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

By: Julia Talen

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

Daphne Willis. 

Daphne Willis. 

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

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

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

And then did you study music in college?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Julia

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

Singer/Songwriter Dave Tamkin Drops New EP of Sophisticated, Easy Listening Tunes

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Dave Tamkin is a Boulder transplant by way of Chicago, and he’s taken the singer/songwriter scene in Colorado by the horns. Whether playing solo shows or rocking out with a full band, Tamkin brings a unique style of rhythmic-acoustic sounds, personal lyrics, and a high-energy percussive backbone. His music is sophisticated easy-listening.  

Give Tamkin’s new single “Hope, Love, Strength” a listen:

Tamkin’s new EP drops tomorrow, with a CD Release Party this Saturday, April 15th at Denver’s The Walnut Room. He’ll be accompanied for the evening by Kevin Mileski, Brian Allison, and Decibel Sound Company. If you haven’t been to The Walnut Room to check out some singer/songwriters, this is a great time to do it, and Tamkin’s set is bound to be a crowd pleaser.

Dave Tamkin. Photo Credit:  Kit Chalborg

Dave Tamkin. Photo Credit: Kit Chalborg

Tamkin has a couple of other Colorado gigs this month in support of his new release. Catch him at Boulder’s Rayback Collective April 22nd. Keep up with Dave on his website; Walnut Room tickets 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.

An Evening with Paul Kimbiris & Other Singer/Songwriters at Denver's Walnut Room

By: Mirna Tufekcic

There are a lot of singer/songwriters. Let me rephrase that: there are a lot of singer/songwriters just within the radius of Boulder-Denver, Colorado.  

If  you’re not into the singer/songwriter thing, you can stop reading now. Otherwise, please continue:

Me, well, I have a visceral experience listening to singer/songwriters tell stories and pour their hearts out in black and blue. But, there’s a fine line demarcating a good singer/songwriter. Don’t worry! I’m not about to criticize or bash anyone. That line is for you to draw, depending on what you prefer; what makes your ears perk and your soul vibrate. As for me, I like to keep a wide periphery and experience the journey a musician or a band will take you on. So, naturally, two weekends ago when I went to The Walnut Room in Denver with singer/songwriter Paul Kimbiris to hear him and five other musicians play for an attentive audience, I was very pleased by the variety of sounds and experiences each artist brought onstage. The event, titled “Under the Radar: Singer/Songwriters You Should be Listening To,” was put together by HomeVibe, a production company specializing in high quality intimate shows that take on a living room feel.  And let me tell yah, that it did.    

Paul Kimbiris.

Paul Kimbiris.

I hitched a ride with Paul down to The Walnut Room, since we both live in Boulder, and used it as an opportunity to mine his brain for an inside scoop of a singer/songwriter. It wasn’t the easiest task.    

“I think about a lot of dark stuff,”  Paul said.

His last album The Dark Side of Pearl was released in 2014. It is dark; rather melancholy at times but definitely heartfelt. If you want to read a review on it, you can here, but you really should just listen to it and judge for yourself. The latest Kimbiris news is, however, that Paul has an upcoming EP to be released this spring/summer. And it’s going to be different than his last work.

“I don’t wanna be a downer. It feels good to make people dance.” he told me.

This EP will be more upbeat and rock and roll. Paul likened it to Bob Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone,” saying, “it’s a lively tune with a rather dark message.” 

Life in the green room.

Life in the green room.

Immersed in conversation, Paul missed our exit off Hwy 36 that was to take us straight to the venue.  

“We’re actually going to Mexico. I know I told you we’d be going to see some music, but really, we’re just flying out to Mexico. You got your passport, right?” he joked. I wish.

Paul’s been living in Boulder for several years now. He is originally from Greece but grew up in Philly. He has a home in Greece, and he plans to take advantage of that this summer by flying there and playing some music.  

“I feel like I’m missing out on life. I keep saying I want to do this and that, but then I just sit around and watch it all pass by. I should do more. I think I will.”  

Paul mentions he’s also interested in setting up a tour, though he fears being on the road all by himself would send him too far down the rabbit hole. So, for now, Paul writes songs for TV shows and flies out to California to do the recordings, and that’s mainly how he gets his name out besides doing shows like the one at The Walnut Room.    

Jacob Russo.

Jacob Russo.

Once we arrived at the venue, we were greeted with friendly, excited faces. In the green room, the energy was chill and supportive as performers warmed up with guitars in hand. Shortly after our arrival the first artist was up.

Jacob Russo was a bit of a version of Gregory Alan Isakov. I don’t really know what that means. That’s just the vibe I got. You know, the one that takes you to secret fairy gardens of magic and sparks…

Andy Palmer.

Andy Palmer.

Andy Palmer followed with a strong, powerful presence. My favorite part about his performance was when he laid down his guitar, picked up two copper mugs (Moscow Mules, anyone?), and sang poetry as he banged them together. This guy is rad.   

Wes Cichosz closed the first set by wooing the crowd with his guitar skills, shredding the blues all over the place. He broke the pattern of the typical singer/songwriter by opening his set with fast-paced, finger-picking blues rock, which raised the vibe in the room a few notches. He is definitely a very talented artist, who also plays the sax.  

It was time for a set break, so I continued to chat with Paul. He was opening the second set. I asked him if he gets nervous before he has to go up. He shook his head no, but I wasn’t convinced. He kept pacing around and seemed a bit restless. So I asked him a few questions about his history as a musician.  

“I’ve been playing music for a long time. My first gigs were in college with a band I was the lead singer of. It was a great way to meet girls.”  

But, according to Paul, he’s only become good enough to do his solo thing over the past few years. He got his affirmation to roll solo when some fellow respected singer/songwriters invited him to jam and open up for their gigs after seeing him play one of his early shows at Boulder’s Shine.  

“I remember back when Shine first opened and I asked the managers to play a solo gig there, unsure if anyone was even going to listen. Then Gregory Isakov and friends showed up and liked my set enough to come up and tell me I got my pulse on something good.”  

When I asked him where he gets inspiration to write, he responded with, “So many things inspire me to want to write music. Some are just everyday scenes of life, you know, like when you see the sun and sky reflected on a steel casket at a funeral. Happy things like that.” His dry humor is quite endearing.

Paul & Nina.

Paul & Nina.

Paul was up. He captivated the audience, accompanied onstage by Nina Fronjian on the violin and as backup vocals. She’s toured with Gregory Alan Isakov as part of the Ghost Orchestra, and Paul met her at one of Gregory’s shows backstage awhile back. As I listened to Paul’s raspy voice with his old Martin guitar in hand, the image of The Old Guitarist from Picasso’s blue period came to mind. That was the vibe and the experience of Paul’s set at The Walnut Room.

Dave Tamkin came up next, painting beautiful imagery with his guitar, while his voice projected passion and honesty. He’s originally from Chicago, but these days he lives in Boulder and is quite a prolific artist. He brought Wes onstage for one of the songs to play the sax and it was lovely.     

Larry Nix, Denver’s recent import from Alabama, closed the evening with some pretty hardy country tunes. I think his intention was to transport you somewhere deep in the swamp lands of the South; he is quite the southern gentleman.    

Overall, “Under the Radar” was a well-curated event, though they should have featured female singer/songwriters too. Other than that, the experience was enjoyable and satiating. So humble readers, if you’re into singer/songwriters and want to delight in some local artists, then you should keep an eye out for these fellas playing around town. They’re totally worth your trip.

Paul’s next show is in Boulder at the Bohemian Biergarten on Friday, January 27th. Details 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.

An Update with Homevibe: Tall Heights Tonight + Ryan Montbleau for Valentine's Day

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Homevibe has a few shows on the horizon.

Last month, we had the pleasure of rocking out at three of Homevibe’s local shows- Willy Porter + Dave Tamkin, John Craigie + Reed Foehl, and the Homevibe for the Holidays Concert. As we settle into the new year, we’re excited to bring you info on some more of their gigs! Let us tell you a bit about what's coming up:

Tall Heights. Photo Credit: Jeff Fasano.

Tall Heights. Photo Credit: Jeff Fasano.

Tall Heights with Special Guests Poet’s Row & Paul Kimbiris - This Friday 01/29

Homevibe is going to make you feel right at home once again this Friday at The Walnut Room in Denver. Headliner Tall Heights are a harmony-heavy indie duo from Boston who NPR has called both “intimate and arresting”. And they would know- members Tim Harrington (vocals/guitar) and Paul Wright (vocals/cello) did a live taping with NPR’s World Cafe and performed on NPR’s Mountain Stage program. Tall Heights also had chart success last year, hitting Billboard’s “Next Big Sound” and iTunes Apple Music “Best of 2015”. After dropping their EP Holding On, Holding Out in October of 2015, Tall Heights have been touring stateside. Their travels continue through April, and while they’ve got a few Colorado gigs, Friday’s show is the closest to Boulder/Denver, it has two awesome guests on board (which we’ll get to in just a sec), and it’s a Homevibe show! So you know it’s going to be cozy and downright awesome. Which brings us to the other acts on Friday’s lineup: Poet’s Row is a Denver-based folk four-piece and Paul Kimbiris is one of Boulder’s most noteworthy singer songwriters. You might remember our album review of his full-length release, Dark Side of Pearl, or the fact that he played in our Fall Showcase with his band BLVD. This Homevibe bill is bringing a lot of talent to the stage, and two local openers is an awesome thing to see! So get tickets for this Homevibe event while you still can- just click here.

PS: Tall Heights just premiered their music video for their song "Spirit Cold" yesterday on PASTE- watch that here

Ryan Montbleau.

Ryan Montbleau.

Valentine’s Dinner & Concert with Ryan Montbleau - Sunday 02/14

Looking to impress someone special for Valentine’s Day this year? Then Homevibe’s got you covered! They’ve got a three course dinner by Per La Gente (and champagne if you so choose) + a solo performance by Ryan Montbleau at The Riverside in Boulder. Touring since the early 2000s, as a both a solo act and with his band, Montbleau has most recently been on the road for his 2015 solo release, Growing Light. His current performance set has been called “bold and barrier breaking, organically blending rock, funk, soul, folk, and psychedelia to create a sonic kaleidoscope… The night will kick off at 5PM with dinner; show starts at 8PM. We’ll bring you more coverage as VDay approaches, but in the meantime, get your tickets for the dinner and a show right here.

Stay tuned for more events and updates from us! We hope to see you soon.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 12/4, 12/5, & 12/6

By: Hannah Oreskovich

You sure have kept us busy this week Boulder! There have been so many performances and music happenings- and now it’s time for the weekend! Here are our picks:

Today (Friday, 12/04)

Derek Weiman and The Farmer Sister at The Laughing Goat 8PM-Close

For the ladies: Derek Weiman.

For the ladies: Derek Weiman.

Sometimes you just wanna ease into your weekend. We get that. But don’t Netflix and chill all night frand! Get out and check out Boulder’s Derek Weiman at The Laughing Goat tonight instead! You can sit down, drink some coffee, and enjoy Weiman and The Farmer Sisters bringing you sounds on vocals, guitar, and piano. Did we mention Weiman allegedly played Red Rocks at 12 years old with Santana? Yeah- that allegedly happened. This show is officially the perfect start to your evening.

Envy Alo at The No Name Bar 10PM-Close

Are you one of those music nerds who has to know what’s up with the newest of the new? Then tonight’s for you kid. Envy Alo, a supergroup comprised of members of Boulder’s Booster and Tenth Mountain Division, have joined together to bring you funk! And tonight is their debut show. So be that cool guy or gal telling everyone about the new group you just heard. Head to The No Name tonight.

Asalott at Bohemian Biergarten 11PM-Close

It’s hard to say whether or not it will be Asalott or das boot putting you in a trance tonight, but one thing’s for sure: it’s gonna be a realllll good one. This Boulder-based trio will be breaking beats and hearts on stage while you bust a move on the Biergarten dance floor. They’ve got a sweet set planned, so pencil them into your Friday night holmes. See yah there.

Tomorrow (Saturday, 12/5)

The Midnight Strange at Taco Junky 8PM-Close

Allegedly some of the members of The Midnight Strange.

Allegedly some of the members of The Midnight Strange.

We told you to go to the first Midnight Strange show back on Halloweekend and there was a reason Boulder: we really dig these boys. The Midnight Strange (formerly The Almond Butters) are rumored to have a lot of awesome new music written under their new moniker and they’ll be playing a ton of it for you tomorrow night. You can have it all: tacos, margaritas, and Jean du le Monde yelling at you from his drum kit. It’s gonna be a good one. Stop by the Junky.

Cold River City with Lula Granji and Tenth Mountain Division at The Fox Theatre 830PM-Close

Yes please Cold River City.

Yes please Cold River City.

Boulder’s own Cold River City are headlining The Fox for their third time and it’s going to be amazing folks. CRC, “the lovechild of funky soul and dirty blues,” are pumped to be playing a show at home and we’re told their set is going to be one of “the heaviest and best to date.” Boulder trio Lula Granji will be blasting you with some psychedelic jam rock after Boulder bluegrass/rockin’ funk group Tenth Mountain Division opens the show. It’s going to be a serious party. And we might even be bringing you some press on the event. Stay tuned.

The Next Day (Sunday, 12/6)

Willy Porter and Dave Tamkin at Shine Gathering Place 7PM-Close

Willy Porter rockin' out.

Willy Porter rockin' out.

Did we mention we’re partnering with Homevibe Presents to bring you some seriously awesome shows over the next few months? Well it’s happening. And Sunday is the first of the series! Willy Porter, the Wisconsin-bred singer-songwriter who has been touring internationally for 25 years with legends like Paul Simon and Jethro Tull, is playing Shine Sunday night. And Boulder-based musician Dave Tamkin, who will be playing some Chicago-fueled acoustic rock for your eardrums, is opening the show. Want more details? Then read our interview with these two here.

STACKED. This weekend is STACKED Boulder. Get out there!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Sunday's Show at Shine: An Interview with Willy Porter & Dave Tamkin

By: Hannah Oreskovich

We're running press at a Homevibe event, and you should come check it out. 

Hey Beaters. We’ve got a little more for you today than just the good ‘ol Weekend Six. We’re stoked to announce that we’ve partnered with Homevibe Presents for some of their upcoming shows, the first of which is THIS SUNDAY! Here are the deets:

Internationally touring rock musician Willy Porter is coming to town! And Boulder’s very own Dave Tamkin is opening up the evening show. The night will kick off at 7PM, tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), and it’s all going down at Shine.

Willy Porter is going to turn things upside down on Sunday. 

Willy Porter is going to turn things upside down on Sunday. 

This week, we caught up with Willy and Dave to chat about Sunday’s show. Read on:

So guys- first things first- what are you most looking forward to about Sunday’s show?

Willy: Seeing old friends always puts a spark in the show for me. That energy will be there for sure.

Dave: I’ve been working on some new tunes and I’m anxious to try them out in front of an audience that also appreciates Willy’s music.

All smiles with Dave Tamkin.

All smiles with Dave Tamkin.

And you guys have played a show together before, correct?

Dave: I actually opened up for Willy ten or twelve years ago in Chicago. We shared the stage at Lincoln Park Fest. I was young and very star struck. I’d been spinning Dog Eared Dream for eight or nine years already. The excitement was different then- I was more interested in showing [Willy] how much he influenced my guitar playing, and wanted to ask him about his family, his chord structures, and how life worked as a full-time musician.

Fast forward ten years and here I am devoting my life to what I love doing. After a five year break, I’m just starting up again and Willy Porter is still going strong. He’s an inspiration to me as a fantastic player and singer, and as a professional musician that continues to tour and make great albums.

Wow! That’s awesome. Willy- he’s got a point. We know you’ve essentially been on the road touring since your first commercial release in 1990- so tell us- what has it been like traveling as a musician for 25 years?

Willy: The road ‘bug’ hit me as a kid when I traveled throughout the Midwest with my dad. He was racing an Alfa Romeo sports car in those days, and I loved the travel, setting up the car and being a part of the caravan of racing gypsies. I simply couldn’t wait to go out on the weekends. To this day music touring brings the same emotion; it’s a gift.

Very cool. So current projects! Willy- tell us about the creative process behind your latest release Human Kindness. What inspired it, how long did you spend recording it, and who did you work with in-studio?

Willy: I spent about three years off and on writing, producing and mixing Human Kindness. It was a blast to make. I brought in some of my best friends from the road to join my core band including Natalia Zukerman, Martin Barre, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, and guitarist Val McCallum. I just wanted to make a record that was a fun ride from beginning to end. It was produced to peel away like an onion on repeated listens.

Tamkin.

Tamkin.

It definitely has that feel. And Dave, talk to us about your most recent work.

Dave: My last EP Cedar came out at the beginning of 2014. Since then, I have 12 more songs that I’ve written with friends Chris Webb, Josh Queen, and Daphne Willis that I want to record. I’m leaving this Monday to drive out to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to record at Crown Studios with Tim King and Dick Prall. Tim and Dick made a really fantastic album this past year, and if I can capture any essence of that, I’ll have a nice EP of songs co-written by some of my closest friends.

Carmen and Willy. 

Carmen and Willy. 

Awesome- Willy what are your plans for next year?

Currently we’re focussing on my next release slated for 2016- a duo collaboration with fellow singer/songwriter Carmen Nickerson.

Nice. I’m getting the vibe here that working with friends is the key to awesome music-making. And there are sure to be a lot of friends at Sunday’s show. Dave- you’ve played Shine before- what do you most enjoy about playing shows there?

Dave: Shine is an interesting place to play music. I’ve been there for a standing-only show where everyone danced, and I have played to an audience that sat and listened for pins to drop. The audience is there for one reason and that is to take in the show. There is no bar in the back or noise off the street. It’s a perfect listening room where the audience always seems to be on the same page.

Indeed. So jump on that page with us Boulder! Get your tickets for the show here. And check out Homevibe’s FB for event updates here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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