Review: Professor Plumb Releases Their New Single "Red Sky"

By: Adam Cabrera

In their new single “Red Sky” released on February 15th, the Denver-based rock band Professor Plumb drifts atop a turbulent sea of metal doom in a slow, heavy hitting jam which warns of impending catastrophe.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

First appearing in the Mile High in 2018 with the release of two singles and eventually a five song EP entitled The Magic Twelve (EP 1), Professor Plumb has proven themselves to be one of Denver’s more noteworthy new artists over the past year. Led by vocalist/songwriter Benom Plumb, who began his career working in music publishing and is currently an Assistant Professor at The University of Colorado Denver’s Music Industry Studies Program (hence the bands name), Professor Plumb is his first effort as a performing artist. Comprised of Plumb performing second bass, John Demitro (Pink Fuzz, The Velveteers) on guitar, Alex Bailey on first bass, and Ben Hatch performing drums, the band managed to find some recognition with their 2018 single “Midnight Creep.”

But last year’s aggressive, punk-inspired single plays in stark contrast to Friday’s release, as “Red Sky” introduces a new sound previously unheard from the band. Where “Midnight Creep” was a fast paced, rock’n’roll shuffle, “Red Sky” is funereal. Reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” or Pink Floyd’s “The Nile Song,” the single moves along sluggishly while relishing in dark, menacing guitar riffs which subside just before breaking off into a high-energy guitar solo. One sound that distinguishes the recording is Benom’s voice. Sitting well below the vocal range of many punk/metal singers, Benom projects a unique baritone which cuts clean through the densely packed distortion and booming drums.

Furthermore, the heavier sound lends itself to the similarly dark themes presented in the song lyrics. Steeped in metaphor and ancient mysticism, the song’s imagery paints a picture of world destruction and coming apocalypse. Borrowing a line from an old rhyme often repeated by mariners, Benom’s words warn of red clouds on the horizon and “wicked” sailors who appear ignorant of the coming storm.

When asked what the song’s lyrics refer to, Benom explains that he has always been fascinated with “end-of-the-world” scenarios and the self-destructive, often hippocratic, nature of the people involved. In regards to Red Sky, Benom says that he was influenced by a red winged-planet referenced by the ancient Sumerians. The planet, aptly named “destroyer”, was said to wreak havoc on the Earth as it entered our atmosphere. With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine a certain pessimistic outlook on humanity that the song details but Plumb suggests that a far more positive message can be realized. To Benom, the song is a word for the wise and encourages, “kindness, empathy, love and compassion for one another” by pointing out the hubris of humankind and the dreadful consequences if it be left unchecked.  

Professor Plumb Band Poster Four Corners Logo Bigger Centered.jpg

The single comes as a precursor to The Magic Twelve (EP 2), the group’s next release in a series of three similarly titled EPs. So, in the swirl of an eerie crystal gaze and heavy metal rumbling, “Red Sky” gives us a taste of what’s soon to come from the band as well as something to blast over the stereo while we wait.

Professor Plumb will be performing at the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) Songwriter Showcase on Saturday, March 2nd located at The Post Brewery in Boulder, CO. The same day, Benom will be hosting a panel on film music and audio production on the Pearl St. Mall. On the morning of March 3rd, you can also catch them performing a short set just before the screening of The Mustang at BIFF.

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

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

Don't Miss the 13th Annual Boulder International Film Festival's Singer/Songwriter Showcase

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Sunday evening’s Academy Awards Ceremony was certainly one for the books. So to keep that energy up, we’d like to give some love to the 13th Annual Boulder International Film Festival (March 2nd-5th). The festival has quickly earned acclaim for being one of the most influential young festivals in the U.S., featuring a variety of stellar feature-length narratives, documentaries, animation shorts, tributes, symposiums, and much more.

Nestled in the middle of the festival is the BIFF Singer/Songwriter Showcase, which will be held at The Lazy Dog from March 3rd-4th. The showcase will give festival goers the exclusive opportunity to hang out with their favorite filmmakers in the Filmmaker Lounge while listening to great tunes - for FREE.

Ten musicians will grace the stage at this year’s showcase, all with different stories to tell and unique ways of telling them.

Friday’s lineup consists of: Kenny Lee Young, Bethel Steele, Antonio Lopez, Girlfriend Duties, and Bryce Merritt.

Kenny Lee Young will kick off the evening with his soulful, rhythmic acoustic tunes, followed up by the fellow acoustically-driven sounds of Fort Collins’ Bethel Steele and Longmont’s Antonio Lopez, both of whom have been recognized at various independent music award ceremonies. The evening will close with Girlfriend Duties, consisting of sisters Savanna and Jenny Wright, as well as good friends Nils Jenson (lead guitar) and Patrick Smith (drums). With a sound that blends Americana, indie, soul, bluegrass, folk, and rock/pop, they’ll bring the energy right up in time for the evening’s final act, Bryce Merritt. Merritt’s soul-pop vibe will leave festival goers toe-tapping their way out of the venue and ready to take on the rest of the weekend.

Saturday’s lineup kicks off with the sultry indie/alternative acoustic stylings of Bella Musser, followed by the electronic-pop artist Amy Kress, whose story is just as impressive as her commanding vocal presence. The soulful and jazzy Halle Tomlinson will take the stage afterwards, leading nicely into the more moody, introspective John Common’s lyrical grooves. Award-winning singer/songwriter and Youth Educator Melissa Ivey, also known as the “gypsy rocker,” will close out the evening of killer local music.

For a little taste of what’s to come, give the Sounds of BIFF 2017 playlist a listen, and check out the other artists who will also be making appearances at the festival here.

Check out more on the Singer/Songwriter Showcase event on Facebook.  

-Jura

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

KT Homes Plays BIFF This Friday + An Update on Her New Album, Her Artwork, & More

By: Hannah Oreskovich

KT Homes plays Boulder International Film Festival this weekend and so we needed a good 'ol fashioned catchup.

Local musician and artist KT Homes.

Local musician and artist KT Homes.

We first got in touch with local artist Katherine (KT) Homes when she played Denver’s RAW event last November. Back then we introduced her as one talented musician- she’s been referred to as as “the female version of Bob Dylan” and has opened for acts including Trampled by Turtles and Nathaniel Rateliff. But what we liked most was KT’s strong intent to “shed light on environmental and social issues” with her music. And after chatting with her, we learned a lot more about that intention, her upcoming album, and her artwork. Check it out:

So KT! We know you were in the Boxcar Daisies prior to your focus on a solo album. What’s that transition been like?

It’s been an incredibly creative and overwhelming process. When Elli, the second half of Boxcar Daisies, and I played gigs we were both all in 100%. We came to the table and co-wrote songs, split the work of sending out our EP and setting up gigs, and so on. We were incredibly dedicated and I think that made us really successful, really quickly, in getting shows. It was also the only thing we really had to throw ourselves into. Now, I’m juggling two different jobs and trying to relaunch my music and art career at the same time and sometimes I wish I wasn’t solo. But working on a solo album has also been amazing! Going out on my own has forced me to make friends with myself and not rely on someone else to stand next to me in order to feel comfortable on stage. I only have to answer to myself for this [next] album. That is a challenge but also really rewarding.

Homes laying down a track. 

Homes laying down a track. 

That’s great! Give us the deets on your upcoming album- what studio are you working with? Do you have a producer? When are you planning its release?  

I was working with a wonderful studio, but it wasn’t quite the right fit. Since then, I’ve been waiting almost 6 months to hear back from someone I really want to work with. It looks like it’s going to happen, but I’m keeping it a secret until I’m actually sitting next to him recording. Lets just say it’s going to be brilliant if this talented and incredibly chill producer fully commits. My lips are sealed until it’s a done deal though!

Fair enough! So we know that activism is a big part of your songwriting and musical process- talk to us about how that started, why you have that drive, and what current events are inspiring you to take your position and express it through music.

Wow, where do I even start? I’m fascinated by other cultures- mostly the remote or the forgotten. The wisdom in their history and their connection with nature; the way they live in harmony with the natural world... I’ve seen things and heard stories that are straight out of a children’s fairytale, but are very rooted in their way of life.

While I was traveling through West Kalimantan working as a photojournalist with an incredible non-profit, my family members lost a child to gun violence. In that moment I wanted to do something much bigger than the path I was on. I had no idea how or what I would do, but the answers just kept showing up in my music and I knew I wanted to share these songs because they are so much bigger than myself. I’ve always believed that a song has the power to change people. It’s my way of feeling like I can help shift things by writing about these issues and possible solutions, and singing about them.  

What I have also found while I’ve traveled is that two things quickly connect me to the local people: music and being a woman. There are often language barriers, and they quickly show up, but as soon as I start singing or playing the guitar, it’s incredible how quickly these walls  evaporate. It doesn’t matter what I’m singing about. Music is the universal language. And being a woman, well, as soon as you get in the kitchen, or hold someone else’s baby you are immediately a part of someone’s family. The song, “Put Down Your Gun”, which the [new] album was almost named after, is about a war being fought in Afghanistan and a woman speaking to another woman about what that war means for her and her family. This conversation happens in the kitchen, while they are both bouncing babies and cooking for their families. Their conversation quickly turns into a dialog about disarming anger and to instead to really hear one another.  

I’ve also been incredibly passionate about the environment from a young age. I’m obsessed with plants and wildlife. I’m very committed to bringing awareness to environmental issues through art, music, and my non-profit work. I’m a big believer that the natural world provides most of the answers to some of our biggest problems. I think if we could just sit and feel and listen to the silence and songs of the natural world, we could know what to do to generate more love and steer away from hate. Fear and hate are created because we don’t understand something. Anger is generated from feeling unheard, unloved, and sad. Right now we see that with the overwhelming destruction of the natural world and I think that is a direct reflection of how we are treating ourselves and each other. This [next] album really focusses on sharing these thoughts.

Wow. Thanks for sharing your powerful motivations with us. That’s awesome. We also know you paint- any art that you’re currently working on?

I absolutely love to paint. It is my down time. I can get lost in the world of color for days. It’s quiet. Painting is peaceful and healing. It’s kind. I know that’s a funny word to use, but I use watercolor on wood and it is so fluid and beautiful; it’s those moments when I feel like everything is right in the world. Painting is also something I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember, so it’s never left me. It’s a great way to really see the world you are in. It’s so slow, and for me that’s a really good thing. This past year, I’ve created paintings for two organizations that are doing really incredible work: Project WOO and Health in Harmony. I love creating paintings to help fundraise and raise awareness for projects that I believe in.

One of KT's paintings. 

One of KT's paintings. 

Sweet. Beyond your 2016 release plans, what else will you be up to this year?  

The album is full-on for sure. At the start of the year, I was asked to sing on a children’s book, which I’m excited about! I’m also launching my own art website. My life is pretty fun. I feel like everytime I turn around something new comes crashing into it. But really, this year I want to focus on getting my music and my message out into the world to as many people as possible, so that will be my primary goal.

We can’t wait to hear more from you- thanks for sharing your message with us KT.

Check out the multi-talented KT Homes at her Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) performance this Friday. Details on more live shows, her current art projects, and more can be found on her website 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.