"When Your Axe is at its Sharpest, it's Time to Lay it Down." - Wild Faith Serenades Longmont at Rosalee's Pizzeria

By: Moriel O'Connor

If you are searching for the sounds of music, you will strike gold in Boulder, Colorado. The Pearl Street Mall is well-dressed in street performers, everflowing fountains, sculptures over sandstone, and manicured beds of marigolds, daisies and tulips. You are almost certain to stumble upon a wandering musician. Some pass by; some choose to listen. This is where I met Leonardo Armigo of Wild Faith

Wild Faith.

Wild Faith.

With long curls, a sweet smile and a guitar in hand, he played for the people of Pearl Street busking. After catching him up and down the road, he invited me to his recent show at Rosalee's Pizzeria in Longmont, Colorado.

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Leo is a storyteller with impeccable rhythm and musical talent. His songs show an appreciation for sacred places and all aspects of nature, including the human experience and all its vulnerabilities. While he sings, passion rings through his voice and medicine moves through his fingers. Wild Faith is rooted in the Southwest, with Apache, Comanche, Spanish and  Mediterranean ancestry. Leo has been performing for over 15 years. He recently traveled through Peru and brought back stories to sing. Throughout his performance, Leo spoke for the land with lyrics and reminders such as:

"The example we set is the destruction we heal."

"When you're axe is at its sharpest, it's time to lay it down."

"When there is wonder, there is a way."

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Wild Faith donates 50% of his album sales to Amazon Watch, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Amazon rainforest and the rights and cultures of the indigenous. You can support the Amazon and purchase Wild Faith's album, The Longest Journey- An Acoustic Experience here. Find him at Arise Festival in Loveland, Colorado this August and Tribal Visions in Taos, New Mexico this September. If you're lucky, you might even hear his heart songs on Boulder’s Pearl Street. 

Keep up with Wild Faith here

-Moriel

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.

Dizzy Wright Ended His Recent Tour in Denver with a Nipsey Hussle Tribute & More

By: Moriel O'Connor

If you were like me, you spent your high school days hotboxing in your friend’s Pontiac while banging rap music on back roads. It seemed more badass back then, when you had to steer clear of the cops and put in eyedrops before going back to physics class. Now, cannabis is easy to get ahold of, and you don’t have to worry about the CD scratching and skipping over your favorite lines. Still, there is nothing like lighting up and getting down.

Dizzy Wright.

Dizzy Wright.

For real, name a more iconic duo than weed and hip hop. I’ll wait. Dizzy Wright gets this, and he’s even got his own strain. He rolls his own blunts and keeps it real. Cruising to Colorado from his hometown of Las Vegas, he finished off his recent tour at Cervantes’ last weekend.

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During his set, Dizzy praised to be “a mile high,” saying Denver was his favorite city to visit. He also paid respect to Nipsey Hussle. Dizzy’s music stands out from most modern day rap with authenticity and truth. He is an independent artist whose lyrics and spirit show passion and integrity, encouraging others to take back their power. Dizzy’s been rapping since he was a child and recently released his album, Nobody Cares, Work Harder, collabing with Mozzy, Tech N9ne, Berner, Curren$y, Jarren Benton and Demrick.

So if you weren’t at Cervantes’ this last weekend, or even if you were, roll up, view my shots from the show, and listen to Dizzy’s latest album here. Much love. 

-Moriel

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

Joshua Tree Music Festival is an Oasis for All

By: Moriel O'Connor

I was in Youssoupha Sidibe's vintage aluminum artist trailer, listening to the Kora and drinking coffee with Senegalese spice. I had lost my voice from singing higher than ever before. Raspy and sandy, I sat in reflection and recognized the greatness of Joshua Tree, California and their amazing bi-annual festival.

Life at Joshua Tree Music Festival.

Life at Joshua Tree Music Festival.

The night before, the rainbow sherbet skies turned to black as the full moon rose. She shined golden over the vista. The air was cold and crisp, yet still my heart was warm. Everywhere I looked, there was an art installation or mural. I realized nobody was fighting and everyone was friends. There was no room for hate. We stepped, swayed, and sang together to gather all the precious moments we could.  

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The festival was all encompassing and unconventional. For 17 years, it has been run without corporate interests or greed. The music fit this mood, with rebellious acts such as Vintage Trouble, Earth Arrow, Cole Williams Band and Trouble in the Streets. The collection of local bands included Gene Evaro Jr, The Adobe Collective, Megan Hutch and more. Dynohunter brought some Colorado funk, and Oliver Koletzki and My Baby flew in from overseas. Much more than a dance party, there were yoga classes, workshops, children's activities, a  healing village and songwriter sessions.

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The Mojave Desert Land Trust was there as well, educating us on the land and park. The town and national park are named after the Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia). This is the largest species of Yucca, and it only grows in the Mojave Desert. The Joshua Tree and Pronuba Moth are in an everlasting relationship. They cannot survive alone. Sometimes called the Yucca Moth, it is the only insect that can pollinate the Joshua Tree. Female moths collect pollen while laying eggs inside the ovaries. Larvae hatched from the eggs, then use the seed of Joshua tree as a food source. From this kinship, I learned life itself is incomplete without one another. This was a vibe felt strongly among Joshua Tree festival-goers throughout the weekend.

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If you missed the spring fest, the 14th annual fall Joshua Tree Music Festival will take place this October. North Mississippi All Stars and The California Honeydrops are headlining.

To see more from Joshua Tree Music Festival, view this photo album.

-Moriel

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

My Baby Spill the Scoop on Their Shamanistic Saga from Amsterdam to Joshua Tree

By: Moriel O'Connor

My Baby, a mesmeric trio from Amsterdam, journeyed to the USA for Joshua Tree Music Festival this year. Electrifying, funky, and bluesy, their music goes beyond reality. If you have yet to hear them, listen below. Read on for my interview with the trio:

So, whose baby is it anyway?

‘My Baby’ is our shared, imagined muse. So 'our' baby has resulted from our combined imagination.

Amazing. How did your band come together?

Daniel (guitar) met Joost (drummer) in Amsterdam while traveling from New Zealand. They formed a series of bands/formations that were fronted by a then teenaged sister of Joost named Cato. My Baby is essentially a three-piece split off from those earlier groups.

How was your experience at Joshua Tree Music Festival?

Joshua Tree was gorgeous; so much fun. The audience had such a great energy, and [it was] in such a beautiful part of the world to boot.

Being based in Amsterdam has got to be fascinating. What's one way Amsterdam's music scene differs from North America?

Amsterdam has its share of great venues and jazz and art scenes, but have to say, [it’s] nothing compared to the music history and tradition of North America.

My Baby.

My Baby.

Seems like you've been all over the globe with your music. What is your favorite country to perform in?

We do a yearly tour to New Zealand (Daniel's a kiwi) which is a highlight for us, but the U.S. is getting up there pretty quickly as the place to play.

What do you love about your music?

We love the expression of freedom it allows us to delve into, and sharing that experience with an audience.

Your lyrics are incredibly visionary. How do you manage to merge music and story so well?

Our music, it seems is primarily focused on creating a particular mood. A particular mood can quite easily be fitted to accompany some type of storytelling. It also comes from a natural urge to create characters in songs that resemble something or somebody important. And [they] resemble something you can relate to.

What does your songwriting process look like?

We often start with improvised pieces/jams/moods which Cato sings melodies on. Then we look through words that fit, or scenes that fit the mood of the music. Sometimes a storytelling lyric has already been written and can be edited to suit a melody from those jams.

Your album, ‘Mounaiki, By the Bright of the Night’ was released last year. Tell me about it.

For this album we decided to develop a story around the MyBaby character from which to base songs around. The My Baby character is introduced, and named Mounaiki by a fictitious shaman, and a plot develops following the hero’s journey, a traditional mode of storytelling.

It’s also a coming of age type story, where a young girl is trying to find out what the world means to her, spiritually or any other kind of way. We like to describe her as, ‘a girl in the '70s fantasizing about being a flapper girl and dancer in the '20s. So the songs are loosely connected to a storyline that follows the adventures the character undertakes over the course of a night.

Your trio presents such a profound, layered sound without the use of computers or samples. What are some of your favorite effect pedals to use?

Playing without a bass player forced us to experiment with bass octave pedals. Also, we use a lot of delay on both guitar and vocals. Particularly, layering rhythmic delays over each other has became a signature sound of ours.

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And your go-to guitar?

Cato uses a sixties Teisco in recent years, or at times a Guyatone LG50, both Japanese guitars. Daniel primarily uses a Fender Stratocaster or a Supro Ozark from the early fifties.

Your music reminds me of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a way. Just as she did, you manage to bring the sacred to the secular. What inspires you to perform this way?

Music has such a power to connect people. Spiritual music has such an awesome power. It serves a higher purpose. Music in general serves a higher purpose in many ways. The feeling of being part of that in some way is inspiring.

With such soul-stirring vocals and hypnotic beats, you are sure to set your audience into a trance. Do you find it fulfilling to facilitate that transcendence?

If that's where the music takes us, then for sure.

What's next for My Baby? Any upcoming tours or projects?

We are gonna work on a live record this year, and hopefully an extended visit to the U.S. is in the near future.

I think we could use all the moody, world music we can get here in the States. Nothing says the blues like having to fight for our basic rights. Thank God music heals, because most of us can't afford to see a doctor. Thanks My Baby.

Keep up with My Baby here.

-Moriel

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

Trouble in the Streets Brought the Beats at Joshua Tree Music Festival

By: Moriel O'Connor

It's 1AM in the Mojave at Joshua Tree Music Festival. On the rim of the crowd, I rest on adobe walls within windows and swoon the moon through metallic umbrellas sculpted above. Shivers. The desert chills are real. Pulling up my thigh-highs, I stand up to move to what could be a soundtrack to a riot.

Trouble in the Streets.

Trouble in the Streets.

Must be Trouble in the Streets. They play the kind of music that makes you feel ready to overthrow the government: Power, Soul, and Rock’n’Roll.

People are stomping up the sand and it smells like liberation. A sparkly hooded creature dances ghostly and gracefully on, then off the stage. Oh sweet mystery. Feeling the rush of my blood and curve of my spine, I wonder, is the earth really shaking? Or is that just the cactus juice? The beat keeps going, and things keep getting weirder. There’s hip hop, punk, neo-soul and more. The sounds are boundless, psychedelic and polyphonic. The crowd is lifted by influential lyrics such as, “Challenge the evidence and take control of your existence.”

This is more than a set, this is a work of art. Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji plays the keys and activates the crowd with compelling vocals. Andy Leonard honors the bass and keys while Bobby Snakes drums for the people. This trio has chemistry, and they are damn not afraid of entropy.

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If you dare, dip into their density, discover Trouble in the Streets yourself. Listen to their Rule Breaker EP then check out Electro Tribe. Be prepared to lose your mind and move your body. Trouble traveled to Joshua Tree from Austin, Texas and is currently touring California with TV Broken 3rd Eye Open. Catch the remainder of their tour this Friday, May 24th at Surfside Venice, or on Saturday, May 25th at WinstonsOB in San Diego. You can also find them home in Austin at venues such as Stubb’s, One-2-One, North Door, or Empire.

-Moriel

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

Youssoupha Sidibe & Ok2Change Prove Your Heart Is Where It's At in Hilo, Hawai'i

By: Moriel O'Connor

Hilo is a city like no other. It's chill. Most people stroll around in no type of hurry. It’s vibrant. The downtown blocks are filled with tropical street art and rusted red roofs. On the weekends, the neon lights shine as music rings with the rain. Last Saturday, there was a flash flood warning and noone was phased. I was out watching the clouds drizzle into ripples on the asphalt.

Why did I cross the road? To get from the kava bar to the tea room. Walking into Perfect Harmony, I saw tall golden walls, red beams and circles of friends. Auntie Nancy, a wise woman with 14 children, poured tea into my cup as we listened to Ok2Change play live.

Ok2Change.

Ok2Change.

Ok2Change is a three piece folk-hop band based out of Pahoa, Hawai’i.  Lead vocalist, Imani Gentry-Faust has a soulfully sublime sound that is electrifying and unforgettable. Jay Lara also shares his voice, supporting the story of each song. He plays the guitar because what is a folk band without an acoustic guitar? Completing the trio is Matthew Jordan, a humble vocal percussionist who makes more sounds with his mouth than a drum kit ever could.

They share their songs to inspire others and are constantly reminding us it’s okay to change. Playing anywhere from farmer’s markets to museums, OK2Change is well known in Hawai'i. They also visit the mainland to support acts such as Boulder-based Amber Lily and Tubby Love.

Youssoupha Sidibe.

Youssoupha Sidibe.

After the tea party, the music went on down the road at Hilo Shala.  International Kora (African Harp) player, Youssoupha Sidibe, came to town to share his message. He believes music is the most intimate thing we can share, and he orchestrates musical intimacy with each crowd he meets. Youssoupha encouraged everyone to open their hearts and sing along to his Senegalese chants as he played the kora. In between songs, he spoke of unity and love. I wrote down some of his wisdom to share:

“We all gon’ get together and sing together. That is our salvation.”

“We sing to be in tune with the universe. Sound is the best portal to take you there.”

“A house is nothing but some bricks, maybe some wood. You not gon’ take it with you. Share what you have.”

“Your heart. That’s where it’s at.”

He’s right. Your heart is where it’s at. The evening was a reminder to stay true to love, and to take time to sip tea and sing in unison. It can get plush inside of our boxes: walls up, doors locked, windows shut and all. Still, we all have to get out of bed and do something. When we choose to circle together, we are the change.

Listen to Youssoupha's music here to tune into the love. You can listen to Ok2Change on Spotify or find them at Project Earth this summer.

-Moriel

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

Dacota Muckey Healed Souls in Hilo, Hawai’i Last Weekend

By: Moriel O’Connor

Some days are spent upon a black sand beach, between cliff sides and riptides, with climbing trees and drum circle beats. Other times, we stay inside. There are rainstorms, and they keep us humble. Some people get lost, but there is still plenty of concrete in the midst of this jungle.

Dacota Muckey.

Dacota Muckey.

Last Saturday night in Hilo there was no rain. Only roses. Roses that were probably grown, then flown from overseas. Maybe marked half off after V-day, then gifted around Hilo Town Tavern in perfect timing, at the heart of Dacota Muckey’s performance. Strong and empowering, his voice brought people in from blocks away.

Dacota sings passionately or not at all. He dwells in some type of “feel it in your bones” vocal range that few can touch. In 2018, Dacota released a record titled This is the Music that Heals Your Soul. With acoustic roots, loop pedal effects, and a tendency to swim through genres and improvise interludes, he creates a profound sound for a solo artist.

Based out of Indianapolis, Dacota has shared stages with acts such as Blues Traveler and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and played for music festivals Shangrila and Bonnaroo.  He also plays in midwest jam band, “The Trip.” He lifts spirits on and off the stage, and has a voice that deserves to be heard. Turn up his album to hear for yourself.

-Moriel

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

From Dusk to Dawn: The Fifth Annual CommUnity Share Fest Stood Out in Its Efforts to Give Back

By: Moriel O’Connor

Home is found in places near and far, where you take off your shoes and no one tries to step on your toes; where you can dance however you please, free of all worries, judgement or insecurities.

There is a place like this in downtown Denver: Circus Collective, a warehouse home to ecstatic dancing, music for all, and classes of creative and mindful movement. The walls are dressed in exceptional decor such as weaved electrical cords, Alex Gray paintings, and lights bouncing to the floor. The ground, slate and stable, is for gathering, grooving and growing. On the ceiling you’ll see wooden beams and aerial silks spun up and up and up. While the setting is serene, the sights fall behind those who show up to be the artistry in action.

The Gaia Experiment.

The Gaia Experiment.

On January 11th, from 7PM-7AM, the collective converged for the fifth annual CommUnity Share Fest. I was greeted with warm smiles on the icy evening. The night began with a gong-sound healing session that swam into an ocean of high and low notes. Music was provided by underground and local Colorado musicians. To name a few acts, The Alcapones spread joy with their love of ska. Totem, Treaphort, Eartha Harris, and Miraja each bestowed their electronic oasis. B Love beatboxed with the best of them. Mackenzie Page , Chloe Brooke and Random Temple formed a sensational trio of strings and sweet rhythm. Tubby Love  even made a surprise appearance, bringing his roots reggae a Mile High. Fierce Le Fey took us on a journey of ‘cosmic pop poetry” after Dank P.H.A.R.T the Pirate Poet spoke his peace. And as always, it was uplifting to witness and participate in Alexis Kegel’s Gaia Experiment, a production of improvisational magic. The community was encouraged to add their flavor while she stirred up the sounds.

The space was complete with local vendors, an elixir bar, floor cushions, cuddle puddles, and world-class art. There was a shallow pool for artistic purposes at the surface floor, with droplets coming from above. This made for many moments spent admiring nature’s patterns and getting lost in reflections. Artists Maya Sierra and Ransom Kennedy also live-painted by the stage all night, offering visual brilliance to those dancing and passing by.

CommUnity Share Fest stood out in its efforts to give back. With an emphasis on unity, success was found in integration rather than profit. Tickets were affordable with no fees. Proceeds went right back to the artists, and everyone was rewarded with appreciation and inspiration. There was a even coat drive at the front door and donations were brought to the Denver Rescue Mission the next day.

After dancing from dusk through dawn, I was Bay Area bound. Feeling grateful to discover such festivity in the winter, I was reminded of the importance of community and celebration. I had the jet plane blues while saying my “later dude” to colorful Colorado. Call me when the wildflowers bloom again, and maybe I'll return with cooler dance moves.

-Moriel

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

Durango’s Liver Down the River Keeps the Jams Alive After an Evening with The String Cheese Incident

By: Moriel O’Connor

Ain't no party like a cheesy hotel after party.

Following The String Cheese Incident Saturday show New Year’s Eve weekend, Liver Down the River and Evanoff performed at the unofficial after party at the Aloft Hotel in Broomfield, Colorado. Liver Down the River, known as “Liver” to their fanbase, who themselves are known as “liverfolk,” made me want to spin until I fell down in a mountain meadow. Their style brings bluegrass to a new level sometimes called “funkideligrass.” Step into their set, and you will find heartfelt vocals, marvelous fiddle playing, psychedelic melodies, and funky bass lines growing from bluegrass roots.They capture the essence of Colorado funk and blues in a truly unique way.

Akin to String Cheese, Liver bring individuals together through joyful sounds. Bliss filled the room last weekend and in the midst of a night of euphoric motion, I learned a valuable lesson: If an “officer” in a red lace dress hands you a citation for “killer dance moves,” you should probably make it to the court date.

Liver Down the River.

Liver Down the River.

Fellow BolderBeat contributor Cy Fontenot plays the drums for Liver Down the River, and he keeps the tempo up to the fast paced wanderlust of the west. I asked Cy a few questions to pick his rhythmic and wise mind. Read more below:

What river does your liver go down?

The river of life, love, and psychedelic space grass.

Do you have plans to bring Liver Down the River’s Colorado sound around the world. If so, where will you go?

Definitely, I think west coast is our next move but I would personally love to make it to Japan, Amsterdam, Germany, Columbia, Brazil, all corners of the planet.

What are some of your favorite Colorado venues?

We love playing at the Lariat, the Vic, Cervantes, and Schmiggity’s, but most of all our hometown Animas City Theatre.

Cy Fontenot.

Cy Fontenot.

What do you love about playing the drums?

Personally, I love the drums because you don't have to think about notes, chords, modes… it's all rhythm, so it frees up space in my mind to connect to what the moment wants, enabling my intuition to take over.

Besides playing in Liver and contributing for BolderBeat, what brings you joy?

Honestly I love adventuring, love the mountains, love playing music and love the connection that music allows me to have with my bandmates as well as the audience.

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Just go for it, play with everyone you can, wherever you can and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll learn.

Sound advice Cy.

With hearts of gold and bold measures of adventure, Liver Down the River is certain to kindle a damn good time. Based in Durango, Liver frequently travels through the Rockies to the Front Range with their jams. They recently signed with Ever Upward Entertainment and have high mountain ambitions for 2019. During the last summer spent touring, they recorded a live album to be released this spring. They also have plans for a brand new studio album. Catch them if you can at their next hoedown on January 25th at Ullrgrass in Golden, Colorado.

-Moriel

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