Music is Good For the Soul, But Our Musicians Are Struggling

The first week of October each year is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is a time dedicated to advocating for better mental health care, spreading awareness about the widespread prevalence of mental illness, and fighting the stigma that is often associated with mental health. Despite how far-reaching mental illness is, people who suffer are often met with misunderstanding and a lack of adequate mental health care.

Musicians are no exception to suffering from mental illness. It is no secret that living the life of an artist can be challenging, but if music is supposed to be good for the soul, why do so many musicians struggle with mental illness? After all, music has the ability to calm the mind and allow people to relate to circumstances that they are going through. Many people also promote the healing effects of music therapy for behavioral health. If music is really that good for health, musicians should be some of the healthiest individuals on the planet. However, this misconception couldn’t be more wrong. 

The 73 Percent Report

The Record Union conducted a survey of 1,500 independent musicians asking them about their mental health. Unfortunately, the results were staggering. The study found that 73% of independent musicians claimed to have experienced difficulties with their mental health - including stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, 33% claimed to have experienced panic attacks and 69% suffer from depression. 

Although the numbers of musicians who struggle with mental illness are devastating, only 39% sought treatment for their symptoms. Similarly, only 33% of struggling musicians aged 18-25 sought mental health care. On the other hand, 50% claimed that they self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

These numbers are substantially higher among musicians than they are among the general population. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018. In conclusion, musicians are far more likely to suffer from mental illness than the general population. This poses the question: If music is commonly used as a form of holistic therapy, and is so good for the soul, why are so many musicians suffering?

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Musicians and Mental Illness

Many well-known artists have also spoken up about how mental illness has affected them. One of them, who is constantly in the media, is Demi Lovato. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has struggled with substance abuse as well. Unfortunately, co-occurring mental illness and addiction are not uncommon. After all, people who suffer from mental illness are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse, and nearly 50% of people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness. In fact, we hear about co-occurring disorders among musicians all the time, from Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Mac Miller, just to name a few. 

While many artists struggle with it, sometimes to death, others use it as a method of empowerment. Take Kanye West, for example. He claims that his mental health condition is more like a superpower- it fuels his creativity. In addition, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, and J. Cole have also openly spoken up about having depression. Instead of fighting it or letting their mental health silence them, they speak out to encourage others to share their experiences with one another. Regardless of how musicians deal with their mental illness, the list of artists who struggle with their mental health is endless. 

Culture Shock

If you’ve ever moved to a new country, or from a big city to a small town, you are familiar with the term culture shock. It refers to a feeling of disorientation someone experiences when he or she is suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar way of life, culture, or attitudes. Culture shock can occur as a musician takes a leap into the spotlight. Between the stress of trying to get a big break in the industry, the constant criticism from producers, crowds, and media alike, the anxiety of performing, and the overwhelming fans that refuse to back off, it is no wonder that problems with mental health can take a serious toll on the well being of artists. 

The music industry is brutal, and many will spend years making the effort to achieve their dreams just to be told they aren’t good enough. Negative emotions can trigger self-doubt, depression, and even poor decision making. 

On the other hand, there are the ones who finally break through the industry into the spotlight. First, there are the media, following, dissecting, and often criticizing every decision made by artists. While there is plenty of good publicity, it is way more common to see bad publicity arise when a star is less than perfect. The media and the fans sometimes idolize the stars, dehumanizing them and expecting them to behave impeccably. These ideas put a lot of pressure on celebrities.

On top of the media and overwhelming fans, there also comes the pressure of performing. When performing, the stress response is heightened, provoking a fight or flight response that leads to increased awareness and adrenaline levels. Sometimes, this makes for better performances. For others, however, prolonged stress can lead to panic attacks and long-term anxiety. 

The combination of stress, lack of privacy, and pressure that comes from being a famous artist can lead many to self-medicate or neglect seeking appropriate treatment to care for their mental health. It is clear that the climate of the music industry can be toxic for some, so what can be done to improve it?

Something Needs to Change

Any great change takes time. The media isn’t going to stop condemning mental breakdowns of artists any time soon. Fans aren’t going to stop idolizing stars just because we tell them to, and artists are always going to face pressure before putting on a performance. The good news is that some artists are speaking up about mental health. More and more people are beginning to show compassion for mental health rather than judgment. 

Johan Svanberg, CEO of Record Union, stated after publishing the 73 percent study, “It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success.” After all, the music industry is well aware of the toll that fame, fortune, and rejection alike takes on the mental health of artists. 

Instead of treating artists as a money-making product, they should be recognized as human beings who have feelings and needs. Record producers and managers should implement regular mental health checkups and take action to prioritize the mental health and well-being of their musicians. 

Similarly, fans and the general population should start speaking up about mental health, too. It is crucial to learn more about mental illness and how symptoms may appear in order to gain an understanding of what others may be going through. Most importantly, allow yourself to see the person, rather than the illness. Share your own story about your struggles with mental illness and how you have found healthy ways of coping. The more it is spoken about with compassion and understanding, the more awareness can be spread. Fighting the stigma of mental illness is essential to encouraging people who are suffering to get the help they need. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, reach out. You can call 1-800-622-HELP to speak with someone immediately. Learn more about this hotline here.

Additionally, if you’re one of our Colorado readers, consider joining the Mental Wellness Meetup and check out this Colorado Crisis Services website too.

Venture Into Spectra Art Space's Psychedelic Portal of Purgatory with Synesthesia This October

By: Chris Garcia

If its name Spookadelia doesn’t have you intrigued, then its exhibitions will. Described as a “psychedelic immersive art and theatrical experience,” the spectacle opens this Saturday, October 5th from 7PM-11PM and is presented by Spectra Art Space and Synesthesia. 

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Spectra Art Space is known for their contemporary art exhibitions and detailed immersive experiences which cultivate and inspire creativity, and Spookadelia will be no different. Guests who dare to enter will embark on a narrative-driven journey through otherworldly realms and planes of existence. There will be a variety of installations created by local artists including Lexi Lund & The PussayHaus collective (who built Natura Obscura), DAS who will be working with Denver’s Meow Wolf, and the Spectra Team, who have created installations for the Underground Music Showcase Odyssey.

Venture in and be guided through this psychedelic portal of purgatory into the world of the Spectra Specter. It’s unquestionable that the experience will captivate you as each room and section is an immersive, interactive and mind-bending voyage. Expect to be challenged on social and environmental issues, and explore the layers of the human psyche, all while participating in a fresh take on the haunted experience. The installations and experiences are sure to frighten, but will also be family-friendly. In addition, the spooktacular exhibition will feature performance artists curated by Kayla Smith, whose involvement in local theater includes working with Adams Mystery Playhouse and Fearless Theatre

Starting this Saturday, October 5th and running through November 3rd, dive deep into the unknown world of Spookadelia! Experience the art. Immerse yourself in a new haunted experience. Open your mind. Tickets will be available for a timed entry which will give you access to the installation for an hour on the date specified; purchase them here!

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

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

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

Culliton in the video for “A House.”

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

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

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

-Julia

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

BANKS Took Us Out of the Greyzone and Brought Us Into the Light at Recent Denver Show

By: Taylor Naiman

Last Thursday night, avant-pop singer Banks, a.k.a Jillian Rose Banks, brought her lighting ensemble and edgy synths to the Fillmore Auditorium for her III Tour. Named after her most recent album, III, she chose this particular moniker “to symbolize a lifecycle.” After a small hiatus since her last album, with this release it’s clear that Banks has honed in on her vision and what she values as an artist in this industry. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

During her set, she took some time to share a beautiful poem she wrote called “Ode to the Greyzone,” and a quiet fell across the room. She added that this title was a potential contender for the album title before III was chosen. Banks does not define her chapters by a single word or title, but rather she wants to characterize it by the stage in life she is in. She has found an outlet through poetry and uses it to influence her songwriting. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Onstage, Banks was youthful and fun, with many people in the audience cheering, “I love her!” and “She is so cute!” Her Denver fans clearly appreciated this unique opportunity to gain a deeper insight into her spirit, personality, and the happiness she shared with the crowd while performing.

One captivating aspect of her performance was her light show; it appeared as though she was controlling it. Her light rig was other-worldly and vibrant, reminiscent of being in a hip, new nightclub where the lights constantly changed to match both the mood and tempo of every track. From the lights to the dancing, her set was purposeful. An emphasis of glow was placed on every color of the light spectrum, while Banks looked as if she was manipulating the placement of the light as she moved. Her movements guided these lights and she continued to influence their motion. Every component worked well in unison, and cohesively. Supported by her two matching backup dancers, there was a strong interpretive dance presence and a well-executed choreography.

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Banks’ set was sultry and undoubtedly classy. All of her dancers were dressed in black, and with a combination of lace and leather, Banks donned shiny thigh-high boots and a slicked-back bun. These fashion choices were definitely meant to look chic to match the edgy tones within her voice. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

The audience was able to hear a vast and expansive setlist from a few of her singles, and her albums The Altar, Goddess and a majority from III. Her music gave us all the R&B and alt-pop feels, but it was nice to see both variety and a sense of evolution over the course of her releases. Some of the best tracks from her show included “Till Now,” “Gimme,” “Underdog,” “Waiting Game,” “Propaganda,” “Gemini Feed,” and “F*** With Myself.” And if you weren’t dancing along, did you even feel the groove? To balance the mood, she sprinkled in some slower tunes too, including “Better,” “Contaminated” and “Drowning,” among others. Her encore ended with “Beggin for Thread,” and even though she seemed slightly worn out by this time, the audience was still full, and appeared pleased with a great performance. With a powerful voice that exudes a combination of soul and harmony all by itself, Banks has a voice that has to be heard live to fully appreciate it. 

Head over to Spotify and follow Banks for some more seductive slow jams, and to hear some of our favorites. Her tour continues here.

-Taylor

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

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

By: Emily Shuey

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

Demi Demitro of The Velveteers.

Demi Demitro of The Velveteers.

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

Adrian Pottersmith & John Demitro.

Adrian Pottersmith & John Demitro.

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

A fan in the band’s merch.

A fan in the band’s merch.

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

Pottersmith in the crowd.

Pottersmith in the crowd.

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

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

See more photos from this show here.

-Emily

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

Day N Vegas Just Might Have the Ultimate 2019 Festival Lineup

By: Luis Castro

With a star-studded lineup, Day N Vegas is bringing together some of the best names in hip-hop, and is making a strong case for festival of the year. Dreamville, Astroworld, and Top Dawg Entertainment will join forces during the weekend to bring fans the best experience possible. Kickstart the weekend with Dreamville's J. Cole, J.I.D, Bas, Earthgang, and Saba. The energy will only continue with Juice Wrld, Denzel Curry, Lil Mosey, Comethazine, and Lil Uzi Vert (who, if he drops Eternal Atake beforehand, fans are in for a treat.)

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Saturday, we'll be left stargazing after Travis Scott, Migos, 21 Savage, Da Baby, and Sheck Wes, who are definitely must-sees as their festival experience has taught them how to master a crowd and keep the energy high. Lil Nas X proved he's way more than just a one hit wonder with his new 7" EP this year too, and we can't wait for this young talent to perform it! 

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Sunday really will be a fun day for Day N Vegas’s close-out with a TDE heavy lineup. Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, Jay Rock, School Boy Q, and Kendrick Lamar will put the cherry on top to an already amazing festival lineup. Tyler the Creator will pay Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver a visit just a month before Day N Vegas, which will likely be a great preview to what will surely be an energetic set. Brockhampton, Ski Mask the Slump God, and Flatbush Zombies will make sure all the jumping and hype is well alive throughout the day too.

Overall, this is one fest we can’t wait for! Close out the 2019 music season with us in Vegas for more than just a day. Get your tickets here

-Luis

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

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

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

Kiltro.

Kiltro.

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

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

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

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

-Julia

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

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

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

Kyle Emerson.

Kyle Emerson.

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

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

-Julia

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

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

By: Adrienne Thomas 

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

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

Y La Bamba.

Y La Bamba.

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

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

FRIDAY 07/26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SATURDAY 07/27

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

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

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

3:00 Whole Milk @ Skylark Lounge - Surf jazz

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

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

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

7:00 OptycNerd @ Blue Ice - Electro indie pop 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY 07/28

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

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

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

3:20 Kyle Emerson @ Goodwill - Buzzy indie rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Adrienne 

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

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

By: Taylor Naiman

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

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Bishop Briggs. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

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

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

CHRVCHES. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

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

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

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

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Adrienne Thomas

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

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

See more photos from this festival here.

-Taylor 

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

Color Red Studios Releases Dragondeer's Latest Digital 45 Record

By: Mirna Tufekcic

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

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

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

-Mirna

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

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

By: Adam Cabrera

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

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

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

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

Professor Plumb Band Poster Four Corners Logo Bigger Centered.jpg

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

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

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

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

Professor Plumb.

Professor Plumb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep up with Professor Plumb here.

-Adam

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

Nick Murphy fka as Chet Faker Hits Ogden Theatre This Friday With New Music

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Here’s a little gossip for you: not long ago, legendary music producer Rick Rubin hit up Nick Murphy, the artist formerly known as Chet Faker, to suggest they collaborate and create some music together. Murphy wasn’t convinced. But after some sweet talking and email exchanges (and the irresistible gravity of Rubin’s reputation), Murphy found himself working with Rubin at Shangri La, Malibu’s famous music studio. Rubin was also the first to throw out the idea that Chet Faker change his artist name back to his birth name, a risk Murphy took for the betterment of himself as an artist, even at the risk of losing everything he built as Chet Faker. A brave and genuine move, it beckons respect and sparks an interest in hearing his new stuff and upcoming projects.

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Fast forward to April 2019, when Run Fast Sleep Naked was released as Nick Murphy’s latest project, co-produced by Dave Harrington. Murphy’s album is actually pretty good. It’s definitely NOT Chet Faker. Though his voice is still recognizable, everything else about the songs and the album as a whole is refreshingly new. Since its release, it has received a number of positive reviews. The AV Club even wrote, "Run Fast Sleep Naked is Murphy’s unbridled catharsis, vacillating between starry-eyed epiphany and startling heartache. It’s a bumpy ride, but still one worth taking."

Curious about seeing Murphy’s transformation in person? Lucky for you, he’s headed to Denver this week! Nick Murphy hits the Ogden Theatre this Friday, June 21st with tickets here. See you at the show!

-Mirna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pink Fuzz.

Pink Fuzz.

Did anything interesting happen during the filming of the video?

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

Pink Fuzz. Photo Credit:   Vossling

Pink Fuzz. Photo Credit: Vossling

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

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

Spooky! What else is Pink Fuzz planning for 2019?

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

6|13 recordBar | KANSAS CITY, KS

6|14 Replay Lounge | LAWERENCE, KS

6|15 AUNTIE MAES | MANHATTAN, KS

6|18 TOTAL DRAG Records | SIOUX FALLS, SD

6|19 The Zoo Bar | LINCOLN, NE

6|20 TBA | COLUMBIA, MO

6|21 TBA | ST. LOUIS, MO

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

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

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

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

By: Mirna Tufekcic

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

Lettuce. Photo Credit: Casey Flanigan

Lettuce. Photo Credit: Casey Flanigan

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

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

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

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

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

-Mirna

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

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

By: Moriel O'Connor

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

The riots at Stonewall. Photo credit unknown.

The riots at Stonewall. Photo credit unknown.

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

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

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

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

-Moriel

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

The River Arkansas Releasing New Record & Embarking on Colorado Tour

By: Mirna Tufekcic

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

The River Arkansas. Photo Credit:   Art Heffron

The River Arkansas. Photo Credit: Art Heffron

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

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

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

Photo Credit:   Art Heffron

Photo Credit: Art Heffron

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

-Mirna

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

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

By: Julia Talen

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

ZEMBU.

ZEMBU.

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

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

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

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

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

-Julia

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

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

By: Will Baumgartner

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

Alex Mackenzie-Low.

Alex Mackenzie-Low.

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

How did StW get started?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A-Mac and The Height.

A-Mac and The Height.

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

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

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

-Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Buck. Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Will Buck. Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What happened next?

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

Did anyone else work on “Fuse”?

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

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

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

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

What inspired the story of the video?

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

Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What else will you be releasing this year?

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

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

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

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

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