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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

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

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

Kiltro.

Kiltro.

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

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

64979078_621948414982508_7157330937406029824_n.jpg

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

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

-Julia

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

Rockygrass 2019 Had Attendees Debating the Identity Politics of Bluegrass

By: Riley Ann 

Another sold-out Rockygrass Festival went down in the books last weekend, culminating with Punch Brothers’ much-anticipated Sunday night headlining set: “Punch Brothers Play & Sing Bluegrass.” However, festivarians left with differing attitudes - some in awe, some confused, some disappointed, and some even downright angry who claim, “That wasn’t bluegrass,” which begs the question: What is bluegrass?

The Punch Brothers.

The Punch Brothers.

Planet Bluegrass continues a track record at their bluegrass festivals of booking acts that represent the different generations of bluegrass. This year’s first-generation legends include the Del McCoury Band and Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, second-generation folks including Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, and Tim O’Brien, and bands from the more progressive era of Bluegrass (and arguably beyond), including Sam Bush (while considered to be second-generation, the “Father of Newgrass”), I’m With Her, Hawktail, and, of course, Punch Brothers.

Bluegrass, a hybridization of various styles, is historically attributed to Bill Monroe, the “Father of Bluegrass,” and his music remains the standard for comparison of the genre much like Robert Johnson’s music defines the origins of blues. When people read “Punch Brothers Play & Sing Bluegrass” on the program, the crowd generally assumed the set would showcase tunes from the canon of traditional bluegrass (i.e. first generation). However, the band played Tony Rice’s 1983 album Church Street Blues in its entirety. The album, which Chris Thile (Punch Brothers) proclaimed is “...the best Bluegrass album ever made,” is noted for its creative songwriting and Rice’s iconic progressive guitar playing, remarkably different from Monroe’s prototype of bluegrass. The band accentuated the album with their own flavor.

I’m With Her.

I’m With Her.

Punch Brothers wasn’t the only band playing a different kind of Bluegrass. Noted fiddler Brittany Haas’ supergroup Hawktail performed an entire set of instrumental compositions. While the group describes their sound rooted in old-time Scandinavian fiddle, their intricate arrangements and virtuosic solos indicated neoclassical and jazz elements. Kevin Slick, President of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society (CMBS), comments, “Hawktail is Americana chamber music, and Punch Brothers have always been a more urban, more sophisticated band. Some people seem to think ‘Bluegrass’ has to come from the rural South and feature simple song structures.”

While some could argue that Punch Brothers and Hawktail have deviated “too far” from the origins of bluegrass, Slick suggests a different perspective, saying, “Bill Monroe played music that nobody else was playing, at least not in that style. He incorporated jazz and blues into country music and created bluegrass. Nobody was taking extended improvised solos in country music at the time or extending harmonies like that, and it was incredibly inventive. The music that Hawktail and the Punch Brothers are making is probably closer to the original spirit of bluegrass because it’s continuing to be inventive and doing something new, just like Monroe was doing.”

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

Though Sam Bush is unquestionably accepted as a pillar of bluegrass today, he also battled his own trials and tribulations when launching the New Grass Revival in 1971, and heard similar complaints in the early days. Regardless of his bands’ initial reception decades ago, he has indisputably become a major player of the bluegrass realm, and his headlining Saturday night set at Rockygrass was met with open arms of the crowd despite having a full drum set and electric bass, a very different feel than Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys

Slick asserts, “Any musical genre that survives will diversify; at one point in time, jazz music was only what they played in New Orleans. There was no Miles Davis or Coltrane. Rock’n’roll was Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but now those genres are incredibly diverse- we can have Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. So if bluegrass is a genre- within that genre, it’s probably going to be pretty diverse.”

Certainly people have different reasons for resisting new developments in the genre. A common one is rooted in the fear of cultural extinction. Slick counters this, saying, “New music won’t sound like Bill Monroe, and that’s fine. The music won’t ever go away. You can still pull up Bill Monroe’s music online and listen to it. A million different artists play the blues and people do all kinds of different things with it- B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan. In Kendrick Lamar’s music, you might not hear Robert Johnson anymore, but people still respond to it. I just see it as we’re expanding the buffet.”

With change often comes resistance, whether that’s in our sociopolitical climate or a genre of music. The question is not how we divide ourselves, but how we maintain the discourse of our differences. 

The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas.

The Earls of Leicester featuring Jerry Douglas.

Planet Bluegrass still has one more festival this year, and tickets and volunteer opportunities to Folks Fest are still available. The lineup includes Ani Difranco, Ben Folds, Violent Femmes, Josh Ritter, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and more. More information is available on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

See more photos from Rockygrass at this link.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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

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.

59347709_10156484102567753_2061840565598683136_o.jpg

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

FRIDAY 07/26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SATURDAY 07/27

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

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

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

3:00 Whole Milk @ Skylark Lounge - Surf jazz

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

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

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

7:00 OptycNerd @ Blue Ice - Electro indie pop 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY 07/28

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

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

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

3:20 Kyle Emerson @ Goodwill - Buzzy indie rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Adrienne 

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

The Growlers Bring Beach Goth to The Mile High

By: Taylor Naiman

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

The Growlers at The Ogden Theatre.

The Growlers at The Ogden Theatre.

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

The crowd.

The crowd.

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

67025733_10156215036340079_4166725920503103488_o.jpg

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

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

-Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

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

So how did “Unravelled” finally become sewn together?

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

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

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

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

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

Keep up with Moon Hammer here.

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

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

By: Mirna Tufekcic

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

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

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

The Motet.

The Motet.

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

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

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

65320452_10156305434001099_5797782297105137664_o.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

-Mirna

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

"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.

LRM_EXPORT_4448690308481_20190705_154352754.jpeg

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."

LRM_EXPORT_4364461413892_20190705_154228525.jpeg

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.

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.

8C5A8890.jpg

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.

Elevate cover art.jpg

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.

map.jpg

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.

59737193_1115849541957036_1221890149575557120_o.jpg

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.

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

By: Natalie Pulvino

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

upstate.jpg

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

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

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

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

Keep up with Upstate here.  

-Natalie

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

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.

StW-Fest-2019-FB-Event-wave-2.jpg

 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.