Famous Men Release Debut Single & Video "Gambler's Cry"

By: Mirna Tufekcic

A brand-spankin’ new trio, Famous Men, who were forged while busking the Pearl Street Mall during the summer of 2017 in Boulder, Colorado, are coming out with their very first album Gambler’s Cry this spring. Recently they released a video for the title track from their upcoming record and we have it here for your viewing pleasure. Check it out below and get stoked for more cool things to come from these guys, like their weekly Facebook live shows every Thursday where they serenade you with originals and covers (of your choice!). You can follow them here.

The band focuses on traditional folk songwriting, while pairing it with rock’n’roll and blues, reminiscent of The Black Keys if they melded with The Wood Brothers and Ryan Adams. Hunter Stone, vocals and guitar of the band, brings a unique twist to this style with a raspy tone that is undeniably cool. His slide guitar skills kill too. Joe Plante on the bass and keys and Joshua Thomas on the drums add to the blues-rock-country feel of this band as a whole. In fact the vibes from these guys at their live performances simply capture the audience’s attention effortlessly. I know because I’ve already seen them on several occasions.

Famous Men.

Famous Men.

Famous men mean business and they deliver. So check them out here first with the video produced by the band themselves. Then make sure to go see them live. How will you know where and when? Head over to their Facebook page.

-Mirna

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

Premiere: Augustus Release New Single "Demons" From Upcoming EP

By: Andrew Wright

In the dizzying internet world where all the different kinds of music thrown at you can be overwhelming, to the pop-dominated airwaves of half-dead radio, it is a touch of awesome nostalgia to hear simple, cool, straightforward rock and roll. The Boulder-based band Augustus are a call back to this music, the kind that simply exudes cool without trying.

“Demons” is the first single from the band’s forthcoming EP, which is due out in the spring of 2018. “Demons” is simple in its form as a rock song, but this is a good thing. The most important lesson I ever learned in music theory class was to write music and then have the theory make sense of it; in other words it’s ok to be simple when the music is actually good. Augustus have accomplished this powerful principle with “Demons,” making this band yet another solid one in the ever-growing pool of awesome talent in Colorado. With bluesy guitars under frontman Colin Kelly’s thick and reverb-y vocals, to the rock-heavy drum patterns on this track, “Demons” is a perfect wave of rock’n’roll.

a0675989597_10.jpg

“Demons” is the first of two singles to be released from the band’s Denver Art Institute sessions, where drummer Jay Elliot is an adjunct professor. Members Jim Herlihy (guitar) and Chad Mathis (bass) tracked their instruments live at DAI along with Elliot (drums) and students from an advanced audio course helped engineer the sessions, making this song bleed even more Colorado music community vibes. The vocals and lead guitar were tracked at Casa Nostra Studios in Boulder by Kelly (vocals/guitar), with mastering by Dominick Maita.

Augustus have plans to release a music video for "Demons" soon. You can keep up with this four-piece rock'n'roll outfit and their next EP here.

-Andrew

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

Review: Chewy&Bach's Debut Single "Potion" Is Hypnotizing Electro-Americana

By: Elizabeth Lee

In a world of music and a sea of artists, it is always refreshing to find a track that showcases a fresh take on multiple genres and creates a sound of its own. 

Chewy&Bach.

Chewy&Bach.

Electro-Americana production duo Chewy&Bach do just that with the release of their new single “Potion.” Justin Long (guitar/vocals) and Elliot Olbright (production/sound design) started collaborating as a business venture in 2016, both coming from very different artistic backgrounds. The two found a kind of harmony in music, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Their style is described as “a love of the roots perfected through electronic music.”

Listen to "Potion":

“Potion” is a superb example of their admirable talent, drawing you in with smooth melodies and hypnotizing the listener with its ambience. The track features the soulful R&B vocals of Tucker Riley, whose voice is layered with psychedelic guitar and keyboard harmonies drenched in dreamy reverb. This unique track is a perfect debut for the duo, as it showcases their ability to combine modern electronic production techniques with their passion for blues, funk, and soul.

Keep up with the latest on Chewy&Bach here.

-Elizabeth

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

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Brought Together Artists & Fans For Four Days Of Awesome

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s annual four day music festival The Underground Music Showcase rocked South Broadway last weekend. We crawled the strip, ate nothing but pizza, and almost refused to sleep in the name of good music. Here are some of our favorite things about this year’s festival:

The Bands

Of course we went to as many shows as possible and of course most of them really rocked our socks off. But here we’re going to be shameless and first tell you about the killer acts who played our packed official day party.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

BolderBeat & KGNU combined forces this year to bring you Brunch with a Beat at The UMS, which was five hours of sugar and synth by some of Colorado’s most promising electro acts.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Mirror Fears kicked things off with her industrial goth pop, Church Fire kept things movin’ with their Crystal Castles-esque electronic primal therapy, and DéCollage wrapped the front of The Irish Rover in Mylar and swept the stage with their avant-garde pop. Retrofette’s synth stylings followed, and created a massive dance party full of hip-shaking & flash tattoos. Whiskey Autumn’s indie synth pop closed the show; their unreleased track "Birds That Flew" had many whistling along to its chorus. And in between sets, DJ Erin Stereo crushed sweet beats. We gave away tickets to upcoming Future Islands and Thundercat shows, and we passed out donut lollipops, which many showgoers expressed they hoped were laced with weed (they were not kidz).

As for the rest of our UMS:

Anthony Ruptak.

Anthony Ruptak.

Our first official set at UMS 2017 was at Hi-Dive on Thursday with Anthony Ruptak, who started us off with amazing tunes from his new record Don’t Let It Kill You, and even streamed a Facebook live anti-Trump vid from the stage. Punk rock.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ghost Tapes were a funky, neo-soul standout at Skylark; frontwoman Ishka Phoenix had the crowd melting as she delivered tasty R&B sounds from her ice cream microphone.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Corsicana gave us tasty indie tunes while we nommed hard on an Illegal Pete’s burrito, which was the only non-pizza item we allowed ourselves for sustenance. The four-piece are playing a couple of big Colorado shows with Hippo Campus this month, so make sure to roll to those.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

OptycNerd describe themselves as “eclectro indie pop hop sexy time,” and well, we wish we’d written that ourselves. Their sexy time at Hi-Dive was enjoyed.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus brought her dark, operatic vocals to the main stage; Red Fang spouted the classic rock stoner jams they’re known for to a headbanging crowd.

What is cooler than wearing glow-in-the-dark face paint? Glow-in-the-dark guitar strings- DUH. Motion Trap had ‘em at their Rover set on Saturday, and they played their electro sonic disco tunes to a packed house that boogied with them from start to finish.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

All Chiefs kept us out of the rain at Hi-Dive with their indie rock vibes, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones kicked up some folky soul at Gary Lee’s Motorcycle Club, and GALLERIES played a heartfelt tribute show celebrating the life of late Denver music prodigy Kyle McQueen.

The Outfit.

The Outfit.

Rock’n’roll’s The Outfit played their final set ever at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday to a mosh-ready, beer-heavy crowd who were clearly sad to see them go.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

The Savage Blush had a killer psych rock-dripping set at the main stage, Slowcaves brought us chill wave surf rock sounds, and Dragondeer managed to blues rock us almost straight through a downpour, though they had to cut their set a bit short when the rain just about flash-flooded the festival parking lot in true Colorado fashion.

Esmé Patterson.

Esmé Patterson.

Brent Cowles revived a soaking crowd with “Cold Times” when the sun came back out, Esmé Patterson slayed her evening dream rock set with unreleased music and a touching tribute with Kitty Crimes to the late Tyler Despres, and Benjamin Booker crowd surfed his way right into Colorado’s heart, closing out the main stage of the festival Sunday evening.

The Booze

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Breckenridge Brewing was a main sponsor for The UMS this year and we sipped many an Avalanche by the main stage throughout the fest. Dewar’s had what felt like a tiny house made for drinking with free smells and scotch eggs. It was delicious and why you would have wasted your tongue on any other mixed drink in the hot sun and the pouring rain is beyond us.

The Bunny

Yeah. This one.

Yeah. This one.

Mixed Up Gifts’ pop up shop on South Broadway had some sweet merch for sale from Sacred Bones Records and a creepy night light if you’re in the market to wake up afraid of the dark only to find Jason lurking in your bathroom. But best of all was their bunny, who tried to coerce festival-goers into the shop while eerily reading children’s books through the window.

The Budz

No, not that kind you typical Denverite. Overall, we had a rad time at The UMS this year, and we highly encourage you to check out all the bands we mentioned, all the acts we live-interviewed with Zach Dahmen, and any of the performers on the local lineup in general. Because if there’s one thing we came away with after four days of music-hopping insanity, it was with community- from the performers themselves, to the UMS staff and volunteers, to the eager ticket holders bouncing from show to show hoping to find their next favorite band- Denver came out to support its own. Whether we were playing beach volleyball in the artist tent during a downpour or running from the main stage with our best budz to get back to Broadway for a set (those smarter ones took the Meow Wolf bus), this weekend really showcased you- the local music supporter. And for that, we and apparently Governor Hickenlooper, thank you.

Check out our full photo gallery from The UMS here.

-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.
 

Review: The Fremonts' 'We Don't Live There' Is A Fresh Take On Classic Americana Sounds

By: Trevor Ryan

Americana blues rock band The Fremonts dropped their first full-length album We Don't Live There last Friday, June 9th. I recently had the pleasure of giving it a listen and I’m here to tell yah: it’s a fresh take on the classic Colorado Americana folk/blues sound. Because let’s be honest- the Colorado music scene has welcomed a number of Americana folk performers to its various stages over the years, and continues to do so, even in the popular music realm. So what sets The Fremonts apart? This definitely isn't a short answer, so buckle up:

The band, founded in New York City, relocated to Boulder just a couple of years ago to find their niche, which some would argue they did find instrumentally in folk-heavy Colorado. But they (Stephanie Dodd and Justin Badger) did so pretty organically, and with more than just their instrumentation. What really sets this husband and wife duo apart is their storytelling and the inspiration behind their stories. On We Don’t Live There, The Fremonts combine what sometimes feel like ghost stories of old with what they say is “the heartache of leaving our past in a distant skyline and walking into fresh, open spaces with hope for the future.” You'll hear what I mean in the ballad track “Olivia.” It’s a tune with a progressive interlude (which you don’t always find in classic Americana) that also beckons the roots of the genre in an original way with a story that leaves you a bit haunted.

Listen to The Fremonts' We Don't Live There:

There are a lot of emotions that surround this album, and they show in the songwriting and composition of the record. Starting with the whimsical, somewhat mellow opening and title track “We Don't Live There,” the record then levels out with classic, upbeat Americana tracks such as “Back To The Mountain,” “Holding Place,” and “Tell My Mother.” It also offers a darker, more emotionally haunting feel with “Tillman's Wall,” and with the violin in “Joanne.” “Tillman’s Wall” is such a treat that I can say I’d love to see more of the darker, grittier production on this tune in more of The Fremonts’ future recordings.

The Fremonts.

The Fremonts.

My only real criticism of this record is that though both Dodd and Badger front the project strong vocally, and each have notable leading tunes throughout the record, their harmonies can sometimes feel as though they’re battling for that lead sound. Other than that, I really find this record a refreshing take on classic sounds that you should definitely listen to. 

When it comes to We Don’t Live There, The Fremonts have a new take on the Americana sound that I’ve been told is even more of a fun ride live. So be sure to catch them while they're still in Colorado at Denver's Squire Lounge on June 16th. And if you're traveling this summer, crash a couple of shows on their summer tour, or support them on the road with their tour Kickstarter campaign. Get their full list of dates on the road here

-Trevor

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

Mitchel Evan & Co Bring Uplifting Americana to Denver's Larimer Lounge

By: Allan Tellis 

The Larimer Lounge is a venue that never has a shortage of talent, even on a Wednesday night. Last week brought out four distinctly talented bands that covered a vast array of styles, and although each band had a unique approach, overall they complemented each other, which made for one appetizing show.  

Morning Bear. Photo Credit: Joe Friend

Morning Bear. Photo Credit: Joe Friend

The first act, Morning Bear, performed with a very minimalist stage presence with singer/songwriter John Runnels on acoustic guitar and a guest sit-in playing a small keyboard with a drum pad. The duo had a powerful performance despite their low-key setup due Runnels’ strong vocals and a focus on deep-feeling, heavy indie folk music that kept the crowd captivated for their entire set.

Band of Lovers. Photo Credit:  Keating DiRisio

Band of Lovers. Photo Credit: Keating DiRisio

The following act, Band of Lovers, brought one more person onstage and a completely different energy, as they specialize in up-tempo, Americana chamber pop. Band of Lovers is a rarity in that they tour constantly throughout the country and have been doing so for four years now. They have found Denver to be a consistent refuge in their nomadic existence, even dedicating a downtempo, rhythmically infectious song aptly titled “Back to Colorado” to our great state. One particularly enjoyable aspect of the band was the percussion- the drummer was absolutely spectacular and awesome to watch. This trio recently released an album named American Tour, which is definitely worth listening to.  

Up next was Foxfeather, a full Americana ensemble whose blues-heavy jam style created a sultry and emotional listening experience. Although the band ventures from heavy blues to hard rock style solos, they stayed true to their Boulder roots with a heavy dose of Americana infused into every song. They are currently working on a new project, which has me intrigued on what’s next.

Mitchel Evan. 

Mitchel Evan. 

The final act of the night was the extremely talented Mitchel Evan and The Makeshift Band. Their performance was pleasantly easy to listen to and brought a diverse range of sounds, ranging from jam-heavy folk tunes to Bob Dylan-style acoustic guitar ballads. Evan even joked at one point, “This is the part where I make you all sad.” His deep watery vocals cascaded over The Makeshift Band, as the group executed songs diverging from grunge-influenced rock tracks to country-laced dance numbers that kept the crowd thoroughly engaged. All of their music at its core was uplifting, providing a ray of sunshine in a musical landscape that is becoming almost increasingly bleak in some ways. Mitchel Evan is currently working on a new record as well, and is touring the Southwest. Make sure to catch Evan on his next Colorado stop and give his newest music a listen below.

-Allan

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

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Announces Second Round of Artists

The Underground Music Showcase 2017 just announced their second round of artists for this year's festival! Additions include: Headliner Zola Jesus and artists like Bad Licks, Chocolate Diamond, Dear Rabbit, Decatur, Edison, HERESTOFIGHTIN, The Hollow, innerspace, The Kinky Fingers, Ned Garthe Explosion, Retrofette (we should mention here we're premiering something awesome from this band this Friday), Sleepy SunSIR, Sugar Skulls & Marigolds, Sur Ellz, Treehouse Sanctum, Turvy Organ, & more! Make sure to get your tickets for the July 27th-30th festival in the heart of Denver here. And see our previous story for initial lineup announcements at our original announcement link.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-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.

White Denim & A Shadow of Jaguar Will Keep You Alive After The Dead

White Denim.

White Denim.

White Denim are rolling into Boulder for a Post-Dead Late Night Party at The Fox Theater this Friday night. That’s right! If you are not quite done dancing the night away after The Dead & Company show at Folsom Field, you can head on over to The Fox for a continuation of rock & roll tunes. So lace up your shoes, shake off those jam band vibes and get ready for crunchier, punchier driving drum beats and ripping guitar solos to wrap up your night of music.  

Watch White Denim's "Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)" music video:

White Denim hail from Austin, Texas and have become well known for their unique classic rock approach. Their most recent album release was Stiff, which they dropped last year. The band teamed up with Ethan Johns to produce the record, and collaborated with Cass McCombs to write the track, “Thank You.” The album was a sweet sixteen of sorts, leaving behind the group’s less mature garage rock sound and stepping into a more bluesy, retro rock sound.   

NYC’s A Shadow of Jaguar will be opening the evening. We last caught up with this blues rock duo after their release of their music video for the track “Keep On Knockin’,” which was filmed in Boulder. This band actually formed in Colorado, so their return back to these roots of sorts should be a kickin’ time.

Rumor has it these boys all know how to put on a show. Get your tickets here!

 -Sierra

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

Shawn James & The Shapeshifters Are Back In Colorado

By: Matti Earley

Shawn James started his career as many artists do- solo. In 2013, however, he united with four other musicians to form what is today Shawn James & the Shapeshifters, who we last caught live just a year ago at Denver’s Moon Room. Now, the crew is in the midst of a nationwide tour, and will be branching out with international shows beginning at the end of June. They make their last of three Colorado stops at Hodi’s Half Note this Thursday, June 1st and we’ll be there snapping the action!

Shawn James & The Shapeshifters.

Shawn James & The Shapeshifters.

Shawn James & The Shapeshifters sound is a mix of blues, folk, soul, and rock, backed by vocals from James that intensify an already powerful instrumental listening experience. The band are touring on their 2016 release, On The Shoulders of Giants which is a record "full of swampy beats, banjos, slide guitars, bluesy melodies, and James’ captivating vocals." The album speaks universally about the grittiness and tribulations of the human experience. Along with some of their other records, it’s the kind of music that wouldn't be out of place on a thriller soundtrack. In fact, a previous song from James’ called “Through the Valley” was featured in “The Last of Us Part II” which is described as “action-adventure survival horror.” It also explains why the last time we caught these guys live, they rocked a metal set

Tickets for the Hodi’s show are available here; locals One Flew West will open the night. Get yours now and we'll see you there!

-Matti

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

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Initial Lineup Has Arrived

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The long-awaited and highly anticipated Underground Music Showcase 2017 lineup has arrived. With headliners Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, & Esmé Patterson, this year's fest will take place July 27th-30th. Colorado’s Bandits, Britt Margit, This Broken Beat, Bud Bronson & The Goodtimers, Brent Cowles, The Burroughs, Chloe Tang, CITRA, Coastal Wives, Colfax Speed Queen, Corsicana, déCollage, Dirty Few, Dragondeer, Wolf van Elfmand, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, Gasoline Lollipops, Get Along, Jilly.FM, Joseph Lamar, King Cardinal, Last of the Easy Riders, Loretta Kill, Mawule, Modern Leisure, One Flew West, The Other Black, Povi, RL Cole, The Savage Blush, Silver and Smoke, SIXXXD, Slow Caves, SYCDVK, Television Generation, The Velveteers, Whiskey Autumn, Whole Milk, Wildermiss, and Yasi are just some of the acts on the bill we've featured in the last year, so needless to say, we're stoked on this lineup. And there are more artists still TBA!

Stay tuned for more UMS info and get ready to join us on Denver's South Broadway for one of our favorite events of the summer! Tickets here.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-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.

Review: Dragondeer Breathe Fire On New Record 'Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1'

By: Ben Jewell

Dragondeer, a self-described psych-blues band from Colorado, released Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1, their latest 7” record, today! And tonight they’re celebrating with a hometown show at the Bluebird Theater in Denver. The album is just the right length to occupy your time on the way to the show, so I suggest downloading it for the trip here.

I listened to this album before knowing anything about Dragondeer. I must say, Dragondeer is one of the most aptly chosen band names I’ve heard in a very long time. It describes the album in one word better than I can surely do. Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1 has three songs (including the digital “Bonus Track”), three moods, and three contradictory stories. Much like viewing a dragondeer creature for the first time, you’ll likely tilt your head slightly to get another perspective and check just what you thought you heard.

Dragondeer.

Dragondeer.

If you are not a self-described psych blues lover, fear not! This album is for almost everyone. For me, this is best described as a modern soul blues album. Soul blues is a bit like a mood ring. It can be light and frothy, sexy, mean and gritty, optimistic, even down-right depressing. The beauty of it is, that much like people, it’s a complicated array of styles and emotions all mashed together to make something awesome, and yet surprisingly easy to listen to. Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1 succinctly conveys this in three songs, and will have you moving the entire time.

Listen to Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1:

It breaks down like this…..

Track 1, “When I See You” is light and sexy. Snare on the quarter notes, a motown bass line, rhythm guitar dancing up the fretboard, a baritone vocal exclaiming, “I got a feeling, I just can’t hide,” and background “ooo's” in falsetto, which make this a well executed ode to love makin’ that will get you winking at your significant other, or that soul across the bar.

Track 2, “Broadway Avenue” is driving and gritty. If Pinocchio was remade today, this would be the song played when the naughty boys were dancing around on Pleasure Island. Harmonica and guitar are intertwined in a rhythmic, sometimes wavelike mix of ebb and flow, while the rhythm section creates a swinging march like cadence. Frontman Eric Halborg’s vocals showcase his blues side as he sings of a place where “what ya gonna do… there are so many fine, fine things for children to do;” and I can assure you, they’re all naughty!

Bonus Track, “If You Got The Blues” is a soulful song with great blues instrumentals. The harmonica sets the tone, the rhythm section gets you swaying back and forth, and the lapsteel sings over the whole thing. The vocals are strong, yet as each note is held out, they emphasize the longing and almost begging plea: “Don't leave me, ma please don’t leave.” The melody doesn’t always end up where you think it will, and that gives it a nice originality to a song type and story that is often all too familiar.  

This brings me back to the mythical dragondeer. Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1 makes love to you, breaks your heart while running around on you, and then begs you to come back with promises that it’ll be there for you when you have the blues. It is fun and playful, and simultaneously breathes fire. It is soul blues performed in a very respectable way. Enjoy!

Get tickets to Dragondeer's Bluebird Theatre Release Show here.

Deets: Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1. was recorded by Dragondeer featuring Eric Halberg on Vocals, Guitar, and Harmonica; Cole Rudy on Mandolin, Lap Steel, Guitar, and Vocals; Carl Sorensen on Drums and Percussion; and Casey Sidewell on Bass. The album was produced by Mark Howard and Executive Producer Peter Bowers. Artwork was created by Ryder Evan Robison. For more information on Dragondeer visit www.dragondeer.com .

-Ben

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

Reinventing the String Band: Darol Anger Forges A New Tradition

By: Riley Ann

String players in the Front Range had a real treat this past weekend. Living legend Darol Anger and the Republic of Strings, which features violinist Enion Pelta-Tiller of TAARKAand Joy Adams of Half Pelican on cello, hosted a workshop at Naropa before performing a concert in the evening on Sunday, April 23rd as the conclusion of their most recent Front Range tour. The full ensemble, which included Emy Phelps on guitar and vocals, Mike Robinson on guitar, and Eric Thorin on bass, played an evening concert the same day.

Darol Anger. 

Darol Anger. 

Darol Anger has made an indelible impact on the evolution of the fiddle. From his early days with David Grisman to the Turtle Island String Quartet, and his 2012 release of Chops & Grooves with Rushad Eggleston and Casey Driessen, Anger is no stranger to stretching possibilities and breaking rules through innovative techniques. His Fiddle-ology workshops are aimed at sharing these techniques that Anger helped developed in contemporary styles, techniques which transcend any particular genre. “I’m a failed classical player,” Anger laughed, “but that’s why I teach: to be the teacher that I wish I had.”

Nearly 50 string players attended the workshop, including fiddlers, cellists, mandolin players, and a harpist. Ages and experiences ranged as well, from kids under 12 who have played most of their lives, to touring professionals who make their living performing music, and adults who have recently picked up their instrument for the first time in decades, or recently picked it up for the very first time. Each participant shared their journey with music. “I played violin as a girl and put it down for a few years, but I just picked it up again after retirement,” said one fiddler, smiling. Another shared, “I’ve played professionally in symphonies for years, but you don’t get much exposure to music like this in Miami.” Despite their differing paths, all of the participants were looking to expand their musical vocabulary, whether it was getting out of habitual solos, diversifying their backup techniques, or even learning to break away from classical training to freely improvise.

Phelps, Thorin, & Robinson.

Phelps, Thorin, & Robinson.

The Republic of Strings are the perfect performers to share these techniques. Philosophically, the ensemble disregards limitations and borders. As articulated in their bio, “Our shared Republic Of Strings’ imaginary borders extend through all geographical or other imaginary borders, and we accept no unsightly cultural boundaries. We revel in variety and seek to deeply understand.” Such is true musically as they blend the folk music spanning the world, including Scandinavia, Africa, South America, urban America, Appalachia, and more with neo-classical, blues, jazz, hip-hop, bluegrass, and postmodern influences, ultimately weaving together a new tapestry of music that defies compartmentalization in any genre or style.

Pelta-Tiller & Anger.

Pelta-Tiller & Anger.

The partnership between Pelta-Tiller and Anger is also unique and longstanding. “Darol and I have been friends for a very long time,” said Pelta-Tiller. “I grew up listening to him in the Bay area and would go see him with my parents when I was really little. After college I was staying at my parents, and I took some lessons with him,” she said. Since then, they have taught at some of the same fiddle camps and see each other at festivals. “We’ve been friends for a long time, and I’m really excited to be able to bring him out here,” she said.

Joy Adams.

Joy Adams.

Although this was the first workshop of its kind at Naropa, Anger and Pelta-Tiller are considering the possibility of doing more area workshops in the future and even expanding what those workshops offer. The full calendar of events can be found on Naropa’s website, including this summer’s Creative Music Workshop, which focuses on improvisation. Pelta-Tiller and Adams are also both teaching at the Rustic Roots campfire jamming camp in Moffat, Colorado this August.

-Riley

Find out more about me on my blog.

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

Premiere: Wolf van Elfmand's New Animated Music Video for "The New Folk"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s Wolf van Elfmand is best known locally for his folk, country, and blues tunes. But his origins in music date back to 2009, when he collaborated with producer Cedar Apffel to release his debut self-titled EP. Since then, Elfmand has released three full length records: Magic to the Lonely, Wolf Sings, and The Death of. His next EP, Real Wolf, drops this summer on June 10th with a release party at Fort Greene Bar. Dango Rose of Elephant Revival co-produced the upcoming EP with Elfmand, and today is the premiere of the new music video for his single “The New Folk.”

The video for “The New Folk” features country and city animations courtesy of Boulder animator and artist Joseph Tonelli. The track features Dango Rose on bass, Enion Pelta-Tiller (Taarka) on fiddle, and backup vocals by Megan Rice. 

Said Wolf about the video, “‘The New Folk’ is a song for the generational shifts that are continuously unfolding. It’s a story of equality that blurs the line between humor and reality, as well as traditional melodies with contemporary form.”

Wolf.

Wolf.

Wolf’s classic format of weaving humor with cynicism in his songwriting is also evident in “The New Folk.” So give it a view and make sure to stay tuned for more music from Wolf on his website. Get details on his release party for Real Wolf here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Robert Randolph and the Family Band 'Got Soul' And It Shows

By: Will Baumgartner

When I first heard of Robert Randolph, I was intrigued enough by the idea of a pedal steel guitarist playing a high-energy soul/blues/funk/groove mix that I pulled up a live video to see and hear what all the noise was about. What came up was a performance on David Letterman of Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s hit “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That.” I was immediately hooked, not only by the song itself and Randolph’s outrageously good pedal steel playing, but by the overall tightness and infectious joy of the band.

That was about 10 years ago. Last Friday night at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, I finally got to actually see and hear Robert Randolph and the Family Band live in person, and my initial impressions of the group not only proved themselves true, but were greatly expanded by this ridiculously fun, funky and soulful show. RRTFB haven’t just stood the test of time, they’ve grown into an irresistible force of nature. The band is aptly named, with Robert’s sister Lenesha providing hugely powerful vocal support and joyful showmanship, powerhouse drumming by Marcus Randolph, and their cousin Kasey Square on keys. And while bassist Steve Ladson and guitarist Ray Holloman may not be directly related, they sure act, play, and sing like family onstage.

The concert began with Robert playing solo, wrenching gutsy wailing sounds in a free-form bluesy style, out of his instrument. The band eventually wove into this soundscape, building on the power of the pedal steel’s soulful soliloquy, and then BOOM: They kicked into a sledgehammer-heavy and solidly uplifting version of Sam & Dave’s soul classic “I Thank You.” You’ve never seen a dance floor spring to life faster.

While the setlist I was provided had “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” listed as the second song, either I was already so deliriously hypnotized that I missed it, or they decided to forego the ol’ “Let’s give ‘em the hits!” approach, disregard the setlist, and play what felt right at the moment. This happened several times during the show, as when, midway through their set, they crunched their way through a badass instrumental reading of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

The constant thread running through this celebratory show was Robert Randolph’s virtuosic pedal steel playing. The word “virtuoso” often makes me cringe just a bit, as it’s almost as overused as the word “genius.” But here I have no qualms: the man is a master of his instrument. Between virtually every song in the set he took little solo excursions, and while all members of the Family Band proved themselves powerful soloists, it was obvious why Robert was consistently featured: his inventiveness and fluency, his melodic improvisational skills, the sheer eloquence with which he joyfully tears into yet another solo break. All of these were heavily evidenced and undeniably exciting every time they were used. I never once thought, “Oh no, not another pedal steel solo!” To the contrary, every solo, every note he played just had me shaking my head in awe. Enough has already been said about the novelty of hearing a pedal steel guitar used outside of country music, especially in the way Randolph does. I’ll let it suffice to say here that if you haven’t checked him out yet, do it! Especially if you love funk and soul as much as I do. I haven’t been nearly as blown away by an unusual instrument in this type of music since seeing violinist Lili Haydn tear it up with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

Since the band is currently touring on their Got Soul album (released in mid-February of this year), it was no surprise to hear songs from it throughout the show. Standouts for me included the one-two punch of the title track leading into its “sister” song, “She Got Soul” (a tribute to mothers inspired by a Mother’s Day church service Randolph attended), the supremely soulful tunes “Love Do What It Do,” “Find A Way,” and “Shake It Off” with their inspirational messages of self-affirmation, the lovely “Heaven’s Calling,” and of course their rendition of “I Thank You.”

My number one criterion for rating a show is this: “Did I ever feel like it was okay to go outside for a break?” And my answer for this show was: “Nope!” I was fearful of missing anything. And when, near the end, Robert called out the members of opening act The New Respects for an onstage jam of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again),” I felt grateful for staying right where I was all night, though of course I had never stopped moving since the first song of the show. That’s another thing about Robert Randolph and the Family Band live: You just have to dance.

Robert Randolph.

Robert Randolph.

In chatting with Robert a bit before the show, I learned he and his family grew up in a Pentecostal church in which music played a huge part. In fact, their particular church has its own term for its music: “sacred steel.” One thing I was curious about was how Robert’s relationship with his family who are still involved in the church has been affected by his going out and playing “secular” music. He said it was “a little strained at first,” but that their relationship is still strong. To which I replied, “Oh, so it’s not like some of these religions where you actually get shunned if you leave? I’ve always thought that was so sad.” “Well I’ve been shunned by the church, though,” he said, “They don’t let me play there anymore. They call me the devil.”

Now that is truly a shame, and a mistake, and let me tell you why. I’m not religious, but I’ve seldom felt closer to something like heaven than I did at this show.

-Will

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

Review: Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts' 'Shovel Full of Coal'

By: Benjamin Jewell

On March 28th, Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts will independently release their newest outlaw country album Shovel Full of Coal. Self-produced and recorded at Denver’s The Keep, in collaboration with Jeff Kanan, the album is a mix of outlaw storytelling, sing-along country anthems, and nostalgia spun up in an eclectic musical cyclone that is uniquely singer/songwriter Ryan Chrys.

Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts. 

Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts. 

If you’re not a fan of the frequently overproduced, shallow themes of today’s pop country, then this record is for you. After thirty-four minutes and ten songs, you’ll feel like you’ve driven cross-country with Ryan in his beat up old Chevrolet. While not entirely devoid of country cliché, tall tales, or radio friendly get-stuck-in-your-head melodies (“Country Music Soundtrack”), the album is surprisingly personal when you add introspective songwriting and an earful of genre influences too long to mention. Via songs like “Funkified" and "Modern Outlaw Country," this is a self-described, “Southern-fried funkified backbeat rhythm and blues/modern outlaw country” album, which translates to pipe it through your helmet on your next two-wheel road trip, or blast it from the speakers teetering on the back of your tailgate at your next kegger bonfire. Either way, there will be chuckles at lyrics like, “...I can’t help but to think of you/Every time I pick up my bow,” and lots of ass-shaking to guitar riffs that would be at home on a James Brown album.

The band, featuring Ryan Chrys on guitar/vocals, Bradley Weaver on steel guitar/vocals, Michael Jochum on drums, and Susan Phelan on bass, is clearly capable of both wailing and jamming for ten minutes a track, yet are adequately restrained. I found myself wanting more instrumentals and longer solos, which likely in a live scenario would be gladly obliged.

Watch the music video for "Modern Outlaw Country":

If Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts set out to create a no-apologies ode to the country outlaws of the past, as suggested in “Modern Outlaw Country” (#8 on Westword’s The 15 Best Colorado Music Videos of 2017), I would call this a success. If you are an avid country music fan, this should make your download list. If you are a once in awhile country listener, like me, it is definitely not the country you skip over on your radio.

After you download the album on iTunes, be sure to catch the band live on tour and see why they earned “Entertainer Of The Year, 2016” by the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame. For more information and updates on the tour, visit their website.

West Coast Tour Dates

  • 4/6/17 - The Cowboy Saloon and Dancehall - Laramie, WY
  • 4/7/17 - Murray Bar - Livingston, WY
  • 4/8/17 - Sunrise Saloon - Missoula, MT
  • 4/9/17 - Philipsburg Brewery - Philipsburg, MT
  • 4/12/17 - John’s Alley - Moscow, ID
  • 4/13/17 - Bull Head Saloon - Cheney, WA
  • 4/14/17 - The Sports Center - Yakima, MT
  • 4/15/17 - Slim’s Last Chance - Seattle, WA
  • 4/16/17 - The Valley - Tacoma, WA
  • 4/18/17 - White Eagle Saloon - Portland, OR
  • 4/19/17 - The Space Concert Club - Salem, OR
  • 4/20/17 - Old Nick’s Pub - Eugene, OR
  • 4/21/17 - Talent Club - Talent, OR
  • 4/22/17 - The Haul - Grants Pass, OR
  • 4/23/17 - St. James Infirmary - Reno, NV
  • 4/25/17 - Frog and Peach Pub - San Luis Obispo, CA
  • 4/26/17 - Boardner’s -  Hollywood, CA
  • 4/27/17 - The Pike - Long Beach, CA
  • 4/28/17 - The Holding Company - San Diego, CA
  • 4/29/17 - Mickie Finnz - Las Vegas, NV

-Benjamin

All photos, 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.

Review: Colorado's TAARKA Drop New Record 'Fading Mystery'

By: Trevor Ryan

Every band has the dream of the perfect album: that one project that resonates with fans immediately. This may not be a far off concept for acoustic/folk band TAARKA of Lyons, CO. With their unique, fresh take on Americana, as well as their seventh album Fading Mystery dropping this Friday, March 10th, it’s safe to say this hardworking supergroup/husband and wife duo aren't going anywhere anytime soon except straight to your ears.

TAARKA.

TAARKA.

Combining a number of sounds including swing, folk, jazz, and even a dash of bluegrass, TAARKA produce a truly unique style sure to appease listeners of a variety of genres. Founded by vocalist/mandolin/guitarist David Tiller and five string violinist/vocalist Enion Pelta-Tiller, TAARKA’s current members also include bassist Troy Robey. TAARKA released their debut album TAARKA: Live In The Studio with Omniverse Records in 2001.

David & Enion.

David & Enion.

Breaking all sorts of new barriers with its folk sounds, Fading Mystery features everything from rugged, bluesy riffs to fun melodic, folksy vibes. This record really takes an imaginative approach to acoustic music. TARRKA give us raw and emotional vocals with full and inspiring instrumentals that honestly bring you chills at certain times. With every track flawlessly transitioning to the next, you never lose the overall “still” vibes within this moving piece of work.

“Polyamorous Polly Ann” comes out as the MVP on the Fading Mystery. Illustrating the honest beauty in acoustic music with such a mellow feel and powerful lyrics, this track proves the raw nature of the record. You can, at times, hear the real emotion in every musician at their own respective moments. In fact, there are times that you forget you're listening to an album and almost feel like you’re standing in the studio with them during their creative process. This is a record you can imagine yourself in.

With its experimental approach, listeners from every walk of life can groove to this innovative and melodically stunning record. Fading Mystery will absolutely leave you needing more, and wondering how 10 tracks flew by so quickly.

So make sure to catch TAARKA this Saturday, March 11th at Shine in Boulder for their CD Release Show, where they will play Fading Mystery live. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door. And be sure to follow TAARKA on the road and in the studio here.

-Trevor

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

Talking Festivals, Politics, & New Music with Dressy Bessy's Tammy Ealom

By: Claire Woodcock

Dressy Bessy was one of the first bands remnant of the Riot Grrrl movement in the early 90s based in Denver, CO. Lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Tammy Ealom instituted the indie band, associated with the prolific Elephant Six Collective Recording Company, with guitarist John Hill (who also plays with the E6 band The Apples in Stereo), bassist Rob Greene, and drummer Darren Albert in 1996. After the band released four albums, Craig Gilbert superseded Albert on drums in 2005, and DB released 'Electrified' that same year on a new label, Transdreamer Records.

Dressy Bessy.

Dressy Bessy.

In 2008, when Dressy Bessy released their second record with Transdreamer, the stock market crashed, and the band learned the consequences of trying to tour through an economic recession. Then the country didn’t hear much from Dressy Bessy. In 2015, bassist Greene left, and the end of the Obama era was in sight. As a result, Ealom, Hill, and Gilbert started recording again, this time in their home studio. The product of this recording was 'Kingsized,' which Dressy Bessy released a year ago. Since then, the band has toured the country on the frontlines of a new wave of protest music.

Recently, Ealom spoke with me about upcoming shows and plans for a new record. Read on:

So I heard you went to D.C. recently for the Women's March on Washington.

I did, I did.

What did you think?

It was completely overwhelming and beautiful, and I'm glad I did it. It was beautiful to see so many like minded people come together to protest. I'm still in shock with all of these politics just like everybody else. I had never been in a crowd that big before and it was emotional. But you actually did feel a camaraderie and to feel in camaraderie with that many people at once can be overwhelming. It was incredible, and I'm glad I did it, and it doesn't stop there obviously.

What was your takeaway from being in D.C. that day?

I learned that we not in this alone; there are a lot of people who are freaked out and not standing for the way our government and our world is going with this new Trump administration. I think I'm suffering from some sort of post traumatic stress syndrome just over this entire year. Our album came out almost a year ago and we toured the country a couple of times all the way around, the whole time just sort of reaching out to people and just trying to get across how important it is and was that we're paying attention. I was a true proponent of Obama and I felt really comfortable with him as our president. He is an intelligent, calm person [who was] in charge of our country and it made me comfortable. I didn't obsess about politics everyday. Now I do. I wake up in the middle of the night and I reach over and I grab my phone just to check to see and make sure we don't have to put on gas masks, you know what I mean? Like this is such a crazy time.

Tammy Ealom.

Tammy Ealom.

Dressy Bessy dropped 'Kingsized' about a year ago-

February 5th last year.

So coming up on exactly a year after taking a considerable amount of time off, what has it been like to jump back into the world of album releases and tours during an election year?

It’s been amazing. The record came around about the same time civil unrest was starting, so it was amazing because I was able to go and let it out. I live for this shit. I've been doing it for 20 years and we're continuing on. We're planning a new album hopefully next year. I'm halfway there with new songs, and they just keep coming, so I'm going to take advantage of it and get it out there.

Any ideas on what Dressy Bessy’s next album’s going to be like?

That's a tough question because I don't question where my songs come from, I just let them develop like, ‘Okay, cool cool’ and a lot of times I'm not exactly sure where they came from. I don't sit down like, ‘Oh, I'm going to write a song today.’ Sometimes I just get this feeling as I lay there like ‘Oh God;’ it's like a ball of [noise] and I just let it out through song.

Rock, you just rock.

Rock and roll, that's all it is. It's all rhythm and blues.

Dressy Bessy got its start in Denver over two decades ago. How do you see the topics and songs you guys write about and play evolving over time?

Well, the internet was a big game changer. When our last album came out, Myspace was the place to promote your music. So I think [the internet’s] opened up a world where people can get their music out there. One thing, around 2008 before Obama came in, it wasn't feasible for a lot of bands to tour because gas was so expensive and people didn't have the money to go to shows. So that was kind of part of the reason we stepped back for a second too, because that was the way we went out and made a little bit of money to pay our rent. Now there's like a thriving DIY scene that's happening that more people hear about because of the internet. You kind of just take it day by day or month by month, it's like, ‘Okay let's go out and see what's happening.’

That's such a great point you make about the internet being a promotional tool for musicians. A lot of times I feel that my generation, millennials, myself included, take the access that the internet provides for music exploration for granted.

I mean, it used to be you'd have to send flyers out to street teams and you'd contact them through snail mail and then get their address and send packets of flyers. Now it's just as quick as Facebook. People are paying attention and they see [music] that way.

That makes me wonder how the internet has affected both your pre-existing fan base, as well as your new beginning. Because the people who were listening to 'Pink Hearts Yellow Moons' and were turning out for Dressy Bessy shows are a little older now...

We kind of knew that we'd have to rebuild our fan base, which is what we're doing right now and what we have done this year. It's just what we do, but we are finding our fans range from ages 4 to 70, which is pretty incredible. There are literally all ages at our shows, which is amazing. And a lot of our old friends who aren't paying attention every day are finding out. It happens every time we leave a city; the next day we get a load of messages: ‘Oh my God you guys are still going!’ And this happens every day: ‘Oh my God you have a new album! See you next time!’ And then they see us the next time.

I feel like 'Kingsized' definitely lends itself to a new generation of listeners that are looking for or to hear some sort of sanity in music, you know?

I appreciate that. It's a crazy world [laughs] it's just a crazy world. But yeah the struggle is always there and if it weren’t there, I don't think I'd appreciate what I do as much. It makes it real.

So speaking of the internet, your website teases more shows this year. Any idea when and where they'll be?

In March we're doing the Treefort Music Fest, which is a festival in Boise, Idaho. So we're planning to do some Northwest shows around that. The festival invites are coming in and we're sort of just using those as anchor shows to tour sections of the country at a time. Going out and covering the country all at once can be exhausting and physically, mentally taxing. We used to do six to eight week tours and just go do the whole thing and then come back just like [exhausted] you know? We've discovered that [for us] to keep our sanity, it's best that we go out max two weeks at a time, and just do regions of the country, and then come back for two weeks and go out and tour another section of the country. In March, we'll start doing some stuff. And we'll have Colorado shows within there too. We love Fort Collins and Grand Junction.

Awesome, right on.

Yeah it's coming. We're just trying to get a handle on it.

That's great that you're planning Colorado shows.

Oh of course. Denver is great, you know? There's a reason I've lived here for 23 plus years. I've always loved Denver. Whenever I travel, I'm excited to get home you know?

16473301_1311941575534250_2067741229250307108_n.jpg

It seems like everything went really well for Dressy Bessy since 'Kingsized' came out. I know you were sort of going into it without any real expectations, you were just kind of seeing what would happen, right?

Right. Just going in and doing what we do. I mean, if you put a record out and you expect the world to embrace you, you're bound to be let down. We do it because we have to, we don't do it because we strive to be rockstars or to be rich. We have to do this, so whether lots of people like it or not, we're still going to do it. It's a life calling for us. It's satisfying to go out for 300 people or 30 people or three people; it doesn't matter. If [the crowd’s] all into it, for us it’s completely satisfying. It’s like I always say, I just keep doing it, I keep doing it, I keep doing it, and after I'm done I'll have a legacy. It'll all be there for other generations to pick up on and perhaps be influenced by and it's much bigger than me. My music will live long after I'm dead and that's awesome. I'll take that. If the planet's still here, oh my God.

That's very forward thinking of you. So you see Dressy Bessy as a necessary voice in the industry right now.

I always have. My lyrics are always up for interpretation but I'm of the girl power generation, you know what I mean? Just speak your voice and don't take any shit. And a lot of my songs come about when there’s some sort of conflict, whether it be in my personal life or the world around us... it's sort of my way to just get it out. It could be protesting a relationship I have with a friend, or whatever. Writing songs is my way of getting any negative energy that I have towards a situation or a person or the world in general, just getting it out through song, if that makes sense.

Dressy Bessy is one of several Colorado bands who will perform at the Treefort Music Fest March 22nd-26th. CPR’s Open Air reported that local bands Trout Steak Revival, The Still Tide, Bud Bronson & The Good Timers, Dragondeer and Brent Cowles have also made the list. For the full lineup, which includes Angel Olsen, Mac DeMarco, The Growlers and plenty of other big names, go here.

-Claire

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

Breaking Up The Boys' Club: The Seratones’ A.J. Haynes Is A Female Rock Powerhouse

By: Riley Ann

The Seratones are blowing up the rock scene as we know it. My advice? Go see this band the next time they’re in town, when you still might be able to catch them play a basement show.

Seratones played two consecutive nights at the Larimer Lounge last weekend, and the shows were sponsored by Colorado Public Radio’s OpenAir. The band actually played for OpenAir in a session last fall, and they returned to Denver packing both nights at the Larimer. The first night, The Kinky Fingers and The Guestlist opened the show; the second night Wes Watkins’ Septet and Quantum Creep shared the stage.

Wes Watkins' Septet.

Wes Watkins' Septet.

At heart, Seratones is a garage rock band with funk, soul, and jazz influences combined with a touch of Southern flavor. Fronted by the powerhouse vocals of A.J. Haynes, the band compels you to dance with heavy, driving guitar chords, bluesy rock riffs, and syncopated rhythms. Haynes’ vocals are equally powerful as they are playful, as is her stage presence, making for a captivating show both sonically and visually. Haynes isn’t shy about her feminine energy either, whether in her vocals or her dancing, and she also isn’t afraid to headbang on stage while hammering out guitar chords, dive on top of the crowd while belting out a chorus, or stomp through a horde of people dancing and singing along with her.

The Seratones.

The Seratones.

Having already appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk and Audiotree, this band continues to gain national and international recognition, and are making waves with their album Get Gone. Immediately following their Denver shows, the band flew to Paris to begin their European tour this week. Inevitably, their future holds sold-out theatre shows, so see this band as soon as you can, because nothing beats the intimate show of a band like this in a dive bar, a basement, or a garage.

More about the Seratones’ music and tour dates can be found on their website.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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

OklaHomeGrown Music Showcase Set To Bring Oklahoma Talent to Historic Cain's Ballroom

By: Jura Daubenspeck

With the February freeze, it’s a good thing we’ve got solid tunes and sweaty concert halls to keep us warm.

The OklaHomeGrown Music Showcase is taking over Tulsa’s historic Cain’s Ballroom on Friday, February 17th with performances by: Taddy Porter, Nicnōs, Skytown, and Good Villains. All hailing from the great state of Oklahoma, this will be the first time all four bands will be performing together on the same stage. OklaHomeGrown's “collaboration over competition” mindset will bring local music back to the fans, offering opportunities for musicians to gain exposure they might not have received before. With no headliner, and no performance order indicated, its set to be an equal representation of talent in one of the top performance venues in the country.

Here’s a little taste of what each band brings to the table:

Caleigh Trotter of Good Villains. 

Caleigh Trotter of Good Villains. 

Starting off in Tulsa as a two-piece, Good Villains was a concept created by drummer Steven Davison and vocalist Caleigh Trotter. As their music began to progress, pianist Felicia Arnhols joined the group, followed by guitarist Ted Scott and bass player Todd Shaver. The band's story-teller theme is coupled by expert musicianship and an eerie sense of childishness, making the group a heavy contender in the "doom-pop" genre. Good Villains are a force reminiscent of the 90s, yet full of the unknown with a ton of imagination.

Skytown.

Skytown.

Tulsa-grown alternative Americana rock group Skytown are about more that just feel-good party music. With clean tones, soothing leads, and memorable hooks, their music keeps the tempo up and the crowds wild. With influences ranging from Black Sabbath to Dropkick Murphys, the six-piece band has concocted their own unique “sonic mash-up” of folk, rock, and balladry. With a vocal palate akin to rust, Dale Crain serves as the band’s storyteller, welcoming listeners into their eerily familiar world of lore. Acoustic guitar duo Tim Burress and Jason Ford’s powerful, yet melodic foundation complements the steady bass rhythms of David Williams, while John Edens’ electric guitar riffs are crisp, complex, and very funky. Finally, drummer Eliot Cooper keeps it tight, commanding the stage even from the back.

Nick Sigman of Nicnos.

Nick Sigman of Nicnos.

Hailing from the heartland of Oklahoma City, Nicnōs, expel elements of rock, blues, funk and bluegrass. Innovators in their craft, Nicnōs have independently released two highly successful albums, performed at major festivals, toured and shared stages with artists such as STYX, REO Speedwagon, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, and The Revivalists. Lead singer Josh Cox is a vocal powerhouse, marrying a brooding blues tone with rock. Electric guitarist Nick Sigman is also a master of tone, seamlessly laying down razor-sharp leads. Bluegrass-rooted fiddler Blake Parks brings a delicate dynamic, adding a melodic rock-fiddle layer that uniquely contributes to the band's sound. High energy bassist Jared Gaiser flawlessly anchors in the foundation, inventively bringing the funk. Jerred Bauer on drums cleverly blends a rock core while infusing hip-hop grooves and fills.

Taddy Porter.

Taddy Porter.

Rock quartet Taddy Porter were formed in Stillwater, OK in October 2007 by singer/guitarist Andy Brewer, guitarist Joe Selby, bassist Kevin Jones, and drummer Doug Jones. After building up a following around the Oklahoma City area, they were signed to Primary Wave Records for the release of their self-titled debut album. Prior to the release, they earned airplay for the single "Shake Me" and had songs such as “King Louie” and “Mean Bitch” featured on the season premiere of the TV series Entourage.

Tickets for the OklaHomeGrown Music Showcase are on sale for $15, which is a great deal to see all of these acts in one room. Get yours here.

-Jura

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