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 - Kind 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.

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.

"When Your Axe is at its Sharpest, it's Time to Lay it Down." - Wild Faith Serenades Longmont at Rosalee's Pizzeria

By: Moriel O'Connor

If you are searching for the sounds of music, you will strike gold in Boulder, Colorado. The Pearl Street Mall is well-dressed in street performers, everflowing fountains, sculptures over sandstone, and manicured beds of marigolds, daisies and tulips. You are almost certain to stumble upon a wandering musician. Some pass by; some choose to listen. This is where I met Leonardo Armigo of Wild Faith

Wild Faith.

Wild Faith.

With long curls, a sweet smile and a guitar in hand, he played for the people of Pearl Street busking. After catching him up and down the road, he invited me to his recent show at Rosalee's Pizzeria in Longmont, Colorado.

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Leo is a storyteller with impeccable rhythm and musical talent. His songs show an appreciation for sacred places and all aspects of nature, including the human experience and all its vulnerabilities. While he sings, passion rings through his voice and medicine moves through his fingers. Wild Faith is rooted in the Southwest, with Apache, Comanche, Spanish and  Mediterranean ancestry. Leo has been performing for over 15 years. He recently traveled through Peru and brought back stories to sing. Throughout his performance, Leo spoke for the land with lyrics and reminders such as:

"The example we set is the destruction we heal."

"When you're axe is at its sharpest, it's time to lay it down."

"When there is wonder, there is a way."

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Wild Faith donates 50% of his album sales to Amazon Watch, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Amazon rainforest and the rights and cultures of the indigenous. You can support the Amazon and purchase Wild Faith's album, The Longest Journey- An Acoustic Experience here. Find him at Arise Festival in Loveland, Colorado this August and Tribal Visions in Taos, New Mexico this September. If you're lucky, you might even hear his heart songs on Boulder’s Pearl Street. 

Keep up with Wild Faith here

-Moriel

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.

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.

Professor Plumb’s "Pleiades" Is Brought to Life in an Epic, Animated Space Odyssey

By: Adam Cabrera

In Professor Plumb’s new music video, their psych-rock song “Pleiades” is brought to life in an epic, animated space odyssey. 

Composed by bandleader Benom Plumb and animated by Jeremy Brown, the blazing rock’n’roll instrumental is illustrated into an adventure out of the solar system and across the galaxy to the distant star cluster known as the Pleiades. 

The track, which was first released in 2018 on their Majic 12 EP, is an example of the band’s compositional side. Plumb argues, “I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style.” 

As for the video itself, Plumb was inspired by an old astrological myth while stargazing one night at his home. “My backyard faces south,” Plumb explains, “and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades… that's when I came up with the idea for the video.” Planetary alignment, end-of-the-world prophecies, and other science fiction can be found all over Professor Plumb’s other work in songs like “Red Sky” or “Dark Star,” and this new music video is no exception. 

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Plumb took his ideas to Brown, initially picturing a fleet of alien spaceships headed home to their star in the Pleiades. However, according to Plumb, they decided to remove the ships in favor of something more visually abstract while still trying to allude to the idea of an advanced alien civilization. In place of spaceships, Brown came up with the concept of an outer space “megastructure.”

“Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games,” Brown says about the music video’s final image of a Dyson sphere (a colossal space structure built to harness the energy of a star). 

Fueled by Professor Plumb’s high-energy space-rock performance, Brown describes the final cut as “a hyper-real, first-person journey to a distant part of the galaxy” and a “mysterious galactic tour guide.” 

Check out the full interview below if you’re interested in learning more about Professor Plumb, Pleiades, and the creative production behind the video. You can also check out the new video on Professor Plumb's website where you can find more of their music along with more information about the band. They’ll be performing live at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase happening July 26th to July 28th and are also planning to release a lyric video for their new song “Take That!” sometime soon.

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

In your previous work there is a big emphasis on political or societal themes like in last years Midnight Creep lyric video or this years single Red Sky. But, with Pleiades being an instrumental it seems that you’ve decided to put an emphasis on more of the space rock / psychedelic side of the band. Is this the case or does the song represent more to you as the writer? 

BP: Yes, that's definitely the case with “Pleiades.” I've always thought of myself as more of a composer, than an artist. Pleiades was an opportunity for me to display my compositional side and cosmic wonder. 

What was the reason behind naming the song “Pleiades?” And, What made you decide to produce a music video for this song in particular?

BP: Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to travel to a constellation that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. My backyard faces south and on the clearest winter night, the Pleiades can be seen near Orion. There's a ton of legend and mystery surrounding the Pleiades, so that sounded like a good one to visit to me. That's when I came up with the idea for the video. I listened to the song over and over with my eyes closed to try and visualize what an epic space travel video would look like. I relayed these ideas to Jeremy and he made it look even better than I imagined in my head. 

How does Pleiades compare to the rest of your catalog in terms of overall sound and style?

BP: Out of all the songs I've written, I think “Pleiades” is one of my favorites. I was always a fan of rock bands doing cool instrumentals and I had always wanted to do one myself. So at this very early stage in my solo music journey, it's an important part of my overall sound and style. I played most of the instruments on the track, so the overall sound of the recording is me. It hits all the points of my catalog so far: dark, mysterious and hopefully, keeping the listener's head bobbing. 

At the end of the video I noticed what looks like a Dyson sphere is pulled into the shot and I’m wondering what that might have to do with the song thematically? Or, just being a fan of science fiction myself, I’m curious if you have any big influences from the sci-fi genre that make their way into your music?

BP: The Dyson sphere is 100% Jeremy so I'll let him address that in more detail. I'm definitely a sci-fi nerd. The original idea of the video was to have some spaceships flying through space to go home to their star in the Pleiades. In production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. After talking through this idea, Jeremy came up with the "megastructure" around the starm similar to what scientists recently theorized could be surrounding a massive star observed in our galaxy. 

JB: It’s definitely inspired by a Dyson sphere, but I think a true one would completely encompass the entire star, the idea being that one could harness 100% of the star’s energy. Benom had wanted it to be clear that this star is home to an advanced civilization, and I can’t think of anything more advanced than an enormous space station surrounding a gargantuan star. Visually, it’s a hodgepodge of concept art from all over the internet, and from some of my favorite sci-fi films, TV shows, and games. The god rays and subtle flickering are definitely a nod to present day exo-planet detection techniques!

When I watch the video I can’t help but be reminded of trips to my local planetarium when I was younger and that natural fascination with outer space that most people have. How much does astronomy and maybe even astrology influence your music? And if so, has that been an interest of yours for a long time?

BP: Astronomy has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I read and study astronomy as a personal hobby, so that has a huge influence for sure. As for astrology, I don't follow it for spiritual living, but I do have an interest in it. We see the marks of astrology all throughout history and that events have coincided when the planets and stars align into certain positions. That's basically what “Red Sky” was about, when Earth sees this dreadful winged planet in its skies, it means destruction is at hand. It's subtle, but this mysterious winged planet from Red Sky makes an appearance in the “Pleiades” video, just as we exit our solar system and before we go into light speed. 

Jeremy, have you worked on any other music videos in the past? If so, how much or how little did your previous experience influence the final product?

JB: This is the first music video I’ve worked on professionally. Earlier in my career, I did a few personal music-related projects here and there, but nothing to this scale. Music videos are a lot different than narrative film, which is primarily my background, in that the music should still take center stage and drive the visuals. Throughout the process, Benom and I wanted to make sure that the visual complexity and intensity ramped up or down based on the energy and beat of the music. I’d like to think that the video helps you hear the song more powerfully so that it makes more of an impact. Furthermore, with an instrumental song like “Pleiades,” I think it’s especially powerful to give the listener an idea of what inspired the music in the first place.

How involved were you with developing the idea for the video? Or, how much of the video was your own creative input compared to Benom?

JB: The creative process was very much a collaborative effort between Benom and myself. The original idea and the initial brief were provided to me early on, and I developed some concept art and storyboards. After that, it was a consistent back and forth between the two of us. For example, we both knew the hyperspace effect was going to be a big part of the video, so that’s one of the first things I began working on, and it went through many iterations before it became what you see in the video. Benom is probably the best client an artist can ask for; his feedback is not only clear and visionary, but also practical and actionable. We both brought our ideas to the table and we saw eye to eye on just about everything. When we did have some differing opinions, we reached compromises that satisfied us both.

Do you have a particular style of animation that you like to brand yourself with or do you not like to box yourself in? Is there a personal animation style that characterizes the video?

JB: This is a difficult question for me to answer, but a great one! Professionally, my background is in post-production for live-action film. Working as a digital compositor (think green screens and CG characters) for 8 years before coming to Colorado, I rarely got to exercise my own creativity beyond the very limited freedom given to me by my supervisors and directors. In other words, my style was the style of whomever was signing my paychecks! I suppose I’d have to say that my “style” is invisible visual effects that aren’t supposed to be noticed… now that I’m in a position to be creative in my own right is that no, I don’t have a style that I like to brand myself with… yet! 

What was the initial idea behind this music video? Did that idea change or develop in the production process? And, did it come out how you had hoped?

BP: The initial idea was to have some spaceships flying through space and time to go home to their star in the Pleiades. The idea did change. For example, in production we removed the ships, but kept the idea of visiting a star of an advanced civilization. It came out amazing and I appreciate Jeremy's patience with me during the process. 

JB: After 40+ iterations, it changed quite a bit in some ways, but stayed true to the original idea in all the ways that count. One thing that we eventually cut was the ship itself. At first, I think we both felt it was really important, but after some feedback that Benom got, we realized that the ship was a distraction that kept viewers from being able to enjoy the rest of the frame. Another example that kind of went the other way, was that originally, the solar system fly-through was much shorter. After a few versions, it became very clear that there’s only so many ways you can make hyperspace, galaxies and stars look different before it starts to get a little boring. So, we decided to give more weight to the solar system at the beginning. In the end, I think it was a great choice for the overall pacing of the video.

One thing I liked in particular about the video is the simplicity and far-outness of it. Was that a creative choice either of you made or maybe a stylistic choice?

BP: I believe it was a mutual creative and stylistic choice. We both imagined a sort of light speed tunnel, like from Star Wars, but more transparent so we could imagine all the galaxies flying by, but all the while, the Pleiades is still forefront in our center vision as a reminder of the destination. 

I also notice how the video throws out a lot of common music video tropes and opts for a more abstract approach. How do you think the video compares to the usual rock video format?

BP: I felt the music really just lent itself to something artistically abstract. I suppose the usual rock format is mostly all about the band, the look, the ego, etc. That's not wrong in any respect, I like to see the band too. However, this is about taking people on a trip for two and a half minutes and the audience has no idea, nor do they care, what the band looks like or who they are. I like that about this video. It's just all about the music and artistic creative expression. 

Are there any upcoming plans for the band that people should know about? What’s this summer look like for Professor Plumb?

PB: I'm releasing a new song and lyric video soon titled, “Take That!,” which hits on the heightened state of paranoia and divisions growing in the U.S. and around the world. I'll also be performing at The Underground Music Showcase, date, time and venue TBD. This set will be cool and different because it will be a rock duet. I'll be performing on bass/vocals with John Demitro (The Velveteers; Pink Fuzz) on electric guitar. 

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

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

Death Cab For Cutie Proved Their Legendary Place in Indie at Recent Red Rocks Show

By: Zach Dahmen 

Growing up in Washington State in the early aughts, Death Cab for Cutie was an indie darling. Along with The Postal Service, Death Cab dominated college dorm rooms and every pair of lonely high schooler’s headphones. After personally embracing their latest album Thank You For Today, I wanted to see for myself if Death Cab still held that same relevance at their recent Red Rocks show.

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit:   Courtney Farrell

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

MITSKI kicked off the night as direct support. Her avant-garde pop was a bold choice for an opener with the lineup. Dancing on top of a white table and chair with knee pads, she made a statement that could have been sponsored by IKEA. Her onstage aesthetics aside, this will be an artist to continue to watch. She definitely defied the indie-loving audience’s expectations.

Death Cab for Cutie began with many songs from their latest effort, showcasing their writing for the first time without the support of their longtime bandmate and producer, Chris Walla. Their single “Summer Years” especially harkens back to older efforts like “The Photo Album.” This is a band where it’s easy to forget that their catalog spans over twenty years. Weaving deftly through their discography at Red Rocks, a song or record stood for every era of fan.  

Frontman Ben Gibbard has shown real growth in his ability to blend musical prowess with lyrical poignancy; this shone ever-brightly in their live performance. On “Thank You,” he integrated his repertoire, including his career-defining album Give Up with The Postal Service. Gibbard spent years moving away from the personal toward the craft indie classics. He mines from his greatest strengths as a songwriter from the deeper part of Death Cab’s collection, while also embracing what feels fresh. The addition of two full-time band members, Dave Depper and Zac Rae, fleshed out the band’s sound on guitar and keys respectively, creating the ability for expansiveness in the band’s live elements. 

The band appears to be at peace in regard to where they fit in the current musical landscape. Gibbard verbalized so many times how grateful they were for the crowd, and for the opportunity to play Red Rocks. Their two-hour set ended on a blissfully melancholy quartet of songs, including “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” “When We Drive,” “Tiny Vessels.” and ''Transatlanticism.” The latter was moving; a rare treat to hear live. And “I Will Follow You” was a side note that reminded you Death Cab still gets played on adult contemporary radio twenty times a day. 

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit:   Courtney Farrell

Death Cab for Cutie. Photo Credit: Courtney Farrell

If there was a question on their relevance, Death Cab for Cutie sold-out a Tuesday night show at Red Rocks. One need only look at the massive crowd swinging to every word of Gibbard’s bobbling sway for proof. Death Cab hit their mark by being a band that once charged $5 a show, to filling the world’s most iconic arenas. They did all of this without sacrificing what made them great. They presented themselves as the elder statesmen of indie, which is exactly what they have become.

See more photos from this show at this link; keep up with Death Cab for Cutie here

-Zach

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

Dizzy Wright Ended His Recent Tour in Denver with a Nipsey Hussle Tribute & More

By: Moriel O'Connor

If you were like me, you spent your high school days hotboxing in your friend’s Pontiac while banging rap music on back roads. It seemed more badass back then, when you had to steer clear of the cops and put in eyedrops before going back to physics class. Now, cannabis is easy to get ahold of, and you don’t have to worry about the CD scratching and skipping over your favorite lines. Still, there is nothing like lighting up and getting down.

Dizzy Wright.

Dizzy Wright.

For real, name a more iconic duo than weed and hip hop. I’ll wait. Dizzy Wright gets this, and he’s even got his own strain. He rolls his own blunts and keeps it real. Cruising to Colorado from his hometown of Las Vegas, he finished off his recent tour at Cervantes’ last weekend.

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During his set, Dizzy praised to be “a mile high,” saying Denver was his favorite city to visit. He also paid respect to Nipsey Hussle. Dizzy’s music stands out from most modern day rap with authenticity and truth. He is an independent artist whose lyrics and spirit show passion and integrity, encouraging others to take back their power. Dizzy’s been rapping since he was a child and recently released his album, Nobody Cares, Work Harder, collabing with Mozzy, Tech N9ne, Berner, Curren$y, Jarren Benton and Demrick.

So if you weren’t at Cervantes’ this last weekend, or even if you were, roll up, view my shots from the show, and listen to Dizzy’s latest album here. Much love. 

-Moriel

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

After 47 Years, the Magical Reputation of Telluride Bluegrass Festival Has Long Been Earned

By: Cy Fontenot 

Nestled in the epic Box Canyon, Telluride Bluegrass lives up to its reputation year after year. There’s not a place in Telluride where pickin’ and dancin’ isn’t goin’ down. From the songwriting contests in town, to incredibly uplifting shows and picking circles in Town Park until sunrise, the Telluride Bluegrass vibe stays alive 24 hours a day for the weekend’s festivities. There’s an undeniable sense of synchronicity to the festival and to Telluride all together. 

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.

This was my second year attending the festival and as soon as I walked into Town Park, I was greeted by a familiar face, named Toast who hollered, “Welcome home Cy!” The family at this festival is real, loving, accepting, giving, and very cool. Within the festival walls, it was difficult to not have a smile on my face. Beyond the music, the general positive, healthy, and environmentally conscious vibe is my favorite part of this festival. 

Lake Street Dive.

Lake Street Dive.

Though I was able to witness some incredibly inspiring performances on the main stage by Lake Street Dive, Broke Mountain String Band, and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the late night shows are where I found the tastiest of tunes. Leftover Salmon, Magic Beans, and Greensky Bluegrass are always a fantastic time, and proved to be this year as usual. Liver Down the River, which I am a member of, played some solid Funkadelic Grass, and if the people and mountains weren’t enough, Railroad Earth reminded us that this is one amazing festival to be a part of. A feeling of gratitude even flowed through the crowd as Sam Bush showed us if you play enough mandolin, and you are rock’n’roll enough, maybe one day, you too can become the King of Telluride Bluegrass. 

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

There really isn’t another festival quite like Telluride Bluegrass, so needless to say, I’m already looking forward to their 47th year. Check out their website here to stay informed for next year! 

View my full photo gallery from this festival at this link

-Cy

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

Premiere: Watch Pink Fuzz's Murderous New Video for "Turn"

Denver rock’n’roll favorites Pink Fuzz have been hard at work since the release of their 2018 record ‘Speed Demon’. The trio, comprised of sibling duo John Demitro (The Velveteers) and Lulu Demitro with drummer Forrest Raup, just dropped their music video for their single “Turn.” We’re excited to premiere the video here at BolderBeat, which is a follow-up to their last video “Enough” and features some familiar characters including Fast Finger Frank (David Landry of Boot Gun). Prior to the video’s release, we caught up with Pink Fuzz to learn more about their latest cinematic endeavor and their upcoming Midwest tour. Check it out:

Where was “Turn” recorded and who is featured on the track? Did you have a producer involved?

“Turn” was recorded, produced, and mixed by Pink Fuzz and Todd Divel at Silo Sound Studios in Denver. Jim Wilson mastered it.

What inspired the video concept and who all stars in this follow-up video?

 The video for our single “Enough,” which we released in 2017, was part one of the storyline of this tale. “Turn” is the follow-up to that video. In “Enough,” we see a psychopathic serial killer trucker named Fast Finger Frank chasing after a drugged runaway driving a 1975 Firebird down a desolate desert road. Fast Finger Frank collects fingers as trophies, and is on a drug-fueled mission to get every single female digit that he comes across. Inspired by style of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Grindhouse, in the video for “Turn,” we dive into the life and killings of Fast Finger Frank. The band has always been  fascinated by serial killers and what will drive a human being to stoop so low. This is the recurring theme behind our album Speed Demon and our music videos for the record. “Turn” stars Pink Fuzz, David Landry of Boot Gun, The Velveteers, and Noah Shomberg.  

Pink Fuzz.

Pink Fuzz.

Did anything interesting happen during the filming of the video?

Well there are quite a few gory scenes that we shot outside in public places. We had a lot of people walking by or driving by as we were “killing” our victims. That’s always hilarious when you have people genuinely concerned in the background of a shot. Another funny thing was going to the store and buying severed fingers, a turkey baster, fake blood, and then checking out. The cashier’s face was priceless!

Pink Fuzz. Photo Credit:   Vossling

Pink Fuzz. Photo Credit: Vossling

Why did you decide to film a video for this track from ‘Speed Demon’?

This track has a good, fast-driving beat behind it, as well as lyrics that match up to the video content like, “This is the end of the line my friend. Can’t go back now. Seeing life pass on day to day just counting on you. Fading, you’re fading away.” We wrote “Turn” in the perspective of the serial killer. It seemed like the best follow up to “Enough.”

Spooky! What else is Pink Fuzz planning for 2019?

We’ve been working really hard on new a 5-song EP. We wish were able to release it before our upcoming Midwest tour, but audiences will get to hear some of the new tracks live! In our opinion, it is some of our strongest songwriting and best sounds we’ve captured in the studio! We will be releasing it before summer is over. We’ve also got more videos and tour dates to announce sometime soon. For now catch us on the road starting this week at:

6|13 recordBar | KANSAS CITY, KS

6|14 Replay Lounge | LAWERENCE, KS

6|15 AUNTIE MAES | MANHATTAN, KS

6|18 TOTAL DRAG Records | SIOUX FALLS, SD

6|19 The Zoo Bar | LINCOLN, NE

6|20 TBA | COLUMBIA, MO

6|21 TBA | ST. LOUIS, MO

6|22 Liar's Club (ANNIVERSARY PARTY) | CHICAGO, IL

Can’t wait Pink Fuzz! Make sure to check out the band’s video above and keep up with them this summer here.

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

Lettuce's New Record 'Elevate' Will Help You Do Just That + See the Band Live This Saturday, June 15th at Red Rocks

By: Mirna Tufekcic

What happens when a group of award-winning musicians conspire and take three years to incubate a new album? Pure awesomeness, that’s what! I had the privilege to preview Lettuce’s upcoming album Elevate, which drops this Friday June 14th, and boy oh boy, am I excited to share the news! Elevate is a sweet nectar of melodies and sounds emitting only the good vibes you can groove to, hoop to, clean to, and live to! Finally, a spankin’ new, sparklin’ fresh album of 11 songs that make you want to hear more than the record can hold. It’s not often that a band can pull that off these days, so when it does happen the feelings felt are undeniable. Yep, that’s how good it is. Elevate is f*cking awesome.

Lettuce. Photo Credit: Casey Flanigan

Lettuce. Photo Credit: Casey Flanigan

Oh I’m sorry, was it too presumptuous of me to assume you already knew who Lettuce are and jump right into raving about their upcoming album? Forgive me. I’ll start you off on your discovery right here: If you love funky music, then get yourself acquainted with these dudes. They’re super. Lettuce has released something like seven or eight (if you count a live recording session) albums since 2002, and each record has its own wonders and musings, but Elevate really pops, snaps, and crackles with funk and hip-hop, a distinguished horn section, and all-around playfulness in primo artistry.

Based out of Denver, Colorado, Lettuce is a six-member collective of Grammy-nominated drummer and percussionist Adam Deitch, guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, bassist Erick "Jesus" Coomes, Grammy Award-winning keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and Grammy Award-winning trumpet player Eric “Benny” Bloom.  The band exudes an eclectic, free-wheeling style while embracing a progressive and futuristic vibe, thanks to their love of improvisational music. What I said earlier about it being hard to come across a band today that produces a superb album from start to finish still holds, and Lettuce is a testament to the fact that when you follow in the footsteps of musical giants like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Miles Davis, and modern-day ensembles like Snarky Puppy, you are bound for greatness. If you want to get to know the members of Lettuce a little more, then are you in luck! A six-part series called The Krewe – A Lettuce Documentary Series is up on the band’s YouTube page and even features an in-depth interview with bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, plus behind-the-scenes vignettes filmed during the recording process of Elevate.

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Now, back to the album review of Elevate. Sophista-funkated with oozing swagger, Elevate opens with “Trapezoid” and sets the mood reminiscent of a universe only possible because of Lettuce. “Royal Highness,” the second track on the record, continues deeper into lounge-funk. “Krewe,” the single off the album, keeps the groove in more of a swaying, beachy vibe and you notice yourself grooving a little faster. “Love is Too Strong” is a bluesy funk tune with all the feelings, provided by those undeniably rock-blues guitar riffs. Right smack in the middle of the album is “Gang Ten,” a 13-minute tune you don’t even realize goes on for that long because, yep, you’re still grooving in a sort of perpetually-compelling state of motion. But if you know Lettuce, you know they are not shy about lengthy tracks. There are plenty of those throughout the album.

Elevate also features a couple of tasteful cover tracks, namely “Ready To Live” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I most love “Purple Cabbage;” in my opinion it’s thee signature Lettuce track on the album. The record ends with “Trapezoid Dub,” and yes it’s got the same name as the first track, but it’s different because it’s, well, like the title implies, tastefully dubby. You see, it’s not just the distinct Lettuce funk that puts you in a trance when you listen to Elevate; there are expanded trip-hop sounds and space-age audio-samples creating a unique atmosphere as the instruments come in together and explode out into the listener’s mind. Boom!

If you’re not compelled by my enthusiastic review of the album, I’m not offended. I would just encourage you to have a listen yourself. Trust me, your ears and soul will thank you. I know mine did. Lettuce is also on a massive tour in lieu of their new album release, so you can see them across the nation. If you want to stay local, they’re playing Red Rocks Amphitheatre this Saturday, June 15th. Check out their website for more deets and 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.

Visit 1969 This Weekend at "Quiet No More," A Choral Celebration of Stonewall at King's Center

By: Moriel O'Connor

For the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus and Denver Women’s Chorus are joining forces to commemorate and celebrate this iconic uprising. This Friday June 7th and Saturday June 8th, head to the King’s Center at the Metropolitan State University to time-travel to the Greenwich Village of NYC in 1969.

The riots at Stonewall. Photo credit unknown.

The riots at Stonewall. Photo credit unknown.

Before the uprising, police raids in this village were common and officers were often paid off to dispel violence. It was illegal in New York to be “sexually defiant.” Even dancing together or not wearing gender conforming clothing was seen as an opportunity for arrest. On June 28th, 1969, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn and were met with rebellion. A group of people began throwing various objects at the police officers who were harassing them, and the fight for freedom began. This led to future protests and marches throughout NYC. Thousands came together to demand equality and respect. Signs, such as “Gay is Good, “SMASH SEXISM,” and “We are Everywhere” were raised with strong hands.

After Stonewall, the Gay Liberation Front put out a notice that they were organizing. From there, anti-gay legislation was fought for in New York and beyond. The Stonewall Inn became the first national monument that honors the history of LGBTQ rights. This weekend’s chorus will represent the movement through song and visuals with historic and modern projections. Together, they have embodied the struggle into a grand presentation entitled “Quiet No More.”  These Denver performances are in preparation for something remarkable. On June 28th, both the Denver Gay Men’s and Denver Women’s choruses will travel to Carnegie Hall in NYC for the largest collaboration in the history of LGBTQ choruses.

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So come out, come out wherever you are to support marginalized musicians and to partake in the celebration. This show will also remind you that we are not done yet. Fifty years after Stonewall, Colorado is one of only twenty-one states that has full protection for LGBTQ individuals. In states like Alabama, Texas, and Wyoming, it is still legal to deny housing, employment and access to public accommodations to someone based on their sexual orientation or identity. According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2018, 26 deaths of transgender people, primarily trans women of color, were reported due to fatal violence in the U.S.A. The LGBTQ community deserves to be honored and protected. We must continue to rebel against discrimination and spread truth, acceptance and resilience.

Learn more about “Quiet No More” and purchase tickets here.

-Moriel

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

Bellhoss's Latest Video Features a Dancing Flamingo Party at Fort Greene & Everything Pink

By: Julia Talen

Produced by Lady Cactus Media, bellhoss’s latest music video “geraniums #2 primes listeners and viewers for the release of this local folk-indie-space punk band’s first EP geraniums. Frontwoman, Becky Hostetler moved out to Denver five and a half years ago to pursue a master’s degree in political science and has been infiltrating Colorado’s music scene ever since, most recently with a performance at MCA’s B-sides and with an upcoming show at Underground Music Showcase this July. Her poetic, self-proclaimed “sadcore” tunes bend genres and traverse existential themes.

The flamingo-themed video project for “geraniums #2”, shot inside Fort Greene, pilots relatable topics and motifs through many shades of pink. The video opens up with a catchy intro as two strangers, dressed as flamingos, walk into a flamingo-themed party. The camera lens meanders through the synthetic hot-pink crowd to hone in on Hostetler, sitting awkwardly on a couch next to a guy playing a song for her, or seemingly for anyone who will listen, on the ukulele. She begins to sing and removes her kitschy, plastic flamingo glasses. Her eyelids are the only ones at the party smothered in blush-colored eye shadow.

Hostetler's warm voice, akin to Swedish folk-duo First Aid Kit, mingles with the melody as she moves through the party towards the bathroom singing, “I imagine earthquakes early/ I dreams of geraniums/ I will kill my own thoughts thank you/ I don’t need your help.” In the pale pink bathroom, Hostetler puts on lipstick and then takes it off, as the band rolls through the refrain accompanied by mellow, gazy instrumentals, harmonizing the lyrics, “I’ll do what I want to/ I’ll do what I have to figure it out.”

Bellhoss.

Bellhoss.

Eventually Hostetler leaves the bathroom and bumps into a line of people, who appear angrily impatient with her, before she heads to another couch and sits down next to two television screens showing lengthy singular shots of palm trees and ocean waves. The video has this simulacrum feel to it with the vapid pink assembly of folks and the plastic costumes and birds. It’s as if our protagonist is moving through a world covered in seran wrap. Hostetler sings, “Reading all the bible backwards/ waves crash into the sea/ peeling off my own skin sickly/ crashing into the sea,” and listeners get this sense of alienation, not fitting in, feeling backwards like a wave moving the wrong way, as our protagonist navigates this giant sea of pink.

At one point Hostetler joins the party-goers for a group dance, the only time throughout the video that she actively blends into the crowd. The synchronized dance feels empty, and Hostetler eventually leaves it before ultimately leaving the party.

This brilliantly crafted video gives a taste of bellhoss’s musical poeticism and artistry in digging through the cringey, dark, and all too true themes of feeling different and feeling like you don’t see yourself in something. This project offers a peek into what’s in store as the group continues to make music in the Mile High City. Check out the video and don’t miss the band’s release party and show at Lost Lake Lounge, June 9th with Corsicana and Two Tone Wolf Pack.

-Julia

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

The River Arkansas Releasing New Record & Embarking on Colorado Tour

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Just when you think there is no room for more blues, folk, country & Americana music in this world, another band pops up and proves its undeniable lure and creative spin on what’s already been done. The River Arkansas is one of those bands that fit that genre, but play with crossing and blurring boundaries as to where they fall exactly. Their sound is just another testament to today’s melting pot of genres that go beyond the box of just blues, just folk, or just country.

The River Arkansas. Photo Credit:   Art Heffron

The River Arkansas. Photo Credit: Art Heffron

The band started in 2014 as a solo project by Mike Clark of The Haunted Windchimes from Pueblo, Colorado. Shortly after laying down some tracks, Clark brought in his friend and bassist Macon Terry. After spending some time playing together, they realized there was something bigger there than just one project. Since then, the band has expanded to include a fiddle player Rachel Sliker, Benjamin Gallagher on the piano, and Robin Chestnut on drums. Each of these musicians is a very talented addition to the band. Together, they give off a heartfelt and wholesome sound which resonates with the Colorado lifestyle of mountain life meets pavement.

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The River Arkansas has played with other Colorado local gems like Grant Farm and the Gasoline Lollipops. The band has released two albums since 2014, and on May 30th they’re releasing their newest album Any Kind of Weather at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver before embarking on tour to several other local mountain venues including the Jamestown Mercantile, Brues Alehouse in Pueblo, Elevation Brewing in Salida, and Deerprint Wine in La Veta.

Any Kind of Weather is a continuation of the band’s effort to blend folk, country, blues and Americana into a smooth concoction. I had the privilege of previewing the album for BolderBeat in lieu of the album release party this week and here are my two cents: The album is certainly country-forward, if not for Clark’s distinct, heartfelt, growling, and raspy country vocals than most certainly for the fiddle, harmonica and banjo sounds that predominate songs on the album, like “Bury Me,” “Big Bald Buddy,” and “Lady Luck.”

Photo Credit:   Art Heffron

Photo Credit: Art Heffron

Many of the songs are easy listening, either moving the listener to a gentle sway, or a light stomp of the feet. Tasteful peppering of the piano throughout the album gives the songs depth that a lot of country music doesn’t experiment with. The drums and guitar of the more upbeat songs like “Balloon Girl,” “Gone in the Morning” and “Mona” add a bit of a rock’n’roll vibe to the mix, allowing some of the songs on the album to break away from a heavy country/folk feel and move into the Americana realm. The slower songs like “Cuernavaca,” “SF Bay” and “Slow Down” take on more of that folky-country-blues tune, giving the album a hardy dose of all the goods. Reminiscent of The Band, Sturgill Simpson, and The Sam Chase, fans of country and Americana are surely going to enjoy The River Arkansas’ junior album Any Kind of Weather.

-Mirna

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

ZEMBU's Latest Track "Human" Reveals How Transformative Art Can Be

By: Julia Talen

Colorado based musician and producer ZEMBU recently released an inspiring and deeply poetic music video for her latest single, “Human”. ZEMBU shared that the song, “Human,” is about the day she learned that her mother had died by suicide. The verse of this indie-pop tune contains lyrics that examine various realms of human nature, and the video itself enhances the single in a variety of ways.

ZEMBU.

ZEMBU.

It opens up with celestial “ooo’s” and flashes of ZEMBU’s body, backgrounded by overexposed landscape shots. The video immediately sets a sort of seeking and inquisitive tone for this art project, as ZEMBU’s “Human” takes us on a journey.

Series of elegant shots of ZEMBU dancing against the sun near the water and the forest roll as she begins to sing. ZEMBU’s vocals have a rich hollowness to them, like there is space for listeners to move deeply into the facets and dimensions of her voice. Her lyrics in this song, such as, “She won’t say goodnight no more/simplicity comes in a haunting form,” invites a similar dive into the subject of suicide and its connection to our humanity.

The use of light in the video also reflects the shadows, undertones, blurriness, and fluidity of the song’s themes. In some shots ZEMBU is over exposed, the light blurring out pieces of her body and creating new shadows, while in other shots we cannot make out the features of her face in the dimmed lighting, as she blends further into the natural background.

Additionally, ZEMBU’s use of dance and the way she organically moves her body in the shadowy and overexposed images and shots of herself in nature also evoke the embodiment of humanness that the song navigates. Her words continue to match the visual vision of this project with lines like “I was so ready to take the blame,” “What if, what if, what if, what if, what if,” and “We are human after all.”

This project uses music, poetry, dance, and film to express and explore, to capture a piece of what it means to be human, and how open and raw that can be for all of us in different ways. ZEMBU’s latest release reveals how transformative, trascendental, and truly powerful all avenues of art can 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.

Dynohunter Ending Their Spring Tour at Cervantes' with New Music

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Live tech-house music is not a frequent occurrence, even if you find yourself attending a lot of music festivals. However, if you are one of the festival goers who really enjoys electronic music, then live tech is what you ought to seek out if you haven’t already! What I’m getting at here festheads is Dynohunter, a live tech-house act you might have seen perform at music festivals across the country including Electric Forest, Summercamp, Joshua Tree, Sonic Bloom, Arise and others. They've opened for some of the biggest names in livetronica including Papadosio, Eoto, Opiuo, Sunsquabi, Ott, and The New Deal, and supported world renowned DJs Shpongle, Bonobo, Infected Mushroom, Klingande, and The M Machine. The trio has been on a six-week nationwide tour as of late, and they’re closing it out on May 22nd by headlining Denver’s homegrown music event Re:Search Wednesdays at Cervantes’ Other Side.To add to the shenanigans, the event will also feature Casual Commander (Sunsquabi), Aaron Bordas (Late Set), Mikey Thunder and Jordan Polovina. Needless to say, if you’re a tech-house fan, this will be one for the books!

Dynohunter.

Dynohunter.

It’s an added bonus if you like to dance fellow festi lover, because a live Dynohunter show is a sure way to be moved. With a sound embraced by fans of house and techno, and a live performance fueled by the organic energy of live instrumentation, their music is undeniable on the dance floor. Trust me, I’ve seen a few myself. The group’s sound is dark and tribal, peppered with worldly rhythms and deep hypnotic grooves tastefully mixed in with hard-hitting dance tracks, uplifting melodies, and soulful improvisations. This trio is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of electronic dance music. The band’s creative ways of blending deep electronic influences with live saxophone (Clark Smith), bass (Fred Reisen), and drums (Nic Thornsberry) forges a new path in the vast expanse of electronic music.

Dynohunter has released 12 EPs and three full-length records in the past four years with no sign of slowing down. Their newest releases “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Lyra” with Eli Spiral, and “Ectoplasm” have been running hot during their current tour. They’re also keeping it fresh with a single, “Night Tripper”, due for release on May 31st which you may just get to hear early if you stop by their Cervantes’ set. Come and get your electro fix on Wednesday, May 22nd and experience Dynohunter for yourself! It’s bound to be a non-stop tech-house dance party. See you on the dance floor!

-Mirna

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

Spread the Word Festival Takes Over Denver this Weekend for Its Biggest Year Yet

By: Will Baumgartner

A testament to the vision, drive, persistence and commitment to musical community of its founder and mainstay Alex MacKenzie-Low, Spread the Word Festival (StW) returns to Denver this weekend with an absolutely explosive lineup at top venues Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, Levitt Pavilion, and the Denver Coliseum. Now in its seventh year, Spread the Word has grown from its rather humble beginnings to an unstoppable force, bringing international superstars like Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and BoomBox to head up another powerhouse lineup of local luminaries including Analog Son, Gasoline Lollipops, TNERTLE, Juno What, Magic Beans, Rob Drabkin, and Mackenzie-Low’s own fantastic band A-Mac & The Height. Colorado up-and-comers like The Reminders, Graham Good & The Painters, Eldren, Jaden Carlson Band, Mama Magnolia, Morsel, Dog City Disco, Float Like A Buffalo, Zagriculture and more will join as well.

Alex Mackenzie-Low.

Alex Mackenzie-Low.

It’s hard enough to keep moving forward and upward in the music business as a bandleader: to add the tremendous responsibility and challenges of putting on a festival, do it year after year and keep it growing, seems almost superhuman. As a member and avid supporter of the Front Range music scene, I’ve watched with considerable awe and respect as Alex has struggled with challenges and disappointments, and still managed to persevere. This year’s Spread the Word looks like a substantial breakthrough, so I was happy to sit down with him and get some insight into the process and rewards.

How did StW get started?

I started it in 2013 because I was really into Denver's music scene and enjoyed promoting shows. I loved the layout of the old Quixote’s on 23rd & Lawrence and got comfortable incorporating all three stages in a single event. From there I decided to launch the first Spread the Word Fest at Quixote’s True Blue on 13th Street in April 2013.

That was [also] the year I graduated UCD with a bachelor's in music business so putting on the festival was also my way of launching out of the college world into the music industry. My old band Green River Vibe had just released an album called 'Spread The Word' and I thought it made a lot of sense for the grassroots Colorado-centric festival I was envisioning.

Had you put on festivals before starting StW, or was this your first?

Aside from the aforementioned mini-festivals, StW Fest is the only festival I put on. This is the 7th year of StW Fest and I'm 27 so I've been working on it the majority of my career in the music industry.

StW has consistently grown over the years, from being comprised entirely of local bands with moderate regional recognition playing in small venues, to the nationally and internationally known headliners and top regional acts in huge local concert destinations like the Denver Coliseum and Levitt Pavilion. How did you get from there to here?

Honestly it mainly comes down to putting in a ton of hard work year after year and making the right connections and keeping relationships strong. I try to keep respect and integrity with everyone I work with and believe it all comes back around when talented people work together. I definitely feel blessed to be working with the team we have this year.

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 What acts are you most excited about at this year’s festival?

 Wookiefoot is my favorite band, so that is an honor, especially with Mike Love. BoomBox headlining the main stage after The Werks will be epic, as well as round two of Spread the Word Family Band. Last year's family band was a treat and this year's super group features members of SunSquabi, String Cheese Incident, Thievery Corporation and Pretty Lights Live Band. Karl Denson to end the weekend will be the perfect finale. Stoked!

What advice would you give to fledgling impresarios trying to put their own festivals together? 

Believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it first and foremost. More practically speaking, find an investor. It’s not cheap and it’s a very risky business. Once you have the funding, vision, location, team, plenty advance notice and the drive to see it through… give it a shot!

A-Mac and The Height.

A-Mac and The Height.

You also lead one of the best bands in the Denver area, A-Mac and The Height. Isn’t it a tremendous amount of work to run your band and a festival of this magnitude? How do you balance the two?

It’s very hard. My free time from January to May is extremely limited. I also book the shows at Moe's BBQ, which is my main day job, so it’s definitely a balancing act. A-Mac & The Height is building our management/booking team, and the team supporting StW Fest has grown which helps. Either way, it’s a labor of love which pushes through all the long days.

The proof that MacKenzie-Low’s labor of love has yielded some spectacular fruit, as the old saying goes, is in the pudding. Get out at and taste it this Friday through Sunday May 17th-19th. Tickets and more info available here.

-Will

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

Will Buck Returns to Colorado with New Solo Tunes & Old Bandmates

If you were involved in the Colorado music scene four years ago, it was nearly impossible to miss rock’n’roll outfit West Water Outlaws. What started as a Boulder house party act in 2010 soon found themselves selling out The Fox Theatre and touring nationally with acts like The Meter Men, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Jerry Joseph, and Rival Sons. But just as things really started to take off for the Colorado band, they split when frontman Blake Rooker moved to Nashville to pursue a solo career. The members all went their own way and the band dissolved.

Notably, drummer Andrew Oakley joined several successful Colorado rock acts until he formed A Shadow of Jaguar with Brian Hubbert. But guitarist Will Buck had a harder time trying to find his future in music until recently, when he decided to release his debut solo single “Fuse”. Next Thursday, May 23rd, Buck will return to Colorado for a show with A Shadow of Jaguar and Denver’s Boot Gun at Larimer Lounge. We recently chatted with Will about his new music, his plans for 2019, and why he’s excited to be returning to Denver next week:

You’ve had quite the journey since West Water Outlaws’ breakup. Talk to us about how your current solo project came to be.

In the wake of the West Water Outlaws (WWO) split, I went on my first-ever solo road trip of California in February of 2015. I was lost, shattered and completely open to anything and everything that took me out of reality and into ‘the flow’ as I call it. Aside from writing and the inevitable destructive coping mechanisms that I developed, I found that traveling and really winging it or ‘drifting’ was really the only way [to live]. I would go on to live an entire year of my life ‘drifting’ but that’s a completely different conversation.

Anyway, on that first fateful trip I stopped at an old friends place in Orange County and recorded a demo of this song in one day. I’d had that guitar riff in my head since the end of WWO and I needed to get it out. After that, the song sat dormant for 3 years.

Will Buck. Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Will Buck. Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What happened next?

After I finally learned to sing, which by the way was one of the most humiliatingly frustrating, yet absolutely, amazingly freeing experiences of my life, I returned to this song. I wrote lyrics and self produced the rest of the song in 2018. However, I still kept the original recordings of the guitar tracks. Something about them just had the angst of a desperate man about to explode that I couldn’t recreate. Even the original guitar solo, which was done in one take, made the song. I couldn’t have come at that solo with as much heartbreak, anguish and sheer destruction as that day, even if I tried. It was like a song in captivity that finally broke free.

Did anyone else work on “Fuse”?

I cut the vocals at Speakeasy Recordings in North Hollywood with a groovy guy by the name of Ross Newbauer. Ross got a great performance out of me and pushed me in a good direction, so I've since started tracking most of my vocals for the upcoming EP with him. Justin Peacock, who I know from my Colorado days, mixed the track and seriously brought it to life, those original, grungy basement guitars and all! He mixed a lot of the West Water stuff so I knew he would kick ass on this one. Brian Gardner mastered, who is a total legend and I'm lucky to even have that connection. I think some pretty notable hip-hop guys gave him the nickname Big Bass Brian in the early 2000s for his work and I must say he doesn't disappoint! With the exception of my great friend Wyatt Strassner’s rhythm guitar part, the rest is me on the loose.

You also recently released a video for “Fuse”. Tell us about that.

Marshall Miller shot and directed the music video at The Public Works in Denver. He has the creative eye of a hawk and the patience of a stalking lion. I came up with this crazy idea for the video and he was down! He made all of my creative visions come true and then some. It was also quite fun planning and shooting the whole thing together over the span of 4 days, which was amazing. Normally video shoots are a one day, 14-hour ordeal in my experience, so I felt very fortunate to take our time with this one.

“Fuse” is about a relationship that has gone toxic. It's neither persons fault, but the sad truth is that even though you crave being around each other, the whole thing just blows up every time you do. Each person holds the power to ignite the other and sometimes you can't resist being lit up by them even though you know it's going to end badly. I think a lot of people have experienced this conflicted mindset in one way or another, so I wanted to portray that in the video.

What inspired the story of the video?

I've had the necklace in the video for years- it was actually a piece I found at the Boulder Art Mart on Pearl [Stree] and I wore it so much people started calling it my "signature piece." Overtime it started to mean more and more to me, almost like my soul if it were portrayed in an image. So like the song alludes to, I'm sort of at the mercy of my soul’s captor after I hand over the necklace to the two masked women in the video. I call them "the experimenters" as they then start to run trials on me once they've retrieved the key to my subconscious. The shots of me sort of floating in an abyss with a light on my face are supposed to represent just that- my subconscious. Marshall sent me some prototype shots of him in this world we described as "the box" early on and that's what sparked the whole idea for the video. Then we came up the other worlds as we referred to them as "the observatory" which is the room where the masked women are viewing me on surveillance footage inside the "container" where I've been stowed away. Only the one female wearing my necklace possesses the power to transfer between the worlds. That female’s name by the way is Bailey Turner and her partner/leader in crime is MJ Szymanski; they did a terrific job and were total pros in front of the camera.

Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What else will you be releasing this year?

I have a ton of plans for the rest of the year- I don't want to give away too much but I am definitely releasing a four-track EP this summer that I recorded in New York City at Figure 8 Studios with Andrew Oakley on drums and Wyatt Strassner on guitar and backing vocals. And I will be touring surrounding this release! I can't wait to see where it all takes me now that the song is out on all platforms!

Sweet. How do you feel about returning to your old musical stomping ground this week?

I am extremely excited to return to Colorado. I lived in Boulder for 8 years and miss it all the time. It is one of the best places in the world and holds so many special people in it! I am most excited that Andrew Oakley (drums) and Vince Ellwood (bass) from West Water Outlaws’ original lineup are going to join me onstage for my set. That is a dream come true for me- to stand on stage in Colorado with two of my best friends again and rock out for a room of radical people.

We can’t wait to join in the rockfest. Tickets for Will’s show with A Shadow of Jaguar and Boot Gun are here. Keep up with Will Buck and his adventures here.

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