Mayday Parade Rolled Through Denver All Smiles for Their 'Sunnyland Tour'

By: Nathan Sheppard

Denver was treated to a Warped Tour reunion this past Wednesday as Mayday Parade’s Sunnyland Tour made its stop at Summit Denver. Mayday was joined by Oh, Weatherly, William Ryan Key, and This Wild Life, all of whom played at least one date on this past year’s final Warped Tour.

Mayday Parade.

Mayday Parade.

Oh, Weatherly kicked things off with an up-tempo pop-emo set. They had a good stage presence and were able to keep the crowd engaged by sharing the stories behind a couple of their songs, mixed with a joke or two. While they’ve only been a band for two years, they are already road veterans. William Ryan Key followed up with a very mellow acoustic set. While the songs were enjoyable, the set was a bit slow for the energy in the room. Key amped it up with a sing-a-long of “Ocean Avenue,” but finished with an unreleased song that no one knew which was a questionable choice after playing something everyone was grooving to.

Self-described “Hot Topic meets Mumford & Sons” two-piece This Wild Life followed up Key’s performance with fun, upbeat acoustic songs from their latest record Petaluma. The duo had a happy-go-lucky attitude that was infectious and spread a smile to everyone's face. Midway through the set, lead singer Kevin Jordan gifted us with a Blink-182 ukulele medley as the drum set was rearranged onstage, which was a highlight of the set as well. This Wild Life have gained a pretty strong following over the last couple of years and it is easy to see why; they have a unique sound that is appealing for everyone.    

Mayday Parade topped off the night with an epic 17-song set with tunes from their debut EP Tales Told By Dead Friends to their most recent, Sunnyland. It was truly a celebration of the band’s 12-year-old discography. The crowd was a mix of teeny boppers, twenty somethings, and “grown men who are still emo kids” according to lead singer Derek Sanders. But it showed that Mayday Parade’s songs music spans generations. The set itself had everything Mayday fans could ask for, from singing along to the oldies and a couple covers, it was an enjoyable time for all.

You can listen to Sunnyland and check out the rest of the the band’s tour dates here.

-Nathan

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists 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.

Portugal. The Man Proved Their Reign In the Pop Rock Sphere at Recent Red Rocks Show

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The Lords of Portland landed in Morrison, CO yesterday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Portugal. The Man, the progressive rock and recent “Best Pop Performance” 2018 Grammy winners made a sold-out stop at the Rocks between summer festival performances. Formed by John Gourley in 2002, Portugal. The Man originally started as a side project to Gourley’s group Anatomy of a Ghost. After a move to Portland from the group’s origins in Wasilla, Alaska, Gourley and bassist Zachary Caruthers began working on tunes for Portugal. The Man full-time, releasing their debut Waiter: "You Vultures!"  in 2006. The group put out another record in 2007, Church Mouth, and embarked on their first US tour in support of the record. The band then released a series of records with independent label Approaching AIRballoons before signing with Atlantic Records in 2010.

Portugal. The Man.

Portugal. The Man.

With a growing number of festival appearances and the success of their record Evil Friends (2013), Portugal. The Man continued to grow a strong international fan base. After more than a decade of building their brand of prog psych pop rock, Portugal. The Man achieved true worldwide fame for the pop hit “Feel It Still,” which just came out last year. After rising to the top of the Billboard charts, earning the band their aforementioned Grammy, and snagging them a ASCAP Vanguard Music Award, Portugal. The Man suddenly went from that band you once enjoyed seeing at a Bonnaroo tent to a major festival headliner. For this band, that switch appears as though it were seamless, though it took sixteen years.

Now comprised of Gourley and Carothers with Kyle O’Quin, Eric Howk, Jason Sechrist, and Zoe Manville, the six-piece had an incredible Red Rocks performance, both sonically, and in their stage production. Prior to the start of the show, the band had local Lakota tribe members give a blessing to fans before diving into their “For Whom The Bell Tolls” Metallica cover. They then transitioned into their Pink Floyd “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” mashup with their original “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” before sliding into a catalogue of their originals including “Live in the Moment,” “Noise Pollution,” and of course, “Feel It Still.” The band is known for inserting cover snippets into a mix with their own tracks, and this was evident to listeners with T. Rex’s “Creep In a T-Shirt,” Violent Femmes’ “Children of the Revolution,” The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and the band’s encore, which featured a crazy mashup of their tracks “Sleep Forever,” “Plastic Soldiers,” and “Smile” with Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” It was also guitarist Eric Howk’s birthday, and the band had the crowd join in for a sing-along during their encore for this, which fans loved.

John Gourley.

John Gourley.

Along with their impressive instrumentalism, the band also had a massive projector onstage which displayed various messages from the band and “their management” since they claim to be bad with stage banter. This allowed for a great visual experience with the show whether you were close or far from the band, something that all major festival headliners know is important for a concert goer's experience. Gourley, who is also an artist, is as well-known to fans for his drawing, designs, and sketches, as he is for his music. Many of the art used throughout the show is his work, and was combined with lasers and projections onto the Rocks themselves, along with traditional stage lights.

Overall, the Lords of Portland proved their reign at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre with their sold-out show this past week. Take a listen to Portugal. The Man for yourselves here and keep up with the band’s current tour on their website.

See our full gallery of photos from this show here

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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.

The Ride Festival: Why This Year's Lineup and the Mountains of Telluride Are a Match Made in Heaven

By: Cy Fontenot

There are few things comparable to taking in the mountains of Telluride and experiencing the loving culture of this historic mountain town. Nestled in a breathtaking box canyon of the San Juan Mountains at 8750’ elevation, Telluride is home to some of the most magical musical occurrences Colorado has to offer.

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Highlighted among these is The Ride Festival. With two nights of String Cheese Incident at the top of the bill, Ride 2018 is bound to be a soul-warming experience. The vibe of this magical mountain town complimented by the sounds of SCI is sure to create a strong sense of euphoria amongst anyone is attendance. Also slotted on the lineup this year are Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Big Something, Kitchen Dwellers, and more.

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Town Park still has spots available, so you’ll never have to leave the party! Festival passes also include entry to most NightRide shows, and these unique sets are not to be missed. As the main stage empties out into the streets of Telluride, late night venues such as the Sheridan Opera House, Roma, Liberty, and the Moon at O’Bannon’s will fill up and overflow with sounds until early morning. Check out this year’s NightRide schedule to see you favorites. You can sleep when you’re dead!

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The Ride Festival this year will be a magical, wild ride between the daytime and late night performers, the beauty of those San Juans, and Telluride in full festival vibes.

Check out the full lineup here and get your tickets today at this link!

-Cy

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.

joemurray. Drops New "Greater Than I Am" Music Video

By: Julia Talen

At the end of April, Denver-based indie musician Joe Murray (stylized as joemurray.) released his latest single, “Greater Than I Am” with a music video composed of visual representations reflective of the song’s intent and lyrics. “Greater Than I Am” speaks to the very human experience of wanting to be something “great than” you are in the current moment while grappling with the long journey it takes to get there.

The video opens with a bird’s eye view of cars moving through a circle drive, as well as opening credits that introduce the strong accompanying font that will run throughout the video with the lyrics. As Murray begins singing the lyrics, “I can’t breathe when I’m underwater/But I can see all the way to Mars,” each syllable of a word pops onto a black background in bold white font. The syllables don’t come on the screen in the same places, or even in left-to-right linear order, and your eyes can’t seem settle on one focal point when you’re watching. This visual element to the video emphasizes the theme of taking a spiralized pathway toward your goals, rather than something straight forward. Additionally, because the words to the song are segmented on the screen, the step-by-step process of building and reaching one’s goal is further showcased.

As the tune moves toward the refrain, the backdrop changes to a tape of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky within a frame of water moving over rocks and swimming fish. Murray’s careful to put the fireworks video inside the frame because the end goal (or to the “moon” as Murray references lyrically) is enveloped in experiences of feeling stuck (“underwater”) and moving through those emotions.

As the track progresses, and our eyes search the screen for the next syllable of a lyric, images- like a pathway up a mountain, a band playing for an audience, the carp swimming, a train passing, a bird- become layers of one another, mixing and meshing, like the instances that bring us to our achievements.

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It’s no doubt that Murray’s music video has been intentionally crafted to accentuate the meaning of his new single. Viewers don’t miss a beat trying to understand where Murray is coming from. If fact they’ll relate to the human experience of moving through life, wanting something more, but having to be patient and work a little bit each day to get to where they want to be.

-Julia

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

 

Review: The Hunger Artist Release New Indie Rock EP 'Uh...'

By: Trevor Ryan

Colorado’s mysterious underground indie rock outfit The Hunger Artist are at it again with a second studio recorded EP titled Uh…, and the four-piece collective have really given us summer pangs with their newest music.

Uh… has heavy-hitter influences from bands like The Strokes and even Cage the Elephant, but The Hunger Artist’s brand of indie rock has a vibe all its own. Think summer jams on steroids. You’ll have roadtrip feels from these tracks the whole way through. Uh… is sure to get you ready for summer adventures, and keep you thoroughly entertained all at once.

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The record starts off with the track “Gotta Live a Life,” which was also featured on the 2016 release of Rock Against Trump, a collaborative effort featuring various artists. As you may have guessed, “Gotta Live a Life” has a political stance throughout, though it never veers from its upbeat positive roots and heavy distortion. A great opener for the EP, this song gives you the overall feeling of who the band is and what they’re about, and all while proving a point.

From here, we’re led into “I kno! You Don’t Know.” Featured as the single of the record, and even supported by a music video of its own, this is where we start to genuinely hear those iconic influences. Strokes-esque in sound, “I kno! You Don’t Know” utilizes heavy, dirty guitar riffs accompanied by a hard-hitting, yet simple upbeat rhythm. With that, you get these wailing, lung-clenching vocals, making this track a superb choice for the single release.

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Finally, and most significantly in my book, is the ballad “Darling Please.” With heart-grabbing lines like, “We've been changing for so long/It turns out maybe we're both wrong,” this is the one that will have you in the feels. Lyrically, you’ll find that The Hunger Artist have a simplistic way of subtly conveying a message with a profound, witty passion and powerhouse vocals.

“Uh…” is set for release on April 18th. You can find show dates and more right here.

Keep up with The Hunger Artist on Facebook.

-Trevor

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

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong Sell Out All Colorado Shows On Recent Run

By: Cy Fontenot

This past weekend, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong hit Colorado with the tastiest serving of the funk we’ve seen in awhile. After their free show in Vail for the Burton Concert Series, Pigeons hit the road and stopped next in Durango for a steamy sold-out show at the Animas City Theatre, a notoriously rowdy venue. They then kept the good vibes flowing at yet another sold-out show at Denver’s Ogden Theatre.

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong.

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong.

Pigeons is quickly developing a very committed fan-base thanks to their fun(k)-loving vibes, incredibly tight musicianship, and catchy songwriting. While their original songs are nothing short of awesome, the crowd especially enjoyed their medley of “Funkytown” > “Play that Funky Music” > “Brick House” > “Play that Funky Music.” The band also covered tunes by Lotus and David Bowie. This is a band who keeps it interesting whether they’re playing tunes from Pizzaz, Pleasure, or Bowie.

If you have yet to catch a Pigeons show you can check out their new album, Pizzaz, and upcoming tour dates here!

-Cy

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.

Local Artists Come Together To Benefit Denver's Mango House For Refugees

This Saturday, December 9th, several Denver artists will come together to support the Mango House on East Colfax, a basic needs pantry for Denver’s refugee community. Mango House, which is currently open one day per week, serves as a free clinic, food pantry, dentist, and youth program integrator, and is free to the refugee community.

Saturday’s festivities have been coordinated by Anthony Ruptak and Corrie Ehler. The night will feature performances by Venus Cruz (KUVO Jazz Odyssey), David Burchfield, Los Mocochetes (Youth On Record) and Ruptak.

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Said organizer Ruptak, “These concerts serve in an effort to raise awareness of the critical needs of our refugee community, raise money and donations, and to support equality, inclusion, and acceptance of our neighbors in this incredibly dark and tumultuous time.”

Attendees are asked to bring a donation of food, clothing, housewares, or toiletries in exchange for a free concert ticket, food, and crafts.

More information on this night at Mango House can be found here.

MLIMA Maintains Fresh “Mountain Groove” on New Self-Titled EP

By: Elizabeth Lee

Colorado’s Denver-based premier jazz fusion ensemble MLIMA are back with their long-awaited first album, a record which has been over a year in the making. The group have been going interstellar in the Rocky Mountain music scene since their start in 2012 with their funky, space-jazz sounds. Their self-titled debut album is their first collection of seven studio tracks which they wrote, recorded, and produced together. The six-piece band is comprised of Jessica Jones (lead vocals), Zach Simms (saxophone/vocals), Lance Croucher (drums), Jack Breitenbach (percussion), Jeph Kennedy (guitar/vocals), and Ryan Thrush (bass). The group also brought in Ben Rafferty on keyboard for this album.

Listen to MLIMA’s new record:

MLIMA does not disappoint on their debut, delivering a cohesive collection of tracks that show off their patented “mountain groove” sound. The record takes the listener on a sonic journey, which is fitting for their psych funk vibes. The album is a balanced mix of jazzy, smooth brass mixed with funky, swinging rhythms and soulful vocals. Tracks such as “Sunshine” (the debut single from the release) and “Booty” are playful and showcase MLIMA’s ability to get audiences dancing, while others like “Outro” and “Stank” deliver musical talent with soaring guitar riffs and vocal solos.

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We’re excited to see what’s next for one of Denver’s most unique and talented ensembles! Be sure to catch their magic live by getting yourself to one of their upcoming shows.

Keep up with MLIMA here.

-Elizabeth

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

Old-Time In The Rockies: CROMA Gears Up For Annual Festival

By: Riley Ann

Since its inception in 2010 with just three individuals, the Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association (CROMA) continues to expand in breadth and depth. Their eighth annual festival is less than a month away, and it’s guaranteed not to disappoint. 

For a taste of old-time before the festival, CROMA is hosting a fundraiser this Sunday, June 11th from 12PM-9PM at City Star Brewing in Berthoud. The day features live music starting at 2PM, which includes performances from The Fiddle Dogs, The Brownsville Thomcats, and Ryan Drickey (of FY5) and Dusty Rider (of The Railsplitters) and friends, in addition to an old-time jam. The silent auction includes artwork from Nick Bachman and Howard Rains, CDs from David Bragger and the Field Recorders Collective, music lessons from local teachers (including yours truly), and items from local businesses, including Spirit Hound Distillers, Cajun Moon Design, Peet’s Coffee, and a chance to win a pair of tickets to this year’s CROMA festival. City Star is also donating $1 for every beer sold during the event, and Curbed Hunger will be on-site serving food all day.

A barn dance at CROMA last year. 

A barn dance at CROMA last year. 

You’ll also have another chance to dust off your boots before the festival at the next CROMA barn dance, which is being held on Friday, June 16th at The Music District in Fort Collins from 7PM-930PM. Admission is $10 for adults and $25 for the whole family (kids 12 and under are free), and all dances are taught, so no experience is necessary! This event is just a taste of the nightly barn dances at the festival. 

One of the stages at the 2016 CROMA festival.

One of the stages at the 2016 CROMA festival.

The CROMA festival kicks off on Wednesday, July 5th and runs through Sunday, July 9th. Veteran festival-goers will still appreciate the intimacy of the festival, diverse workshops, rollicking nightly dances, and jamming alongside lovers of old-time from across the country in the paradise of Parrish Ranch. However, this year’s festival will offer new aspects, including kids’ workshops and open stage times, couples dance workshops (like the Schottische, two-step, and waltz), and more diverse instrument workshops, like an old-time harmonica workshop led by Seth Shumate of The Ozark Highballers.

The lineup this year includes a variety of bands that hail from Galax, Virginia, West Virginia, and various parts of the Ozarks, including Eddie Bond and the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, The Ozark Highballers, Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller, and The Musky Dimes and Lansford and McAlister. Dance callers include local favorite Larry Edelman of Denver, Dot Kent of Chicago, and Phil Jamison of Asheville, North Carolina. Additional instructors include Joanie and Steve Green, Tony Holmquist, and Barbara Rosner

While day passes are unlimited, camping tickets nearly sold out last year, so get your tickets early here. Volunteer positions are still available in exchange for day passes, and you can find out more by contacting CROMA here. If you are interested in joining the CROMA community, especially in regards to grant writing, social media and design, or other capacities, you can connect with them here. More information about CROMA is available on their website.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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


Check out our coverage of CROMA last year for a taste of this year's sweetness:

Electric Guest Are On One Powerful Comeback Tour

By: Sierra Voss

Electric Guest stopped by the Bluebird Theater last weekend, offering up one last hurrah before the work week for Denver residents. The room was packed with excited fans, a surprising turnout for a Sunday night. Electric Guest had been on a five year hiatus, and it was clear via conversations floating around the room that the audience was excited and had been anticipating their return.

Electric Guest hail from Los Angeles, where they formed their band 11 years ago. They roll four deep, comprised of Asa Taccone (lead vocals), Matthew Compton (drums), Tory Dahlhoff (guitar and keys) and Todd Dahlhoff (bass). Prior to their most recent album Plural, the band had not released since their debut record Mondo in 2012. When Mondo hit the airwaves, they quickly fell into the swell of indie rock music emerging at the time. Just as the band began to rise in the ranks of indie bands, they disappeared for five years. So it made sense that the room at the Bluebird was buzzing in anticipation to see if these boys would pick up where they left off.

Watch Electric Guest’s music video for “Dear to Me”:

The band started the show with no sound. Lead singer Asa Taccone immediately took it as a cue to ask the audience questions, while the sound technicians got things squared away. Asa asked the audience if anyone had some weed. Leave it up to Denver to immediately respond by someone throwing a whole vial of weed directly at his face.   

Asa Taccone.

Asa Taccone.

I was pleasantly surprised by the band's unique sound and lively performance once things got started. Lead singer, Asa Taccone has some crazy-glorious vocals going on. About 80% of the time, he rocked out in his super-clear and powerful male falsetto. Chills. The show really picked up when the band dropped an old favorite, “This Head I Hold.” Audience members cried out after “Troubleman,” but to no avail; this particular song went unplayed. The band wrapped up their set just under the hour mark.

EG’s music has certainly evolved since 2012, taking a turn away from a full-bodied band to a more focused, electronic sound. Still, Electric Guest hold true to their funky, vintage, retro-groove vibe, the one that first caught the attention of American and European audiences five years ago.

Matthew Compton.

Matthew Compton.

Curious yourself as to where this band is headed on their path of return? Catch a show for yourself by snatching tickets here.

-Sierra

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

Iolite's Fierce Start In The Denver Music Scene

By: Sierra Voss

2016 was a huge breakout year for Denver’s music scene. Nationally recognized artists with local roots including Nathaniel Rateliff and Trevor Rich have been doing their part to put the city on the music map. Will 2017 bring Colorado another local breakout artist?

Meet Iolite (Elina), born and raised in Arvada, Colorado. Iolite hails from a family of musicians who immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1996, and at only 17 years of age, this pop artist is already making a name for herself in Denver. In 2016, Iolite independently released her first single “Spinning.” She garnered some definite buzz for the track and placed in the top three finalists for Channel 93.3’s "Hometown for the Holidays" event this past December.

Iolite.

Iolite.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Iolite about her musical journey, and I came to learn it has been far from the the norm:

So when did you start writing your own music?

I started writing when I was about ten or eleven years old. Ever since then, I knew [music] was what I wanted to do. I was in a program called Two Roads, where you go twice a week [to their classroom] and the rest [of the program] you’re homeschooled. I graduated early mainly because I wanted to focus on my music and spend a lot of time writing.

Tell me more about your name Iolite- what does it mean?

Iolite is a gem stone. It was pretty random how I came up with it. I literally sat on Google and randomly generated words until I found one I loved. It just seemed to fit.

Take us inside your writing process.

My process is always developing. I think of a melody first and record it as a voice memo on my phone, then I sit down at a piano and really build it out. After that, I bring it into a studio and work with a producer to create the full track. It’s always a bit of a different process for each song, and I collaborate with a bunch of different producers. It’s an open, collaborative process.

What does an average day look like for you?

My normal day is waking up, doing some online college courses, and then I start writing. I always spend time every day playing classical piano too. My day is mainly based around my music.

We know your family is musical too. Tell us more about that.

My parents are both musical. My dad had thirteen brothers and sisters; all of them were very musical. I am one of six kids, am the second youngest, and am the only girl. My three older brothers had a band called Everfound growing up and a lot of my childhood was traveling with them on tour across the US. My family have been a huge inspiration for me and still are. It’s really awesome when you get to pursue something you love with the people you love, so it has been a blessing to have brothers interested in the same thing. One of my brothers is now a producer in Nashville, and is actually one of the main producers I work with currently. I’m sure once I go on tour, my brothers will come with me whether they are my band or are just holding the tour together.

What's your dream venue to play?

Red Rocks is definitely my dream venue.

What does 2017 look like for you musically?

I just started releasing music in 2016, so I will just keep writing and putting out a lot of music this year. I hope to play some shows throughout 2017 as well.

Keep an eye out for new music from Iolite on her Soundcloud, and in the meantime, take a listen to her latest single “Bloodstream” below:

-Sierra

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

A Light in the Darkness: An Interview With Wesley Watkins of Other Black

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Wesley Watkins is a powerhouse. To have a frontman with so much momentum will inherently draw attention to a band as a whole. But Watkins is just one member of an assortment of artistry that demand its presence on stage: what started with nine musicians back in 2012 has fluxed in members since then, but at times has been as many as 24. Meet the Other Black.


All photos per George L. Bosser.


I had the pleasure of seeing Other Black perform at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver recently and interviewed Watkins post-show. The small stage of the venue was crowded with somewhere between 12-16 artists throughout the set who played three hours of original tunes and featured several local artists whose voices carry a worthy message.

“When I thought about getting features for this show, I asked people who are gonna say something everyone needs to hear. If you’ve not experienced injustice, it’s my job as an artist to bring awareness to the fact that this injustice is around. And I want to encourage those who are strong enough to speak up to continue doing so.” Watkins told me.

Watkins and Heffernan.

Watkins and Heffernan.

Kalyn Heffernan from Wheelchair Sports Camp and Stephen “Brer Rabbit” from Flobots, both of whom have been through a lot of injustice in their lives, each made appearances within the crowd at Other Black's Syntax show to speak about current events in the world with fellow audience members.

Wesley Watkins.

Wesley Watkins.

My conversation with Wesley very quickly took a political, bigger-picture kind of turn. I want to believe it was because our heartstrings tuned in as two agents of change trying to shine light on darkness and bring awareness where awareness is so desperately needed during these hard times.

He went on, “As musicians, especially those staying true to what they sound like, [we] have a responsibly to talk about what is happening in our modern world. We have to be careful of what we put out there- this world can’t take any more bullsh*t. And as a musician myself, I want to encourage other musicians out there to stay true to themselves and not try to be a part of a product.”

I agreed with him wholeheartedly. We, as a people, definitely need inspiration and positive, good-hearted individuals to wield social and cultural sentiment, which music and art (and free press!) is ripe with the power to do.  

Watkins with Other Black.

Watkins with Other Black.

So, where does Other Black fall in this spectrum of empowering agency and bringing awareness?

The Other Black is a music project created out of love for hip-hop, jazz, soul, and gospel music, all of which are genres born out of slavery and life struggles experienced by the oppressed, specifically the black population of the US.   

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. It’s what I grew up with and what I wanted to tap into with this band.” Watkins said. “Most of the songs Other Black plays today, I wrote when I was homeless and on the streets back in 2009. And I want people to know that it was by no fault of mine that I ended up homeless.”

Wesley has been in several different bands including Air Dubai, Petals of Spain, and most recently, he toured with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. But he realized that having his own project was what he needed to do to fulfill his purpose as an artist.  

“By the time 2012 rolled around, I was just getting out of being homeless and had been in several different bands with some of my closest friends. But I kept quitting bands. That’s when a close friend of mine brought it to my attention that I needed to start my own. I started Other Black because of my love for soul and hip-hop.”

But when Wesley talks about soul and funk music, he is talking about the “old-school sh*t” like Sly Stone and Sam Cooke, whose music shed light on the daily struggles of black people in America, and 90s hip-hop, which gave a powerful voice to the still oppressed and marginalized black Americans.  

“We have a system that’s really bias. So what you see from black powerful figures in our media today is so bias and it’s perpetuating a stereotype. To have today’s hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar speak the hard truth they don’t want to hear, but need to, is important and it’s empowering the people. At the very least, what I can do with my music is bring awareness to what is unjust in the world.”  

When I started the interview with Wesley, I wanted to know what Other Black implies in its name. I forgot to ask, but now I’m left with only room for interpretation, which is a good thing. What I infer after talking to Wesley and seeing Other Black on stage at Syntax is that the Other Black is a light amidst the darkness. It’s the mold breaking the stereotype. It’s an attempt at bringing awareness through music by making people get down.

“I want to encourage people to experience themselves, because if people can experience themselves to the core of their being and be comfortable with that, then all of a sudden we have people who are comfortable with how other people are starting to experience them.” Watkins told me.

If you want to find out what Other Black means to you, you can. They will be rockin’ in the New Year with The Yawpers at The Oriental Theater on December 31st for New Year’s Eve. You can check out their Facebook page for more information, and to hear their music, click here. Be on the lookout for the Other Black’s first album too, which is still in the works and will feature 14 songs which more than likely will encourage you to experience yourself. And that’s powerful.

-Mirna

All photos per George L. Bosser. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Homevibe for the Holidays: Augustus This Saturday!

By: Hannah Oreskovich

We're featuring all the bands on Homevibe's Holiday Show bill this week. 

Boulder's Augustus.

Boulder's Augustus.

Hey Beaters- like we mentioned yesterday, we’re partnered with Homevibe Presents for their 9th Annual Homevibe Holiday Concert this Saturday 12/12 at The Walnut Room in Denver! As promised, we will be bringing you content on each of the performers for Saturday’s lineup, so let’s get to it! Here’s our blurb on Augustus:

Augustus is a Boulder-based trio “harvested from the most significant American musical movements- folk, blues, and jazz” consisting of Colin Kelly (vocals/guitar), Jim Herlihy (guitar/drums/banjo), and Jesse Wright (cello/bass). In the past year, Augustus has played to a sold-out Fox Theatre, released their EP Into Frames, which was critically acclaimed as “Colorado’s strongest psych-rock/mashup album of 2015” by Colorado Music Buzz, and traveled the state performing shows. We’ve featured their work before, which you can check out here and here. But it was time for a catchup! Here’s our chat:

So guys- first things first! What have you been up to as of late?

Well we recently upgraded some home studio gear and so we’re in the process of recording a new round of demos. We plan to tweak those and re-record them a few times until we like them. Once we do, we will head back up to Madhouse Studio in Leadville to record another EP. And as far as shows next year, we’re making a couple of trips to Summit County for some performances.

Augustus at Their fox theatre show.


Augustus at Their fox theatre show.

Sounds like a sweet start to the New Year. Let’s talk Saturday! Are you guys going to do anything fun with the ski-theme?

Colin has talked about bringing his shot ski. . .

Shots with the band? I think we’re up for that! So in the spirit of the holiday party, we’re asking everyone on the lineup: What’s your favorite holiday song?

Jim won’t stop pushing for us to cover a Christmas song. He really likes Vince Guaraldi’s instrumental “Christmas Time is Here”.  

With Jesse’s strannng power, that could be pretty fun! Anything else you’re pumped about for the show Saturday?

The sound in The Walnut Room is amazing, and this will be our first time playing with all of the other artists on the bill. We’re really looking forward to hearing each of them.

So there you have it! Come party with Augustus this Saturday! Get your tickets here. And join the Facebook event here.

Watch an Augustus live performance video to get yourself amped for the show:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Emily Shreve: EP Release "Bliss and Gravity"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Emily Shreve's new EP will haunt you in a good way. 

Denver-based artist Emily Shreve.

Denver-based artist Emily Shreve.

The first time we saw Emily Shreve was at the June Boulder-in-the-Round. Her haunting vocals captivated us during her performance, so when we heard she was releasing her new EP, Bliss and Gravity, we wanted to catch up with this Denver-based singer-songwriter. Recently, we had that chance! We chatted with Shreve about her use of dream-like qualities in her sound, why the best parts of recording always happen after midnight, and about what’s next for this intellipop and avant-garde influenced artist.

Bliss and Gravity feels like a dream sequence painted for your audience in the form of stirring vocals, flowing piano pieces, whispery lyrics, and ambient sounds. Talk to us about what inspires you to inject this dream-like quality into your music.

I’ve always been one to use dreams as my inspiration and I love them because they can be weird and impossible, and they can make no sense while simultaneously making perfect sense. I like music that is transportive and takes you out of your normal mindset. Not that normal life is so bad, but it’s important to take your brain to other places. I think that is what good art does, and what a good musician does. They create a moment in time that everyone is a part of; they captivate you and pull you in and take you somewhere you haven’t been before, or haven’t been in awhile. I want to keep going further into dreaminess and go to some different abstract places.

Shreve in the Studio.

Shreve in the Studio.

Bliss and Gravity definitely accomplishes those affects! Speaking of- your howling vocals on “Falling Down” seem to do just that to this listener- to push us deeper into your story; your sound. What was the process like recording this particular track in the studio?

“Falling Down” and “A Temporary Bliss” were actually intended to be instrumental pieces, but I decided to add vocals the day I recorded the piano for those tracks. The vocals were the only part that weren’t technically recorded in the Differential Productions studio. Michael Zucker and I finished a session late, and I was still in music mode, so I used the studio at my dad’s house just down the street to play around with some layers. I was just experimenting, but I ended up writing and recording the vocal part that night and getting it right the first time. I stayed up until 3 am layering everything, and then I found a wav file of a rainstorm on the computer I was using. It just worked so well sonically when I added it, and it fit poetically with the whole concept of the album. Sometimes the best things happen after midnight when you have a microphone.

It sounds like you really got experimental with it, which is awesome. We read in your Colorado Music Buzz interview that you are looking for venues other than noisy bars to perform in, due to your music’s haunting and intimate aspects. Has finding such venues been a challenge for you in the Denver music scene? Where are some of your favorite spots to perform?

I’m not sure I have a favorite yet. I love places where people go to actually listen to music and you don’t have to compete with normal bar noise. Syntax Physic Opera and Mercury Cafe are great spots. There are also places that normally host heavier bands, but that I really like playing, like Lost Lake Lounge or Seventh Circle. I really enjoy nonconventional, intimate settings like house concerts. I once played a backyard speakeasy too, where I got to perform outside, which doesn’t happen often since I am married to my Kurzweil. Anywhere that already has a piano gets major points from me too.

Album Art for  Bliss and Gravity .

Album Art for Bliss and Gravity.

Tell us about one of your very first intellipop influences.

Ahhhh the genre game. I love it so. I’m not sure that I fit into intellipop as it’s often defined, but I like and use the idea of intellipop because I write pop song structures, I use abstract lyrics, and I’m not afraid to change time signatures or use a polyrhythm every once in a while to make a song really creepy (like “Insanity”). I love music that is simple and well written (Andrew Bird, Tori Amos), and I also really love progressive “out there” avant-garde music (Bjork, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or anything Carla Kihlstedt is on).

Sweet! So beyond your upcoming EP release party for Bliss and Gravity at Mercury Cafe on August 28th, what’s next? Any other big performances on the horizon? A tour? A music video?

I will be doing a music video with the very talented writer/director Olivia Carmel. We actually met where I work and it seemed a little serendipitous that she already had an idea for a video for one of the songs from Bliss and Gravity. We’ll be exploring the visual interpretation of some of the lyrics on one of the tracks. I’ll be booking lots of shows locally for the coming months, and I’m rearranging my life to set myself up to tour by next year. In the meantime, I am really excited to be an introvert this winter and dive into composing another album.

That’s our chat Beat kids! Now go get dreamy with Emily Shreve’s music here, and don’t forget to hit up her EP release party next week. Event details are right here. And you can get info for pre-ordering Bliss and Dreams if you click me.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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