’re not already!

Imagine Dragons. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Imagine Dragons. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Closing out the second night were international stars Imagine Dragons. It seemed that the band played hit after hit for a full 90-minute set. Not only was the music good, but lead singer Dan Reynolds was simply inspiring. Speaking out about mental illness and suicide prevention, he acted as a true leader to the younger fans in the crowd. After his words of wisdom, once again the group got the crowd jumping with the epic number “Believer.

Sunday closed out with, you guessed it, even more rock, this time both new and old. Many fans stayed at the “MGM Resorts Grandview” stage from 3:00PM to festival close to see bands like The All American Rejects, Alice In Chains, and Robert Plant.

The All American Rejects did a great job of not taking themselves too seriously. Although the band played fan favorites like “Gives You Hell” and “It Ends Tonight,” they joked between songs that while they may not getting much radio play now, in the early 2000s, it was “hard to escape our music if you walked in a TJ Maxx.” Still, the group gave it their all and played new songs that they were clearly proud to perform.

Following All American Rejects was Alice In Chains, a band that had a larger crowd considering the KAABOO attendees were a bit older than other festivals. Alice In Chains did not disappoint, and it is safe to say that their hit song “Rooster” had the loudest-singing crowd of the festival.

Robert Plant. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Robert Plant. Photo per Alive Coverage.

As exhibited by a large number of KAABOOers walking around sporting Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant shirts, it was clear that Plant was the most anticipated act of Sunday, even while competing with Katy Perry during the headlining time slot. It was no surprise that Plant payed homage to Led Zeppelin by opening up with the tracks “Good Times, Bad Times” and “Lemon Song.” His 13-song setlist was filled with impressive guitar solos and a little headbanging. Closing with an artist from the iconic Led Zeppelin was the nail in the coffin that rock stole the show this year at KAABOO, and a sign that this genre will hopefully continue thriving at this festival!

Dates for 2019’s KAABOO have already been announced for the weekend of September 13th-15th. Get your early bird tickets and festival passes here! 

-Ben

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

Sin Fronteras: Folks Fest Raises Voices in Solidarity

By: Riley Ann

Music from across the globe took the stage at the 2018 Folks Fest, including acts from the Saharan Desert, Canada, and the tasty melting pot of American folk music. Despite the lyrics being sung in various languages, spanning English, French, Spanish, and Tamashek, one message rang clear: strength in togetherness.

Las Cafeteras.

Las Cafeteras.

The East L.A.-based band Las Cafeteras took the stage by storm on Friday with their Afro-Mexican dance party. Vibrant choreography and hip-shaking rhythms amplified their Spanish and English lyrics advocating for social justice. Band members shared the spotlight trading off lead vocals, and they gave shoutouts to various causes, including Black Lives Matter, indigenous people’s rights, and more. They also performed a new rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” by blending Spanish phrases, new melodies, and a mariachi groove into the familiar tune as a modern commentary. You can see their live performance on KEXP and read the lyrics on their website.

Representatives of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County joined Las Cafeteras onstage to recognize their contributions as artists to social justice issues. The chamber invited Las Cafeteras to Colorado on the band’s previous tour and thanked the band for the work they do through music as well as educational programs throughout the country.

Later that night, Los Lobos, another East L.A. band lit up the stage with their unique blend of traditional Latin American styles with rock, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, R&B, blues, and soul. The group made waves in music history by bringing Latin American folk music back to top charts in the late 80s, revitalizing Ritchie Valens’ take on the traditional tune “La Bamba,” along with several other hit songs. While Valens was an early trailblazer in the Chicano Rock movement, Los Lobos carried the torch and kept the movement steady via mainstream radio airplay decades later. With their popularity, multiple Grammy Awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they’ve made their mark not just within the Chicano Rock movement, but also with deep ties in the ever-colorful tapestry of American folk music.

Heather Mae.

Heather Mae.

Saturday morning opened with Heather Mae, the artist who won last year’s Folks Fest songwriter competition. She moved the crowd with musical confessions about mental illness, overcoming oppression, and body image evidenced in her song “I Am Enough.” As an advocate for body positivity, LGBTQIA rights, people of color, and more, she thanked the festival organizers for curating such a diverse lineup throughout the weekend, saying, “They are trying to elevate marginalized voices, and that includes women. Thank you.” She concluded her set by inviting a chorus of performers to join her on stage for her power anthem “Stand Up.”

When Darrell Scott took the stage Saturday afternoon, he performed a song that he said was written by his friend Marcus Hummon. The narrative showed the life of a Honduran girl named Rosanna who escaped the physical and sexual abuse of the underground sex trafficking industry, bore a daughter, was profiled and arrested by police, was deported by I.C.E. back to Honduras, and nearly died in the desert trying to reunite with her daughter. Her true story is documented here, and you can hear Hummon’s album version here. The song left the crowd frozen and teary-eyed for Rosanna, the representation of people targeted by strict immigration policies and facing not just unfair, but impossible playing fields.

Saturday evening closed with the Indigo Girls. Despite heavy rains concluding their set early, they shared many of their signature songs, including “It’s Alright,” which is one of many that uses music as a vehicle for social change. The Indigo Girls served as one of the first bands to not only be public advocates for the LGBTQIA community, but also to be publicly out. Beloved by the crowd, the duo was joined by the sea of smiling faces singing along in the rain.

Bonnie Paine.

Bonnie Paine.

Bonnie Paine opened Sunday with the help of the “Cottonwood Choir” and instrumentalists featuring many familiar faces from the Front Range, including other members of Elephant Revival. The ensemble inspired the crowd to sing along with spirituals originating from slaves’ field songs about overcoming oppression.

That evening, Tinariwen quickly became a crowd favorite. The band’s fascinating blend of African stylings with American blues idioms created a strikingly unique sound. Furthermore, the band’s formation in refugee camps and resilience despite the backdrop of warfare, strife, and revolution speaks through the music even if listeners don’t know Tamashek. Over several decades, band members have survived against the odds and continue writing songs fighting for human rights and equality. They’ve even been called “Music’s True Rebels” by NPR. You can read more about the band’s background here.

Tinariwen.

Tinariwen.

Once again, Planet Bluegrass curated a powerful festival, giving festivarians an opportunity to see household names, like Regina Spektor, the Indigo Girls, and Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco) alongside the acts you didn’t know you wanted to see. Stay tuned at the Planet Bluegrass website for their lineup of next year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass, and Folks Fest.

View the full photo gallery from this event here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the artist. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

#SheShreds: Rockygrass Celebrates Breaking Through the "Grass Ceiling"

By: Riley Ann

In light of of the #MeToo movement and “The Future is Female” shirts, this year’s Rockygrass certainly took some cues from the times. In addition to the staples of the Planet Bluegrass stages (including Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan, and more), a spotlight shone brightly on the women who have become pillars of the “who’s who of bluegrass.”

The First Ladies of Bluegrass. 

The First Ladies of Bluegrass. 

 

One of the crowd favorites of the weekend was the Friday set featuring Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, Missy Raines, and Molly Tuttle, each the first woman to earn International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards on their instruments. They’ve been dubbed “The First Ladies of Bluegrass” for this achievement.

In the set, Sierra Hull acknowledged Alison Brown, who was the first woman to ever earn an IBMA nearly three decades ago in 1991, which happened to be the same year Hull was born. Brown also earned the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2015, which IBMA states is the “highest honor IBMA bestows outside of induction into the Hall of Fame, recognizing forerunners and ambassadors for bluegrass music.” Hull, who is 26, shared that when she was a little girl, she loved Brown’s album Fair Weather and still does, saying, “It’s such an honor to share the stage with Alison- and all of these incredible trailblazing ladies!” The set oscillated from sweet harmonies to rip-roaring bluegrass breakdowns, and between tunes the musicians gave frequent props to each other for what they’ve contributed to the modern history of bluegrass, like in regards to Missy Raines, who has earned an IBMA for Instrumental Performer of the Year on bass seven times. “We like to say that in bluegrass, Missy reigns!” they said.

The weekend featured a variety of women outstanding in their field, including Della Mae, an all-female band that earned a Grammy nomination for “Best Bluegrass Album” for their record I Built This Heart in 2015. During their set on Saturday, Celia Woodsmith, current frontwoman for the band, also gave a shout-out to the “First Women of Bluegrass,” noting the two consecutive days of all-female bands in the lineup. She hollered, “Rockygrass, you’re doin’ somethin’ right!” and the crowd roared.

Sunday’s spotlight included the Lyons Bluegrass Collective, featuring local powerhouses KC Groves (of Uncle Earl), Bonnie Sims (of Bonnie & the Clydes), Natalie Padilla (of Masontown), and Sarah Cole (of Follow the Fox), among others, male and female.

These women were not celebrated because they are women; they are celebrated because they’re good, and despite the odds. While bluegrass music grew from the roots of Black music (even the banjo is actually an African instrument that’s been morphed through industrialization), it has been culturally appropriated by white men who have kept a patriarchal stronghold on it for generations, causing a great deal of sexism, racism, and classism within the genre. I discussed some of this in last year’s coverage of Rockygrass, “The Changing Face of Bluegrass,” and more in-depth information about the history of the banjo and bluegrass music is available via two great documentaries: The Librarian and the Banjo and Bela Fleck’s Throw Down Your Heart.

Although you’ll have to wait until next summer for the next Rockygrass, Folks Fest at Planet Bluegrass is still to come and includes Regina Spektor, Indigo Girls, Los Lobos, Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco), and more. You can learn more about Folks Fest at the Planet Bluegrass website here.

See our full gallery from the fest here

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the artist. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Thunderpussy Are the Storm the Rock'n'Roll Revival Needs

By: Hannah Oreskovich

This Seattle four-piece are shaking up rock'n'roll with a vengeance.

Last Sunday, a thundering snow storm hit Colorado’s Front Range. As the sky rumbled and started spitting fat white flakes instead of rain, Seattle’s Thunderpussy rolled into Denver fresh off of four SXSW sets including an official C3 Entertainment showcase. The band recently made NPR’s “100 Artists to Watch at SXSW” and during the fest, debuted the new song “Show Your Colors,” which they co-wrote with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. Their Denver gig was hand-squeezed between a quick trip home and their upcoming Treefort Music Festival appearance and if you braved the storm, Thunderpussy rewarded you with a seductive, spitfire show of rock’n’roll that left the crowd swooning.

Thunderpussy.

Thunderpussy.

“Hi! I’m Molly!” frontwoman Molly Sides exclaimed as she traipsed inside Summit Music Hall, wrapped in a leopard-print coat. As I reached my hand out to hers, she giggled, “Sorry I’m freezing!” and after shaking hands, she held mine and laughed, “But you’re nice and warm!”

As we chatted about Sides’ affinity for snow as an Idaho native, the girls headed to the green room for wardrobe. If you’re curious what that entails, it’s velvet onesies, fishnet stockings, rhinestone bras, and thigh-high glitter boots. And those boots were made for stompin’ on more than just the stage. In a recent interview with Billboard, guitarist Whitney Petty talked about K.Flay’s Grammy nod as the only female artist in the rock category, musing, “I'd say the time is ripe for Thunderpussy to high kick the patriarchy where it counts with a thigh-high, rhinestone encrusted, platform boot.”

And that’s how Thunderpussy rolls- they’ll hold your hand right before serving up their brand of kickass on the stage.

Whitney Petty.

Whitney Petty.

After a session of greenroom pictures where the girls kept apologizing for the cloud of hairspray that hung above us (“Don’t worry! It’s organic!” bassist Leah Julius promised with a smile), the girls paraded out in their heels to the cheers of the crowd.

Currently touring on their 2018 record Greatest Tits with a full album dropping later this spring, the band opened with “Speed Queen,” a song which nods to Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and The Runaways all at once. As Sides sang into a vintage-looking mic, her gyrations soon turned to her crawling on the floor while locking eyes with audience members; meanwhile Petty stood above her with one heel pranced on an amp as she leaned into the crowd ripping on guitar and headbanging. Julius jumped off of drummer Ruby Dunphy’s “Pussy” emblazoned kick drum and jazz-trained Dunphy kept a steady beat while the chaos ensued. And this, truly was just the beginning.

Molly Sides.

Molly Sides.

As a frontwoman, Sides seems to pull from performance artists like David Bowie, Elvis, and even Lady Gaga. She is never found standing still, her soaring vocals envelope a room, and though I didn’t get to ask, I left feeling like she must have a dance background. Her stage persona is rock’n’roll seductress, something you can also see in the band’s music video for “Speed Queen.”

Sides is almost impossible to stop looking at, but when you do Petty, Julius, and Dunphy are equally engaging. Petty slashes on guitar in a way that 80s hair metal bands would look up to. She slays, and her solos bring forth those classic rock’n’roll eruptions you look for in this type of sound.

Holding down the low end, Julius’ performance is highlighted with fits of energy- she headbangs just as much as the crowd when she’s not jumping from amps and the kick drum. And Dunphy, who was flying back to Seattle the next morning so that she could make it to her classes at Cornish College of the Arts, is a damn riot. She’s all smiles whether she’s pounding cymbals on “Velvet Noose” or tapping the snare with a light jazz flair on “Torpedo Love.”

Apart, each of these women ooze talented prowess; together the four-piece have an undeniably intense chemistry, one which builds and disseminates throughout the room from start to finish. It’s no surprise that the band has been selling out shows on their Pour Morals tour at spots like LA’s Viper Room, where Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith was seen checking out the band. At Sunday’s Denver show, Kid Rock’s entire tour crew strolled in for a listen, blowing off steam before prepping for Rock’s Pepsi Center performance later in the week. When industry pros start showing up for you regularly, you know you’re doing something right.

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Thunderpussy closed the night with “Torpedo Love,” which they just premiered a video for with NPR. In it, Thunderpussy perform the track live in an abandoned nuclear power plant silo.

Said Sides about the video, "When working with Magic Mama Massy, enthused wild ideas literally explode everywhere…  As we crept up to the monstrous structures, it seemed as though they'd been waiting for us, and the concrete curtains calling to us. With both nature and nuclear walls hovering, a beautifully eerie collaboration ensued."

And somehow, that sums up Thunderpussy too: one part sensitive, seductive, and beautiful; the other nuclear, explosive, and ready to tear your heart out.

Sink your teeth into Thunderpussy’s newest music and catch them at Treefort and other major festivals all summer. They’re poised for a takeover, so best brace yourself for the storm.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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

Demi Demitro Of The Velveteers Told Us About All The Eerie Inspirations Behind Their New Record

By: Brody Coronelli

Velveteers frontwoman Demi Demitro reflects on the band’s debut EP, their roots, and what’s on the horizon for this young duo who are already making their mark on the scene.

The only way to get to the stage at the Hi-Dive, a small punk rock venue on South Broadway in Denver, is through the crowd. There’s no door or curtain onstage where the musicians emerge from, dressed in black, wearing leather and ivory boots. Instead, they’re reminded of the tightness, the body heat, precariously shaking drinks, and shallow breaths of the crowd before they come onstage. This didn’t stop The Velveteers from making a grand entrance to their release show for their debut EP on February 9th.

The Velveteers. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss Photography

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss Photography

Instead of simply getting onstage, setting up, and starting their set, the band, fronted by Demi Demitro on vocals and guitar, carried in rhythm by her brother John, and aided by their third drummer and relatively new addition Noah Shomberg (who also plays with The Yawpers), set their gear in place and stepped back into the crowd only to confidently re-emerge onto the stage like three rock stars playing the O2 Academy.

This infectious, rock‘n’roll bravado isn’t something the band picked up along the way. It’s been there since the start. Their intense, convicted aesthetic and sonic identity has already brought on huge accomplishments for a band their age. They’ve toured the UK with Deap Valley, playing to massive crowds, played motorcycle festivals in Joshua Tree with sound by Hutch, Queens of the Stone Age’s longtime sound engineer, and they’ve had vinyl pressed of their newest album at the Third Man Records factory in Detroit. Each of these accomplishments spawned from their time spent as a centerpiece in the Colorado and Midwestern DIY scenes.

“Some of our favorite shows we’ve ever played have been at DIY venues. The people in that scene are really genuine, they’re not trying to rip you off, and they’re there to listen. What they do [for younger bands] is important, because I know it shaped who I am as a musician,” frontwoman Demi Demitro said over tea at the Yellow Deli, one of her favorite Boulder haunts.

Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss Photography

There’s an energy to seeing The Velveteers play. Onstage, the band occupies a tangent world of pointed shoes, glitter jackets, bones, and candles. It’s like hair metal if it were born out of Dracula or The Nightmare Before Christmas instead of big hair, zebra print, and leather pants.

“A lot of the inspiration we have for our band comes from places other than music. I’m really inspired by Tim Burton, Walt Disney, and Andy Warhol. The Walt Disney version of Snow White has this gothic-ness to it, and that’s something that really inspired our album,” she said.

The theatrics of these non-musical influences leave a lasting impression. The band’s merch table looks like a séance just took place, adorned with candles and skulls. The face of the band’s new album shows them with blacked out eyes and upside down crosses on their foreheads. Demitro even claimed that a chunk of the album was written in a graveyard.

“When [the song ‘Death Hex’] came out, I had all these Wiccans and Pagans following me around asking me if I was a witch. It’s a metaphor-- I don’t really mean it,” she said, laughing.

Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss Photography

The immediate fear with a band like The Velveteers is that they’re all show. One listen to their debut self-titled EP sends that assumption into the dust. Finding a loud, irresistible, and cryptic balance between the spacious grit of Queens of the Stone Age, the pummeling, percussive thunder of The White Stripes and The Dead Weather, and the sheer lightening of Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the band has crafted a presence built on their own unique visual bravado guided by thundering, melodic songs that aren’t easily forgotten.

The EP, recorded mostly live and to tape at Silo Sound Studios in Denver, CO over the past year opens with “Just Like The Weather,” a driving, aggressive cut that places Demi’s tectonic, rhythm-heavy guitar playing and vast vocal range to the forefront, as the band occupies a musical storm that viciously encircles you until the words have found a way into your veins. The band’s songs have a habit of doing this, often effortlessly. They’re written with emotional sincerity and performed with bombastic assertion.

“When I write, it’s almost like being in a daze. [Sometimes it feels like] I’m not really there when I’m writing, which is this magical feeling. I got that feeling with every song on the album,” Demitro said.

“Anastasia Sings” is another song that takes you for a ride. With a piercing scream kicking things off, the track features some of the band’s most dynamic guitar playing yet, which reaches a jagged crescendo following the chorus.

“[That’s] another one of my favorite tracks [on the album]. That one was really inspired by Iggy Pop, ‘cause I had seen him live with the Post Pop Depression band,” Demitro said.

The band doesn’t lock themselves into a specific sound, though. In similar fashion to their haunting, non-album single “This Love Lasted,” “Darling Beloved” takes the album in a cryptically stripped-back direction.

“I did ‘Darling Beloved’ in one take. Vocals, guitar, everything. That song is really special to us, because it was completely in the moment. One of my favorite parts of going into the studio is when stuff like that happens, and in no way will you ever be able to recreate it,” she continued.

The stripped-back, horrorshow “Darling Beloved” and it’s stylistic sibling “This Love Lasted” aren’t currently fixtures in the band’s live set. Instead, their performances rely on roaring guitar, clamorous drums, and a fuzz that hits you right in the chest. The band doesn’t use a bass player, so Demi Demitro’s guitar playing has evolved into a versatile and rhythmic barrage that covers the low end, high end, and everything in between. The band is a sound to be reckoned with live; they pull the audience straight into their world of dark, irresistible magnetism.

In promotion of their debut, the band recently embarked on a two-week national tour in promotion of the record, have more dates in the works for the rest of the year, and are also set to play an unofficial showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX this March. Listening to their album and seeing them live leaves the impression that this is what the band was working towards all along: a sold-out release show for a triumphant debut record, a national tour (with many more shows to come), and a spot at one of the most popular musical festivals in the nation. Despite all appearances and affirmations of success, this is only the beginning for this band, and if their start is any indication, what’s to follow will be all whirlwind, heat, and flash.

Keep up with The Velveteers here.

-Brody

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

Premiere: Yasi Talks To Us On Video About Her Inspirations, Artistry, & Fears

The inspiration behind this video stems from Yasi's strong, feminine tone. I wanted to create a visual train of thought that viewers could follow and engage with that would accurately encapsulate who Yasi is, both as a human and an artist. It was important to me to create something that would interest people that are fans, as well as those who may not yet be aware of her music. I felt that by mixing video, photo, design and text, I could create something unique that would enable this attraction.

Catch Yasi next this Friday, December 8th at Globe Hall in Denver.

-Annie

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

Cisco The Nomad On The City's Gentrification: Denver First, Always

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Cisco the Nomad is Denver born and bred, and proud of it.

“I grew up all over town. My parents split up when I was really young so my dad lived in Central/West Denver, from between Alameda to Federal and Federal to Evans, and my mom moved to Lakewood. I spent the time split between them.” the hip-hop artist told me recently from a SketchFam member’s living room.

“I went to all private schools,” he smiled, “I went to The Colorado Academy for middle and high school with the wealthier kids in town, but I took the public bus three hours to get to that school!” he laughed, “And I wasn’t always comfortable bringing those kids home.”

Cisco The Nomad.

Cisco The Nomad.

Outside of class, Cisco the Nomad, whose birth name is Clay Edwards, spent a lot of time riding around the streets of Denver, and getting to know the city on an intimate level.

“My dad’s a bus driver so I spent a lot of time riding the bus and writing poems about the city. Rapping for me started as poetry. I’ve always identified as a writer more than a musician.” he smiled.

Still, music has always been in his roots.

“My dad’s a percussionist so he was a drummer before I was born. He drummed with Kevin Dooley. I grew up around music and started doing musical theater when I was young and playing saxophone.” he added, “Now I purely do vocal work.”

Edwards showing us a track from his upcoming mixtape.

Edwards showing us a track from his upcoming mixtape.

After high school, Edwards found himself at Colorado College studying theater arts. It was at this point he became more serious about laying down tracks.

“When I got to college, I got serious about recording. My friend Mamoun and I started SketchFam- a collective of beat makers, visual artists, and multiple people across states bringing these talents together.” he explained.

From there, he and friend Henri Katz went on to form Lounge Records, a Denver-based DIY label with a strict focus on Denver artists.

“I put Denver artists first. I am constantly scouring this city for emcees, for talent. I want artists to know that they can launch from here. You don’t need to pull a Trev Rich and go to Atlanta. You don’t need to move to Los Angeles. We’ve got it right here for you. Let’s capitalize on the millions of people who are here.”

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However, Edwards agrees there need to be more performance spaces for hip-hop artists to launch from in Denver. Many venues have shuddered due to the gentrification of recent Mile High neighborhoods.

“I want Denver to be itself- the amount of time and work people have put into this city should shine. I was heartbroken when The Gypsy House Cafe closed down. It was a spot where young poets hung out in Denver. There was coffee, hookah. All of a sudden that spot disappeared and became like an imported sushi place or something. You can’t just expect the soul of a place to grow back in a year. If you take it, it’s gone. And that matters to me. I want artists to come here and exist, but Denver needs to define the artistic hub that lives here. People from New York shouldn’t be coming here and defining that.”

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The authentic culture of Denver is important to Edwards, and I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d see now taking the same bus ride he did as a child.

“Something like ‘RiNo’ is a bunch of bullshit. Why not call it ‘Five Points’? Why rebrand it? Why divorce it from its history and change it from its history? To make it more palatable for who? Why does everything gotta be two-syllables and end with an ‘o’? Who decided this was the identity of the city? Especially growing up where I’m from. It’s so plastic what they’re doing and how they’re marketing it- as a trendy fun place to move- when really [RiNo] is a warehouse district. I don’t see why we need to rebrand a city when people are already coming here anyway. The opportunity isn’t going to go away by calling ‘Five Points’ ‘Five Points’. ‘SoBro’ is South Broadway, ‘LoDo’ is Lower Downtown, The Highlands are just North Denver. I don’t need a LoHi. This isn’t a fast casual restaurant where you can pick your neighborhood like Chipotle options.”

Edwards isn’t alone in feeling this way. Denver’s gentrification has been a hot issue in recent years as more and more locals find themselves forced out of neighborhoods they grew up in and surrounded by corporate chains in place of local joints.

“There’s going to be a point where people who move here look to the city for what it is- for its culture- and that shouldn’t come from people who move here. That should come from Denver and from the people who have lived here.” Edwards told me.

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Edwards now calls a space on 14th and Federal home, where he lives with producer, guitarist, and collaborator Sherman. The two have recently been working together, with others from SketchFam and Lounge Records, to try and expand Denver’s hip-hop scene. Though a lot of this is happening DIY in people’s living rooms and basements, Cisco thinks this can change.

“I want to create space for Denver arts. As the city is expanding and transplants are coming in, there is a point we have to decide who gets to be the tastemakers and I think those should be Denver people. I’m sick of cultural transplants coming into the city and defining this city.”

Cisco is also working on his music, a mixtape called Starter Pack, which will drop later this year. It will be mostly acoustic hip-hop jams, some of which Cisco has already started to play live.

“When I hit the stage, I try to have an all-encompassing sort of presence. I want people to leave there feeling like church- like they’ve done something spiritual together.” he smiled.

Cisco also agrees there are plenty of Denver artists building the local hip-hop scene just like he is.

Edwards with some local members of SketchFam.

Edwards with some local members of SketchFam.

“I love Sur Ellz. Kid Astronaut. Yasi. And they’re not always getting the attention they deserve.” he said.

It is these artists- and others- that Edwards feels should be defining the Denver hip-hop sound.

“I think the way people speak out here is different. Denver’s sound is more lyrical- I think poetry is a huge influence in the Denver scene. I want to bring out a Baroquian lyricism- excessive, everywhere.”

But to Edwards, the issues of a redefined Denver go far beyond the local hip-hop scene, the broader music scene, and the neighborhoods he has watched change.

“I want Denver’s disenfranchised to have a certain amount of voice in the city. And if it’s not in politics and it’s not in real estate, then it damn well better be in the arts.” Edwards exclaimed.

“Denver first always. No matter where I go.”

Keep an eye out for Cisco the Nomad’s upcoming mixtape, which drops this week hereand keep up with his live performance schedule through Facebook.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

I Traded Bison Bone Some Mangoes For A Great Conversation & Some Heartfelt Tunes

By: Joliene Adams

I arrived with two mangoes and departed empty handed, heart full, reeking of campfire at the next morning’s unrelated 8AM professional meeting for my day job. I blame and thank two fifths of Denver’s cosmic country band Bison Bone: Brianna Straut (vocals, harmonica, tambourine) and Courtney Whitehead (vocals, guitar, songwriting). Both are singer-songwriters in their own right, currently on tour performing both as individuals but also as a stripped down Bison Bone duo. Brianna is also a member of Denver’s Americana folk group Tomahawk Fox, where she handles vocals and rhythm guitar.

Brianna & Courtney.

Brianna & Courtney.

They stopped off at Patterson Alley in Eugene to play the outdoor backyard alley house venue; the backyard that pulls a lot of shows and knows how to host food and drinks with fancy strung up lights and all. Denver’s own King Cardinal has also played here within the last year.

The Beer Pairing

Naturally, the first thing I wanted to know was: What kind of beer best pairs with your music? Brianna infectiously belly laughs, endearing her to anyone in earshot.

She explains: “That’s really funny. We talked about that on the way up here and about making a little flyer for all the shows, and saying with each song of mine, or his, or us together, which beer goes with it.”

Courtney chimes in that as for the band’s sound overall? “Probably some kind of sour.”

More laughter from Brianna, then from Courtney and myself reflexively as a doctor’s knee-hammer at just the right spot on the patella. That the two are sardonically earnest comes through in interview as much as it does in their lyrical content.

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Brianna swiftly recovers, reflecting on her own personal singers-songwriter musician sound: “Probably some kind of pale ale.” She specifies: “an Oskar Blues [pale ale but consumed] at a tasting room in Austin, Texas.” Brianna grew up in east Texas and last lived in Austin before her move to Denver. “So a little bit Texas, a little bit Colorado,” she explains. Courtney hails from Oklahoma.

Silence lingers in the air for a moment. “Yeah, sour.” he chimes. More laughter from all.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ass-Busting

It’s a fine line between surviving and surthriving in this world. Musicians often endure this reality acutely. Bless their darn hearts. Brianna and Courtney opened up about it.

Courtney first: “You know, whether you’re creating new music or rotating band members, people don’t realize [the hard work it takes]. They show up in their town and they’re ready to party.”

Yet Courtney and Brianna’s own appreciation for their encountered gains is as blatant as it is poignant.

“This tour has been really incredible and I think it’s always like such an amazing way to see how people respond to this travelling circus we have… The way that they like welcome you with open arms… the last place we were in we were staying at this girl’s house for two days. She hosted us for a night of music. We have some friends that live there that took us out, they bought us drinks, they spent a lot of money on merch… [and this girl] was just constantly leaving little notes out for us and it was just that kind of stuff is like what really helps move us on to the next place. Not only monetarily but just like…”

Courtney pipes in, “... soulfully.”

I sat there thinking, "They brought music and all I brought were two mangoes. At least I brought mangoes? At least I brought mangoes."

Brianna continues, “It keeps our spirits up because it’s really hard whenever you go back you’ve got, you know, we’ve got our bills to pay, we’ve got everything else… you know we have life and society telling us we are doing something that’s so bizarre. But it’s really nice to see what it ignites in people… it opens our eyes up to really great times of people just being really wonderful in a time that’s really hard to see the good in people.”

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Brianna and Courtney take their music and that appreciative attitude on the road. I can only hope they see that they themselves embody showing the good, being the uplifting and relatable in the tough times.

Songs like Courtney’s solo performance of Bison Bone’s "Walls,” which is about coming home for the first time after your dog’s died but is relatable in terms of other loss, may not be happy sunshine feel-good uplifting, but people need the real and relatable so hard sometimes and particularly in hard times all the more. We all need the keep-it-realers and these two are expert at it.

Nine times out of ten, someone will appreciate your saying, “sometimes life gives you lemons and makes you eat them rinds and all” far more than “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” on a bad day. I’m not suggesting negative is good, but that real and raw, empathy and emotional insight matter a hell of a lot; Brianna and Courtney are capable of bringing that and it rings loud and true in what they do together and apart. They touch you right where your wounds are in a way that might hurt, but simultaneously cleanses and heals like castille soap on a newly scraped knuckle.

The Band Description

Bison Bone’s band description is that of  “a working class cosmic country band from Denver, CO.” Previously, Daniel Mescher of Colorado Public Radio (CPR) and Tom Murphy of Westword both asked Courtney what puts the “cosmic” in the “cosmic country.” Much of it comes down to the psychedelic influences of the 60s and 70s that blend with the country at the roots. I probed the “working class” element.

Courtney explains, “I would say that mostly when we talk about that [the working class element], obviously any band now can say that with regards to the way they work: loading their own shit, buying their own van, running around doing everything, that kind of do-it-your-own. Even if you are playing a thousand-person venue in any city, you know, you’re still doing a lot of that on your own. Creating your own art, creating your own merch… But when I describe it that way [as a working-class band], I’m mostly talking about it lyrically, and somewhat sonically. We write about the stories we know- where we come from, the people we know, and we come from a working-class background.”

The Road Test

Even when it isn’t raining everything is wet, always, in Oregon Octobers; dampness, cold from the inside to the brim of your bones. It lent itself to habitual bouts of guitar tuning this eve. But tuning guitars in different environments is ultimately the first step to tweaking perspective and being self–reflective for these two.

Brianna reflects, “You can only play so much in your hometown. But when you’re playing a different place each night [on the road], to a different crowd, you really get to test out and see new stuff.”

Courtney adds, “Yeah, I like to use the word road tested or lived in… it is different to drive somewhere, show up, load your stuff up, set up, and then you may play a song that you’ve played thousands of times before but it’s going to feel different in that place if it’s your first time being in that venue or geographical location.”

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The road, currently, is a way to help the pair try out new tunes. I naively assumed it was about promoting Bison Bone’s History of Falling album, out this past April. The 10-song, approximately 47-minute album is no longer the primary focus. It was initially recorded around a year ago but now, the band is learning from what it was and moving on towards what they want to be(come).

The Artistic Process

Bison Bone’s History of Falling was by and large a live, in-studio recording. Research tells me this is partly a function of preference, partly a function of time and expense. Research, listening, and an interview also tell me the band is highly process and discovery-oriented. They are at once intuitive, attentive, attuned, and insightful.

Courtney resonates, “[A] lot of it, you know, as any artist from any medium- a lot of what you’re doing is taking stuff and throwing it against the wall and seeing if it sticks and adjusting after that, you know.”

As for the storytelling that at least partly drew Courtney to country, it often first comes with a melody. If “it’s a happier melody,” you’re more liable to think of a happy story you know from real life, “but if it’s something sadder, like in a minor key, you’re probably going to write something mad or sad,” Courtney clarifies, the latter being much more of what Bison Bone naturally leans into. But again, Courtney pins down the whole statement by reflecting on the process, and how the melody “kind of does the job itself if you allow it to get out of the way.” It’s a touch and go of inception and discovery.

Note to self: throw the pizza against the wall and see what happens, but don’t stand in the path of the pizza’s trajectory. That’s where art comes from. End essay.

The Relationship Business And Next Big Thing

In an AXS interview “Get to Know a Denver Band” with Alli Andress, Courtney reflected on learning that “it’s not the music business, it’s the relationship business.” That’s a good chunk of what being on the road is about for these two. It’s about the relationship with the people and places they encounter, the relationship to their music, and the relationship between the two and the three back in Colorado.

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“Next we’ve got a lot of shows,” Brianna informs, adding, “We’re looking forward to getting a new album out and working on that with the band, coming back with what we’ve learned from tour.” As for the pair, “The biggest impact I’ve seen [on the road] is the way we communicate. Bring tired, being hungry, and working every day, and uncomfortable… that will strengthen us as two friends in our friendship and in our relationship professionally.”  

Courtney resonates, “You just learn so much [on the road] and you’re excited to put whatever you learned into practice.” He reflects that since History of Falling, Bison Bone had a great year that followed, playing a lot of great Colorado shows, festivals, and playing in New Mexico.

“Doors were opened and it’s allowed us to keep moving forward... I think that’s what we’re always excited about is when we do something new. When we come back to something a little more normal or routine, we’re going to come back and be way beyond the levels that we were at in most normal situations before. Just more professional, more sonically in tune, just better at all aspects of it; more efficient with all of it and getting a better ear and growing patience and figuring it out. It’s just all problem solving, you know.”

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As for what radio stations the band’s encountered on the road and recommends listening to? Podcasts. Particularly, Dan Savage Lovecast, Sword and Scale: A True Crime Podcast, The New Yorker podcast, and KCRW’s Left, Right, & Center podcast.

“Don’t listen to music!” Courtney fervently quipped when asked about radio stations. This time, the laughter was sufficient to garner glances from the gathering crowd at the stage. Really, it was Courtney’s way of saying we all need a break to produce our best when your passion is otherwise your every waking moment. Heed the intelligence.

Thank you Brianna and Courtney for your hard work and stout hearts. Everyone in Colorado check out Brianna at The Jamestown Mercantile this Friday, October 20th at 6PM. She masterfully blends crooning and lullaby, tinged with grace, humor, and aplomb. I can’t say enough about these guys and how much you’ll enjoy them live no matter what mood you are or aren’t in, or your feelings towards and preconceived notions about country generally.

Keep up with Bison Bone here.

-Joliene

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

Colorado Halloween 2017: Your Guide To All The Best Halloween Shows Happening This Month

By: Mirna Tufekcic

‘Tis the season of witches and warlocks, zombies and monsters, and some kick-ass parties honoring All Hallow’s Eve. If you’re anything like us, you’ve already started gearing up for the most fun weekend of the year- the one that celebrates the weird with music, costumes, and more music. Colorado music lovers, we’re here to tear you apart with choices of all the celebrations taking place around the state for this year’s Halloween weekend.

Boulder

Papadosio.

Papadosio.

Thursday 10/26: The Boulder Theater presents the unmistakeable: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Colorado’s Elusive Ingredient- Denver’s Rocky Horror Shadowcast will perform along with the film. Whether you’re a seasoned attendee or a virgin to this interactive movie and theatre performance, it’s sure to make a great start to a funky weekend. The key word for this event is interactive.  Expect to touch or be touched.  

Friday & Saturday 10/27-10/28: Halloween weekend at The Boulder Theater will host a two-night “Rave from the Grave” party with Papadosio and friends. Papadosio plans to pay tribute to some of the 90s and early 2000s electronic artists that influenced their path as a band. To pop the cherry of this event, Boulder’s own Dynohunter will take guests on a journey through deep, grounding house tunes, just to lift you up through organic electro peaks and valleys you can rave about all over the dance floor. Saturday night, the party will start with Bass Physics, a one man show put together by Denver’s esteemed Arja Adair guaranteed to provide positive tunes while mixing up acoustic guitar and electronic sounds. Two-day passes are already sold out for this weekend, but click here to buy a one day ticket before they’re all gone. This event is likely to sell out soon.

Sunday 10/29: The Fox Theatre is hosting Sinful Sunday Halloween Party with Midnight North and All Chiefs. This ought to be an upbeat, dancey, bodies-grinding-all-night kind of show as Midnight North brings their soul, country, rock’n’roll, and All Chiefs their indie beeps, boops, and digital sprinkles to make any body groove. The show is free to industry folks; if you’re not one of those get your hands on some tickets here.

Tuesday 10/31: Snakehips make their return to Fox Theatre for Halloween, where we expect to see lots of fun costumes groovin' to their bass drops. Tickets here.

Denver

Marilyn Manson.

Marilyn Manson.

Saturday 10/07: The Mile High City has big things on the agenda throughout October in almost every music venue. The spirit of the season starts with thousands of living dead wannabes at Denver’s Zombie Crawl, and the city will no doubt be bustling with dark spirits from then through the end of October.

Thursday 10/19: Marilyn Manson will bring his tour to the Fillmore Auditorium, as long as he’s healed up from his recent stage injury. While not a Halloween weekend event, it’s close enough, especially since he’s known for having the most disturbing Instagram account around. Enjoy. UPDATE: This show is rescheduled for 01/20/18 - details here

Friday 10/20: The Gasoline Lollipops are bringing you one scary hoedown at Denver's Lost Lake tonight. Hosted by 105.5 The Colorado Sound, Grayson County Burn Band and Whipperpool will join Colorado's favorite alt-country outfit on good 'ol Colfax for an eerie time. 

Friday 10/27: Lost Lake Lounge is throwing their Terrified Halloween party with Modern Suspects, a “popternative trio,” Optycnerd, an electo-indie-pop beats duo that bring the heat to the dance floor, and Vynyl, an electronic hip-hop pop duo. This one’s set for a full house of Denver-based musicians and beat-makers bound to terrify you into dancing the night away.

Friday 10/27: Syntax Physic Opera will host an early event starting at 7PM called Hell Toupee, A Lounge Night in Hell, which is a comedy and variety show. Then starting at 9PM, you can check out Lillian’s album release party.

Friday & Saturday 10/27-10/28: The Oriental Theater will have a weekend packed full of halloween celebrations. Friday night is the Third Annual Monster Ball with Alice in Chains and KISS tribute bands. Need I say more? Saturday night is reserved for a costume contest event called MORTIFIED, an international storytelling event where adults share their most embarrassing and hilarious childhood artifacts in front of total strangers. Dare I say terrifying?

Optycnerd.

Optycnerd.

Saturday 10/28: Bar Standard/Milk Bar will host a Colorado HELLoween Ball with TR/ST. It's the biggest event of the year from promoters Ritual Noize. TR/ST is considered a popular goth/industrial/dark electronic artist and HELLoween is a party for just such fans, so it should be a hell of a time if you’re into that scene. According to Ritual Noize, “HELLoween has always been about mixing club culture, the Halloween tradition and live musical performances with a horror theme attached.” This year the decor will be Psycho-themed; hurray for Hitchcock fans!

Saturday 10/28: Halloween Hootenanny at The Bluebird Theater will feature Denver DJ Wesley Wayne and a costume competition that can score you year passes to some of Denver’s most beloved venues. Click on the Hootenanny link above for details and if you plan to attend, you’d better come in your best costume yet.

Saturday 10/28: Gothic Theatre is throwing Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery party with Deer Tick and special guest Chris Crofton, who will open up the event with, hopefully, a very funny set before things get groovy and ghosts begin to apparate. Deer Tick hails from Providence, Rhode Island with a rebellious take on alternative, folk, rock’n’roll, and country vibes.

Saturday 10/28: Larimer Lounge is hosting their Halloween Edition of Dance Yourself Clean with DJs inspired by the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Grimes, Blood Orange, and more. Shake off the sugar with this one.

Estes Park

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Saturday 10/21: The Shining Ball at the Concert Hall of the famous Stanley Hotel will have yet another yearly Halloween staple with Denver’s beloved Gasoline Lollipops. We imagine the band will truly bring the spirit of Halloween to life, with growls from frontman Clay Rose and howls from the audience over the band’s poignant lyrics and dark, stompy tunes.

Saturday 10/28: The legendary Masquerade Ball at the Stanley Hotel will conclude the Halloween events at the haunted property with live music by Jonny Mogambo backed by a full band.

Fort Collins

Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Friday 10/13: Mishawaka Amphitheatre will host a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening all its own with a troupe of actors, games, and trivia. There will also be a costume contest and drink specials. Practice your time warp now.

Friday 10/27: Hodi’s Half Note is getting metal with Skinned, A Flood Foretold, Inficier, and Voracious Souls. Headbang until witching hour.

Greeley

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Friday 10/27: Sweaty soul outfit The Burroughs are headlining Moxi Theatre’s 4th Annual Halloween Extravanganza, and chill wave beach band Slow Caves are opening. No word on if the bands are dressing up yet, but fingers crossed.

Sunday 10/29: The Moxi is also throwing a purely metal Halloween show this weekend with Bash, Skinned, Last Word, Infinited Conscious, and Cyber Zodiac. Go get weird.

Jamestown

The Alcapones.

The Alcapones.

Saturday 10/28: If it’s in your interest to get away from all the debauchery and chaos of city life during Halloween, then the quaint town of James has something for you. They are hosting The Alcapones at the good ‘ol Merc. A ska/reggae band with a mountain flare, The Alcapones will definitely bring the house down and set this mountain roof on fire.    

And finally, for those of you wanting to see and hear live music without all of the Halloween hype, here’s what’s good:

Friday 10/27: Tonight at the Hi-Dive in Denver is Jocko Homo, an event to pay tribute to 90s and 2000s alternative rock bands like Incubus, Weezer, and Modest Mouse, with cover bands honoring all three respectively. Sidenote: Actual Incubus and Weezer play Red Rocks this month.

The Infamous Stringdusters.

The Infamous Stringdusters.

Friday & Saturday 10/27-10/28: Denver’s The Ogden Theatre will host two nights of The Infamous Stringdusters this weekend. Party down.

Saturday 10/28: Red Rocks Amphitheatre will be abuzz with Russ, an American hip-hop singer/songwriter, recording artist, and producer.

Tuesday 10/31: Dream pop four-piece Alvvays  are ringing in actual Halloween night at Denver's Bluebird Theater with Jay Som.

Tuesday 10/31: Denver's own Itchy-O play Summit Music Hall on Halloween, which is fitting for this avant-garde and experimental marching band. The show is sponsored by Meow Wolf, so expect to get weird. 

See you out there somewhere Halloweenies.

-Mirna

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

Have something to add to this list? Let us know here.

Bonnaroo’s Sweet Sixteen: Amish Donuts, Twerkin' with Freedia, Mayor Chance The Rapper, & More

By: Julia Ordog

In case you missed it: Big changes and festival highlights from Bonnaroo 2017. 

It's important to use both hands.

It's important to use both hands.

This year, 65,000 people made the annual pilgrimage to Manchester TN to help Bonnaroo celebrate its birthday with Amish donuts, high fives, spontaneous art, and, of course, a sweet lineup. After 16 years, it’s safe to say that the majority of attendees are a new generation than those that originally formed the first festival in 2002, and the producers have not let this slide by unnoticed. While last year brought a few changes to The Farm that were mostly unremarkable (with the exception of permanent bathrooms, and Live Nation’s first full year at the helm), this year, Bonnaroo got an impressive facelift to keep up with the crowd and meet the younger Bonnaroovians more on their turf.

 "The Other” 2.0

The Other Stage.

The Other Stage.

Throughout the years, it’s been entirely common for stages to come and go and be renamed (Sonic, Who, Kalliope, etc), though the two main stages and three side tents have remained untouched since 2003. This year, EDM fans were given the gift of a remodeled stage in the form of the brand new "The Other.” Previously a tent, The Other had its top blown off and was injected with the spirit of Kalliope (the EDM stage from the last two years known for raging late into the night with the massive VW bug next to it). Now sort of like Which’s electronic little sister, The Other welcomed Big Gigantic, Cherub’s Jason Huber, Marshmello, and many more DJs to the stage this year.

Bacardi Beach 

Bacard's Oasis.

Bacard's Oasis.

In the area Kalliope used to call home, new sponsor Bacardi made its debut with the Bacardi beach- a sandbar complete with fake palm trees, hammocks, a cocktail bar, and plenty of lights to transport festival-goers off The Farm and to spring break. The beach was bumping with DJ sets throughout the weekend, and offered an excellent vantage point to watch shows at The Other without delving into the throng of ragey fans.

Scrims

The new scrims on The Which Stage.

The new scrims on The Which Stage.

All of the bigger stages with the exception of What also got a makeover. This, That, and The Other were all decked out with brightly-colored scrims, adding some decoration to the previously unadorned sets. Anyone who has been to Roo before would have noticed the more controversial absence of the distinct question mark that normally revolves at the top of Which, also replaced by abstract, pastel signage. I myself mourned the loss of the curtains and rotating question mark, and found the stage art to be a bit more cookie cutter than the vibe Bonnaroo is known for, but perhaps (likely) I’m just a sucker for tradition. 

The Weeknd 

The Sunday night slot of Bonnaroo is always saved for the biggest headliner, traditionally a well-entrenched, rock or jam band. Switching it up this year, the spot was given to The Weeknd, a younger R&B/pop star. The rumor mill offered suggestions that the switch was merely due to Bono’s schedule, as U2’s clout far exceeds that of The Weeknd’s, but it seems more likely that Bonnaroo was attempting to reach the younger crowd that normally dips out Sunday morning. The move certainly seemed to have paid off based on the strong crowd attendance Sunday night.

Chance

It would be hard to write about the festival this year without mentioning Chance the Rapper, the reigning “Mayor of Bonnaroo.” For the last few years, whether booked or not, Chance has made numerous appearances on collaborators’ stages across the festival. This year he appeared for Francis and the Lights, led a song at the super jam, and rocked his own set on What, a big upgrade from his last full-set performance in 2014, which was in a tent. The main venue was absolutely packed as Chance made his entrance on a mini-motorcycle, backlit by pillars of fire, and the crowd sang every word as he played hits off Coloring Book, a few favorites from Acid Rap, and other hits. 

U2

It seemed like everyone on The Farm was excited for U2’s second-ever festival performance; the band is currently on tour playing their entire Joshua Tree album front to back. Bono brought his own stage with him complete with gigantic screens and a wild light show, punctuated by the typical headliner fireworks that did not disappoint.

Big Freedia

A New Orleans legend known for her work in “bounce music,” Big Freedia and her team took over the Solar Stage to break down various twerk moves for those of us less fluid with our hips and bodies. During twerk class every morning, I watched the liberation of hundreds of people as Freedia taught them to to “mix it up,” “Peter Pan,” and “toot it up.” The brave were given the opportunity to show off their moves in a giant twerk circle where three people at a time were given the spotlight as Freedia and her crew yelled encouragement in the form of “overdrive” and “ass everywhere, ass, ass, everywhere!” If there’s one thing I learned from Bonnaroo this year, it’s that if you get the chance to go see Big Freedia, DO IT. 

Francis and the Lights

For someone who performed almost entirely by himself on a stage with no background graphics, Francis Farewell Starlite was truly captivating. His mesmerizing synths and big sound were matched by his uncontainable energy and erratic dance moves. Chance the Rapper joined Francis for their iconic choreography of “May I Have This Dance” to extreme fan stoke. And, as if the performance wasn’t already memorable enough, Francis jumped off the stage to run around in the crowd for a bit, and ended his set by doing a back handspring into a backflip that he landed in a split. Mic drop.

Beyond the Music 

In terms of activities, Bonnaroo is offering a lot more to do these days besides going to music. Out in tent city, a few of the pods have been decked out in various themes, offering places to hang out and things to do outside of Centeroo or your campsite. The coffee house and vinyl shop at Pod 7 (The Grind) were in peak form this year, as was the mystical hammock forest out behind it (The Grove). Other holistic programming met a broader audience than usual with record turnouts for things like morning yoga and the 5K run Saturday morning, demonstrating that Bonnaroo has definitely become a more accessible partner that doesn’t require a total departure from one’s daily routines. Activist-central Planet Roo also offers plenty to do and learn, in full-force this year as usual with booths for registering as a bone marrow donor, learning about sustainability, and making your voice heard on various issues.  

Mild weather!

Traditionally on The Farm, temps have left festival-goers feeling like they were melting into a pool of their own sweat that they very well might drown in. While last year brought temperatures that topped 100 (not to mention a thunderstorm evacuation), this year, was all moderate temps and clear skies with a festival high of 89. While at the end of the day, people were hardly less zapped for energy, some of the days were downright pleasant- words I have never used in the past to describe summer in Coffee County. 

Cage The Elephant.

Cage The Elephant.

As usual I lost count of how many bands mentioned it being a dream to play the festival, and of how many artists went right down to their fans and jumped into the crowd, whether it was Dave Bayley from Glass Animals crowd-surfing with a 200-foot microphone cord tether, Cage the Elephant frontman, Matt Shultz, diving into his fans, or Diplo rolling around in a giant hamster ball. The superjam was jammy and super and brought the funk. Fans stormed the venue at two o’clock on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to sprint as fast as they could across the field to get to the front rail for the headliners. The line for Amish donuts was insanely long, people walked around shouting “Happy Roo” to each other the same way people wish each other a Merry Christmas, and people covered themselves in just as much glitter as they did sunscreen. 

Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo.

There may be details that change from year to year as this festival grows and evolves, but throughout my five trips to The Farm, I’ve noticed that the most important thing stays the same: the vibes. In the utopian world of The Farm, a land that is governed on the principles of good vibes and radiating positivity, and whose name literally means “only the good stuff,” there is no room for racism, travel bans, homophobia, or any of the other damaging ideals that we run into everywhere in the world “out there.” Without straying into the quicksand that is politics these days, I will say that this year was no exception to the typical blissful reprieve that Bonnaroo offers from the negativity and aggression associated with the news and watchful Big Brother’s eye- a reprieve that allows people to tune out the drone of society and to instead truly listen to their hearts. The world of Bonnaroo is a beautiful one, where people are free to truly express themselves and where strangers not only acknowledge strangers, but embrace them, help them, and share with them, always looking for common ground instead of reasons to fight.

As usual, by Sunday, I was ready for a real night of sleep and a break from the sun, but as also usual, I can’t wait to go back. Until next year, radiate positivity and stay true Roo. And as always: See you on The Farm! 

See the full Bonnaroo 2017 photo gallery here!

-Julia

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

That Time I Followed The Hollow On Their CrowBus Extravaganza, Vol. 2

By: Jura Daubenspeck

The Hollow dabbles in the debonair, and gladly greets the gothic, candle-lit sounds of old with their tunes. I had the opportunity to join them on their tour through Northern Colorado for a weekend of music, whiskey, and, of course, brunch up the wazoo.

The Hollow.

The Hollow.

In a city that promotes community and collaboration, Denver rockers The Hollow take it to another level. Last weekend, the band performed at both FoCoMX (April 28th) and Greeley May Play Music Festival (April 29th), and invited their fans to join them on the two-night journey they dubbed the “NoCo CrowBus Experience.”

This was the second time the band offered this all-access pass to its “Crowmunity.” The idea was essentially this: come join us, see what we’re about, and let’s have some fun along the way. The concept of a band reaching out to their fans like this intrigued me, so I joined them on their weekend extravaganza and was amazed at what I found.

The Crowbus in all its glory.

The Crowbus in all its glory.

We headed for Fort Collins on Friday afternoon, forging through the snowstorm in time to set up for their 7:30PM set at The Aggie Theatre. I chatted with frontman Spencer Townshend Hughes about the transformation of the band over the years. Since 2013, they underwent a few member additions, including bassist Ethan Kotel, drummer Jason Hoke, and the lovely harpist Angela Rose Whaley. In its current makeup, the band’s sound may contain similar ingredients to bands such as Muse and Queens of the Stone Age, but has an additional Edgar Allan Poe flavor mixed into it - a tasty combination.

The Hollow commanded The Aggie’s stage, and kept the energy up for accompanying acts such as American Blackout, One Flew West, and The Violet Tides. They played favorites such as their “Pure Imagination” cover,  “An Open Letter to Kim K,” “Catch As You Can,” and of course their stellar cover of 21 Pilots’ “Heathens.” The way in which the band maintained a powerful, yet playful hold over the audience was entertaining and infectious.

Watching The Hollow’s Saturday night performance at The Jager in Greeley, CO felt like an entirely new experience. Unlike The Aggie in its vastness, The Jager was entirely the opposite: an “intimate” basement setting that got “Greeley weird, Greeley quickly.” And yet, no matter the stage or setting, The Hollow managed to command both crowds with their charisma, high energy, and dynamic melodies.

Throughout the weekend, I found myself thinking about what I would write about for this article. I did not document the band’s every word, and instead let the moments of free-moving fingers outweigh the moments of camera-filled hands. I decided to take it all in and allow myself the incredible experience of getting to know a new group of people. I discovered admirable and endearing qualities about each of them, and felt at home in their presence.

Of course, we talked about their music, message, and musical aspirations. We discussed the concept of The Hollow: that death is the only certainty in life, and accepting that inevitability makes life more fruitful and beautiful.

Spencer Townshend Hughes.

Spencer Townshend Hughes.

But above all, I found that The Hollow are a group of passionate and hard-working musicians who are as hilarious as they are dedicated. They’ve got the chops, and will stop at nothing to make sure that in due time, everyone in Denver will know exactly who they are. So next time the group offers up this opportunity, I highly recommend packing your bags and hopping in that van - you really will not regret it.

Keep in touch with The Hollow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And be sure to “Follow the Hollow” here to receive exclusive updates on new music, vlogs, backstage show access, and more.

-Jura

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

Colorado's Recording and Wilderness Retreat Spot: Mountain Star Studio

By: Sierra Voss

Tucked away in Gilpin County, CO down a long dirt path lies Mountain Star Studio. Its studio barn and main home sit on 120 acres of lands that looks out onto the continental divide. The compound includes a multi-purpose recording studio and performance space, and offers artist lodging.

The property was originally built to serve as a house and horse barn for Mr. Kip Lagorin. It wasn't until four years ago when Kip’s friend Chris came around and suggested they turn it into a recording studio that this magic came to be. Both Chris and Kip have a deep respect and love for music, and more specifically the music scene in Colorado. And so, after the two came together, the property slowly morphed into the artist retreat that it is today.

Keys on Keys.

Keys on Keys.

Bands come through to use the space to rehearse before shows, and to record singles and albums. Some names of the bands that frequent the studio include Andrew McMahon, Chapter: SOUL, Madaila, Gipsy Moon, The Magic Beans, Fruition, Elephant Revival, and Field Division. Eventually, the studio hopes to host intimate shows on the property as well.

Evelyn & Nicholas. 

Evelyn & Nicholas. 

I got a chance to stop by this hidden gem and get to know the studio team and what led each of them to Mountain Start Studio.

Chris Sheldon- (Head Honcho/Father of the Studio/Member of DeadPish Orchestra)

Well, Kip had the place and another friend of mine had a recording machine that needed a home. Once I had the idea I just knew if we built it they will come. I was too young to ever go to Caribou Ranch Studio, but it's a part of history everyone knows about around here. What could be better than recording an album surrounded by the mountains and wilderness? That always sounded so amazing to me. So when this opportunity came, I thought I could put the dream into action.

Mike Pedersen- (In-House Band Member/Jack-of-All-Trades)

Mike.

Mike.

I took a drive across the country a couple years ago. I have some musician friends in the area and knew I wanted to check out Boulder. A week and a half into my travels in Colorado, I knew I was going to stay. I have some buddies in the band The Drunken Hearts and they took me up here to the studio; the rest is history. I’ve been here at the studio for close to a year now. I do all of sorts of stuff: the dishes, graphic design, interior design, [I’m the] in-house bass and guitar player… We all have to be a jack-of-all-trades on this team.     

Evelyn Taylor- (Lead Singer of Field Division/Marketing Manager)

Evelyn.

Evelyn.

About a year ago, [Field Division] were finishing a tour and were invited up to the studio to stay for a bit. We thought it was pretty cosmic because we didn’t have anywhere to go and didn’t want to head back to our home in Iowa. We have always dreamed about moving out to Colorado to start a vibrant art community in the mountains. We really wanted this community to follow the spirit of the Laurel Canyon scene in L.A., where artists lived together and collaborated on so many great records. I thought we would have to build our own property, but then we ran into Kip and Chris and they already had the dream going and needed help.   

Nicholas Frampton- (Member of Field Division/Studio Producer)

Nicholas. 

Nicholas. 

We arrived in late April of last year. We were pretty amazed by the property and actually had a record we were trying to finish, so we just plopped down at the studio to finish it. We ended up staying for a month on our first stay. We came back in July after that, and then again in October. At that point we were working out how we could stay and actually become resident artists and team members at the studio. Both Evelyn and I help with everything around here: branding, marketing, booking, producing records, and being a sort of in-house band for artists coming through.  

Chris Lewarchik- (Cheerleader/Vibe Coordinator)

I’m just visiting. I’m friends with all these mad people trying to do this great thing. I kinda help them cheerlead all the bands I’m friends with and people I see who are doing good things in order to get them into the studio. I am really trying to promote the whole Caribou vibe to get those people off the street in the city, where everything is just so hustle bustle, and here they can just kick back and record in a not-so-city-based environment.

This team is truly creating a unique studio where artists can come record and retreat with the support of a team that are themselves musicians, and are ready to help create each artist's’ vision. So if you are ready to take a break from the city, look out onto the continental divide, and make a record, check out Mountain Star Studio and get yourself up there.

 -Sierra

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

Colorado Music Festivals 2017: Your Official Guide To All The Goodness

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Festival season is arguably the best time of year in music. So here at BolderBeat, we’ll be updating this feature with every Colorado festival announcement that comes our way. Stay as on the pulse as we are.


FoCoMX- April 28th-29th

Fort Collins' premiere music festival has announced its lineup, which features hundreds of Colorado artists. Some of our favorites include Antonio Lopez, The Alcapones, BANDITS, Bethel Steele, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Edison, Foxfeather, Gasoline Lollipops, and The Velveteers. Full lineup here


Spread The Word Music Festival- May 5th-8th

Taking place at several Denver and Boulder venues, Spread The Word features a mix of local and national artists with styles including rock, jam, funk, reggae, hip-hop, folk/grass, electronic and fusion. Headliners of this year's fest include Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Euforquestra, A-Mac and the Hight, & Analog Sun. Full lineup on our announcement link.


Denver’s Project Pabst- May 20th

“Project Pabst was a wild success,” contributor Zach Dahmen wrote in retrospect of the 2016 festival that took over Denver’s Larimer Street last year. This year, the PBR-fueled lineup includes Ice Cube, Phantogram, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile, STRFKR, No Name, & more. We’re pumped for this. Details here


Greeley Blues Jam- June 9th-10th

The Greeley Blues Jam seeks to keep the blues alive, and this year, they’re doing just that with a lineup including Walter Trout, Samantha Fish, Honey Island Swamp Band, and Colorado favorite The Burroughs. This is one weekend you’ll enjoy being blue. Full lineup on their website.


Taste of Fort Collins- June 9th-11th

The 21st annual Taste of Fort Collins includes headliners St. Lucia, Gin Blossoms, Plain White T's, & Waterloo Revival this year. Tickets are only $5-$10 and the fest is hosted at Civic Center Park in Old Towne. Get out and get down! More info on their website.


Country Jam- June 15th-18th

Grand Junction will host Country Jam’s 26th annual four-day fest this year. Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, and Thomas Rhett top the headliners list of the 30+ artists that will play to your boot kickin’ desire. Surrounded by the red rocks of GJ, this festival annually hosts some of the biggest names in country music, and clearly this year is no different. More info at this link.


Sonic Bloom Festival- June 15th-18th

If you like electronic music, there’s no better place to be than Colorado’s Sonic Bloom Festival. Happening at Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country, the weekend will feature performances from Gigantic Cheese Biscuits, The Polish Ambassador, The Floozies, and a huge array of electronic beatmasters. The festival will also feature yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists. And did we mention the visuals? Full lineup here.


Telluride Bluegrass Festival- June 15th-18th

Telluride Bluegrass Festival celebrates its 44th year this summer. Jason Mraz, Norah Jones, Dierks Bentley with The Travelin' McCourys, and Brandi Carlile top the fest’s 2017 list. We can tell you from experience that last year was magical and we even met some our favorite musicians at (where else?) the Port-a-Potties. More info and tickets here.


Van’s Warped Tour- June 25th

Believe it or not, we attended this event back in 2015 after not having been since high school. Yes. Though much has changed since what was arguably Warped Tour’s heyday (moshing is now frowned upon), this is a fest that still has a cult following and still makes its way around the US. Attila, Bowling for Soup, CKY, & Futuristic top this year's bill- grab the full listing here.


Westword Music Showcase- June 25th

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host more than 100 live acts at their annual summer celebration this year. With Shakey Graves, The Revivalists, Cut Copy, Bob Moses, COIN, Arizona, and a long list of local acts, this will be one to clink a summer beer to and enjoy. Don’t miss out on Westword’s fantastic Friday night. Local artists should be announced soon; voting is open. More info on their website.


Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association (CROMA) Festival-

July 5th-9th

CROMA's 2017 festival at Parrish Ranch features a great old-time music lineup, workshops, nightly dances, open jams, classes for kids, open stage times, and couples dance workshops. Artists at this year's fest will include Eddie Bond and the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, The Ozark Highballers, Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller, and The Musky Dimes and Lansford and McAlister. Get full details and tickets here


The Ride Festival- July 8th-9th

Beck will headline The Ride Festival this year, another Telluride fest that is sure to get you groovin’. Ben Harper, Kaleo, The John Butler Trio, and Colorado favorite Rose Hill Drive will all keep your summer-chill vibes in check at this one. Full lineup here.


The Underground Music Showcase- July 27th-30th

One of our absolute favorite weekends of the summer is Denver’s The UMS due to its focus on local artists, and all the fun that comes along with wandering around the South Broadway venues hosting the three-day event. Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, & Esme Patterson are headlining this year, but we're more stoked on this massive list of local artists (a crazy amount of which we've covered in the last year). Get tickets here. More deets on our announcement link.


Rockygrass Festival- July 28th-30th

Bluegrass, bluegrass, and more bluegrass. That’s what Rockygrass in Lyons is all about! Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, The Del McCoury Band, and The Infamous Stringdusters are already confirmed for this year’s pickin’ celebration, so get your tickets now. More artists at this link.


ARISE Music Festival- August 4th-6th

Colorado’s ARISE is back for its fifth year at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films! Some of the top billed artists for 2017 include Atmosphere, Tipper, and Ani Difranco. Get more details at our announcement link.


Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest- August 11th-13th

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in the historic downtown of Fort Collins. CAKE has been announced as one of the headliners with more TBA- keep up with the full lineup here.


Velorama Colorado- August 11th-13th

Following the Colorado Classic bicycle race, Colorado’s newest festival Velorama will take place in Denver’s RiNo Neighborhood this summer. Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie, The New Pornographers, Saint Motel, and La Santa Cecilia are the bands announced so far, and you don’t have to bike in the race to partake in the party! Tickets for this new fest here.


Rocky Mountain Folks Festival- August 18th-20th

Last year, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival proved to be much more than a music festival. Bringing together local artists for songwriting workshops and more, the Lyons, CO fest created an awesome artistic community that still managed to showcase great national acts too. Gregory Alan Isakov, Lake Street Dive, and Rhiannon Giddens have already been announced for this year’s fest; full schedule and list of acts here.


Jazz Aspen Snowmass- September 1st-3rd

We don’t know how Maroon 5 is jazz, but they are headlining the JAS Labor Day Weekend festival this year. Colorado favorite Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, Lake Street Dive, and Keith Urban will also have performances at the Snowmass event. JAS has a smaller June event too, which will feature John Batiste & Stay Human, Michael McDonald, and Earth Wind & Fire. Details on both events here.


Telluride Blues & Brews Festival 

aerial_0077_0.jpg

Telluride Blues & Brews Fest has Bonnie Raitt, Steve Winwood, TajMo at the top of their bill this year. You can get your grand brew tasting on for three days with these artists and more, plus there is a lot of availability in ticket options, so you can schedule your own fest experience. Get more info here


Festivals of The Past

We'll miss you Vertex.

We'll miss you Vertex.

Wondering what happened to some of your other favorite Colorado festivals? Bass Center moved to New Jersey this year, Divide Music Festival has been postponed until 2018, Groove Festival’s web presence has been replaced by this Japanese site making us question everything, Mad Decent Block Party went to India (yes really), Riot Fest Denver will not return due to Sean McKeough's death, and Vertex (which we freakin’ loved) was sadly cancelled, but we’re praying it comes back to life with full zombie mayhem next year. Fingers crossed fellow festheads.


Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all season on BolderBeat’s dedicated fest page!

-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.

School of Rock Meets Musical Fame: Life Growing Up at Denver School Of The Arts

By: Sierra Voss

I remember my first music photography gig well. I was shooting for BolderBeat at Denver’s local music festival, The UMS Showcase. It was a strange but exhilarating feeling being down in the audience, watching the shows through a camera lense. My life has been filled with music from a very young age, but I was used to being the one on stage. I spent the majority of my childhood- seven years- attending Denver School of the Arts (DSA) as a vocal major. This festival was my first time using a new artistic tool to capture a musical experience I knew so intimately.  

DSA is a public magnet arts high school and middle school that offers rigorous daily involvement in a specialized art form. When I attended the school as a vocal major, students took part in over an hour and a half of their art form (or major) every day. It was a specific type of education that differed greatly from my other friends high school and middle school experiences. Although I didn’t professionally pursue voice after high school, I found art was always an integral part of my life. It was something I felt made up my genetic composition, and was at the core of how I processed and expressed the world around me.  

My love for photography came after my love for singing, but as I grew older it took priority. It wasn’t until this past year that I had the idea to explore merging the two artistic expressions I loved so dearly. It was this decision that landed me at The UMS, ready to jump into the weekend's festivities.

As I looked at the lineup, I was floored by how many acts had members that went to my high school, DSA. I had no idea so many of my peers had stuck around town to build out their musical passions and careers. I had to wonder how DSA had shaped so many of these current artist’s paths, and was so intrigued about who they had all become within Denver’s music scene. So I sat down with numerous DSA Alumni to explore just that.

Jon Shockness- Kid Astronaut (former singer in Air Dubai)

From my own experience, Jon Shockness was no doubt the cool kid on the block in middle school. He practically melted every one of our moms’ and sisters’ hearts during our 2001 “Pop Show” performace when he sang “Ben” by Michael Jackson.

Jon performing at DSA’s “Peacejam Event” in 2009.

Jon performing at DSA’s “Peacejam Event” in 2009.

How did your time at DSA influence the artist you are today?

When I think about being a singer and my history with voice, I know a lot of it started with the training I got from DSA. Even today, I create some of my vocal tones from arias I sang for master classes in high school. I am definitely influenced by my time there. Being able to harmonize with other artists was definitely learned from DSA. Overall, my time at DSA inspired me to have a lot of respect for artists and different types of voices. It instilled in me a deep respect for my own voice on a deeper level that allowed me to really grow as an artist.

On the hard days, do you have a mantra that inspires you to continue your musical career?

Oh yeah. There was this thing one of my exes told me. She said, “You're always where you need to be.” I was going through a rough time and not sure why things weren't moving the way I wanted them to or thought they should. This was like 2012 before we got signed. Anytime I feel incomplete or like I'm in the wrong place, I remind myself that I'm where I need to be and usually allowing myself to accept my position creates growth.

Portrait of Jon 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Jon 2017 per the author.

Shane Franklin- Lead singer in hip-hop band SF1

The kid that was always, always playing drums on any and every surface he could find.

Shane playing drums for his college band in 2009 at Larimer Lounge.

Shane playing drums for his college band in 2009 at Larimer Lounge.

What did you love the most about DSA?

I remember we used to have teachers that would base writing prompts around our major, like, write an essay about how your major correlates with The Scarlet Letter. DSA really let us create a world shaped by our art form and what we loved.

How did your time at DSA influence the artist you are today?

Students were truly limitless at DSA in terms of collaborations and exploring different art forms. We were given opportunities to collaborate across majors. I remember drumming for the vocal department, tap dancing with the dance department, doing music for the cinema majors, and auditioning for musicals. It shaped me going out into this world as an artist. You can't just keep yourself in a box. That's why my music incorporates dance and theatrics. My time at DSA made me into the collaborative artist I am today.  

Do you think you could live life without music? What would you do instead?

Music is life. It's plan A. Plan B is execute plan A!

Portrait of Shane 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Shane 2017 per the author.

Julie Be- (Julie Almeria) also singer for project STéLOUSE

Julie was the girl who always got the best part in school-wide musicals, and rightfully so. I remember being in awe as I watched her in one stunning musical theater role after the next throughout my time at DSA.

 Julie starring in DSA’s production of  Aida .

 Julie starring in DSA’s production of Aida.

What differences do you notice working with DSA artists versus non DSA artists?

I think there are a lot of generous and nice artists in the music scene in Denver. I think that’s cool because those are the main characteristics I think of when I think of artists from DSA. I definitely think that there is a total sense of comradery between DSA artists though. Like, these are people that I especially want to see succeed. I think we fit very well into a scene that is already pretty generous, and I think we add a lot of good qualities too. DSA artists are just nice people, and nice people are sometimes rare in this world.  

What's your end goal? What if you don’t get there?

The end goal… that's a damn good question, and I ask myself that every day. When I was younger, I defined "success" as being famous, a household name, rich, etc. I doubt I'm alone in that… but now, I see success as being more about how I feel about the work that I am doing as opposed to how other people feel about it. I want to continue creating- releasing my own complete album is a bucket list item for me- and collaborating with other artists in ways that feel genuine to me. If I could do away with my day job and just make music for a living, I would be so freaking happy. Yeah, it would be cool to win a Grammy or to go on a world tour. Do I want those things? Absolutely! But to me, they're not the goal. If anything, they would be a by-product of the goal. At the end of the day, I want to arrive at a place where I can look back at my musical career and say, "I did what I wanted to do, and I did it with integrity".

Portrait of Julie 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Julie 2017 per the author.

Shilo Gold- (Shayna Goldstein)

I will never forget Shayna’s first-day-of-school-outfit in the 7th grade (think platform sneakers with fire flames going down the side and basketball shorts). Shayna has been many things to me throughout my life: a mentor and a fierce competitor, but above all else, my best friend.

Shayna singing in DSA’s Vocal Department’s 2007 “Pop Show."

Shayna singing in DSA’s Vocal Department’s 2007 “Pop Show."

What led you to start your music career in Los Angeles, and why did you decided to move back to Denver?

DSA gave me a certain strength that was bred from a really young age. It enabled me to really believe in myself. We were instilled with the ideas of what we could achieve, and were given a lot of power to invent ourselves as artists. I think it gave me the courage to move to Los Angeles and take on a bigger scene.

During my time in LA, I was missing a sense of authenticity. It felt so competitive and stiff. I left on tour and spent a year playing shows in 38 states. There was no doubt in my mind that Denver was where I wanted to end up.

Have you ever consider exploring a different career? What pulls you back to your artistry?

Pursuing a career as an artist is anything but easy or stable. Everyone has different tastes, and no matter how proud or passionate you are about what you are creating, it doesn't mean that it will be widely received. I have definitely questioned my ability to pursue my craft, and in turn, contemplated what other careers would look like for me. At the end of the day, I have realized that music is something deeply engraved in my bones. It is my journal, and the greatest gift I have to give. No matter what I do to pay the bills, or put food on the table, music is the reason I wake up in the morning and the way I make others feel like they are not alone. It's not that anything in particular keeps me dedicated to music, it's that I've done my share of exploring and have come to realize that no matter what path my life takes, writing and sharing music will always be a part of it.

Portrait of Shilo 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Shilo 2017 per the author.

Nic Hammerberg- Member of SYCDVK & Petals of Spain

Nic was basically my older brother growing up. He drove me to school everyday. We became obsessed with sharing new musical discoveries like Feist, Jack Johnson, G. Love and Special Sauce, and obviously the soundtracks from 'Garden State,' 'The O.C' and 'Grey's Anatomy.'

 Nic performing in DSA’s “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.” Photo by Edward Davidson 2005.

 Nic performing in DSA’s “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.” Photo by Edward Davidson 2005.

What connects all DSA students?

We are a special breed. We all have this connection, but how do you put your finger on it? It feels special to me. It's like if we all went to Hogwarts! You know- we have that bond! We are all from the Gryffindor house is what I am saying.

When I see other DSA artists performing around town, I just know so viscerally what they went through to get there. It's not to say that other people aren't as skilled, like muggles for example, they can be super great wizards too. But us magic folk are true wizards. We can just do anything that we set our minds to. We all studied our craft every day for basically all of high school and middle school. How could that be anything else but magical?

Do you have a song that you would say embodies your journey as an artist?

"Sleeping Lessons" by The Shins. That song has often been an inspiration in moments of sadness, and to really light a fire under my ass. There was something so different and mysterious about that song when I first heard it, lyrically and melodically, that acted as a psychedelic to me; opened my brain to new. There is new everywhere, and there is lots of opposition and challenges in discovering yourself. The lyrics are brilliant and provide a new support and resilience: "So enlist every ounce of your bright blood, and off with their heads…  You're not obliged to swallow anything you despise."

Portrait of Nic 2017 per the author.

Portrait of Nic 2017 per the author.

It became clear after interviewing my peers that growing up in an art school environment truly shaped who these artists are today. They confirmed my deep feelings and beliefs that students from DSA learn and refine skills that allow them to continually re-create themselves as artists. They collaborate with other singers, create an arts community, respect other forms of expression and bring to the table exceptional knowledge of music theory. DSA artists are truly an important part of Denver culture, and are creating a loving and collaborative music scene.

Other awesome DSA artists hidden among Denver’s music scene include: Wesley Watkins (founder of The Other Black and former trumpet player for Nathaniel Rateliff and Night Sweats and), Brittany Williams (of Brittany Williams & The Unstoppable Groove), Halle Spoor (who is currently recording her first album), and Khalil Arcady (Sur Ellz).  

These artists all perform frequently around town throughout the year. Keep an eye on their platforms for updates of future shows!

-Sierra

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

December 17th Has Officially Been Declared Colorado's Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day

By: Sierra Voss

Governor Hickenlooper hereby proclaimed December 17th as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day last night. That’s right, this sweet Denver-based band now have a day all their own for all they have brought to the world with their music, and more specifically, for all they have brought to Colorado.

During the short ceremony prior to the show, Hickenlooper made a declaration to the sold-out Ogden crowd, bestowing the honor upon the band:

“So we want to do something really special tonight to thank them for everything they have done to put us on the map in such a big way…
Whereas the folk R&B group haS traveled over 208,000 miles in the last 18 months, touring the world and playing sold-out venues; and
Whereas, since June 2015, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have performed 246 shows in more than 16 countries across the globe; and
Whereas Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats sold over 640,000 albums and have performed for over 700,000 people, not including you; and
Whereas 7.1 million people have listened on Spotify and streamed the equivalent of over 432 years of the group's music; and
Whereas, managed by Chris Tetzeli and Denver-based 7S Management, the group, even with their global travel, has deep roots to the Colorado community; and
Whereas their upcoming August 2017 show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a world-renowned venue with 10,000 seats, sold out in just 7 minutes!; and
Whereas Colorado’s music scene continues to grow and thrive through the enormous talent, dedication, and passion for community that musicians like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats brings to our state;
Therefore, I, John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the entire State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim forever after, December 17th, 2016 as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Day in the state of Colorado."

And so, on the snowy Saturday night, fans celebrated a day in the name of the band as Nathaniel Rateliff dropped to his knees, thanking the audience as the Colorado flag was wrapped around his shoulders.

The adoring crowd launched into dance as the band opened their emotionally heartfelt set. The room was buzzing with positive vibes encapsulating the support this community has had for Rateliff & The Night Sweats throughout their journey. It was clear how moved Nathaniel was as he stopped every few song to praise the crowd and speak his heart, wiping away tears.

It seemed all and every popular Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats song was played, including of course, the band’s hit song, S.O.B. The band closed with this track and departed the stage, prompting the crowd to burst out into chorus singing back to the band for an encore.

It was a magical night for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats fans, and an important recognition from the state regarding Colorado’s growing music scene. The band’s next announced Colorado gig is the aforementioned Red Rocks Ampitheater show in August 2017. Looking to catch a show before next summer? Check out their international tour schedule here.

-Sierra

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