Magical Moon Hammer Musketeers Release Latest Single "Slackjaw"

By: Julia Talen

The magnetic, musical mash-up, Moon Hammer, releases their sixth single, “Slackjaw,” today: a rhythmic, soulful, psychedelic song that showcases every facet of these artists’ talent. This ever-evolving and self-proclaimed “ragtag supergroup of Moon Magneteers” is made up of some of Denver’s best musicians including Sean Dandurand & Dylan Johnson (Dandu/Other Black/Retrofette), Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes), Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk/Other Black), Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), Neil Lyons, Kevin Netz (Yonbre), & Reed Fox (déCollage/Bun Bun). 

Mixed and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, “Slackjaw” seamlessly melds different bits of the aforementioned artists’ musical styles. From Ishka Bee Phoenix and Megan Crooks’ soulful vocals to the electric dance vibes from Reed Fox or the mellow traces of Jeremy Averitt, this track balances and mixes all sorts of influence into the delicious musical potion that is “Slackjaw.”

Moon Hammer. Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

“Slackjaw” begins with a funky, percussive melody on piano and vocals that immediately evoked Janelle Monae. Shortly after the first verse, the “magneteers,” begin to drop in and add layers of their musical style and genre-casting body into the tune. Soon Phoenix and Crooks begin harmonizing (evocative of Ibeyi), spewing impeccable lyrics that detail themes embedded in this song: inner demons, shadows of the self, and haunting pasts. At this point, listeners are wrapped up in the refrain, “I walk three steps behind you/I walk too far to measure… I walk now.”

About midway through this song a distance from the rhythmic, funky first half begins to form as the “I walks” become echoey, meandering in the distance, and the vocals begin to sound like the inner demon the song speaks to. The edges of the tune become fuzzier as psychedelic/synthy elements develop while the song continues. 

Artwork by Ishka Bee Phoenix.

Artwork by Ishka Bee Phoenix.

The track then circles back from that murky distance, but there is a residual strangeness from that section of the tune, now blending with sounds that the song started with as the song closes. 

Ishka Bee Phoenix says that the writing process of this eclectic group of artists unfolds when “we all get together and drink shitty beer and laugh and hug and give each other butterfly kisses and sometimes cry, until someone asks, ‘Hey whatcha got?’ And the ideas just tumble out.”

The track embodies such a process effortlessly, without feeling overdone or too busy. There is a feeling of exquisite alchemy in this tune: everything fits, it draws you in deep and muddles your mind with that Moon Hammer magic.

If you’re hooked on this track like I am, see Moon Hammer’s recent live performance on PBS Sound here, and keep up with the moon magneteers at this link.

-Julia

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

Cous' Tunes Are Perfect for Your Fall Bonfire Plans

By: Chris Garcia

Cous has found roots in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her indie-folk music reminiscing about life's lessons, and creating a soothing experience for listeners. “Cripple Creek” is the first single from her debut EP Peripatetic, a word which can be defined as, “traveling from place to place.” “Cripple Creek” is a breath of fresh Colorado mountain air: clear, no unnecessary distractions; just a girl with her guitar and a story to tell. 

Acoustic guitar pulls the listener in with a pace that sets our journey off into the brisk air and trotting along somewhere, like a dirt road. Cous’ rustic voice begins with the lines, “I pulled out my lighter and a dirty cigarette,” setting the contemplative tone for the song. With minimal effects added to her voice, the singer sounds as if she’s sitting across a campfire from you, leading to an intimate experience. 

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The chorus is a simple sing-along with an “ah, ooh,” creating space for the listener to reflect on any experiences the song may provoke. The acoustic guitar, vocal performance and lyrics evoke nostalgia up until the last chorus, where a piano enters, playing a simple melody which shines through like stars twinkling in the night sky. The piano’s melody completes the campfire vibe, where Cous’ voice seems to sing into the clean mountain air underneath a night sky full of stars. With no drums, I almost want to toss in a hand-clap or two, as though I were around the campfire watching Cous myself, but it could also be distracting from the gentle voice singing across the way, so maybe it’s best as-is. 

Cous.

Cous.

The soothing track is contemplative but would be nothing without the vocal performance of Cous, whose voice, riddled with memories, experiences, and life lessons, carries the song. “Cripple Creek” is grounding. It moves us along through tough times at a steady pace, but reassures us that in the end, life will work itself out. 

“Cripple Creek” is available on all streaming platforms now. The debut EP from Cous, Peripatetic is available tomorrow, October 25th, 2019. 

Keep up with Cous here.

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

The Fremonts Return to Colorado for Encore Run of 'The Failure Cabaret’

By: Julia Talen

In April of this year, husband and wife duo The Fremonts produced a record of their live show, The Failure Cabaret, which ran for a stint at Still Cellars in Longmont. The show shifted in sound from their first full-length blues rock album, We Don’t Live There

The Failure Cabaret, as Justin Badger and Stephanie Dodd describe it, is “one part concert, one part confessional, and one part stand-up special,” and considering how this couple met, the culmination of a theatrical cabaret quite fits this musical pair.

Dodd (from Fremont, Nebraska) and Badger (from Fremont, California) serendipitously met in the Big Apple while performing on Broadway. They took their music out west to Boulder and only recently returned to the East Coast. But back with two live performances in Boulder next month, here are some highlights around what to expect.

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The Failure Cabaret opens with the tune “How Often,” an upbeat duet presumably about Dodd and Badger’s meeting with the lyrics, “How often do you meet someone that you actually love?/ Never and everyday.” An accordion and whistling pepper the opening, and entice listeners while building anticipation for more storytelling.

A few tunes later is one of my absolute favorites, “Songs About Babies.” As the show unfolds and explores the facets of Dodd and Badger’s relationship, it seems imperative that the question of having a baby comes up, and Dodd’s lyrics in this show tunes-y song are wonderfully witty. Her rich voice and resonant accordion playfully dance with Badger’s guitar, and carry this tune’s story with lyrics like, “Everybody wants a baby except me/ Oh no, I like my nest empty,” and “I wanna save my naughty parts for my man.” This tune was my show stopper.

Following this ditty was another of my favorites, “Kids Who Always Swim,” a song about resiliency’s connection to a myriad of life lessons, infused with personal monologues. The song declares that we are all kids pushed into the pool of life at one point or another, and we have to continue to tread and try to float. 

The Fremonts.

The Fremonts.

Also of note is “Fear of Consequences,” a gutsy political commentary simultaneously silly and brutally dark. The show rounds out with the title track, “We Don’t LIve There,” a mellow anthem about visiting places you used to live, and the marriage of memory and place.

The album feels like a diary into several chapters of this couple’s life. And aside from the clever writing, Badger and Dodds’ vocals harmonize and fold into one another quite effortlessly, as if they were meant to do this show together. The record is catchy, smooth, clever, and intimate.

Check out The Failure Cabaret’s encore run at eTown music hall on November 1st and 2nd in Boulder, and give the produced recording a listen as well. You can keep up with The Fremonts here.

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

After 250+ Shows on the Road, Whole Milk Are Back with a New Record

By: Norman Hittle

Whole Milk returns to the surf jazz fold with their latest four song EP Rockmelon due out October 19th. The duo from Denver, Colorado has been touring extensively over the past two years, having played over 250 shows on 14 back to back tours across 26 states. Now back home, they had the time to put some new material down and plan their EP release before hitting the road for the great state of Texas.

Whole Milk.

Whole Milk.

Stylistically, Whole Milk nods to 60s surf, bossa nova, and spaghetti western. Their two-voice lineup featuring primarily guitar and bass has elements of Cat Power and Kimya Dawson.

Being the first release from the band since 2017’s self-titled EP, Whole Milk brings forth a more mature and mellow feel. Though only four songs, the tracklist has an utterly lovely, minimalistic indie surf-rock vibe throughout that infringes on hopelessly romantic. I could easily see these tracks featured in some quirky independent Juno-esque films, where they would find a very comfortable home.

Keep an eye out for Whole Milk in the Denver area and other cities near you here. Also, check out their EP release show, tomorrow, October 19th. Event details here!

-Norman

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

The Jonas Brothers Brought the Nostalgia a Decade After Their Last Set Pepsi Center Set

By: Taylor Naiman 

On Tuesday night, the Jonas Brothers took the stage at the Pepsi Center for their Happiness Begins Tour with the support of Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha. The trio have not performed here since 2009, and little did we know at that point that they would break up a few years later and pursue their own individual paths. 

Jonas Brothers.

Jonas Brothers.

Leading up to their reunited set, the Pepsi Center turned into a dance club, courtesy of Kevin Jonas’ DJ brother-in-law, Mickey Deleasa, who provided the warm-up for the main attraction. Looking around the audience, people were singing at the top of their lungs and dancing shamelessly to some of today’s hits like Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” as well as some jams from the 90s and early 2000s. 

The audience was composed of a huge female fan base of all ages: those who were captivated by the Jo Bros early on in their career, and those who have just began listening to their newest music. Many of the Jonas Brothers’ concert-goers are die-hard fans, and told me they traveled from other states for the show. One fan even remarked, “There were a few times I felt tears in my eyes” during the set, so it’s clear that this reunion is exactly what fans wanted. One thing was clear: These brothers have made a resurgence and a successful one at that. They came back as if they never missed a beat, and with a loyal base to follow. 

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Still, it would have been remiss of the JBs to not play songs from their youth, as these tracks were the foundation for their careers. Hearing the songs a lot of us loved in their early years like Mandy,” “Paranoid,” “Fly With Me,”“Play My Music,” “Hold On,” “Gotta Find You,” “Year 3000,” “SOS,” “When You Look Me In the Eyes,” “Lovebug,” “Tonight,” and “Burnin’ Up” was very nostalgic. This was the music some of us loved as kids, so it was a treat to see a band who is still just as fresh as the day they started. Many of us loved them when we were in our early teens, and now we can enjoy them in our adulthood as well. As they said from the stage while taking a shot, “When we first started, we were not able to drive, now we can drink with our fans!” Though it was unexpected, most of us agreed, “Let’s toast!” for this was a celebration in all respects.

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Compared to their early days, the Jonas Brothers now have vision, a specific sound, and songs enriched with infectious rhythms and evolving messages. Their show was a true production, from the storytelling visual clips evidencing their growth from boys to men, to their use of the color spectrum across the entirety of the stage. They had various outfit changes, but their most notable ones where brightly colored suits. There were fireworks, inflatable characters during “Cake By the Ocean,” and a fire display during “Burnin’ Up” that legitimately warmed the room. They introduced each track with a different, short metaphorical video ensemble to integrate their past with their future, them meeting their younger selves and taking their current ones on a journey. They targeted what their audience wanted by including an impromptu fan choice song into the mix, which for Denver was “Can’t Have You.” The highlight of the entire night was the “Jealous/Cake By the Ocean” medley. The tracks are from Joe and Nick’s solo careers, but when linked together, the group was able to explore new avenues to incorporate into their music.

It would not have been the Happiness Begins Tour if we didn’t get any tracks from the new Happiness Begins album, which shows a differentiated sound from their earlier material, with the assistance of a strong production team. It is fun, the beats are hum-worthy and have you clapping along. Their latest is a perfect combination of Nick and Joe’s individual sounds during their solo careers. We heard “Rollercoaster,” “Cool,” “Only Human,” “I Believe,” “Hesitate,” “Used to Be,” “Strangers,” and “Comeback.”

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Whether it was singing “Lovebug” 10 years later or hearing them close their set with “Sucker,” it was a blast to experience the nostalgia of the Jonas Brothers. If you have not stopped to listen to their new album, Happiness Begins, listen here. Their tour continues and we are looking forward to more music from the brothers.

-Taylor  

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

Retrofette's Smart New Tune Adds to Infectious Corpus of Sweet Synth Pop Tracks

By: Julia Talen

Synth-pop band, Retrofette’s latest single and music video, “A House,” was actually the first song frontman Sean Culliton wrote. The tune’s synthy melody sears deep as the song swells, evoking musicians like Talking Heads, Hot Chip, and LCD Soundsystem.

The video, directed and edited by Dead Medium, opens with the four bandmates (Sean Culliton, Xavier Provencher, Ben Weirich, and Dylan Johnson) standing in line in front of a white backdrop in matching white turtlenecks, bopping their heads. It’s a silly and uncomfortable frame. As the song kicks into gear, a variety of friends begin to build a “room” of a house around the bopping group, complete with typical household items like a couch, a rug, and some plants. Shots and cuts overlay one another at the house shifts over the course of the intro from clean to messied from the party.

When Culliton begins to sing, the band starts cleaning the encompassing space from the aftermath (emoji balloons, a flipped over lawn chair, and strewn confetti.) After the first verse, we see friends begin to build the “lawn” of the house with a strip of faux turf and a piece of picket fence. 

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

All the while Culliton sings lyrics like “We live in trees with crooked ends/With crooked lives that twist and turn and bend,” and belts “Stays the same.” Culliton shares that the dance hit calls forth the idea that, “We work all day just so we can party all night. It all becomes so routine that it’s hard to know if we actually like it.” This explains the bland faces of the bandmates and the visual surroundings cycling through: the house, the party, the house, the party.

The video culminates into a big bash where the band is encircled by a swaying group of friends in matching white shirt/black pants uniforms. Confetti explodes as everyone stares into monotony. The silver lining to this bleak, provocative commentary, Culliton notes, is that through all the tedium, at least there are friends. 

This smart new tune adds to Retrofette’s infectious corpus of sweet synth pop tracks. Hear this song and more at one of the groups upcoming shows, October 10th and 25th at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox or October 26 at Washington’s.

-Julia

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

Jay Som Is Bringing Her "Night Time Drive" to Denver This Week

By: Julia Talen

Melina Duterte, the L.A.-based artist better known as Jay Som, invites the DIY ethos of bedroom pop into her music. Her latest release, Anak Ko (the Tagalog phrase for “My Child”) was mostly written during a solo retreat in Joshua Tree, and is home to her bass-heavy track “Night Time Drive.” 

Jay Som says of the lofi, dream pop track, accompanied with a woozy music video, that night drives, “encapsulated [her] entire life for the past two years” and that she’s come to “[accept] it and [is] stronger because of it.”

The video opens up with a shot from the front car window as a headlight-lit road winds and whirls. The sound off the bat in this tune, along with Jay Som’s vocals, remind me in the best way of shoegaze-y artists like Frankie Rose and Widowspeak. The band in the vehicle appear exhausted and numb; emotionless. Frames of Jay Som with and without the band are layered with shots of blurred night scenes passing by, heightening the sense of movement and haziness as Jay Som sings, “So used to feeling numb/Shifting through the nighttime drive/We’ll be alright.”

After the first chorus the band shows up at a crop circle. They walk the circles and Jay Som sings, again invoking the notion of numb, rote movement through time. As Jay Som finishes singing the lyrics of this song, viewers see a shot of her in the van with the band, spotlighted with a bright light as she drifts into a dream.

Jay Som.

Jay Som.

A violin solo kicks off, and in Jay Som’s dream, we see night footage of an alien passionately hula-hooping and dancing through the crop circle, embracing the movement, the night time, the circle. The dream’s alien offers a resolution. 

Jay Som hits Denver tomorrow, September 24th at Larimer Lounge with Boy Scouts and Affectionately supporting. Hear this song and more blissfully dreamy tunes at this indie show, and keep up with Jay Som 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.

Larry Keel Is Bringing His Mountain Music Experience to The Caribou Room This Weekend

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Though not mainstream or in the common vernacular among casual music listeners, Larry Keel is a living legend in the flatpicking, guitar shredding, bluegrass universe that is all encompassing, especially if you’ve lived in Colorado for a decade or so. If you are not at all familiar with Larry Keel, but consider yourself a lover of bluegrass tunes and Appalachia country vibes, then by all means get yourself to Keel’s show at The Caribou Room this Saturday, September 7th in support of his new album One and hear what greatness sounds like. The venue has a state of the art sound system bound to bring the real-deal-Keel-experience to the forefront and surround you with an authentic, superior music performance. 

Keel’s latest record.

Keel’s latest record.

If you don’t trust me, then here are some things that have been said about Larry Keel’s musical talents:

  • Keel comes from a bluegrass-playing family, hailing from the mountain music culture only Southwest Virginia can produce, and Keel’s been a steadfast pupil of the genre since birth. 

  • Music critics consider him one of the finest flatpicking guitarists around. 

  • Keel is a prolific songwriter, having produced 16 albums, and was featured on 10. 

  • He has earned the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic and jam rock musicians alive, and some now gone: Tony Rice, Chris Thile, Steve Martin, Tyler Childers, Tim O’Brien, Vassar Clements, Billy Strings, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, and Danny Barnes to name a few. 

  • Among the younger generation of bluegrass musicians, he has played alongside jamband and rock giants Greensky Bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters,Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Jorma Kaukonen, David Nelson, Little Feat, Railroad Earth, String Cheese Incident, Fruition, Leftover Salmon, and the list goes on. 

  • And lastly but by no means the last, when Larry Keel is not pursuing his solo music endeavors, he is channeling his unstoppable talent in a variety of musical formats including his core band, The Larry Keel Experience, featuring award-winning and highly accomplished Jared Pool on mandolin and penetrating vocals, and wife Jenny Keel with her rock solid bass lines as well as tenor vocal harmonies. 

The Larry Keel Experience.

The Larry Keel Experience.

If you are still skeptical about how good this man is at mesmerizing the crowd with his raspy voice and killer guitar shred-seshes, then head to the show for a personal, first hand experience.  You can preview his tunes via Soundcloud and for tickets to his show at The Caribou Room this weekend, which is bound to be a hell of a mountain time experience, click here. They’re only $15 advance; $18 at the door. See you there! 

-Mirna

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

Vicoda Bring New Life to Classic Alt-Rock with Singles “Storms” and “Wild”

By: Will Baumgarter

I’ve been a fan of Denver’s hard-driving, melodic rock band Vicoda since about two minutes after they took the stage at Globe Hall a couple of years ago as openers for another band I’d gone there to review. The energy and precision of their playing, the high craftsmanship and emotional impact of their songwriting, and the absolutely electrifying singing and stage presence of Shivani Bhatt had me immediately hooked. Every performance I’ve seen since then, and every recording they’ve put out, have served to further lock me in as a diehard Vicoda lover.  

Vicoda.

Vicoda.

The group recently had to take a hiatus as members had babies and other life events, but rather than taking the wind out of their sails, what might seem on the surface to have been a fallow period was actually more pregnant with new life: their recently released singles “Storms” and “Wild” present Vicoda as an even stronger vessel than the already mighty ship of a band I’d first encountered.

The nautical metaphors here aren’t random, as from the first listen to “Storms,” I envisioned a boat sailing into heavy weather, with all its attendant fear, adrenaline, and determination to emerge intact from the other side. Shivani confirmed that the song is, indeed, about a part of her life where she faced the challenges of entering grad school as one might accept having embarked into something perhaps more formidable than she could handle, while still remaining determined. The lyrics “somehow I see/a future me/through the glass” refer to looking at street traffic through the window of a building, but one of the great things about an evocative song like this is that the listener can picture whatever fits their metaphorical vision of the story being told, and it’s no less valid than the lyricist’s original intent. I saw her looking through a porthole at the raging seas— and that worked just fine for me. So from the way the song begins, with a lilting cross-picked guitar line reminiscent of the beginning of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” through the crashing chorus and bridge sections (replete with what sounds, ingeniously, like a guitar’s simulation of quick stabs of lightning), and the periodic returns to the more peaceful and sun-dappled verse sections, I felt myself privy to an ocean journey that begins with clear skies and an expansive view, through violent upheavals and possible disaster, all while being held somehow steady by a determined human spirit.

The just-released follow-up to “Storms” is the song “Wild,” which Shivani told me is Vicoda’s “first love song,” but don’t expect a silly or sweet tune. The title is telling because “Wild” speaks at least as much of animal instincts as it does of tender human emotions. The track is urgent and alive with desire and abandon, perhaps because as Ms. Bhatt sings, “I’ve been waiting far too long,” she urges the intended recipient to “let your love go wild around me.” It’s also a very danceable thing, starting with funky, scratchy insistence and exploding into a gyrating release, very much like a feral creature finally allowed out of its restraining cage.

In these two songs we have a neat encapsulation of what makes Vicoda so irresistible: while their music is finely crafted, with nothing that feels arbitrary or formulaic, the band still consistently pays tribute to its biggest influences like Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against The Machine by keeping it all intensely immediate and in-your-face. The fact that they were able to capture in the studio what makes their live shows so outrageously wonderful tells me they’re here to stay, and always, to arouse.

Vicoda has big plans for the rest of this year and continuing into 2020. You can catch wind of them this Thursday, September 5th by tuning into Evergroove Live

Keep up with Vicoda here

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





The Velveteers Kickoff Their Third UK Tour with an Electric Farewell in Denver

By: Emily Shuey

Last Saturday night, Boulder natives, The Velveteers, kicked off their headlining show in Denver at The Bluebird Theater to inaugurate their third UK tour, which begins in less than a week. The three-piece band includes frontwoman/lead guitarist Demi Demitro, a 21-year-old with a unique sound conjured as a mix of Joan Jett and Bonnie Tyler, and a siren-esque raspiness defining her personal brand. Her long curly hair (think Claudio Sanchez), jewel-encrusted jacket, and leather pants, accompanied with the bands’ goth-like decor set the scene for a Tim Burton meets Zeppelin-era inspired ambiance.

Demi Demitro of The Velveteers.

Demi Demitro of The Velveteers.

Demi is always accompanied by two drummers, John Demitro (her brother) and Adrian Pottersmith, who have crafted their own unique dual-drum kit, bring a reverberant and flexible base to all of the band’s performances. 

Adrian Pottersmith & John Demitro.

Adrian Pottersmith & John Demitro.

Fans were prefaced by support including The Bitter Suns, The Kinky Fingers, and Boot Gun, but it was obvious The Velveteers have been pulling a loyal crowd following at their shows since the band’s birth in 2014. Fans were decked out in DIY band t-shirts, appropriate goth punk rock attire, and were ready to throw down for an intimate and interactive experience that The Bluebird is known for creating. 

A fan in the band’s merch.

A fan in the band’s merch.

As soon as Demi plugged her guitar into its amplifier, the crowd anxiously waiting, went wild. Moving into their first song, she embodied a confident and nonchalant presence that puts the crowd at ease, but also gives the go-ahead for madness. The crowd hosted fans of all ages, united over their mutual love for moshing, head banging, and theatrical rock. 

Pottersmith in the crowd.

Pottersmith in the crowd.

The band played favorites like the provoking “Death Hex,” and their catchy single “Eyes Tell Lies” sending the crowd into a full-blown, relentless circle mosh, which was a common scene for most of the show. (I might have a few bruises and worn quite a few PBR’s to prove it). The show was made even more intimate with the absence of a pit, allowing fans to cheer and be involved from just inches away. The drummers kept the energy high throughout the show, especially when Pottersmith removed one of their snares, placed it in the crowd, and performed an interactive, punk rock-style drum solo. 

Saturday’s UK tour kickoff show proved that The Velveteers are capable of holding their own as headliners, and seemed symbolic of good things yet to come. They are currently self-managed, self-taught, and sans record label. The European market is volatile for even some of America’s most successful outfits, but with perseverance, it can be career defining. The band will be kicking off their third international tour in Glasgow on September 10th. 

See more photos from this show here.

-Emily

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

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival 2019 Honored the Folk Tradition of the Past, Present & Future

By: Riley Ann 

Planet Bluegrass just wrapped up their festival season with the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, and they truly had something for nearly every flavor of folk. True to its tradition, the music at Folks Fest was by, for, and about the people. 

Ben Folds.

Ben Folds.

Headliners included household names from the past 30 years, such as Ani DiFranco, who’s songs feel just as relevant as when she was topping the charts in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Violent Femmes had the packed crowd dancing and hollering, and Ben Folds’ set felt like an intimate house concert on Saturday night. Josh Ritter’s band closed out the festival Sunday night with many families enjoying summer’s last hurrah before the start of the school year.

Hayley Heynderickx.

Hayley Heynderickx.

For the folks who want something old and something new, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, The War and Treaty, and Kira Small all fused throwback soul and R&B flavors into modern songwriting. The Oh Hellos shared the poppier side of folk, and Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards paired modern grooves and melodies with lush harmonies of the women’s voices and stringed instruments. Hayley Heynderickx demonstrated the songwriting tradition through the voice of a millennial with her quirky, dark tunes, and The East Pointers showcased their reinvention of traditional Celtic music by intertwining old time fiddle and tenor banjo with drum machines and synthesizers.

The folks who appreciate the early traditions could sing along in four-part harmony with Ysaÿe Barnwell’s spiritual set, which kicked off Sunday morning. The Canadian duo The Small Glories blended old time clawhammer banjo and traditional song forms with their own telling of historical events, many with modern-day connections.

Patty Larkin.

Patty Larkin.

While the phrase “folk music” generally connotes acoustic instruments, bands like Daniel Rodriguez (formerly of Elephant Revival), Gasoline Lollipops, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones featured ripping electric guitar solos. In contrast, Patty Larkin practically played a solo rock set on acoustic guitar (though she interspersed a few ballads and shook things up playing a violin bow on her electric guitar). The music was as musically diverse as the tastes of the listeners, providing a well-balanced palette of folk music. As Dylan once crooned, “Times, they are a changin’,” and Planet Bluegrass continues to curate folk festivals that honor the folk tradition of the past, present, and into the future.

Although their festival season is over, there’s still another chance to tap into the magic at Planet Bluegrass for the Autumnal Equinox on September 21st with Bonnie Paine & Friends. More information and tickets are available at the Wildflower Pavilion website here. Stay tuned for next year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, as well as their Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass Festival on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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




Kiltro's 'Creatures of Habit' Is Enchanting, Mysterious & Masterful

By: Julia Talen

If you haven’t heard Chilean-American musician Chris Castillo’s music project, Kiltro, now is the time. This past July 6th marked the release of the latin-indie group’s latest LP, Creatures of Habit, on which listeners can catch the single, “The Hustle,” named best new song by NPR.

Each track on Creatures of Habit tells a story that travels through intimate corners of Chile. The way Castillo builds each song and connects the tracks makes this album feel like a rich, musical novel of sorts, haunted with a variety of interconnected characters and scenes.

The first track off the album titled, “If I Lead,” immerses listeners into the ambient quality of Castillo’s music. The way Castillo layers and loops his instruments gently coerces listeners into an imaginative scene in South America where the narrator hauntingly asks another, “If I lead, would you follow?,” almost asking the listener the same thing. The transitions between almost every song on the album collapse the notions of beginning and end, folding each track into the other and highlighting the album’s cohesion. The second track, “Curicó,” which follows an unreliable narrator having seen a ghost, before flowing into a favorite of mine, “Mi Capitán.”

“Mi Capitán” opens with an upbeat guitar that Castillo loops to create dimension as his dynamic voice sings about a character’s reckoning with proving their own worth. His quick-paced, upbeat voice softens, slows, and wails as the song perpetuates, straining to keep up with the instrumentals. His vocals then drift into a ghostly, alluring moaning and crooning, cushioned in a high pitched, soft ringing.

Kiltro.

Kiltro.

The song spills into a slower, sparse tune, “Corner Beat (Hair of the Dog),” before heading into “Lovers,” an echo-y, dreamy track that reiterates the first song on the record with lyrics, “wherever you lead I’ll follow.” The guitar and percussion build and become almost volatile, engulfing the song before pittering out delicately and returning to its original melody and tempo. 

The only breath of silence on the album hits before the next song, “Julia,” begins, again, echoing a character we meet in “Curicó,” earlier in the album. “The Hustle,” a song about navigating difficult relationships and the self-assurance that breaking from it requires, follows “Lovers” and “Julia,” returning to a more upbeat, rhythmic tone.

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The album ends with odes to “Ursula,” who reminds me of an enchanted figure, as well as “The Drunk,” about an inebriated individual pondering assumptions about himself. These final tracks circle back on this motif of the album that questions what is real and what is an apparition, and how does memory and time construe these concepts and create stories in our minds, and, furthermore, how can the way music builds mirror these ideas.

This LP is honestly masterful. Kiltro forms songs that are each their own gems and has joined them into a beautiful first LP. It’s no surprise this band’s been getting a lot of buzz lately- it’s well deserved and Creatures of Habit proves that. Listen to this album now and keep up with Kiltro 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.

Kyle Emerson's New "I Can Change" Video Combines the Desert’s Psychedelic Mystique with Slick Indie-Folk Flare

By: Julia Talen

Currently featured as one of Indie 102.3 FM’s Local 303 Artists, indie rocker Kyle Emerson has been building anticipation of his sophomore album, Only Coming Down, out this fall. He dropped his first single from the forthcoming album, “May You Find Peace,” earlier this year. His second single was just released with a stop-motion collaged music video for the song “I Can Change.” Emerson says that the tune was, “written very quickly and demoed acoustically shortly after. Not overthinking the lyrics and letting them be more on the raw, personal side of the spectrum felt like the only place to exist lyrically… and it influenced the direction of the album from there.

The track feels very personal, and the music video alludes to that rawness while also being playful with a hodgepodge of colorful imagery that adds to the story behind this captivating piece. The video opens with a woman lying down facing a window of a moving van, as viewers look over her shoulder and see the van passing from the city to the suburbs to the sea and eventually to space, as the window frame melts away. Dawn breaks, and a grizzly head rises over a mountain like the sun as Emerson begins to sing, presumably connecting Emerson to this grizzly face. 

The lyrics offer a plea, seemingly to the girl in the van, that the protagonist of the song can change his partying ways, but as the music video evolves, we see less of that girl and more of a grizzly bear-headed man playing music. As the collaged video evolves and ebbs with cut-out butterflies swooping over backdrops and colorful layers that shift like a kaleidoscope, listeners realize this song has transformed into a plea no longer to the girl, but to the protagonist’s own self that he can change. 

Kyle Emerson.

Kyle Emerson.

The refrain swells at the same time the viewer sees the words “I Can Change” in white, bold font scroll over the vibrant background like film credits, while voices harmonize and instruments explode. Emerson cries the lyrics, “I can change/ I can change/ I can change.” He continues singing, “I’ll just hit the highway/and start all over again,” when the van from the beginning appears and drives through the forest, the mountains, San Francisco and Joshua Tree. As demons symbolized by images of fire, bats, caves and booze continue to follow the grizzly-headed character, there is a heightening of tension between adventure, nature, escapism, and haunting thoughts- all the themes of this memorable song.

Given Emerson’s success with his first album, Dorothy Alice, it’s no surprise that this local artist continues to create music rich with elements of the desert’s psychedelic mystique welded with his own slick indie-folk flare. Check out Emerson play this tune and others as he performs on the Main Stage at the Uundergound Music Showcase this Sunday, July 28th at 3:20PM.

-Julia

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

Our Top Picks to See at Denver's Underground Music Showcase 2019

By: Adrienne Thomas 

During the last weekend in July, the Underground Music Showcase brings out Denver’s local music scene, along with a handful of national headliners. Affectionately known around town as UMS, the festival came to life in the early 2000s when The Denver Post decided to ask local music experts to name the region’s “Top 10 Underground Bands” in an effort to rouse more interest and support for the local scene, as well as to cultivate a city that successful bands want to stay in. The festival’s evolution continued last year, when Two Parts took ownership of the festival under the direction of Tobias Krause, exciting supporters at the potential for new spins by the local event and marketing agency.

Headlining names this year definitely worth checking out include Chicano Batman, Black Mountain, Still Woozy, Y La Bamba, and Earthgang. Also worth checking out are two hip-hop wild cards from Chicago: Rich Jones and RapperChicks. Let’s dig into these acts, shall we?

Y La Bamba.

Y La Bamba.

Chicano Batman is a Latin psychedelic soul and funk four-piece, so bring dancing shoes to this wildly percussive show. Stoner rockers Black Mountain will show up for the lovers, heady beach followers, and spirited grunge rock fans inside all of us. Still Woozy joins soul/pop melodies and raps together with smooth electronic bounces for a uniquely lovable style. Y La Bamba is an incredibly diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams. Earthgang, the fresh and unrivaled hip hop heroes from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D., will definitely be a UMS highlight to close out Sunday night.

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The lineup of local bands is beautifully long, and sometimes overwhelming, but mostly a glorious scroll through the talented musicians who walk our Broadways and Colfaxes every day. The heart of UMS is really just a big party where all the best local shows you’re invited to all year happen again- this time all at once- throughout the course of one weekend. Don’t sleep this time. Organize an interactive schedule of your own for the weekend here. But if that’s too much, here’s a list of favorites: 

FRIDAY 07/26

6:00 Corsicana @ Skylark Lounge - Ambient shoegaze that will make for a smooth start to the festival

6:20 Sophie Meiers @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Dreamy electro-pop from Durango

7:00 Extra Gold @Hi-Dive - Kickass country y’all

7:20 Still Woozy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Playful and melodic chill-hop with a devoted following

7:20 RapperChicks @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Self-described as “3 badass women who rap, sing, play & melt faces all by ourselves” from Chicago

8:00 Claire Heywood @ South Broadway Christian Church - Raspy bird songwriter known for poetic lyrics and soulful vocals and melodies

8:30pm Black Mountain @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Stoner rockers, go for a worthy rock show

9:00 f-ether @ Blue Ice - Electronic compositions, house music, dance party and big mountain energy

10:00 Motion Trap @ Denver Drumz & Music - Dreamy synth dance grooves 

11:00 The Velveteers @ 3 Kings Tavern - Heavy grunge-rock trio, double drummers, powerful female lead

11:00 The Hollow @ The Hornet - Alt rock with horse blinding attitude 

11:00 LITELVL @ Denver Drumz & Music - Triptastic soundscapes 

12:00 Oko Tygra @ The Irish Rover Pub - Dark and dreamy 80’s pop

1:00 @ Skylark Lounge - Shred rock with indie, Latin & ska feels

SATURDAY 07/27

12:40 Kiltro @ The Irish Rover Pub - Experimental folk mixes with Chilean guitar, makes dance party

2:00 Oxeye Daisy @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - A nod to the 90’s, youthful synth/guitar rock band

2:40 Slowcaves @ The Irish Rover Pub - Indie rock with beach vibes 

3:00 Whole Milk @ Skylark Lounge - Surf jazz

4:00 Erin Stereo @ Blue Ice - House/Club DJ extraordinaire

5:00 Chicano Batman @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Latin psychedelic soul/funk 4-piece

6:00 Sur Ellz @ Blue Ice - Future space funk R&B

7:00 OptycNerd @ Blue Ice - Electro indie pop 

7:30 Rich Jones @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Prolific Chicago hip hop artist and evolving pop/soul creator, legendary presence

8:00 Decollage @ Denver Drumz & Music - Kaleidoscope avante-garde pop

9:00 Whiskey Autumn @ The Irish Rover Pub - “Prom jams from the future” meets indie psych synth surf rock

10:00 Anthony Ruptak @ Denver Drumz & Music - One of Denver’s singer/songwriters that we just can’t get enough of

10:00 Definitely, Maybe @ Moe’s Original BBQ - Lush percussive and vocal layering makes this psych rock duo very important to experience live

11:00 Random Temple @ Denver Distilling Co. - Electronic and acoustic instrumentalist known for diverse harmonies and eclectic, high-energy sets

12:00 The Cosmic Ball @ 3 Kings Tavern - A mix of Denver bands partnered with psychedelic production company Synesthesia which is likely to promise awesome visuals and glitter vibes

1:00 Retrofette @ 3 Kings Tavern - Part of the Cosmic Ball lineup, this synth group is not one to miss

SUNDAY 07/28

12:00 Laura Goldhammer @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Classic Americana merges with quirky styling to create socially-conscious folk music often accompanied by her stop-motion videos

1:00 Katie of The Spirettes @ Ross-Broadway Branch Library - Ethereal guitar-driven rock

2:20 YaSi @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Much like her Iranian-American upbringing, her music is a melting pot, with a mix of R&B, hip-hop, and pop 

3:20 Kyle Emerson @ Goodwill - Buzzy indie rock

4:00 Bellhoss @ Denver Drumz & Music - Female-led folk meets DIY punk

4:30 Flaural @ Showcase Stage at Goodwill - Spacey psych-rock band best known for drifting and dancing

5:00 Levi Double U @ The Irish Rover Pub - NuDisco beats 

6:00 Moon Hammer @ 3 King Tavern - A ragtag supergroup of unpredictable and wavy tunes

6:20 Y La Bamba @ Knockout State at Punch Bowl Social - Diverse indie folk/pop outfit from Portland featuring eclectic, female-fronted jams

7:00 Big Dopes @ The Hornet - A modern 90s alt-feel with steady grooves 

7:55 Earthgang @ Odyssey Stage at Import Mechanics - Hip hop duo from Atlanta known for collabs with J. Cole, 6LACK and J.I.D

8:00 Bun Bun @ Baere Brewing Company - Future Shock Bee Wave G-House

9:00 Cheap Perfume @ Denver Drumz & Music - Long-standing feminist punk-rock band from Colorado Springs

9:00 Emma Mayes & The Hip @ 3 Kings Tavern - “Highly Important People” making highly important music, a soul/funk/jazz band joining complex horn arrangements with lush harmonies

10:00 Los Mocochetes @ 3 Kings Tavern - Latin gypsy-funk band

11:00 Ramakhandra @ 3 Kings Tavern - Hip hop/soul fusion, with a pedal harp!

12:00 The Guestlist @ 3 Kings Tavern - Modern blues & soul

1:00 Ned Garthe Explosion @ Hi-Dive - Kinda bad, kinda rad but definitely a party to end the weekend

Whether you create a guide this year for your own UMS, follow ours, or just wander, discover, and repeat, give my Underground Music Showcase playlist a listen on Spotify. And if you haven’t yet, get your UMS tickets here!

-Adrienne 

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

The Growlers Bring Beach Goth to The Mile High

By: Taylor Naiman

On Friday night, Orange County’s The Growlers brought their Beach Goth 2019 tour to Denver’s Ogden Theatre for the first of two nights in the Mile High City. After their last sold-out show in Denver, it was time for a double-feature. 

The Growlers at The Ogden Theatre.

The Growlers at The Ogden Theatre.

The show had a minimalist stage, with the only vibrant color coming from the lights and a large “The Growlers” banner on the back of the stage. There was nothing that was outright ornate about the stage; this isn’t a band who needs to dwell in “extra.” Looking around the room, people were dancing or drinking with friends. This was a relaxed set, and it continued to maintain the chill throughout its entirety. The band’s stylistic approach channels a mixture of the surf and embodies sounds of a beach with a splash of disco, but all the while, this is a band steeped in their California roots and the laid-back energy that goes along with it. 

The crowd.

The crowd.

Watching frontman Brooks Nielsen onstage with his thick, messy black hair, outfitted in Vans and a striped shirt, he easily oozed cool. Even when the band made a mistake on “Vacant Lot,” he went with the flow and molded the verse to what he wanted it to be in that moment. He’s someone who clearly feels at home in his role. With such a versatile vocal range and a voice dissimilar to anyone else in the industry, it is quite an experience to see this band live with Nielsen at the helm. 

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The Growlers sound is unique, and with over 10 years in this industry, they are continuing to gain new influences in their music. It’s funky, groovy, and gives us a slight nostalgic tinge of the 70s right here in 2019. Of course the setlist was comprised of work from their newer releases, but it was a major highlight hearing the gems from their 2016 album, City Club, such as “When You Were Made,” “Dope On A Rope,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Night Ride,” and the title track “City Club.” 

From crowd-surfing to seeing someone storming the stage for the last setlist, The Growlers shows are a blast to be a part of. If you haven’t yet, get on your California groove and listen 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.

Premiere: Listen to Moon Hammer's New "Unravelled" + the Band Tells Us How This Track Was Sewn Together

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Moon Hammer. (Left to right: Reed Fox, Megan Crooks, Ishka Bee Phoenix, Mark Emmons) Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Denver’s Moon Hammer, an ever-changing collection of Moon Magnet-affiliated artists, is playing Denver’s Underground Music Showcase on Sunday, July 28th at 3 Kings Tavern at 6PM. In anticipation of their show, they decided to premiere their new song “Unravelled” with us today before it drops on all streaming services this Friday, July 19th. The song has been created and “destroyed” several times over to near its final completion, so take a listen:

“Unravelled” was mixed by Neil Lyons and frontman Reed Fox, and mastered at Moon Magnet Studios, but prior to that, a lot went into the actual writing and recording process of this track. Says Fox, “Moon Hammer is a writing collective and most of our shows feature a lineup of different members. Everyone can bring songs to the group to play and it's usually Megan Crooks (Ancient Elk) or Ishka Bee Phoenix (Ghost Tapes) because they're genius songwriters. Megan showed us her song ‘Unravelled’ two years ago and everyone was eager to bring it to life. Usually the songs are recorded and released quicker, but this one took longer because we kept reimagining it and adding stuff to it, which is ironic because it is the most minimalist recording I've ever been a part of. The process was a lot like the quote I'd never credit because it came from Bono: ‘Making records is like making sausages, the end result is palatable but you don't want to see how it's done.’ Basically we recorded a ton of things and all agreed it was best to scrap almost all of it.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Oddly enough, “Unravelled” almost became a House track at one point in the process. “We recorded it live initially with Dylan Johnson (The Other Black/Dandu) on electronic drums. Derrick Bozich (House of Aura/Sound of Ceres) came over and was recording mellotron months later and since the drums were recorded through an SPDS and every drum pad sound was mono on one channel, Derrick re-recorded the drums on separate tracks. With this project, Neil and I email projects back and forth frequently so I sent it over to him and he remade the drums again and re-recorded some awesome 808 bass. I think it was our third reiteration of drums and bass. He made it sound incredible and chopped up Megan Crooks’ vocals and threw the samples on pads and played them like an instrument (just like you hear in the recording). Then he emailed it back and I made a House version of the song. We considered using it for the chorus when Neil and I met up again at his studio to mix it some more and ended up realizing the House version was a terrible idea.” says Fox.

So how did “Unravelled” finally become sewn together?

“We scheduled a session for Megan, Ishka, Jeremy Averitt (Esmé Patterson), and Kevin Netz (Jurassic Netz/Fever The Ghost) to come over to Moon Magnet Studios and record more stuff, because we still were unhappy with [the song], but little did we know that a version from a year prior was our favorite, and the one you hear now is pretty much that. Kevin recorded gazillions of synths and bass (again) on it. Jeremy recorded xylophone over the whole thing. Ishka recorded vocals. Months after that we listened back to the version from a year prior and realized that was the best version and that we just needed to release it. Then Neil and I met up at the Magnet and I tried to include all the people that had recorded on it which was virtually impossible because that version had scrapped everything.

What you hear now is Neil on the beat, vocal chops, and 808 bass. Neil, Jeremy Averitt, and I co-produced it. Neil did a ton of the snazzy creative things. Derrick's mellotron is on the end of it, and you can hear Kevin's synth on the chorus. Ishka's harmonies are on the chorus and Megan sang and wrote the song of course. Jeremy's Xylophone is on the intro. We kept exploring options and didn't realize the song had already been finished and ended up having to dig up an old project file to get back to how it was before we ruined it.” Fox told us. 

In the end, the complex, two-year recording process of “Unravelled” almost mirrors the lyrics Crooks wrote from the start. Adds Megan, “This song is about letting the force of change and chaos take control and gracefully bowing to its power with faith that things will fall back in place for the better. I wrote the [lyrics] on a whim two years ago, pulling the knowledge from the ether, not knowing I was preparing myself for exactly this time in my life.”

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

After letting the force of change take control over their final product and battling their creative demons to get to the gold, Moon Hammer’s “Unravelled” is finally ready for eardrums everywhere. As for what this collective is up to next, Fox tells us, “Moon Hammer is performing on the MCA rooftop with Wes Watkins August 2nd at 7pm! We're also unleashing two more singles before the year’s over, so check out our Spotify to hear our recent releases!”

Keep up with Moon Hammer here.

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

Lyle Divinisky Tells Us of His Journey with The Motet Before They Headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre This Weekend

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Once upon a time, in the small town of Boulder, Colorado, hippies roamed freely, love was abound, and it gave birth to a music scene rich with homegrown, grassroots vibes where people jammed for the love. After a while, that Boulder scene died out and moved to a place called Denver, where the music community urbanized and became more serious. Today, Denver holds one of the most unique music scenes around. From this community of awesomeness came the band The Motet. Their first album came out in the year 2000, and since then, they’ve been expanding their musical family and crushing it. In lieu of their headlining Red Rocks Amphitheatre show this Friday, July 12th and their massive upcoming fall tour, I phoned frontman Lyle Divinisky to chat about what we should expect to see from their upcoming shows. Read on:

Lyle joined The Motet sometime in 2014-2015, just when the band was looking for something fresh and new to add to their mix. Already a part of the extended grassroots music scene, Lyle was recommended to The Motet by his friend Ryan Zoidas from Lettuce and Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell from Turkuaz

“The Motet reached out to the guys from Lettuce and Turkuaz when they were looking for a singer, and those guys recommended me. I guess you can say the rest is history. The guys from The Motet had me collaborate on a couple of songs, which turned out to be the songs on the Totem album and we vibed so well that shortly after that, they asked me to join them on tour, starting with a headlining show at Red Rocks with the likes of Vulfpeck and Medeski Martin and Wood. At that time, I was skeptical about leaving my goals as a solo soul singer, but I knew I couldn’t pass up that kind of offer. I think I made the right decision,” he laughs.  

The Motet.

The Motet.

And that he did! For Lyle, the most exciting part of becoming the lead singer of The Motet was exactly the Colorado vibe I mentioned earlier. As he says, “Being able to come into that built-in grassroots, home legacy, and to be welcomed so deeply and quickly, I think, is a really special thing about this band and the Colorado scene in general. The Colorado lifestyle, the Colorado excitement, the Colorado loyalty and investment in music; the music experience and culture created around this community is my favorite part.” 

Lyle grew up on R&B, hip-hop, and soul. His dad, Phil, was his biggest influence. “Yeah I got these pipes from my dad. He ended up choosing the home route and he’s been a teacher his whole life, but while I was growing up, he would play gigs on the weekends and at home, he would have friends come over who would play guitar and sing and I would be around all of that.” 

How he chose to be a singer by profession was a purely instinctive inclination. “I never took any singing lessons, but I grew up around it and was really good at listening. When I finally got old enough to be left alone around the house when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I started singing by myself. But even then, I was just kind of doing it for fun. I didn’t really start becoming serious about singing until I was 17 when I realized a basketball career for a slow, barely-six-foot-tall white guy who can hadrly dunk wasn’t going anywhere. Naturally, I chose the next most successful job placement and that was to be a soul singer,” he laughs. And honestly, we both laugh at that one, but sometimes a strong dedication to what feels right, despite the odds, pays off. So far, in Lyle’s case, it’s been a successful ride that shows no signs of stopping. 

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Lyle and I spent a little time talking about The Motet’s history and how the feel, sound and direction of the band has changed over the years. On that topic he says, “The coolest thing about The Motet’s history is a supreme lack of fear in constantly changing. There’s no thought of trying to build walls or boxes around who the band is. It started as a worldly music with heavy bass and percussion, then moved into afro-jazz and afro-beat, then it went straight funk and right now, with the configuration of the people in the band like Parris on the trombone, Drew with a reggae vibe, and me with a heavy R&B and soul influence… it was inevitable for the band to journey more into that realm than ever before.” 

Parris Fleming, who Lyle mentioned, is also the newest addition to the band. Only 27 years old, he is truly a breath of fresh air for the band as a whole. He took Jazz Instrumental studies at Columbia College in Chicago and played in Dumpstaphunk before joining The Motet. Adds Lyle, “We all feel really lucky to have Parris in the band. He is a superb musician, but he also brings some calm energy to the group. To be only 27 years old and to be such a mature and well-rounded, calm, and confident dude is pretty amazing.” The age range of the band members of The Motet is 27 to 51, a nice mix of experiences where everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the table. 

As far as the band’s live performances, they don’t seem to be stopping. The Motet will be doing the weekend warrior thing this year, playing shows every weekend from now until Thanksgiving. Even though the band’s been on a headlining streak at music festivals and big venues across the nation for several years now, their out-of-the-box approach to making music is unwavering. Staying as a cohesive whole, made of different parts, their performances remain engaging and aspire to connect and impress every time. “We really don't want to box ourselves in. Everything we write and create we want to be genuine. It comes from all of our inspirations coming together and we all have different influences that we bring to the table. As we present that music to the audience we know that we want to create an experience and we know that we want to take the people on a journey, whether that’s to give them the freedom to be as weird and wonderful as they want to be or to nerd out to Garrett Sayers being the most ridiculous bass player and Joey Porter being the funkiest dude ever… you know, we want to create moments and scenarios with the music are very proud of and share it with the audience.” says Lyle.

As for their upcoming headlining Red Rocks show this Friday, they're playing with Galactic and Moon Hooch. Lyle is pretty stoked, saying, “Headlining Red Rocks, once again, is such a dream come true. You hear people always say, ‘Oh man that is such a cool venue!’ And yeah, they’re not wrong! It never gets old and it’s a magical experience, one I am honored to be a part of. This time around, we will have a few special guests and it will be a non-stop-funk-filled dance party. It’s really what we try to do every time and what we do best. The band as a whole is in a really cool place right now. It just feels like there’s something special happening within the group and the music we’re playing. I think it’s undoubtedly going to show in our live performance.” 

As far as magic goes, the dudes of The Motet are also playing during a magical time of the year: summer in Colorado! You can buy tickets for The Motet’s Red Rocks show here while they last. I look forward to seeing you out there!   

-Mirna

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

Travers Brothership Return to Colorado After European Tour; Set to Play a Host of Local Shows

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Haling all the way from North Carolina, Travers Brothership will be gracing us with their unconventional, improv-driven live performance, playing gigs across Colorado this week. I had the privilege to chat with Kyle Travers, the guitar and one-third of the vocals of the band. Read on: 

Travers Brothership just finished their first European tour, and Kyle was pleased with the band’s shows abroad: “We were received really well, way better than I expected,” he says, “I think the Europeans are craving that homegrown American sound and because we have that jazz and rock’n’roll vibe, I think they really liked us. And some even knew who we were!” 

Travers Brothership.

Travers Brothership.

Kyle continues about the band’s current state saying, “It’s a somewhat unfathomable feeling to be where we are as a band at this point. Since we became more successful and were signed by Madison House, touring has become a serious part of our lives. I think all four of us love traveling, so being on the road is not a big deal. It’s a blast for me- I love adventure and meeting new people. But what’s really great about it is that we don’t have to do any side jobs anymore when we come home. It feels great not having to put up dry-wall or pick up a hammer or go work in a restaurant on our days off the road. Now, Eric and I will go play golf instead!”

Eric and Kyle Travers are twins. They were born into a musical family; their father Hurricane Bob Travers was a traveling, touring rock’n’roll musician.

“When we were about four years old, our dad gave us toy musical instruments. By the time we were seven, the toys were replaced with real instruments, and that’s really how it all began. Fast forward a few years; by the time we were 12 years old, we were playing biker bars and private events. I consider us really lucky to have had supportive parents who would drive us to these gigs when we were too young to go anywhere.” Kyle laughs. 

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Travers Brothership became a cohesive band when a group of friends, who happened to be neighbors, started jamming together in the Travers house basement. Kyle explains, “Eric and I didn’t want to be the focus of the group and we wanted to expand beyond just the two of us.  That’s why we’re called Travers Brothership and not something like ‘The Travers Brothers Band.’ We really see the band as a community and we all play a major role in the creative process.”   

From Jimmy Hendrix to Donnie Hathaway, Travers Brothership’s influences mesh succinctly, moving from rock’n’roll into soul both smoothly and precisely. The band’s latest album has moved from a harder rock’n’roll vibe into the soul realm more than ever before. 

“I think we owe it to my brother Eric and our bassist Josh Clark, more than anything else, for changing directions a bit. Eric was really getting into Wilson Picket and other 70s soulful artists, while Josh was into Donnie Hathaway and Marvin Gaye. Naturally, from listening to these artists, a lot of our sound started to morph. Aggressive, coming for you mentality will always be at the core of who we are as a band, but it’s important for a band to grow and evolve. Naturally, what you listen to will show in what music you write. And at the end of the day, we always like to challenge ourselves as musicians.” Kyle muses. 

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Eric and Kyle Travers, and the band’s bassist Josh Clark contribute to the vocals of the band and it’s their three-part harmonies, which have caught the eyes and ears of spectators over the years. Their unique three-part harmonies are their signature talent and what they’re most known for. Says Kyle, “Some people who have heard us play, even fans in Europe, compared us to Queen because of our three-part harmonies. It’s pretty crazy!” 

And when it comes to showing off their talent onstage, Kyle says, “We’re a high-energy band onstage. Our motto is to ‘break a sweat and play to the best of our ability, give everything we got from the heart.’ We’re kind of a jam band, so during our live shows, we improvise a lot. Improvisation is one of the most creative ways to be… if you listen to Sun Ra or Thelonious Monk, they’re breaking every rule in the book and they are held in high regard!” 

The band has already toured the nation with established bands like Charles Bradley, Taj Mahal, Moe, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Blues Traveler, Robert Randolph, Leftover Salmon, Trombone Shorty, The Marcus King Band, Dr. John, and many more. Their most recent album Let the World Decide dropped last December, and now they are embarking on a massive national tour in support of it. Among the Colorado gigs they have lined up, some of them are Denver’s Cervantes Other Side on July 12th, The Lazy Dog in Boulder (which is a free show!) on July 13th, and Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins on July 17th. 

Keep up with Travers Brothership 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.

Westword Music Showcase's 25th Anniversary Brought Together Artists, Friends & Powerful Frontwomen

By: Taylor Naiman

On Saturday, the Westword Music Showcase overtook the streets of Denver’s Golden Triangle. Though it was a 97-degree day with the sun overhead at all times, everyone had a beer in hand and seemed to be unbothered by the heat. People were happy and excited just to hear some brand new music from local and national artists alike. From the bars to the clubs, there were plenty of venues along Broadway and Lincoln Street to escape the heat while enjoying some good tunes. Rather than occupying a bunch of stages outside, Westword Music Showcase nurtures local businesses, with a majority of the sets taking place at various bars and clubs including Bar Standard, Stoney’s, 100% De Agave, Mirus Gallery, #VYBE, Club Vinyl and The Church. This amalgamation of local businesses and bands allowed people to discover new venues, new music, and new people along the way.

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, this one-day music festival is a staple of the Denver community. It has been a successful launch-pad for many local artists over the years, including the likes of DeVotchKa and 3OH!3. This year, we caught some big-name acts such as Jai Wolf, Bishop Briggs, Yasi and CHVRCHES, among others on the main stages. Bishop Briggs was a fan-favorite, with her powerhouse voice and contagious smile. The last time she was in Denver was for her set at the now defunct Grandoozy. At Westword, Briggs was loving every minute of her Mile High set, running from one end of the stage to the next, unphased by the altitude or the heat. The audience was treated to some of her new music, while also hearing  the entirety of her Church of Scars album. 

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Denver Westword’s Music Showcase presents an essential platform for artists to share their craft and tell their story. Music delivers a message and over the day, we heard a lot of stories Denver’s local rock’n’roll band Los Mocochetes used their music to address today’s political issues, such as immigration. At the end of their set, they told us, “Dance is a form of prayer.” We definitely love our music out here in Colorado, and it was a blast to see the differing forms of expression coming from the artists and concert-goers.

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Westword Music Showcase is all about supporting the local scene, and thrives on the concept of concert-goers discovering the unknown or what may be an undiscovered talent. The Showcase this year was jam-packed with a culmination of genres curated for diverse tastes. Throughout the day, it was nice walking the grounds, running into friends having a drink together. This fest is a “squad up and see that new band you have not heard of” type of event. It thrives on the idea to not listen to one type of genre, but rather to branch out and hear a new voice. The beauty of this Showcase is that you will, without a doubt, discover a new musician or band to follow on Spotify

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Whether rocking out to Cheap Perfume or The Velveteers, it was a breath of fresh air seeing Colorado frontwomen take charge and own the stage. The festival also featured a number of strong national female acts, including Lauren Eve Mayberry, the lead singer of CHVRCHES, and aforementioned Bishop Briggs.

If you didn’t get the chance to go to Westword Music Showcase this year, listen to their festival playlist here! We’re already looking forward to Westword’s 2020 announcement. 

See more photos from this festival 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.

Color Red Studios Releases Dragondeer's Latest Digital 45 Record

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Denver’s own Southern-funk disco-blues band Dragondeer dropped a digital 45 earlier this month with two tracks featuring bassist Jeff Franca from Thievery Corporation and guitarist Jordan Lint from Analog Son. The band dove into deep sonic territories during their Color Red Studios session. Color Red is a Denver-based record label and music hub for local and visiting artists to collaborate and create music together. Self-proclaimed to be “more than just a record label, Color Red is; a music scene, a curated artist group, a media outlet, a studio, a genre-fluid music platform, a global launch pad of ideas.”

From the Color Red sessions, Dragondeer’s two new tracks are a true testament to the above statement. “Mirage Á Trois” has a cool-cat sexy vibe that grooves, but listen closer and you’ll hear it’s really talking about the delusional traps one’s own mind can create, you know, the me, myself, and I kind of mind tricks that suck you in and leave you wandering in an illusion. “Max Patch,” a more upbeat, carefree funk groove, is a jam session among the bandmates during their stay at a mountain cabin on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Equal parts soul and rock’n’roll, the lyrics speak to the easy vibes of sipping on moonshine and jamming with family and friends while fluffy white clouds pass above a Smoky Mountains cabin. The boys sure did paint quite the scene and ambiance with these two tracks.

Dragondeer has played with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Shakey Graves, and Drive By Truckers; they’ve been at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival; and now the band is hitting the road for a summer tour. They will be making appearances at the Firefly Music Festival and Electric Forest (with The String Cheese Incident). Click here for Dragondeer’s full tour dates.

-Mirna

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