Upstate Returns From a Soul-Vacation to Boulder's Fox Theatre

By: Natalie Pulvino

New York-based Americana band Upstate is fresh off their second studio album Healing, and the group shows no sign of slowing down. Blending folk, jazz, rock’n’roll, and americana, Upstate has truly created an exclusive voice, describing the past year as “a process of discovering [their] identity.”

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The sextet was born in New York’s Hudson Valley, where their roots seemed to form their uniquely sensational sound. With Melanie Glenn, Mary Kenney, and Allison Olender on vocals and guitar, Harry D’Agostino on bass, and Dean Mahoney on the cajón, this group is atypical and refreshing. Many have compared them to Lake Street Dive, commenting on their jazzy-folk influence with undeniably stunning vocals.

After the release of their debut project, A Remedy (2015), the band evidently went on a soul-vacation. Changing their name from “Upstate Rubdown” to simply “Upstate,” experimenting musically, and even picking up Allison Olender from Nashville to join the band, all contributed to the group’s fresh energy and new album, Healing.

And it really is fresh. Healing takes you on a journey: from slow and melancholy to upbeat and humorous, Upstate seems to grasp every emotion and individually integrate each one into their music. The album is honest and vulnerable in a light and relatable way.

Upstate most recently sold-out their show at the Boulder Chautauqua Community House in early April, and will continue on to headline the Fox Theatre on Saturday May 25th.

Keep up with Upstate here.  

-Natalie

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

A Fireside Chat with The Beeves on Their Debut Record & More

From left to right: Dahmen, Laffin, Ehrheart & Sease. Photo Credit:  Courtney Farrell

From left to right: Dahmen, Laffin, Ehrheart & Sease. Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

Since the first installment of “Zach and Pete’s Fireside Chats” went to print a few months back, Zach Dahmen and I had both been itching to get local rock dynamos The Beeves over for a night of campfire, bourbon, and forthright conversation. Coming off the heels of their raw, raucous, and renowned self-titled debut EP, the trio is in the process of rolling out its new full-length record, Adam and Beeve in the runup to their release show on May 17th at The Fox Theatre. We were especially stoked to host them at this poignant moment (with members Ian Ehrheart and Matthew Sease) in our backyard. Also joining us for the evening to take photos was local creative guru Courtney Farrell. The following is a transcript of what went down:

PL: So what’s a Beeve?

IE: Well, technically, a Beeve is just, you know, a Beeve. Slang for vagina.

MS: No, that’s a beaver.

IE: Yes, and beeves is the plural of beeve, meaning one beeve.

ZD: How did you come to this name?

MS: My understanding is that we took this dictionary down to my mom’s basement...

IE: It was a bible.

MS: No, it was a dictionary. I have the dictionary. And we decided the one word we hit was going to be the name of the band, and we had to stick with it. And we did it like three times.

IE: Really? I don’t remember that.

MS: Yeah, because we got, like, “crack.”

IE: It doesn’t say crack in the bible.

MS: That’s because it wasn’t a bible. And we did it again and it was another ridiculous word. And then we hit “beeves,” which was plural for beef, and we were like, oh, that’s actually pretty cool. So we used it the next day for our volleyball team in middle school.

PL: This goes back to middle school?

MS: This was like seventh grade.

IE: This was just after our band The Purple Zebras.

MS: We were going to be The Sun Kissed Nips.

PL: I think you guys made the right call.

MS: So that’s my interpretation of when we got the name. But Ian seems to think we found it in a bible?

IE: We did! It’s in Leviticus. But that wasn’t it. When we actually came up with The Beeves we were looking into a fire quite like this, and in the fire, when we were peeing in it together to put it out, and when the smoke cleared, the red hot embers spelled out “Beeves.”

ZD: So the story here is, they refuse to give us the real story.

MS: Ian and I did go to bible camp together. And we had to stay with the priest the whole time. All of the other kids got to sleep in their own dorms, but we had to stay with the priest and talk to him and confess things.

IE: One time I confessed to touching myself unlawfully.

PL: And I hope you said it just like that.

MS: The only reason I think Ian’s story might be somewhat true is because we were in the religious ed class together.

Photo Credit:  Courtney Farrell

Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

ZD: How long have you guys been in a band together?

MS: Ian and I have been playing together since sixth grade.

IE: We’ve known each other since elementary school.

MS: I didn’t really like Ian then.

IE: We never got to be friends until sixth grade, when I learned he had a guitar, and we both played guitar. We were in a rivalry until then.

MS: I never liked Ian throughout elementary school because he was really good at sports. And all the girls liked him.

IE: I had the right hair. The swoop.

ZD: You had the Bieber swoop?

IE: It was just at the right time. But then we realized we had guitars and we hung out, and we did it every single day after school. And then we formed The Purple Zebras.

ZD: So when did the third member join?

MS: We had a couple drummers before Will [Erhart]. But he was always part of the picture.

IE: We had some guy who wanted to record us one time when we were in seventh grade and Will did the drums… this creepy guy in Erie who lived in a trailer and just sat there and chain smoked next to us the whole time.

MS: We recorded an AC/DC cover.

PL: When did you know that you wanted to do this seriously?

MS: We always knew we’d do this. We’ve stuck to the same mentality since seventh grade.

IE: We were writing lyrics together in math class.

MS: It’s all we wanted to do.

IE: The first show we did was an open mic in Louisville.

MS: We did our own punk rock version version of “Wagon Wheel.”

IE: Pete, cut that part out.

PL: I talked to your father after your last Fox show, when you guys packed the place, and he was all teared up and he told me this story about how you [Ian] got tossed out of the Fox when you were in early high school.

IE: That’s why we’re doing the release at the Fox. That was where we first saw live music and the potential of what we could do.

MS: The first concert we ever went to by ourselves was at the Fox. We took the bus to the Boulder and we just kind of knew that the Fox was on The Hill. We didn’t even know where it was.

IE: We didn’t even have a ticket because we didn’t know we had to buy tickets to shows. So we just went up to the box office and we were like, “Hi, we’re here for the show.”

MS: We went up to the front, hands on the stage, watching the show.

IE: We told ourselves, “We are going to play on this stage someday.”

MS: That’s why we used to play on Pearl Street. We thought someone from the Fox would like, willy nilly, walk by and ask us to open up at the Fox someday.

IE: We were more lucrative [busking] on Pearl Street than anywhere.

MS: One day we made like $350 and a pack of cigarettes and a condom. But let’s get back to that show Ian got kicked out of. That was at The Expendables. It got a bit rowdy and we’d never crowd surfed before. And Ian was dead set on crowd surfing. So he got up on the stage and fell backwards, and they pushed him back up on the stage.

IE: And then I ran into the bouncer.

MS: And the bouncer immediately throws him out, and I’m like this eighth grader standing there alone.

IE: And from my point of view, somebody just grabbed me and literally pushed me as hard to the curb as they could. And I was like, “What’s happening right now? Is this part of the show?”

ZD: So you definitely weren’t drinking there?

IE: We didn’t even know what alcohol was.

ZD: So this is just sober Ian being pretty extra?

MS: And then we were trying to re-stamp my hand outside on your hand…

The Beeves’ Ian Ehrheart and Matthew Sease. Photo Credit:  Courtney Farrell

The Beeves’ Ian Ehrheart and Matthew Sease. Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

PL: Let’s talk about the studio recordings. The first one was super lo-fi, and you pretty much did it yourselves.

IE: Oliver from Slow Caves recorded us because we didn’t know shit about microphones or recording. He just loved the songs and really wanted to help us out.

PL: I fucking love that album. But you never play those songs anymore.

MS: Well we kind of got labelled as a “ska” band and that kind of turned us off to a bit, because we never saw ourselves as that.

ZD: You don’t even have any horns.

MS: But we got labelled as a ska band! Fuck!

Photo Credit:  Courtney Farrell

Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

PL: Who is the best musician in the group? The easiest one in the studio?

IE: Matthew is the best musician and is the best at his instrument.

PL: Who do you rally around in the studio?

IE: It’s equal.

MS: It’s interesting to see when Will chimes in because his input his valuable. Because Ian and I are always butting heads and trying to come up with an answer.

IE: Will has become such a good drummer. At this point he knows probably the most about music. I’ve always been the one who doesn’t know shit but has big ideas. Matthew can usually flatten that out and make something out of it with his bass lines.

ZD: It sounds like elements of conflict are part of your process.

IE: It’s all about compromise. Which is valuable, even though it’s hard.

Photo Credit:  Courtney Farrell

Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

MS: I think you and I after all these years trust each other’s instincts.

PL: Are you guys going to be together in five years?

MS: Yes.

IE: Oh, yeah. Undeniably.

MS: With all sincerity.

ZD: That’s the right answer. They say if you know someone for seven years, you’ll know them the rest of your lives. You guys kind of have a brotherhood at this point.

IE: It is like that.

MS: Ian is the most important person in my life.

PL: So Nate Cook. Let’s hear it. He’s lifting you guys up quite a bit the past year or so.

MS: He’s just a tornado of creative destruction.

IE: He pushed us in a different direction. We were so surprised he even wanted to do this. I was the biggest fucking Yawpers fan in the whole world. When they asked us to open for their album release show, I was like, “Oh my god…”

PL: In a sentence or two, what has the experience of working with him been like?

MS: He put us on a platform and he didn’t stand for any bullshit in the studio. He just kept pushing us and pushing us until we broke.

ZD: That sounds really intense.

IE: For me, it was every single song. Anyway anything I did was fucking terrible.

MS: It was terrifying to perform for someone like that who we’d idolized like that. But he had a respect for us. We played raw like him. We weren’t musicians who were trained theoretically.

ZD: So this album must have a lot of spontaneity.

MS: It was only five days of recording, and we had ten tracks. Some of the songs weren’t completed when we went into the studio.

IE: I lied to him and told him we had enough songs to record an album. I was going upstairs from the studio in between when I had to play and writing lyrics.

MS: Part of the beauty of the album was that it wasn’t put together before we went to the studio. We had to write it in those five days.

Photo Credit:  Courtney Farrell

Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

IE: Every day we had to get a certain amount done, so we just did it.

PL: What does this release mean to you?

IE: It means moving on. Letting shit go, and getting onto the next thing. I’m so fucking over it.

ZD: What are you proud of about it?

IE: I think it’s going to be a base for us. I think these songs are good.

MS: I agree. When I look at is as a whole, I think it’s a full entity, ten full songs, and I’m proud at how much we put into that and how hard we pushed each other. We’d never been put under that kind of stress before. I think I’m a bit more proud of it than Ian in that way. I’m proud of what I did in the studio.

PL: That’s refreshing to hear. The default answer when you ask a musician is that they could have done better. But for the most part, people are proud of what they make. It’s nice to hear someone say it.

MS: I really want people to listen to the album. Sit down and listen to all ten tracks. And then actually give us the time of day. Half the time we are trying to get people to just take us seriously because we’re so fucking young. But we’ve been doing this for a long time. It shouldn’t matter anyway. If you care about what you’re doing and care about this art, and you really value the music, it doesn’t matter how old you are.

The Beeves self-titled debut record drops everywhere this Friday, May 17th. Catch them at The Fox Theatre the same night. Tickets here.

-Pete

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

Tony Vincent and the Boulder Philharmonic Traverse Bowie's Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes at Macky Auditorium

By: Adam Perry

Looking like a member of Bauhaus, vocalist Tony Vincent cut a unique figure on Pearl Street this past Sunday afternoon, carrying a Peppercorn bag after shopping there with his parents – in town from Albuquerque – the day after slaying David Bowie hits with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra at Macky Auditorium.

The 45-year-old Vincent – made famous by starring on NBC’s The Voice and in the first national tour of Rent – emerged onstage at Macky in a choker necklace, a black dress shirt, tight blue pants and black leather shoes Saturday night, leading the Boulder Phil and members of Windborne Music. The ensemble’s “Music of David Bowie” production was able to fill about three-fourths of Macky’s 2000 capacity, and those who snoozed on the event missed some incredible moments.

Vincent & the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo Credit: Amy Rune Carlson

Vincent & the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo Credit: Amy Rune Carlson

The setlist was not deep, focusing on Bowie’s most well-known pop classics, and not many to which an orchestra could lend much creativity or power. But when the juxtaposition of the rocking and the symphonic was magical, such as on the glam-rock standard “Starman,” the sparks that flew lived up to Macky Auditorium’s timeless façade.

Falling just short of the filthy distortion and energy that early Bowie axe-man Mick Ronson brought from the working-class Rats of Hull to the Spiders from Mars, Windborne guitarist George Cintron did his best Earl Slick impression leading the evening’s initial tunes – “Rebel Rebel” and “Ziggy Stardust.” Conductor Brent Havens quipped, “Is this what you expected?” to the mostly stilted, older and white audience, and Vincent aptly complimented Bowie for always “keeping us guessing” before the orchestra launched into a beautiful version of “Changes.”

Vincent went on hit-or-miss tangents between tunes, focusing on his self-professed lifelong “nerdy” obsession with “countless” interviews with and biographies of Bowie, perhaps the most renowned iconoclast in rock history. This worked when Vincent, for instance, glowingly introduced “Fame” – Bowie’s hit 1975 collaboration with John Lennon. But Vincent’s purported encyclopedic knowledge of Bowie’s catalog and legacy also missed the mark a few times, such as when he stressed that a “longing for love” was the common thread in Bowie’s nearly half-century catalog, stating, “that’s probably what he was getting at with this next song” as a set-up for “China Girl,” a cheeky and somewhat racist 1983 hit for Bowie that was actually written by Iggy Pop in 1976.

The balcony view at Macky. photo credit: Amy Rune Carlson

The balcony view at Macky. photo credit: Amy Rune Carlson

No matter – the Boulder Philharmonic’s arrangements were the real star of the show, which got better after intermission, not just because the song selection become more ambitious (with slightly more obscure songs like “Fashion” and “Young Americans”) but because I moved from the fifth row all the way to the balcony to hear and see the orchestra much better.

Windborne (which will return to Macky next February to present a highly anticipated night of Queen songs with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra) and Vincent were flashy and powerful, but it was the Boulder Phil’s soaring additions to on tunes like the funky 1980 mindbender “Ashes to Ashes” that made the evening truly memorable. Hopeless Bowie nerds might have flinched at Vincent’s occasional missteps on tiny details in lyrics, like singing “billions of swastikas in my head” instead of “visions of swastikas” in “China Girl” or “need an axe to break the ice” rather than “want an axe” in “Ashes to Ashes,” but when the orchestra came together with otherworldly dynamics and artistry on “Space Oddity” and “Changes,” to name a few, the heavens opened.

Vincent sang everything with talent and grace, but part of Bowie’s importance was bringing the vulnerable and the avant-garde to the pop and refined worlds and vice versa, so the most striking moment of the evening was watching a senior-citizen in the balcony break down in tears when the orchestra nailed a complex arrangement of 1972’s campy but genius and poetic “Life On Mars?

New Mexico native Vincent’s appearances in Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, American Idiot and We Will Rock You make him a perfect fit to sing certain classics from Bowie’s diverse career – such as “Changes” and “Life On Mars?”  However, it’s admittedly impossible for anyone, even dozens of dazzling musicians gelling in a giant orchestra, to do justice to the pinball-style catalog of Bowie, who once sang, “Until there was rock, you only had God.”

Coincidentally, Sunday morning in Boulder featured a 90-minute Bowie tribute concert for children and their parents at the Boulder Theater, and the contrasts were interesting and hilarious. Cover-band Loving the Alien – which jubilantly regaled a couple hundred locals with fun-loving Bowie tunes and crowd-participation treats like a parachute, sing-alongs and glow-stick jewelry – not only dug deeper into Bowie’s catalog than the Boulder Philharmonic, with tunes like the very orchestral “The Man Who Sold the World,” but (unlike Vincent) also didn’t cut out risqué Bowie lyrics like the line about Quaaludes in “Rebel Rebel.”

As Bowie’s diverse catalog grew, even the Thin White Duke himself, and the countless versions of his backing band, could never perfectly capture all of his unique eras of iconoclastic music in one evening. Vincent, Windborne and the Boulder Phil did an entertaining and memorable job trying to – at the very least – lend an energetic and symphonic angle to Bowie’s hits. It will be fascinating to see what they do with Queen’s catalog next year as well.

-Adam

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

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

By: Taylor Falkner

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

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

Corda Vera.

Corda Vera.

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

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

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

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

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

Keep up with Corda Vera here.

-Taylor

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

Rubblebucket Bringing 'Sun Machine' to Colorado for Two Shows Next Week

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Rubblebucket is hitting the road this month for their Spring Tour to spread the warmth and burns of their latest album Sun Machine. Lucky for us Coloradans, they’ll be stopping at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins on March 20th before heading straight to The Fox Theatre in Boulder on March 21st.

Rubblebucket.

Rubblebucket.

Sun Machine is a post-relationship child of the band’s core duo, Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth. As a sort of a homage to the duo’s romantic 11-year relationship end, Sun Machine addresses the trials and tribulations, and the persevering love that lasts despite the breakup. Sun Machine is a testament to the musically fertile nature of breakups, and the introspection and growth that follows. But if relationship tunes aren’t your thing, don’t be discouraged because Sun Machine is out on all mainstream music media platforms and it will take you on an intimate journey you can definitely sing and dance to.

Unlike their two previous albums, Survival Sounds and Omega La La, Sun Machine has a deeper, darker, and more serious mood. And not without reason. The band saw its end when the duo split, but despite and because of it, it also brought Rubblebucket a more grown-up sound with this newest record. The band’s lead singer Kalmia Traver went through ovarian cancer while Alex Toth took to sobriety from alcohol. Both artists came out stronger mentally and musically from these hardships, which are obvious in Sun Machine.

Rubblebucket’s upbeat, danceable core is decidedly still intact though, shining through on tracks like “Party Like Your Heart Hurts” and “Inner Cry,” both of which don’t pull any punches, emotionally or sonically. “Lemonade” on the other hand will make you feel things. A track with opening lyrics from which their latest album got the name, it reminisces on the beauty of days past when things were light and happy, then jerks you right into the day it all fell away. These musicians are a real deal; it’s why they couldn’t help themselves from continuing to create the sounds that move, despite all the hardships and a failed romance. That’s pretty powerful.

Ready to dance, cry, and dance some more with Rubblebucket? I am too. Get your tickets for The Aggie here and The Fox here for their shows next week!

-Mirna

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

Japanese Band Kikagaku Moyo Delivered a Tightly-Honed Psychedelic Performance at Boulder's Fox Theatre

By: Adam Cabrera

Tuesday night, Kikagaku Moyo performed at Boulder’s own Fox Theater, delivering a performance that ranged from the soft, serenity of acid-folk to the fuzzed drenched, freakouts of heavy psychedelic rock.

Kikagaku Moyo. Photo per the author.

Kikagaku Moyo. Photo per the author.

The Tokyo-based five-piece band, who have been continuing to grow international acclaim, rarely visit North America, and even less frequently make stops in Colorado. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see a theater packed with fans on what would typically be a slow night for most live music venues. All in all, the show was more than expected and turned out to be one of the best I’ve attended over the past year.

Starting out the night was Boulder artist Ashley Koett. What felt like a mix between soul, jazz, and indie bedroom pop, the band brought together a relaxed, laid-back set composed of tasteful bass grooves and catchy guitar melodies, all supported by the pleasant timbre of Ashley’s voice. Following Koett’s crew was WEEED, a psych-rock quintet featuring the uncommon double-drummer setup, along with electric bass, guitar, flute, conga, harmonica, and ambient live-looping. In long, hypnotic jams, the band captivated the audience and got them moving along with the heavily textured percussion and the reverberating daze of guitar solos.

But, as the headliner collected themselves on stage, a noticeable change in energy happened throughout the room. Hair grown well past their shoulders and dressed in clothes which resembled the fashion of the sixties and seventies, Kikagaku Moyo gave off the semblance and character of wandering bohemian mystics with a slew of curious instruments placed upon the stage. The usual cast was present (drums, bass,keyboard, and guitar), but the unusual characters such as the electric sitar (a defining aspect of their sound), and cello also found their place among the band.

Tightly-honed, as well as spaciously free-formed, together they played through the best of their catalog adding unique improvised moments which made watching the performance feel all the more special. It was a pleasure to get to see the band react on the fly, switching from spaced-out meditations tenuously held together by echoing guitar riffs, to introspective and effortlessly catchy pop melodies which quickly received cheers from the crowd once recognized.

In this rare chance to see Kikagaku Moyo, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with their incredible performance, and I was even happier at the end of the night when I stopped at the merch table to picked one of their records on vinyl, as they rarely make their way to U.S. record stores. Surely to be recognized as one of the most notable psychedelic acts of the past decade, it was a pleasure to see Kikagaku Moyo perform.

Keep up with Kikagaku Moyo 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.

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

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

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

The Feathermerchants. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

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

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

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

Pete Veru. Photo Credit: Bill Dicecca

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

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

A Pull From The Flask.

A Pull From The Flask.

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

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

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

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

Keep up with the Feathermerchants here.

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

Augustus Got A Way of Changing

Augustus.

Augustus.

Augustus began in 2011 when frontman Colin Kelly wrote, recorded, and posted to Youtube his song, “North.” This was years before he met the other two founding members of the band, Jim Herlihy and Jesse Wright, and before they began as a trio named “Tusk.”

This was their first mistake (with many more were to follow), as another band already had the name somewhere out in Musicland. As they would countless times in the following years, they adjusted and moved forward, now as “Augustus,” forgoing that which didn’t work while maintaining that which did: their original “Tusk” logo— two entwined animal bones jutting upward against a black backdrop. Without fail since, Augustus has done with failure what we all wish we would at our best: They’ve used it to become something new, fresh, and better. Today, the group features founding members Colin Kelly on vocals, Jim Herlihy on guitar and vocals, along with Marshall Carlson on bass, and Ryan Healy on drums.

I note the release of “North” as the true beginning of the group because they still play the song. I believe it’s on its fifth iteration now. And that is the real story of Augustus. This is a band in a constant state of reinvention. This has never been more evident than in their recent release, “Idle,” which is wholly different in style from previous releases and qualitatively advanced by a good bit. It is through this lens of growth that I approached a recent interview with Colin Kelly around a fire in my backyard, accompanied by BolderBeat contributor and scene veteran Zach Dahmen. Augustus will perform at the Fox Theatre this Saturday, November 10th and tickets are available here.

PL: So you’re new to Colorado, determined to write and be in a band, and you find two guys, Jesse Wright and Jim Herlihy. You start “Tusk,” which was kind of “mountain-y” and not really rock and roll. Not your forte, but it seemed to fit into the Colorado scene. Why didn’t you stick with that?

CK: Jesse always thought of us as a prog folk band.

PL: Did you really want to be in a prog folk band?

CK: I just wanted to be in a band so I was going to do anything I could with the instruments we had then.

PL: You had lots of early success and hype in those days. And yet, it didn’t work out in the long run. Why?

CK: We had some bad gigs now and again. Jim was doing too much. [He was] going full sprint all night on banjo, guitar, drums… And Jesse was always a wild card. Sometimes totally brilliant, sometimes couldn’t remember how to play the songs. I was still an ametuer in a lot of ways. We’d have these five-minute breaks between songs sometimes at shows, just trying to pull it together.

ZD: I remember those early shows of yours at Johnny’s. In the scene at that time, Whiskey Autumn was No Name Bar, Augustus was Johnny’s, and sometimes on the same night you’d be catching the first half of one show then jumping to the other. It was a captive audience. People were excited at what was happening. But it was always going to be just experimental.

PL: Who was the other band really wrapped up in that?

ZD: The Almond Butters?

PL: Yup, but another one, too… You know who I’m talking about.

ZD: The Ridgelings!

CK: There was a lot of bluegrassy shit going on then. Everybody was all like, “Mumford and Sons!”

PL: Ah yes, the Mumfordy era.

CK: If Mumford could do it, we were like, we could do whatever the fuck we want. (Colin turns to the recorder). Hey, future Pete, do you read me? This is Colin, don’t quote me on that…

PL: I’m totally going to.

CK: Don’t!

PL: But anyway, on those early recordings of yours, there were a lot of great songs, but one phenomenal song in particular that a lot of people still talk about and request called, “Return.”

CK: We still play that a lot. We’ve re-written it like five times. We finally found a version we like with the quartet that we’re keeping. The first records were pretty desperate things for me musically. I liked the songs, but I didn’t really know what I was doing in a studio yet. None of us did. The only reason we could get through it was because Jim was always so prepared. He practices his ass off. And Jesse had some moments of blinding brilliance. But it was a struggle for all of us. Being under a microscope for the first time. On the second record, I was also really sick, and we had to rush through. We had to be decisive and learn to live with flaws. Some have more character than others. Sometimes you have to be OK with not being very good.

PL: Which flaws can you live with… That sounds like some earned wisdom right there. So let me flip it around. Which flaws can’t you live with? Musically? Personally?

Colin gets up to chop some wood, as these sorts of questions make him antsy.

ZD: I can say, on the spot…

CK: That’s a really fucked up question, Pete. Do I have to answer that?

PL: Yup.

ZD: For me, diving deeper into the eye of who I am, as opposed to trying to look more outward… I need to find the thing to make me sufficient and happy, and I have to look inward for that.

CK: That’s very theological.

PL: He’s got a background in it (Zach majored in theology at college)

.Colin chops at another log.

PL: So let’s go back to that time specifically, what couldn’t you live with then?

CK: I couldn’t live with my guitar sounding shitty, my vocals being out of key… I wasn’t always prepared with all the arrangements. I didn’t know what stories I was telling with my vocals. I can’t say I’m any more confident now, but I’ve logged a lot more hours. We all have. And that definitely helps.

PL: Give me a specific story that speaks to all that.

CK: We were playing this show in 2015 and we were being scouted by this guy who had some connections, and who we couldn’t afford, but arrogantly thought we were confident about getting his help, and we realized that night that we couldn’t play a whole three hours live. We didn’t sound like we knew what we were doing at that show. Especially when we started bringing in more electric. We weren’t really acoustic listeners. We were individually more into rock and roll sounds.

Laffin, Kelly, and Dahmen (left to right).

Laffin, Kelly, and Dahmen (left to right).

PL: Tell me about The Mercury EP that came next. I know you were proud of those songs, but I remember you weren’t too happy about how that turned out.

CK: We had a thing, we thought it was working. We thought we were going to continue to get closer to the concept, the feeling of what we wanted to make, but we didn’t get there.

PL: So after that, there seemed to be a great retooling of things that led to your latest release, which couldn’t be more different than where you began, and if I may say, couldn’t have had a better outcome, at least on a critical level. It seems that in the lead up, you wanted to stabilize your group, add permanent players after Jesse left (which was around the Mercury release). You mentioned earlier that you wanted to make the best out of the instruments you had access to, but this one feels very intentional from top-to-bottom.

CK: We had to do everything different when Jesse left. We had to change the sound. It was worse than I assumed it would be at the time. I was really bummed when Jesse left. There was a vacuum, and Jim and I had to start over. Retooling to us meant trying a bunch of different shit till we got somewhere. We couldn’t really do the acoustic shit anymore.

ZD: Sonically, you seemed to completely transform from one space to another. How did that happen?

CK: Jesse used to play a lot of lead on the cello. And now suddenly I was in the position to write lead for electric guitar. I still don’t know if I’ve got that down, but again, I’ve got more hours logged. We used to have a banjo and an acoustic guitar, and now we’ve got two electric guitars. The foot-kit suddenly made no more sense for Jim, and he wanted to do more singing and more lead guitar. So then we had to bring in drums, a new bass…

PL: You sound frustrated just remembering all that.

CK: You go from a three piece folk band to a four piece rock band, and there is going to be some really ugly shit that goes down.

PL: The new album has a song on it called “Things Got a Way of Changing.”

ZD: When it came out, Pete and I listened to it a few times and knew it was going to be the song people gravitated toward. That song to me was just a fucking, “Woah!” Better than anything else you’ve done. It felt like something different to us.

PL: I know it has nothing to do with the changes in the band over the last couple of years. But so many of our motivations are subconscious, and to me it just seems so clearly like a cathartic piece. That from beneath the surface, this theme emerged on its own. What was your experience like making it?

CK: We always wanted to swing back around to playing electric music. We were tired of the half-baked folk thing. I started demoing stuff by myself more, got more organized, and I could hear better when something just wasn’t going to be a song anyone would want to listen to. We started more from the bottom of the song to build up, not just “start with guitar and vocals and then add bass and drums.” I started the old stuff more from a lyrical standpoint. But with this song in particular, we wanted to build it from the ground up. And it took months to write. I sat on it for three months. And the guys did just an amazing job with it.

PL: Aside from the mechanics of it all, there must have been a cathartic moment for you guys with this song, especially after the lull of “Mercury.” You came out ahead when maybe you thought you were falling behind.

CK: Well there was a lot of change in mine and Jim’s life around that time (both got married within that same year) and I stopped working my same old job. A lot of things personally changed. Things stabilized. Life finally felt a little less on the brink of disaster on a daily basis. Which was fun when you’re in your twenties. But from all that was a lot of failure, which created a lot of intensity. We had to find out how not to fuck up anymore. Obviously something was missing, and we had to figure out what that was… We had to find it. It’s tough to say.

PL: I think you said it.

See for yourself how Augustus has changed and grown as they co-headline the Fox Theatre this Saturday November 10th at 9PM with Foxfeather, Hugh Manatee, and Famous Men.

Keep up with Augustus here.

-Pete

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

SoDown Lifted and Lit Up the Fox Theatre Last Saturday

By: Will Baumgartner

A Saturday night at one of the top-rated music venues in the country, which happens to be within walking distance of my house, surrounded by joyful energy and kept moving by irresistible dance grooves- not a bad way to spend an evening, right? Add the pleasure of getting to review a headlining set plus a consistently mesmerizing light show with a packed crowd of young friendly faces, and the end result was a music lover whose walk home felt elevated.

I also felt enlightened, because to be honest, electronic music isn’t my field of expertise. That being said, I learned long ago not to ignore it because I love to dance. And what SoDown does-Bass music- is specifically designed for dance lovers. One of the things I’ve learned from talking with those immersed in the culture is “Don’t call it Dubstep!” Also sometimes called “UK Bass,” this music is clearly influenced by dubstep, but also draws on so many different types of sounds that it’s asserted itself to the point where it has its own identity and commands special attention.

SoDown.

SoDown.

So how does SoDown, a relative newcomer in an already exploding field, distinguish itself within the burgeoning Bass pantheon? And who exactly is SoDown? The answers to these questions are interconnected. As is often the case in the electronic music galaxy, we’re talking about one person here: his name is Ehren River Wright. He stands out because he’s an accomplished saxophonist in addition to his clear mastery as a producer, and a fascinating young star whose rise is an exhilarating thing to experience. In the interest of trying to share a bit of that experience, let’s go back to Saturday’s show for a minute.

The crisp autumnal spark outside the theater became a surge of crackling energy inside. Supporting act Megan Hamilton pumped the swelling crowd with her own brand of uplift, blending some live vocals and bits of drumming on a set of pads mounted next to her rig. Everyone was engaged and the smiles exploded toward the entry of SoDown, whereupon the bliss meter hit the high end of the spectrum. From the first notes and flashes of stylized imagery, through the entire barrage of thumping rhythm, soaring melody and spectacular light show, SoDown ascended to some new and dizzying heights.

When young Mister Wright raised his tenor sax to surf the swells and crests on this sea of sound, it was like we were all riding these waves together, light breaking through storm clouds, all surge and spray with a good dose of sway. I’m not sure where all the voices came from, but the familiar backing bits (including, of all people, some Britney Spears) brought a somewhat grounding effect to the ensemble; a reminder that music is a continuum which leads us into an ever-expanding future while holding the power of its own past. Wright came onstage already dancing to the music in his head, and the dance kept growing throughout the night, and throughout the crowd. Even when the “show” experience was “over,” the dance continued on.

SoDown.

SoDown.

Being considerably less well-versed than others in the Bass world, I needed to make allowances for a few things at SoDown’s set. For one, in my research leading up to this night, I’d expected something a bit different. The recorded music that SoDown has released led me to expect something a little more low-key, a tad more downtempo. So it took me a few minutes to adjust my consciousness to the heavier side of his music, until I remembered that if you’re going to create a party or keep one going, it’s necessary to bring some of your heaviest gear with you. As someone who’s attended countless shows by live bands using no electronics whatsoever, I knew this: virtually everyone plays louder, faster, and harder live. That’s the nature of the beast. Once I’d navigated this shift, a handful of the aspects that make up the whole of who and what SoDown is reasserted themselves: the soulful, sometimes even moody smokiness that belie Wright’s love of jazz, soul, and funk were still there. They simply made their presence a little more of an unassuming and pleasant thing, like the quieter guests at a party- they might be bopping a bit more unobtrusively on the periphery or in the midst of all that more frenzied activity, but they aren’t about to leave.

So, ultimately, this is one of the greatest things about the fully alive and ever-evolving world of music we’re so lucky to be part of: there’s room for everyone and everything, all types of people and emotions, all levels of experience and knowledge. That openness was in great evidence at this gathering. There’s no one watching the door at a dance party thrown by SoDown, and if it takes you a minute or three to fold yourself into the crowd, they’re more than happy to make room for you to get in there and be your unique and indispensable self. This element, like the music itself, resists being pigeonholed because there are so many parts needed to make it whole and keep on lifting.

-Will

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

Kwolek's 'Masks' Was Recorded at the Women's March in Denver, in South Africa, & Everywhere in Between

By: Norman Hittle

Kwolek released his fourth solo LP Masks earlier this month. Take a gander at the link below to check it out:

Having formerly played guitar in Lima Research Society, Kwolek has since been focused on creating highly textured sonic art with nods to Arcade Fire and The Talking Heads. In actuality, his music is reminiscent of the movie Juno, with it’s highly indie rock and lo-fi vibes delivered in relentless torrents of high energy and borderline weirdness.

For Masks, it’s been a three-year endeavor for Kwolek to get all the meticulous layers of sound and texture just right, while spending his days recording and mixing in his Boulder, CO apartment. An impressive gem in the listed credits is all the field recordings included in his songs, as well as the locations. There’s everything from the Women’s March in Denver to Cape Town, South Africa and half a dozen in between.

On the few songs that follow a more somber and cinematic vibe, there’s a definite inspiration noticeable from bands such as The Dear Hunter, Radiohead, The Smiths, and hints of The Beatles’ White Album. Though, overall a bit less cohesive than any of those artists, Kwolek still managing to convey a true sense of self throughout each track.

Give Masks a list above and keep up with Kwolek and his music on his official website as well as on his Instagram.

-Norman

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

Desert Hearts Brought Their Creative & Colorful Vibes to Boulder on Current Tour

DHBoulder_JBPhoto_0664.jpg

It was a house and techno gathering without the grit: the Desert Hearts’ party last week at Boulder Theatre was a homey vibe with a very young crowd, and yes, most people showed up in costume. The 15+ and up show was full of colorful vibes.

Desert Hearts began in 2012 at Burning Man as a dream founded by Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Porky, and Marbs. Since then, it has evolved into a mission of radiating love and a conscious ethos of house and techno. The quartet takes turns on the turntables and projects heavy percussion for hours, and last week’s party was no exception. The band’s vibe is approachable and lighthearted, which is why any age interested in getting into the techno and house scene would find Desert Hearts a non-threatening beginning.  

DHBoulder_JBPhoto_0392.jpg

Much like Burning Man, coming dressed up in costume is totally a thing at a DH gathering, and highly celebrated. There was an aura of a music festival like Electric Forest, where the crew also threw a party this summer. With a whiff of innocence in the air and plenty of time and space to dance it out, Desert Hearts won’t bring out the dark side of the bumpin’ house genre if that’s what you’re into, but if lightness and percussion within the comfort of your living room is what you’re after, this is a band you’ve got to check out.

Catch a Desert Hearts show for yourself here.

-Mirna

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

Ben Hanna Band, ChinaRose, & Native Station Tell Us What to Expect from Their Sets at Benevolence Festival This Weekend

This week, we’re presenting Benevolence Festival, a benefit day of music for RAICES this Saturday, August 18th at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing from 2PM-10PM. It’s just $6 at the door for six bands and we’ve published our interviews with Augustus, Whiskey Autumn, and The Beeves, so make sure to check those out if you haven’t! Today we’ve got Ben Hanna Band, ChinaRose, and Native Station in the hot seat:

What made you want to become involved in our Benevolence Festival for RAICES?

Ben Hanna Band: If doing what I love can in some small way contribute to helping other people be with their families and find the resources they need, I will be in every time.

ChinaRose: We think it is very important to stand up for human and individual rights and the issue of migrant families being separated is something we cannot condone. We were very excited to be able to participate in Benevolence Fest when we heard it would also be benefiting that cause.

Native Station: We all felt strongly that no matter your political beliefs we need to treat people properly, with love. The way we would hope to be treated.

Ben Hanna. 

Ben Hanna. 

Do you have any other comments on the current political environment?

Ben Hanna Band: Be good to yourselves- you probably deserve it.

ChinaRose: Love is stronger than hate.

Native Station: The devolution of our political climate will stop if we, the general populace, decide upon common goals and take sustained political action to achieve them. But if we continue to base our votes and support on some misguided sense of team or party, rather than ideals, we will continue the descent.

What have your respective bands been up to in 2018?

Ben Hanna Band: Music-wise we are currently working on playing as many shows as possible. Just trying to have fun and stay fresh. No studio projects right now, but lots of new songs and ambition.

ChinaRose: We are currently recording our third album in our basement studio on the Southside of Chicago. We’re touring from August 16th-30th through Colorado, Utah, and California to promote the album and it will be released shortly before we hit the road.

Native Station: We’re finishing writing a debut album while looking for the right “habitat” to record it in.

ChinaRose.

ChinaRose.

What can fans expect at your Benevolence set this weekend?

Ben Hanna Band: We don't even know what to expect. The current line up couldn't make it due to schedule conflicts so it is all new players. There will be trombone and banjo. Some bad jokes might happen as well.

ChinaRose: We will be playing a bunch of new songs off the album!

Native Station: Oh yeah! A lot of energy and some songs from this album we have been working on. We try to keep something fresh in the back pocket and this will be no different.

Native Station. Photo Credit: Ehlert Art 

Native Station. Photo Credit: Ehlert Art 

What’s up for fall friends?

ChinaRose: Hopefully we will be touring around the Midwest this fall!

Native Station: We are looking forward to going on a short tour (headed south!). Also, we will be recording some new tracks which will make their way into the ether.

We can’t wait to hear everyone’s tunes this Saturday. $6; six bands. All for RAICES. See you there Boulder!

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

Whiskey Autumn & The Beeves Talk to Us About Why They're Excited to Play Benevolence Festival This Weekend & Their Upcoming Tour Plans

In honor of Benevolence Festival which we’re presenting to benefit RAICES this Saturday, August 18th at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing from 2PM-10PM, we recently chatted with Denver bands Whiskey Autumn and The Beeves. They’ll be playing Saturday’s fest along with headliner Augustus and bands Native Station, Ben Hanna Band, and ChinaRose. We sat down with Whiskey Autumn frontman Greg Laut and The Beeves’ Matthew Sease to learn about why they felt called to play this benefit and what their bands are up to this year:

Why was playing a benefit for RAICES important to you?

Laut: Separating families is unquestionably inhumane and raising awareness about the ongoing crisis is imperative. Hundreds of children still remain separated from their parents and the Trump administration's efforts to reunite the families has been weak and insincere. RAICES is an amazing organization that provides crucial legal support to underserved migrants and is putting quantifiable plans in place to reunite families. Anything we can do to raise money and awareness for the cause feels right.

Sease: We're happy we have a platform to make some kind of difference in this epidemic of evil. Despite the small scale of the event, we hope the money raised will benefit the cause in some tangible way. This is important to us on the most basic human level, as [it] should be to all people.

Whiskey Autumn. 

Whiskey Autumn. 

What has your band been working on this year?

Laut: We've been recording a new album throughout 2018. The first single was released earlier this summer and our next track premieres with CPR’s OpenAir next Tuesday, August 21st on “Mile High Noon” with Alisha Sweeney. Keep your eyes peeled!

Sease: Last February we began work on our debut album with producer, Nate Cook of The Yawpers and engineer Tyler Imbrogno of Eldren. The album is set to release in late 2018.

What can we expect from your set this weekend at Benevolence Fest?

Laut: You can expect a high energy set of rock'n'roll, synth pop, and good time vibes that get you up on the dance floor. We may even play our new song!

Sease: Tuba?

The Beeves. Photo Credit: George L. Bosser

The Beeves. Photo Credit: George L. Bosser

What’s on your agenda for the rest of 2018?

Laut: We'll be touring the Pacific Northwest in late August and early September. It will be our first time performing in that part of the country, so we're very excited to meet some fresh faces along the way. After that we'll be finishing our new record, which you can expect to hear soon!

Sease: As of now, our focus is on the album. Tours are imminent, and an album release show is in the works. Follow our social media accounts and stay tuned!

Anything else you’d like to catch us up on guys?   

Laut: Big ups to Augustus for organizing this festival. They have been close friends of ours for some time now and have put together a great lineup. We're excited and honored to be on the bill!

Sease: We would like to thank Augustus for having us on this important event, and you all at BolderBeat for covering it.

Looking forward to it! Benevolence Fest is just $6 for six bands this Saturday. Come through!

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

Andrew Bird & Boulder's Chautauqua Auditorium Were a Perfect Pairing Last Weekend

By: Carly Jensen

If you love stringed instruments that send hypnotic, yet haunting sounds through the air, the Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder, CO is exactly where you should have been last Saturday. Andrew Bird, violinist, singer, and songwriter played our hearts out.

Andrew Bird.

Andrew Bird.

Under the vintage, wooden beams of the Chautauqua Auditorium, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, the eager crowd sat waiting for a harmonious treat. The night began with Neyla Pekarek of The Lumineers. The crowd laughed along with her fictional and amusing stories, and were amazed by her skilled cello skills and powerful voice.

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Andrew Bird and his band came to the stage following, accompanied by Bird’s famous loop pedal and his precious violin. He immediately began his performance with one of his more well-known songs, “Pulaski.” As he played, Bird built complex overlays of looping sounds using each instrument around him. It was fascinating with every new tune to see how Bird created certain sounds from his catalogue live. He’s very well known for his harmonic whistling, and at certain points even imitated the animal which comprises his last name. There were times we were lost in his heavier harmonics; during others it felt like we were awakening on a spring morning to real robins chirping. And some of us really couldn’t help but close our eyes when his violin notes his our eardrums. Bird has played numerous venues throughout the state- including Red Rocks- but hearing him in the barn and wood on the top of Chautauqua was an experience unlike any other. It’s not always you can identify a perfect artist and venue pairing, but this was one of them and all concertgoers left feeling it.

-Carly

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.

Augustus Talks To Us About Headlining Benevolence Festival & Why This Benefit Show Is Important to Them

Earlier this month, we announced that we’re presenting a mini-festival to benefit RAICES this August. Featuring Colorado bands Augustus, Native Station, Ben Hanna Band, Whiskey Autumn, and The Beeves, along with Chicago’s ChinaRose, Benevolence Festival is slated for this Saturday, August 18th at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing from 2PM-10PM. Throughout this week, we’ll be bringing you info on each of the artists involved. Today, we’re featuring the festival’s headliner, Augustus. We sat down with festival director and Augustus member Jim Herlihy to chat about Benevolence Festival and why the issue of family separation at our nation’s borders needs our attention in the music community:

Augustus.

Augustus.

Jim, what made you want to organize the Benevolence min-fest benefit for RAICES? Why is this issue important to you?

This issue is sort of a "straw that broke camel's back" for me. The psychological trauma that these children have to endure because of our government's actions made me sick to my stomach. I sometimes get into a cycle of thinking, "Well I didn't help out that situation, so why should I help out this situation?" And that just perpetuates itself and I often times end up doing nothing. This was a time I wanted to do something and putting an event like this together is a small part towards helping people in need.

There is a lot of political turmoil in our country right now. Do you have any other comments on it?

It's almost hard to describe all that is wrong with the current political environment in a few sentences. For starters, the fierce tribalism that has seemed to intensify over the past couple years and a growing distrust of media is worrying. The fact that our president perpetuates these tendencies for his own political gain is irresponsible and reckless. His flaunting of long-standing norms from not fully divesting from his business, to exacerbating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to antagonizing the media shows a man less concerned with governing a nation and more concerned with his own image. His lack of understanding about complex issues makes him totally unfit for the job and the fact that it feels normal to have his as our president is incredibly sad.

What is Augustus working on currently?

We recorded a five-song EP titled 'Idle' late last year and we have released two singles from that record this year with a full release slated for fall of this year. We've also been releasing one song for $1 every month through our Patreon campaign. These songs are part of our Rarities series and feature acoustic versions, live songs, covers, and alternate versions of our tunes.

What can fans expect from your fest set this weekend? Anything special planned?

This fest will be unique here in Boulder because of the lineup. It features local rock bands in a town not typically known for a rock scene, and this will be the first time all of these bands will be on a bill together. We're even bringing in ChinaRose, a band we recently played with in Chicago.  All of the bands are donating their time for this cause and all of the money made from the event will go to RAICES.

What does Augustus have planned for the fall?

We're releasing our fourth EP this fall with a California tour, and a couple of headlining shows here in the Front Range area.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was incredibly encouraged by everyone that wanted to be involved in this event. Twisted Pine, Bolderbeat, and all the bands were so willing to get on board and it made me very proud to know that we were all in the same scene together.

We can’t wait! Tickets are $6 at the door. Stay tuned for chats with the rest of the artists on the bill. 

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

Daphne Willis Is Bringing the Freak to Boulder's e-Town Hall This Week

By: Julia Talen

To classify Daphne Willis as one type of musical artist is a difficult feat. She’s been immersed in the music scene for over ten years, having released several records, her most recent being 'Freaks Like Me.' On it you’ll find gorgeous ballads like “Somebody’s Someone” mixed with pop dance tunes like “Out of the Black” and “Just a Little Bit.” Her music gives listeners a glimpse into Willis’ personal experiences which she’s honest and open about.

Daphne Willis. 

Daphne Willis. 

Her latest single, “Do It Like This” (which includes a sweet music video shot on the Queensboro Bridge in NYC featuring dancer Shereen Jenkins), is the perfect upbeat track to blast and sing to in your car with your windows rolled down this summer. Not only that, but she’ll be in Boulder Friday, May 18th bring her vibrant spunk and rich voice to e-Town Hall. We spoke with Willis to hear more about the evolution of her multifaceted musical career and what to expect at her upcoming show.

When did you start playing music and how has your career evolved?

Sure. Well I grew up in a musical family. Both my parents went to UT Austin; my mom was a vocal major and my dad was an engineering major so I grew up singing in a musical family. We always used to listen to music and sing. My parents had me taking piano lessons when I was little. I did that for a while. Played a little bit of saxophone. And then I ended up getting really into poetry when I was in sixth grade. I learned how to play the guitar when I was in high school. I originally started playing cover songs, and once I kind of got more comfortable with the guitar I started writing my own songs.

And then did you study music in college?

No, I’m completely self-taught. I started writing songs in school, and then I went to DePaul University -I’m from Chicago originally- and I started playing out at open mics in the blues clubs and stuff like that. I had written a handful of songs and got a band together and we would play the bars in Chicago, and then we started touring around in the Midwest.

I had this little acoustic EP I had made, and I submitted it to some sub-licensing companies, like you know when you’re in P.F. Changs and you hear music playing? I had my song playing in a catalogue like that. And it was playing on American Airlines flights. The president of this record label was on the flight, and his iPod died, so he plugged his headphones into the armrest and my song was playing. It was crazy. I was eighteen/nineteen at the time and they flew me out to L.A. and the whole thing. The A&R guy that actually signed me, he’s based in Nashville so he was having me go to Nashville for co-writing and to work on the record that I was going to do with them.

So basically I signed a deal and dropped out of school. I took the opportunity and started doing co-writing in Nashville. I did a couple of records with Vanguard Records and then left the label. Now I’m independent as an artist, but I’ve signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV so I’m now a song writer. I write pop music for Sony ATV, and I’ve been with them for three years.

Cool. Speaking of songwriting, what does your process look like?

Well, I write all the time. I write four to five songs a week, and I co-write a lot which is pretty standard in the music industry. A lot of my writing is done in New York, L.A., and Nashville. And I collaborate.

Sometimes we start with the melody. Sometimes with lyrics. Sometimes someone already has like a track made so we write to a track. I often kind of categorize the writing sessions. So if I’m writing for somebody else, it’ll go a little differently than if I’m writing for me. Or, you know I do a lot of film and T.V. writing so the film and T.V. writing is always a little different too.

It all kind of just depends. For me I try and draw inspiration from things I know. I like to write what I know, things from my friends and family’s experiences, kind of just what I see in the world and experience in the world.

That’s awesome. You have kind of a range of different sounds. You’ve got some dancey pop songs and more mellow ballads, like “Somebody’s Someone.” I’m curious, what are some of your musical influences?

I grew up with The Beatles and Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. And I grew up with a lot of jazz and blues influence being in Chicago. I also grew up with a lot of you know the R&B of the nineties- Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. And with all the hip-hop so I have kind of like a hip-hop influence too. I don’t know. It’s kind of all over the place, but it’s fun to be able to blend the genres by just weaving a message and theme throughout the music.

Nice. With your upcoming show at e-Town together, I have to ask. Have you and Dave Tamkin ever played together before, or how are you two connected?

Oh my gosh, it’s so fun because we go so far back! I’ve known Dave for ten years. He’s from Chicago too and we used to play the same clubs and were in the same circles in Chicago. Then we finally played a show and hung out and really hit it off. We stayed in touch though both of us moving away, and he’s just the best. He’s my homie.

That’s great. What should audiences expect at your Boulder show?

I like to talk about the song and give people a little bit of insight into my world and how I wrote it. I’m super open about my personal experiences, and the show is going to be heavily revolving around mental health. That’s the theme of the show. I’ve been in recovery for two years and have a lot of experiences, like pretty much everyone else on the planet with the mental health stuff. So I think it’s just gonna be a nice, open atmosphere. It’s going to be really fun.

Get your tickets to Daphne Willis and Dave Tamkin’s e-Town show here.

-Julia

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

Making Movies' Music Powerfully Explores The Modern Day Immigrant Experience

By: Julia Talen

Latin-indie-rock band Making Movies serendipitously forged when singer/guitarist Enrique Chi played music at a “Day of the Dead” street festival in Kansas City. Upon hearing him play, Maria Charaund, the leader of a folkloric Mexican dance group for children, encouraged Chi to play at her restaurant up the street and to meet her sons. Turns out Maria just so happened to be the mother of Juan Carlos and Andres Chaurand (now Making Movies’ percussionists).

Chi connected with Juan Carlos, who’d grown up playing Latin and salsa music and dancing to Mexican folklorico. Chi shared all along that his musical vision was “always to grab those Caribbean rhythms, those Latino rhythms, and re-link them to rock’n’roll. At the time I didn’t know how linked they already were to rock’n’roll. I just had like this gut instinct that they were. And once we started playing with Juan it was just like it instantly it all made sense.”

Making Movies.

Making Movies.

The bilingual band evolved into a group of four; two sets of brothers: Enrique and Diego Chi alongside Juan Carlo and Andres Charand. Their Latin cultural backgrounds pulse through their music, charging their songs with important messages and themes critically relevant to the country’s current political climate. We spoke more with Enrique Chi about the band’s cultural background, ideology, and their upcoming show May 14th at e-Town Hall in Boulder.

You spoke a bit about the band members familial roots in the music. I’m also wondering, were there any sort of influences from Kansas and growing up in the Midwest that have shaped your music?

I have a lot of thoughts on this. I feel lucky as an artist to be so introspective all the time, because I’m always forced to answer those sort of questions you know, ‘How did you get here?’ and it’s good for humans in general. On one hand, you have Juan Carlos and Andres who have Mexican-American roots, and you have the disconnect from Mexico, which inspires you to get more folkloric. It was something that happened with me too. Like their mother started that dance group in order to keep their roots.

One thing about being in the Midwest, when you feel so disconnected from people that are like you, you can find small pockets, but you’re always the small minority. So you cherish the things about your cultural identity at a heightened level. I think a lot of people try to like shed their parents’ culture, like, “Ah my parents, they were like this or that. I’m different.” But when you’re an immigrant from an immigrant family those things about the old versions of your culture, they become super, like you romanticize them. And so everybody in the band loves old, old Latino music. We don’t really listen to contemporary Latino artists very much. We listen to the classic stuff that we remember hearing at our grandparents’ house or grandmother’s house or with our mothers or whatever because of that longing. Because it brings us back home. So that’s one weird influence.

The other thing is that by being in the Midwest, in Kansas City specifically, Kansas City has a vibrant jazz scene. And it has come back up in the last few years. There’s a ton of history there. Like Charlie Parker is from there. And I think the first time I saw Juan Carlos perform I didn’t even know him but he was playing at the jazz museum in a Latin jazz band of sorts. Because the Latino bands, like salsa bands, almost have to play in the jazz environments. Juan Carlos has that… so the improvisational components and those things have kind of stuck with us.

And then Kansas City doesn’t have a really successful music scene. When I was growing up there was like one band that had broken through, that I knew of. It was the Get Up Kids. But outside of that there was hardly anything. And their path was the same path. The scene was all about you rent a van and you play basements or punk-rock venues or you play art spaces. There’s no other tools to a musical career. Which is not totally true, but it is kind of true because in Kansas City, their network runs out pretty quickly if you’re trying to build a real national or international career. So you kind of have to leave one way or another. And if you’re a broke artist you have to buy a crappy van and do whatever you have to do to be playing in New York or Chicago or L.A. and be building connections and experiences. So that thing really stuck with us.

Growing up, I looked up to this band called Shiner. And Shiner’s like this really angular rock’n’roll band. But they became fairly successful through that kind of path. Sometimes the guitarist can be kind of dissonant and angular and that actually comes from the Kansas City indie rock scene or punk rock scene.

Whatever the underground scene may be [that angularity is] almost a necessity. Because you’re playing oftentimes when you’re touring like that with no resources for people that didn’t want to see you. They’re just randomly at the bar, or they’re there because the other band is a local band and they’re not that good but they have friends and the friends came. You’re friends are there because it’s a night out. And you’re the opener and you’ve just drove like seven hours for your one shot in Indianapolis. And you’re gonna make it you know? And you’re opening up to these people and they’re not really there to see you so you almost have to be noisy. You almost have to like yell at them. Like, ‘Hey hey hey! Pay attention over here!’ And it’s almost a gimmick to attract attention and be like, ‘Okay so now that I have your attention, here’s the music we make.’ And so there’s some of that in the Kansas City scene and I think that we have a little bit of that… a little angular.

I’ve seen the photograph of you guys with “DACA” written in permanent marker on your skin, and I’m curious, has the band’s message or political stance shifted since the election?

It’s shifted. It’s kind of both you know. We made the first record about an immigrant neighborhood and the kids who grew up disenfranchised. And even before we made that record we’d put out a video about undocumented kids. ‘Cause I remember, to bring it all full circle, that day I met Juan Carlos and his mother, I also asked this guy who looked like he was in charge, I was like, “Hey this is really cool. A lot of young people they’ve made stuff and they’re selling it. And he was like, “Yeah we have an after-school program for kids in the neighborhood,” and so I was like, “Oh I’d love to volunteer and we can give some guitar lessons.”

And I resonated with, like, I can tell when a kid just moved here from another country. Like I remember that feeling of feeling a little disconnected… And so I’ve been writing about those experiences- about how these kids when they become aware of the fact that they’re not suppose to be here. They’re “illegal” or whatever the words are and how much that shifts their psychology, and so I would write about it because it was on the top of my head. And I remember we used to say, “Oh you know we’re not a political band, we just write about social topics. We write about what we’ve seen and what we’ve lived.”

We already had for four years put up the “We are all immigrants” flag at shows because to me that’s like the story of all music… how do you make any kind of music? It is a mix of all these people’s culture… without human migration nothing is anything. Everything comes from this beautiful mix of what people do. And so you can take pride in your own heritage, but you should do that with this education that human beings have been moving and mixing cultures and language since the dawn of time. We’re just some small part of that huge conversation.

And then we had this opportunity at the Folk Alliance Conference [in February 2017]. We did a musical piece right before the keynote speech by Billy Bragg. A lot of things he said in the speech that day really resonated with me and he told me, ”You know it’s your turn now. Pete Seeger once told me it was my turn now, [that he couldn’t] write songs for your people, your generation… [And] just like that it’s your turn now,” and he looked at me and pointed at me.

After hearing Billy Bragg, I was like, you know, we can be political because the reality is that when you pull out an ideology like that, like a crazy idea like, “All humans should have the same rights as you and I have” and you pull that out of an ideological discussion and you try to implement it into the world in any capacity,  it becomes political. I can’t just say, “Hey these kids who are undocumented, we need to do something” and pretend that that’s not a political decision that needs to be had. For me it’s my life. I know this kid. He is undocumented, and I wish he could go to college and he doesn’t have any other options. He grew up here. But to solve that very human personal problem, it’s a policy, and we don’t claim to know the political answers, you know, but we can raise awareness and ask people to engage. I think if people really look inside themselves they know the answers. Even people who are judgemental, you know, if they meet someone from a different culture and then build a bond that opens their minds, they’re like, “Oh shit maybe I was looking at this all wrong.”

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

And what about the name of the band, Making Movies? How did that come to be?

My dad loved rock’n’roll. He was almost like an outcast in small town Panama, small town Central America, and he would dig for rock’n’roll records. So during my childhood musical experience, I was always going through his vinyls and he really loved Dire Straits. And I loved them as a kid too. I would sing their music. Even before I spoke English, I would sing this song called “The Walk of Life.” And one of their albums is called Making Movies.That’s where I lifted it from. I always thought that’s a cool meaning you know. I loved that music before I knew the language. And so I loved it for the other languages that music carries. And here I’m in a bilingual band. It kind of represents that fearlessness of you know- our music can communicate the story to them through some other mechanism. ‘Cause I still remember the feeling of being elated by that song and I didn’t know words. It just moved me.

Anything our readers should expect at your upcoming e-Town show on Monday, May 14th?

I would just say that the opening act, Alex Cuba, he’s from Canada and he’s like a legend. He has multiple Juno Awards and is really respected, but he hasn’t toured the U.S. very much. So it’ll be a real treat to have him with us, and he’s also won Latin Grammy Awards and stuff like that too, so definitely come out early and don’t miss Alex Cuba.

And be prepared to move a little bit! It’s kind of hard to be at a Making Movies show and not move your hips a little.

Get tickets for Making Movies e-Town show here.

-Julia

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

Teen Group Eighty Percent Human Cut Their Teeth On Familiar Radio Rock Covers

By: Pete Laffin

In terms of raw talent and potential, new Boulder pop-rock outfit Eighty Percent Human can go toe-to-toe with anyone on the Front Range. Comprised of siblings Carly and Coby Mandell, Jed Alpert, and Ty Schwarzer, these kids (and by kids I mean kids- two of them aren’t in high school yet) have begun cutting their teeth on familiar radio rock covers, but with unfamiliar energy and candor. For now, this is their calling card: infusing what is “played out” to the older set with a vibrancy only the recently familiar can generate. At their most recent gig at Jamestown Mercantile, they managed to make “Smells Like Teen Spirit” smell fresh with singer/keyboard player Carly howling Cobain’s lyrics about teenage alienation with authority and authenticity. You can feel that these kids feel it. It’s damn cool.

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And here’s the fun part. Front man Coby can write an original rock song that sticks to the ribs at his ripe young age. His maiden voyage into the craft didn’t just succeed in a generic sense; it won the eTown “Handmade Songs” competition in 2017. Other original work I’ve been privileged to hear shows similar promise.

That’s the word that defines them now. Their raw talent nearly ensures that they will bud into something special. But into what exactly? Brother Mandell’s songwriting will determine that. For now, though, you won’t want to miss these kids should they come to a venue close by. The coolest part of the storm is its gathering. And that’s just what Eighty Percent Human is up to: kicking up dust and howling through the trees.

-Pete

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

Jaden Carlson Band Releasing New Record With Release Party This Saturday (04/28)

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Jaden Carlson Band is set to release their latest album on May 4th, 2018 and it’s going to sound very different from their earlier work. Heavily leaning into the electro-funk jamscapes, JCB’s upcoming album Keep It Moving is chock full of electric guitar and synth shreds, with groovy bass and drums to smooth it out and literally keep you moving.  The album release party is set to take place at The Lazy Dog in Boulder this Saturday April 28th, so mark your calendar and come for a free show with high quality music and talent!

JCB.

JCB.

Jaden Carlson, born and raised in Boulder, Colorado is known around the Boulder-Denver music scene as a young guitar prodigy who can really shred. Jaden’s undeniable wizardly guitar skills have gained her respect and a shining spotlight in the scene- and all of this before she was even a teenager! Today, at the age of seventeen, she is leading JCB into new heights while experimenting with hip-hop, synth-pop, and electro-funk jams. She has played a huge role in bringing Keep It Moving to fruition, from leading the band with vocals, guitar, and keys to producing the new record. The band has been raising money for their new album on PledgeMusic and they are 95% of the way to getting all or nothing on their campaign. You can help them with the homestretch by going to donate here.

And finally, for your listening pleasure and preview of what’s coming, here is a track titled “Outer Lands” off the upcoming album, exclusively shared with us for you to hear. The track features Adam Deitch (Lettuce; Break Science) on drums. Enjoy!

-Mirna

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

Mitchel Evan's Intimate, Informal Solo Debut Record Is Also A Send Off

By: Brody Coronelli

The newly solo singer/songwriter reflects on his former band, the experience that inspired his upcoming, informal debut The Little Horse Tapes, and how it drove him to seek rejuvenation back home.

Mitchel Evan.

Mitchel Evan.

The road to Mitchel Evan becoming a solo artist has been long and winding. It’s taken a complete uprooting from his home state of Virginia, the inception, prosperity, and disbanding of his former band The Mangrove, and past struggles with addiction and personal tragedy to lay the emotional groundwork for a career that has recently become entirely his own.

At heart, Evan has always been a solo artist. He writes forthright and honest music that strikes the arduous balance between being relatable and personally expressive, and although collaboration has often been a step between the creation and delivery of his work, his music has always been a vibrant extension of himself, above all else.

“The disbanding of The Mangrove was probably the best thing that ever happened to me artistically. The material for the band was written by me, for the band. It had a specific sound in mind. After awhile, I felt constricted doing this,” he says, “I’m really grateful that I had the Mangrove for three years, [though]. It allotted me a lot of time to experiment with different sounds, to work with a producer, to learn to record, and figure out how I like to write. It was the middle of the road; it was somewhere between being a solo artist, and being in a band.”

Since his band split for good late last year, Evan has yet to officially debut as a solo artist. This is where The Little Horse Tapes comes in. Recorded at Little Horse, a vintage music and bookstore in Louisville, CO that occasionally doubles as a recording studio, this six-track, live-to-tape cassette will be Evan’s first release since he struck out on his own.

The songs that comprise The Little Horse Tapes were written from a place of heartache, and released entirely out of circumstance. After Evan struck up a friendship with Ryan Sniegowski, Little Horse’s sound engineer, six songs Evan had written but didn’t have any plans of including on his debut LP It’s A Hell of a Drug, Nostalgia (due out this summer), suddenly found a home. Loosely, the tapes are a concept album; each stripped-down, acoustic track was written during a recent romantic relationship, and they document the beginning, middle, and end.  

“They’re all- more or less- hopeful love songs, but through the filter of my cynical mind,” he says.

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“Open Season,” the opening track of Side A, was one of the first songs Evan wrote during the relationship, and instead of it basking in the honeymoon phase, it projects to the end, foreseeing a future where he and the girl are no longer together. “I’m at the mercy of a fragile heart,” he croons on the song, coming to terms with his sensitivity and the mess it can make.  

“Cancel Out The Noise” is a breezy and irresistible folk song about relinquishing control to love. Evan sings of love as an entity that operates on its own terms, having come over him like a storm he couldn’t outrun.

“[It’s about me] falling in love, but I don’t like that I’m falling in love. I had just gotten out of a three-year relationship, and I was only single for three months before I fell again. I knew it was gonna be a long road, and that I didn’t have a say in the matter,” he says.

“I don’t wanna feel this way/I don’t wanna feel the way I do/And that’s your cue,” he sings on the chorus, acknowledging that his feelings are out of his control, but still ultimately remain his own.

“[The track is also about] acknowledging the illusion of free will. It’s been a crazy, very hard couple of months,” he says, “We have this illusion to wrestle our will into place and gain control over our lives, but we have control over so little that happens to us. We only have control over the way we respond to life.”

“I Can’t Stop Thinking About You” continues the theme of not having control over how we feel or what comes over us. It’s a slow-burning, magnetic song that uses simple, yet powerful imagery to portray the struggle of not being able to get someone off your mind. “I can’t stop thinking about you” is repeated throughout the song, mimicking the spiraling and redundant noise that love fills your head with. It features a slow, pulsing drum machine that quietly lulls behind the music like a pulse or a subway sonar, subtly stitching the song together.

“It’s supposed to be redundant and repetitive, because that’s how [love] feels. I [couldn’t] stop thinking about [her]; [she was] running through my head over and over like this cyclical pulse,” he says. “[The song] stays true to the cynical nature of [this record]. It was irritating that I was falling in love, and I was fighting it every step of the way, instead of allowing myself to fall.”

“Thirty Miles (Juliette)” is a quaint and stripped-down song about Evan uprooting himself from Virginia, coming to Colorado, and the doubts that followed, particularly towards the end of the relationship that inspired these songs.

“I’m an eternally restless person, and a lot of that has to do with not knowing if I should be in Colorado. This song documents the push and pull between being here and loving it and also missing my family, the humidity, the ocean, and the East Coast in general,” he says.

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These feelings of doubt have culminated, and Evan is planning on leaving Colorado soon and going back home on the East Coast for a few months. He isn’t leaving without a proper goodbye, though. He’s playing a release show for The Little Horse Tapes at Little Horse Books and Vintage in Louisville on April 14th. With opening acts David Burchfield, Maya Bennett and Many Mountains, the night is a celebration of local talent as well as an intimate send off for Evan; an artist that’s done everything he can to make Colorado feel like home, but still feels the irresistible tug of the Atlantic.

“I was overwhelmed by the circumstances that ended this relationship, and I felt really alone. I didn’t know how to cope with it, but I knew I needed a break, so I started planning a trip back home to reconnect, take a look at myself, be with people who love me, and to breathe and re-center,” he says.

While back home, he has a number of shows planned in Virginia, as well as the surrounding states. With big plans of touring the Carolinas, to play Washington D.C., and to make a stop in Nashville, the trip is also about bringing his music to new scenes and new audiences. After all, he has a lot to be excited about. The past year as seen Evan at his most fully-formed and prolific. He released Back and Forth, a full length album with The Mangrove last year, and he’s set to release It’s A Hell Of A Drug, Nostalgia this summer, in addition to The Little Horse Tapes. People on the East Coast need to hear his work just as much as he needs to reflect and re-center in a place that truly feels like home.

 ** Mitchel’s upcoming show at Little Horse Books has been unfortunately cancelled. 

Keep up with Mitchel here.

-Brody

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