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.

Review: Retrofette's New Single "Lover In Japan" Is a Tasty Summer Splash of Synthwave

By: Norman Hittle

Denver-based Retrofette are an electropop act with 80s era funk and a splash of synthwave. Their latest single, “Lover in Japan,” is due out just in time for summer. Check it out:

If you left it up to me to describe Retrofett’s sound, I would liken it to what might have happened if Broken Bells, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Prince, and David Bowie had the chance to record a song together. Is it that good?! Yes, yes it is.

Frontman Sean Culliton pretty much nailed the overall feel with his comments on the song when he told us, “Lyrically, (it’s) a melancholy note written to an estranged lover. But sonically, it's a sunny day at the beach with neon sunglasses and volleyball montages.”

Retrofette. 

Retrofette. 

The band is the byproduct of keyboardists Sean Culliton and Xavier Provencher's love for vintage synthesizers and sweaty dance floors. Joined by synth bassist Ben Weirich and drummer Dylan Johnson on stage, the quartet’s brand of 80s-tinged synthpop was born in March of 2016. Aside from this single, Retrofette released its debut three-song EP I Don’t Mind in 2016. They have also played BolderBeat’s Official Showcase at 2017’s Underground Music Showcase, been listed as one of 303 Magazine's top Denver acts to see, and selected as the “Best Pop” act of 2017 by Westword Magazine.

The guys will be celebrating the release of “Lover in Japan” this Saturday, June 2nd at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. The night will also feature sets from Motion Trap and DJ Clay Cornelius. Tickets and show details here.

-Norman

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

Colorado Music Festivals 2018: Your Official Guide To Fest Season

Festival season is the biggest time of the year for the music world. So here at BolderBeat, we’ll be updating this feature with every Colorado festival announcement that comes our way. Stay as on the pulse as we are:

May Play Music Festival May 11th

Downtown Greeley is hosting their fourth annual May Play fest with artists like The Burroughs, Brent Cowles, Slow Caves, Silver & Gold, and Post Paradise on the bill. There are a ton of other great local artists to check out, so swoop details and tickets here.

Spread The Word Music Festival May 11th-13th

Taking place at Denver’s Fox Street Compound, Spread The Word features a mix of local and national artists with styles including rock, jam, funk, reggae, hip-hop, folk/grass, electronic and fusion. Headliners of this year's fest include Jeff Austin Band (formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band), Everyone Orchestra (conducted by Matt Butler), A-Mac & The Height, and Bass Physics. Full lineup here.

303 Music Festival May 17th

Hosted by Ru Johnson at Denver's The Church, 303 Magazine is bringing you one awesome night of local music. Trev Rich, CITRA, Eldren, and The Other Black are just some of the bands on the lineup. Full details and tickets here

Five Points Jazz Festival May 19th

This FREE annual festival is back this year in Denver's Five Points neighborhood and will feature artists like Jakarta, The King Stan Band, Impulse, The Hendersons, Patrick McDevitt Nation, and more. You can bounce between venues or just walk around and take in all the good sounds. Full lineup and details here.

Mountain Games June 7th-10th

GoPro is putting on a festival in Vail with headliners like Chris Robinson Brotherhood, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Bonfire Dub, and The Wood Brothers. The weekend will also feature a slew of athletic events, including competitions for your dog, a silent disco, and art exhibits. You can grab tickets to Mountain Games here.

Greeley Blues Jam June 8th-9th

The Greeley Blues Jam keeps the blues scene alive and this year, their lineup includes The Devon Allman Project, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, and Danielle Nicole. This is one weekend you’ll enjoy being blue. Full lineup on their website.

Taste of Fort Collins June 8th-10th

The 22nd annual Taste of Fort Collins headliners include William Michael Morgan, Eddie Money, Everlast, and Judah & the Lion. Tickets are only $5-$10 and the fest is hosted at Civic Center Park in Old Towne. Grab more info on their website.

Country Jam June 14th-17th

Grand Junction will host Country Jam’s 27th annual four-day fest this year. Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Brett Eldredge, and Big & Rich top the headliners list of the 30+ artists that will play to your boot kickin’ desire. Surrounded by the red rocks of GJ, this festival annually hosts some of the biggest names in country music. More info at this link.

Sonic Bloom Festival June 14th-17th

If you like electronic music, there’s no better place to be than Colorado’s Sonic Bloom Festival. Happening at Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country, the weekend will feature performances from Shpongle, Keys N Krates, Nightmares On Wax, Liquid Stranger, EOTO and a huge array of other beatmasters. The festival will also feature yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists. And did we mention the visuals? Full lineup here.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 15th-18th

Telluride Bluegrass Festival celebrates its 45th year this summer! Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, and Leftover Salmon top the fest’s 2018 list. We can tell you from past experience that this fest is magical and we’ve even met some our favorite musicians at (where else?) the Port-a-Potties. More info and tickets here.

Cover Rock Festival June 22nd-23rd

Looking for tunes from tribute bands? This festival is all about it. Hosted in Avon, Cover Rock Festival will feature tributes to artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, the late Tom Petty (RIP!!), and others. More info and tickets here.

Westword Music Showcase June 23rd

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host their annual summer celebration this year. With Galantis, Bonobo, The Front Bottoms, Joywave, and a ton of local artists, this will be one to clink a summer beer to and enjoy. More info and tickets on their website.

Van’s Warped Tour July 1st

Warped Tour recently announced that 2018 will be the last year for the traveling festival. Though much has changed since what was arguably Warped Tour’s heyday (moshing is now frowned upon), we’re still sad to see it go. Give these bands a proper send-off- locals 30H!3 are top-billed with acts like All Time Low, Asking Alexandria, and more. Tickets here.

Colorado Rocky Mountain Old Time Music Association (CROMA) July 11th-15th

CROMA's annual Parrish Ranch festival features a great old-time music lineup, workshops, nightly dances, open jams, classes for kids, open stage times, and couples dance workshops. The festival manages to keep old traditions alive while also bringing a modern twist to some elements. Artists at this year's fest will include Bryant and Brown, The Onlies, Betse & Clarke, The Barn Owls, Patt and Possum, Caroline Oakley, Chris Kemiet, and Larry Edelman. Get full details and tickets here.

The Ride Festival July 14th-15th

The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, and Grace Potter will headline The Ride Festival this year, another Telluride fest that is sure to get you groovin’. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something, and others will keep your summer-chill vibes in check at this one. Full lineup here.

Global Dance Festival July 20th-21st

If you’re ready to dance, Global’s got a crazy mix of electronic and hip-hop artists like Deadmau5, Gucci Mane, Future, and Machine Gun Kelly topping their list. The event is at Sports Authority Field this year and you can snag tickets here.

The Underground Music Showcase July 27th-29th

One of our absolute favorite weekends of the summer is Denver’s The UMS due to its focus on local artists, and all the fun that comes along with wandering around the South Broadway venues hosting the three-day event. In news this year, Two Parts has taken over the event. This year's lineup is stellar with headliners like Alvvays, BJ the Chicago Kid, Classixx, Deerhunter, Digable Planets and over 100 local artists who we absolutely adore. Tickets and full details here

Rockygrass Festival July 27th-29th

Bluegrass, bluegrass, and more bluegrass. That’s what Rockygrass in Lyons is all about! Last year, the festival showed us the changing face of the genre. This year, Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, David Grisman and Peter Rowan, and Hot Rize are already confirmed for this pickin’ celebration, so get your tickets now. More info and tickets at this link.

ARISE Music Festival August 3rd-5th

Colorado’s ARISE is back for its sixth year at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films! Some of the top billed artists for 2017 include Slightly Stoopid, Thievery Corporation, and Trevor Hall. Get more details here.

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest August 10th-12th

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in the historic downtown of Fort Collins. Bohemian Nights headliners this year include The Motet, Blondie, and The Decemberists. The festival also hosts a number of local bands on their stages- get the full schedule and details for the weekend here.

Local Jam Grand Junction August 10th-12th

Known for its "creativity, passion, dedication, style,  [and] massive talent," Grand Junction's three-day festival Local Jam is a celebration of Western Slope bands ranging from metal to bluegrass. Stray Grass, Jack + Jill, Suckafish, Tim + Richard, and others have been announced for the year. Full details and lineup here.

Mountain Town Music Festival August 17th-18th

Back for its fifth year, Keystone’s Mountain Town Music Festival features a mix of rock and grass bands like Ages & Ages, Mipso, Strange Americans, and Shovels & Rope. The fest is a celebration of “all things Colorado” so you can expect some good brews along with the shows. More info and tickets here.

Velorama Colorado August 17th-19th

Following the Colorado Classic bicycle race, Velorama is returning to Denver’s RiNo Neighborhood for its second year this summer. Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and The Kills are the bands announced so far, and you don’t have to bike in the race to partake in the party. Plus local acts Brent Cowles, Wildermiss, and Slow Caves are on the bill! More about this new fest here.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival August 17th-19th

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival showcased artists who brought current politics into their tunes last year, bringing people together in solidarity. Along with its songwriting workshops, the Lyons, CO fest created an awesome artistic community that managed to showcase great national acts too. Indigo Girls, Jeff Tweedy, and Los Lobos have been announced for this year’s fest. Tickets here.

Compound Sound Festival August 24th-26th

Boogie Groove Entertainment is producing this year's first annual Compound Sound. What started as friends performing at a private ranch in 2009 has officially launched into a major music festival. Along with headliners like Cycles, Lucid Vision, Tnertle, and Spectacle, the fest will also have food trucks and vendors, yoga and flow workshops, a healing village and "many more shenanigans." Details and tickets here

Four Corners Folk Festival August 31st-September 2nd

Pagosa Springs 23rd annual Four Corners Folks Fest is ready for a campout with bands like Nahko And Medicine For The People, Amy Helm, We Banjo 3, and Jon Stickley Trio. The weekend will also feature jam camps for kids and adults, and lots of tasty local vendors. See more for yourself and grab camping info and tickets here.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass August 31st-September 2nd

Lionel Richie, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Fitz and the Tantrums, Gary Clark Jr., Bahamas, and The Record Company are the big acts at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day event this year. JAS has a smaller June event too, which will feature Lizz Wright, Leslie Odom Jr., Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Josh Kagler and Harmonistic Praise Crusade, and Georgia On My Mind: A Tribute To Ray Charles. Details on both events here.

Seven Peaks Music Festival August 31st-September 2nd

Dierks Bentley is throwing a three-day music festival in Chaffee County this year with headliners like Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, Elle King, Lanco, Del McCoury, Sam Bush and The Cadillac Three. The new fest is a real treat for country lovers and the scenery of Buena Vista sure won't hurt! Get details and tickets here.

Denver Jazz Festival September 14th-16th

With a mix of local and international jazz acts, Denver Jazz Festival promises over 600 dancers and listeners for their three-day fest. Hal Smith's Swing Central, Jonathan Doyle Swingtet, Red Hot Rhythm Rocket, and many others are on the lineup. Check out news and get tickets here.

Grandoozy September 14th-16th

Superfly, the geniuses behind Bonnaroo, are bringing Grandoozy to Denver this year! In what could possibly be the biggest festival production the state has seen, headliners have already been announced and include Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine, and Stevie Wonder. Sturgill Simpson, Miguel, and St. Vincent have also made the list; Denver-based acts Tennis, Dragondeer, Gasoline Lollipops, and Flaural will perform as well. This fest is our most highly anticipated of 2018 so don’t snoozy- Tier 1 tickets are already sold-out so grab your passes here.

Telluride Blues & Brews September 14th-16th

As regular festivalgoers of Blues & Brews say, “It's not the altitude that'll take your breath away. It's the views.” That, and of course, the music. This year, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Govt Mule, Booker T’s Stax Revue, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Anders Osborne will headline. Early bird tickets are already sold-out, so grab passes while you can here.

Festivals of The Past

Wondering what happened to some of your other favorite Colorado festivals? Project Pabst dissipated into the PBR-fueled mountain air with no Denver announcement this year (but Superfly who put it on is the force behind Grandoozy). Bass Center is now in Virginia after the fest was first moved from Colorado to New Jersey last year; Divide Music Festival, who were rumored to return this year, has now been postponed until 2019 stating, “greater forces are working against us;” Groove Festival’s web presence is still replaced by this Japanese site making us still question everything; Mad Decent Block Party appears to have officially gone off the radar; Riot Fest has again only listed its Chicago date in 2018 after the fest cancelled its Denver show last year; and Vertex (which we freakin’ loved) appears to be a distant dream after it was cancelled in 2017.

Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all summer on BolderBeat’s dedicated fest page!

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

I Traded Bison Bone Some Mangoes For A Great Conversation & Some Heartfelt Tunes

By: Joliene Adams

I arrived with two mangoes and departed empty handed, heart full, reeking of campfire at the next morning’s unrelated 8AM professional meeting for my day job. I blame and thank two fifths of Denver’s cosmic country band Bison Bone: Brianna Straut (vocals, harmonica, tambourine) and Courtney Whitehead (vocals, guitar, songwriting). Both are singer-songwriters in their own right, currently on tour performing both as individuals but also as a stripped down Bison Bone duo. Brianna is also a member of Denver’s Americana folk group Tomahawk Fox, where she handles vocals and rhythm guitar.

Brianna & Courtney.

Brianna & Courtney.

They stopped off at Patterson Alley in Eugene to play the outdoor backyard alley house venue; the backyard that pulls a lot of shows and knows how to host food and drinks with fancy strung up lights and all. Denver’s own King Cardinal has also played here within the last year.

The Beer Pairing

Naturally, the first thing I wanted to know was: What kind of beer best pairs with your music? Brianna infectiously belly laughs, endearing her to anyone in earshot.

She explains: “That’s really funny. We talked about that on the way up here and about making a little flyer for all the shows, and saying with each song of mine, or his, or us together, which beer goes with it.”

Courtney chimes in that as for the band’s sound overall? “Probably some kind of sour.”

More laughter from Brianna, then from Courtney and myself reflexively as a doctor’s knee-hammer at just the right spot on the patella. That the two are sardonically earnest comes through in interview as much as it does in their lyrical content.

10984467_427847760722430_3469328539989241316_n.jpg

Brianna swiftly recovers, reflecting on her own personal singers-songwriter musician sound: “Probably some kind of pale ale.” She specifies: “an Oskar Blues [pale ale but consumed] at a tasting room in Austin, Texas.” Brianna grew up in east Texas and last lived in Austin before her move to Denver. “So a little bit Texas, a little bit Colorado,” she explains. Courtney hails from Oklahoma.

Silence lingers in the air for a moment. “Yeah, sour.” he chimes. More laughter from all.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ass-Busting

It’s a fine line between surviving and surthriving in this world. Musicians often endure this reality acutely. Bless their darn hearts. Brianna and Courtney opened up about it.

Courtney first: “You know, whether you’re creating new music or rotating band members, people don’t realize [the hard work it takes]. They show up in their town and they’re ready to party.”

Yet Courtney and Brianna’s own appreciation for their encountered gains is as blatant as it is poignant.

“This tour has been really incredible and I think it’s always like such an amazing way to see how people respond to this travelling circus we have… The way that they like welcome you with open arms… the last place we were in we were staying at this girl’s house for two days. She hosted us for a night of music. We have some friends that live there that took us out, they bought us drinks, they spent a lot of money on merch… [and this girl] was just constantly leaving little notes out for us and it was just that kind of stuff is like what really helps move us on to the next place. Not only monetarily but just like…”

Courtney pipes in, “... soulfully.”

I sat there thinking, "They brought music and all I brought were two mangoes. At least I brought mangoes? At least I brought mangoes."

Brianna continues, “It keeps our spirits up because it’s really hard whenever you go back you’ve got, you know, we’ve got our bills to pay, we’ve got everything else… you know we have life and society telling us we are doing something that’s so bizarre. But it’s really nice to see what it ignites in people… it opens our eyes up to really great times of people just being really wonderful in a time that’s really hard to see the good in people.”

13533303_595752710598600_1714115747438199050_n.jpg

Brianna and Courtney take their music and that appreciative attitude on the road. I can only hope they see that they themselves embody showing the good, being the uplifting and relatable in the tough times.

Songs like Courtney’s solo performance of Bison Bone’s "Walls,” which is about coming home for the first time after your dog’s died but is relatable in terms of other loss, may not be happy sunshine feel-good uplifting, but people need the real and relatable so hard sometimes and particularly in hard times all the more. We all need the keep-it-realers and these two are expert at it.

Nine times out of ten, someone will appreciate your saying, “sometimes life gives you lemons and makes you eat them rinds and all” far more than “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” on a bad day. I’m not suggesting negative is good, but that real and raw, empathy and emotional insight matter a hell of a lot; Brianna and Courtney are capable of bringing that and it rings loud and true in what they do together and apart. They touch you right where your wounds are in a way that might hurt, but simultaneously cleanses and heals like castille soap on a newly scraped knuckle.

The Band Description

Bison Bone’s band description is that of  “a working class cosmic country band from Denver, CO.” Previously, Daniel Mescher of Colorado Public Radio (CPR) and Tom Murphy of Westword both asked Courtney what puts the “cosmic” in the “cosmic country.” Much of it comes down to the psychedelic influences of the 60s and 70s that blend with the country at the roots. I probed the “working class” element.

Courtney explains, “I would say that mostly when we talk about that [the working class element], obviously any band now can say that with regards to the way they work: loading their own shit, buying their own van, running around doing everything, that kind of do-it-your-own. Even if you are playing a thousand-person venue in any city, you know, you’re still doing a lot of that on your own. Creating your own art, creating your own merch… But when I describe it that way [as a working-class band], I’m mostly talking about it lyrically, and somewhat sonically. We write about the stories we know- where we come from, the people we know, and we come from a working-class background.”

The Road Test

Even when it isn’t raining everything is wet, always, in Oregon Octobers; dampness, cold from the inside to the brim of your bones. It lent itself to habitual bouts of guitar tuning this eve. But tuning guitars in different environments is ultimately the first step to tweaking perspective and being self–reflective for these two.

Brianna reflects, “You can only play so much in your hometown. But when you’re playing a different place each night [on the road], to a different crowd, you really get to test out and see new stuff.”

Courtney adds, “Yeah, I like to use the word road tested or lived in… it is different to drive somewhere, show up, load your stuff up, set up, and then you may play a song that you’ve played thousands of times before but it’s going to feel different in that place if it’s your first time being in that venue or geographical location.”

13310462_594137710760100_212398958544277436_n.jpg

The road, currently, is a way to help the pair try out new tunes. I naively assumed it was about promoting Bison Bone’s History of Falling album, out this past April. The 10-song, approximately 47-minute album is no longer the primary focus. It was initially recorded around a year ago but now, the band is learning from what it was and moving on towards what they want to be(come).

The Artistic Process

Bison Bone’s History of Falling was by and large a live, in-studio recording. Research tells me this is partly a function of preference, partly a function of time and expense. Research, listening, and an interview also tell me the band is highly process and discovery-oriented. They are at once intuitive, attentive, attuned, and insightful.

Courtney resonates, “[A] lot of it, you know, as any artist from any medium- a lot of what you’re doing is taking stuff and throwing it against the wall and seeing if it sticks and adjusting after that, you know.”

As for the storytelling that at least partly drew Courtney to country, it often first comes with a melody. If “it’s a happier melody,” you’re more liable to think of a happy story you know from real life, “but if it’s something sadder, like in a minor key, you’re probably going to write something mad or sad,” Courtney clarifies, the latter being much more of what Bison Bone naturally leans into. But again, Courtney pins down the whole statement by reflecting on the process, and how the melody “kind of does the job itself if you allow it to get out of the way.” It’s a touch and go of inception and discovery.

Note to self: throw the pizza against the wall and see what happens, but don’t stand in the path of the pizza’s trajectory. That’s where art comes from. End essay.

The Relationship Business And Next Big Thing

In an AXS interview “Get to Know a Denver Band” with Alli Andress, Courtney reflected on learning that “it’s not the music business, it’s the relationship business.” That’s a good chunk of what being on the road is about for these two. It’s about the relationship with the people and places they encounter, the relationship to their music, and the relationship between the two and the three back in Colorado.

13529218_594137137426824_2212599760890174001_n.jpg

“Next we’ve got a lot of shows,” Brianna informs, adding, “We’re looking forward to getting a new album out and working on that with the band, coming back with what we’ve learned from tour.” As for the pair, “The biggest impact I’ve seen [on the road] is the way we communicate. Bring tired, being hungry, and working every day, and uncomfortable… that will strengthen us as two friends in our friendship and in our relationship professionally.”  

Courtney resonates, “You just learn so much [on the road] and you’re excited to put whatever you learned into practice.” He reflects that since History of Falling, Bison Bone had a great year that followed, playing a lot of great Colorado shows, festivals, and playing in New Mexico.

“Doors were opened and it’s allowed us to keep moving forward... I think that’s what we’re always excited about is when we do something new. When we come back to something a little more normal or routine, we’re going to come back and be way beyond the levels that we were at in most normal situations before. Just more professional, more sonically in tune, just better at all aspects of it; more efficient with all of it and getting a better ear and growing patience and figuring it out. It’s just all problem solving, you know.”

12938339_558728757634329_6893413207141291214_n.jpg

As for what radio stations the band’s encountered on the road and recommends listening to? Podcasts. Particularly, Dan Savage Lovecast, Sword and Scale: A True Crime Podcast, The New Yorker podcast, and KCRW’s Left, Right, & Center podcast.

“Don’t listen to music!” Courtney fervently quipped when asked about radio stations. This time, the laughter was sufficient to garner glances from the gathering crowd at the stage. Really, it was Courtney’s way of saying we all need a break to produce our best when your passion is otherwise your every waking moment. Heed the intelligence.

Thank you Brianna and Courtney for your hard work and stout hearts. Everyone in Colorado check out Brianna at The Jamestown Mercantile this Friday, October 20th at 6PM. She masterfully blends crooning and lullaby, tinged with grace, humor, and aplomb. I can’t say enough about these guys and how much you’ll enjoy them live no matter what mood you are or aren’t in, or your feelings towards and preconceived notions about country generally.

Keep up with Bison Bone here.

-Joliene

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

Westword Music Showcase 2017 Had Denver's Golden Triangle Dancing In The Streets

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Last Saturday, Westword Music Showcase returned to Denver’s Golden Triangle for its 23rd year of festing. From local bands to the evening’s headliners, the entire day brought together the Denver community for great performances and enough Coors Light to quench the thirst of musicians and audience members alike.

The Revivalists at Westword Music Showcase.

The Revivalists at Westword Music Showcase.

The festival took place both on the designated event grounds where attendees flocked to the Coors Light & Mike’s Hard stages, and in surrounding bars and venues, where a majority of the local bands played. Headliners this year included Shakey Graves, The Revivalists, and Cut Copy. The main festival area hosted lounge seating by VIE Vaporizers, booze tents sponsored by Coors, Mike’s Hard, Milagro Tequila, and Reyka Vodka, and even a Mary Jane-friendly bus advertising Denver pot-stop tours.  

Edison.

Edison.

We started the day bouncing between some of the festival’s venue spots after catching Denver darlings Edison on the main stage. The usual trio played as a four-piece for the day, and put on a great set with Sarah Slaton’s strong storytelling and plenty of good Americana vibes. We caught Bison Bone getting everyone grooving over at #VYBE, and later caught Kissing Party there handing out tambourines to the crowd and getting everyone to tap along to their catchy pop tunes.

Television Generation rocked out over at Stoney’s Main, with quite a crowd for an earlier-in-the-day set. They’re definitely an indie rock band to catch live and keep your eye (and ears) on. The Lollygags were playing simultaneously at Stoney’s South, where their classic rock sounds had the audience dancing.

YaSi, who played with both a DJ and drummer behind her over at City Hall Amphitheatre, was one of our favorite sets of the day. She commanded attention with her strong vocals, and kept it by getting fans to groove right along with her. Big J. Beats later took the stage, looping guitars in with his beats after announcing, “This is actually the first time I’m doing all of this live.” Well done Big J. 

We rolled back to the main festival area during COIN, who brought an indie-pop flare to what was a pretty perfect 70-degree summer day. Shortly after, we jumped over to Bob Moses at Mike’s Hard Stage. The New York electronica duo actually played as a trio with a drummer for this show. They were fresh off their Electric Forest performance, and kept a crowd who was clearly there for them jumping around. 

The Revivalists. 

The Revivalists. 

The Revivalists, a New Orleans bred rock’n’roll seven-piece, packed the Coors Light stage next, and did just as their name implies, reviving and revamping the entire spirit of the day with what was an incredibly high-energy set. There wasn’t a soul in sight who wasn’t singing along with them on their recent radio hit “Wish I Knew You.” Frontman David Shaw jumped between the stage and the crowd throughout the band’s show, engaging everyone around him in the group’s stellar performance.  

Cut Copy.

Cut Copy.

Australia’s Cut Copy were next, and played their psych electric tunes just as the sun set, cruising festival-goers into the early evening over tasty electro vibes.  

Shakey Graves.

Shakey Graves.

Which brings us to the last set of what was ultimately a great day of shows: Shakey Graves. Though originally from Austin, TX, Shakey Graves has spent a fair part of his life in Colorado, even remarking during his performance how the band’s recent hit “Dearly Departed” (which features Esmé Patterson) was actually written in Boulder, CO prior to a Fox Theatre performance. He delivered a boot-stomping Americana set to close out the night for what was by far the largest crowd of the day, and his smiling and dancing soon caught on with the crowd, who were swaying and forming dance circles as he played.  

What magic will next year’s Westword Music Showcase hold? It’s safe to say we already can’t wait to find out after their successful 2017 festival. Check out our full photo gallery of the event here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Strings & Wood Bring Live Music To Your Living Room Or Garden And Keep The Indie Spirit Alive

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Keeping the intimate, indie, and low-key spirit of music concerts alive, Strings & Wood is a curated concert series led by Art Heffron, a steadfast lover of music with undying appreciation for singer/songwriters. Over the years, Strings and Wood has featured artists like Ark Life, Covenhoven, Rob Drabkin, and Anthony Ruptak, and in 2015 was voted best concert series by Westword.

Dusk at the Masala Co-Op Show.

Dusk at the Masala Co-Op Show.

Last Tuesday evening, Strings and Wood featured Anna Tivel from Portland, Oregon and Joe Johnson from Manitou Springs, CO at an outdoor garden concert hosted by Boulder’s Masala Co-op, one of the first co-ops in the city and most beloved homes on The Hill. Cosmic Collective, an artist collective in Boulder that seeks to harbor community and creativity for conscious artists, provided the gear and sound for the show. It was a splendid, collaborative affair.  

Anna Tivel.

Anna Tivel.

The garden concert opened up with Joe Johnson’s storytelling of “true stories” like that of Rattlesnake Kate and odes to great boxers like Muhammad Ali. His stories engaged the crowd, who sat on blankets in the green grass as the sun slowly began to sink behind the Flatirons.

Joe Johnson.

Joe Johnson.

As dusk turned to night, Anna Tivel serenaded the crowd. Opening up with a statement, “Living in Portland, Oregon where the sun doesn’t shine very often and people keep their heads down, rarely looking you in the eye, I write one happy song a year,” she played a happy-ish tune before taking us on a journey of beautifully written songs and melodies that had everyone in the crowd quietly attentive and introspective.  

The garden concert closed with Joe and Anna playing a John Prine cover, with the crowd singing along.

The crowd.

The crowd.

It was a lovely evening of music and art. Concert series like Strings and Wood truly have a magical way of bringing a community together where music lovers and musicians alike enjoy and respect each other’s company in art. Among the large venues and high-brow artists that come through Denver and Boulder, it’s refreshing to see a uniquely curated, intimate concert with up and coming artists as they cultivate their art and share it with the most respectful of spectators. Acknowledging these spectators, Anna turned to the crowd in the garden Tuesday night and said, “You guys should teach lessons in listening.”

If you’d like to see the last Strings and Wood concert series before it moves out to Portland, Oregon, you can check out The Backyard Shindig on July 28th and 29th presented by Strings and Wood and Mountain to Sound alongside The UMS in one of the neighborhoods in Denver on Broadway, where the UMS takes over.

-Mirna

All photos per Art Heffron & Skye Hughes. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat. 

"Artist on the Verge" Event This Saturday Features All Local, All Lady Lineup

By: Hannah Oreskovich

This Saturday, October 8th, CU’s Verge Campus chapter will hold its first “Artist on the Verge” event. Hosted by the awesome peeps over at Cosmic Collective, the night will feature music by four local female artists. Povi will headline the evening after Yasi, jilly.FM, and SIXXXD take the stage.

Povi, who recently released a visual arts video for her remix of Lil Yachty’s “Minnesota”, is an electronic soul and hip-hop artist based in Denver. Just last week, she shared a stage with NAO and RumTum at The Bluebird that we caught live, and her set was wicked. Check out our photos by Annie Kane from that event:

Yasi, another Denverette, will be bringing her singer/songwriter vibes to the room with music that she says, “I make to better understand the world.” Tight. Next is jilly.FM, who joined the Colorado scene in 2010 and has been on the come-up in the future R&B dance realm. Just this year, she was nominated for a Westword Music Award in the “Best DJ/Producer” category. Spins from her will be sweet, and SIXXXD will be poppin’ as well. Known as a member of the ZOIDcrew, SIXXXD works with hip-hop, world, trapsoul, and jazz music in her bumpin’ creations.

jilly.FM. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss

jilly.FM. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

Overall, it’s going to be one awesome night of all local; all ladies. Get your tickets here- they’re only $8 and it’s totally gonna be worth the dough. The show starts at 9PM. Go dance!

-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.

BolderBeat's Guide to Colorado's Summer Music Festivals 2016

By: Claire Woodcock

It finally feels like summer, so let's fest. 

We know you want to hit the festivals on our list. 

We know you want to hit the festivals on our list. 

It’s festival season, which has all of us here at BolderBeat elated. Press kits are flying, and we want you to be as on the curve as we are! So here are our top picks for Colorado’s summer music festivals:

Project Pabst May 20-21

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats at Denver's Project Pabst. 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats at Denver's Project Pabst. 

Project Pabst was a wild success,” were Zach Dahmen’s words in retrospect of the festival that rocked Denver a few weeks ago. We brought you exclusive coverage on Best Coast, TV on the Radio and more in our feature of the event. Relive that time Charles Bradley almost did the splits and The Violent Femmes helped us blister in the sun with our photos per Ian Glass.

Sasquatch Music Festival May 27-29

Kurt Vile at Sasquatch.

Kurt Vile at Sasquatch.

BolderBeat had a press invitation to Sasquatch Music Festival this year, so we threw down content on The Cure, Disclosure, Florence and the Machine, M83, Grimes, Sufjan Stevens, Purity Ring, Kurt Vile And The Violators, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats, and more! Take a scroll through our pictures right here and read over our recaps of the awesome weekend. It wasn't in CO folks, but it sure was awesome.

Sonic Bloom Festival June 16-19

The 11th annual Sonic Bloom Festival is coming up soon! This year, SB is at Hummingbird Ranch, nestled in the heart of Spanish Peaks country. The weekend will feature performances from Bonobo, Tipper, and a huge array of electronic beatmasters. The festival also features a crazy lineup of yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 16-19

Telluride's Bluegrass Festival has been a massive success for 43 years. 

Telluride's Bluegrass Festival has been a massive success for 43 years. 

Telluride is known as one of the best festival spots of the west, and Telluride Bluegrass Festival has been keeping that notoriety alive for 43 years! The festival dates fall on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, giving you the longest day of the year to wander from set to set. Guests this year include Ryan Adams, Neil Finn, Emmylou Harris, and more!

Westword Music Showcase June 25

Summer in the city at Westword's Music Showcase. 

Summer in the city at Westword's Music Showcase. 

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host more than 100 live acts, most of which are Colorado-based. Denver band 888 is slated to play one of Westword’s main stages, while Cold War Kids, Matt and Kim, and New Politics front a lineup sure to make this year’s showcase a success.

The Ride Festival July 9-10

Views on views at Telluride's Ride Festival.

Views on views at Telluride's Ride Festival.

The Ride Festival, another Telluride fest, is one of the first live music/camp combos of the summer. Since 2012, this festival has firmly established itself in rootsy rock vibes. This year’s headliners include Pearl Jam and Cage the Elephant.

The Divide Music Festival July 22-24

divide-2016-lineup.jpg

Divide in Winter Park is a new music festival in Colorado this year. Its lineup boasts performances by Bleachers, Cake, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Kid Cudi, Miike Snow and more! Festival perks include hiking, biking and yoga for festival-goers.

The Underground Music Showcase July 28-31

For many Colorado musicians, UMS is one of the biggest festivals of the summer. Performers on the national scene include San Francisco garage rockers Thee Oh Sees. Go celebrate over 100 local performers making it happen in CO's music scene at this Denver setup!

Bass Center July 29-30

Bassnectar is bringing a massive show to CO.

Bassnectar is bringing a massive show to CO.

California’s Bassnectar first brought Bass Center to Colorado in 2010; this festival is the traveling circus of electronic music. The Bassnectar tour travels with its own custom sound rig, and headlines some of the most noted venues in the country. Acts this year include Flux Pavilion, Flying Lotus, Wu-Tang Clan, and Lupe Fiasco. You can check it out in Commerce City, and there are two camping villages for the hardcores: “The Shire” and “Narnia”.

Vertex Festival August 5-7

At its core, Vertex is diverse music, outdoor adventure, and artful fun in beautiful Buena Vista, CO. Alabama Shakes and Odesza are two of the headliners, to give an idea of the range of performers on this lineup. We’re covering press at Vertex, so expect lots of info to hit our site over the summer on this one!

ARISE Music Festival August 5-7

Nighttime shows at Arise rule. 

Nighttime shows at Arise rule. 

Here’s another festival that is Colorado heavy. ARISE will take place at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch again this year, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films!

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest August 12-14

Did we mention this fest is free?

Did we mention this fest is free?

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in historic downtown Fort Collins. Local faves DeVotchKa and The Fray are headlining this bad boy, and there's a ton of other great local acts playing too. Check out the lineup here!

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival August 19-21

BYOBlanket to Rocky Mountain Folks Fest.

BYOBlanket to Rocky Mountain Folks Fest.

The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival is happening in Lyons, CO, a mountain town 15 miles north of Boulder that NPR’s All Things Considered once described as “the Nashville of the Rockies”. The festival recently added The Decemberists and Conor Oberst as national acts to their local lineup.

Riot Fest September 2-4

BolderBeat couldn’t be more excited to wrap up the summer festival roundup with Denver’s Riot Fest & Rodeo in September. With national acts like Sleater-Kinney, The Misfits and Yo La Tengo, to name a few, Riot Fest will be an explosive ending to the upcoming sunny summer of music!

Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all summer on our dedicated fest page!

-Claire

All photos per the festivals featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Homevibe for the Holidays: Danielle Ate The Sandwich This Saturday!

By: Hannah Oreskovich

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

Heyo Boulder! Happy Music Monday! Today, we’re excited to announce we’re partnering with Homevibe Presents for their 9th Annual Homevibe Holiday Concert this Saturday 12/12 at The Walnut Room in Denver. (PS: It's ski-themed, so break out your best gear!) This week, we’ll be bringing you content every day on different artists involved in the show!

Danielle Ate the Sandwich.

Danielle Ate the Sandwich.

First up: Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Danielle is a Colorado-based indie-folk singer/songwriter who is probably best known for her YouTube fame. Danielle started her musical career playing open-mics in Fort Collins and then began making quirky YouTube videos, which went VIRAL. She now has over 40k subscribers, has toured nationally with her music, and recently scored the soundtrack to the HBO documentary “Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Wilkinson.” Her sound has been described by Westword as, “cripplingly enchanting with lyrics telling the story of a generation coming of age in an age of uncertainty.” We can dig.

Recently, we chatted with Danielle about the upcoming Homevibe Holiday Concert. Check it out:

So Danielle, have you worked with Homevibe before?

I have worked with HomeVibe several times over the years [since] I’ve been playing music in the Denver scene. I think HomeVibe puts together great lineups with high quality artists. I really appreciate their attention to detail choosing the artists and decorating the stage. They create an atmosphere with lighting and props which makes the concert feel like a cozy, special event. The HomeVibe shows feel cared for and carefully placed.

We’re definitely excited for that. And since the show is holiday-themed, we have to ask. What’s your favorite holiday song?

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” performed by Frank Sinatra. I love Christmas music!

Classic choice. So what have you been up to recently?

I spent a lot of the spring and summer of 2015 touring my newest album, The Drawing Back of Curtains, which was written as the soundtrack to the aforementioned HBO documentary. Now that it’s the winter, I stay inside a bit more and have been finishing up songs for a new album to be released in 2016. The details are working themselves out, but I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and take a few leaps on my next project.

74eb0f9c-70d6-4ca4-95b9-bd37efdde7de.jpeg

Awesome! What are you most pumped about for Saturday’s show?

I’m very, very excited to hear and meet John Craigie. Aside from seeing and hearing his name for a while around the scene and from friends in the business, I am really into his songwriting style. The humor mixed with the heavy life lessons and wry, honest observations really pleases me. I like people who say a lot of words in their songs! Makes me feel good about saying so many in mine! Maybe he’ll do a couples ski costume with me!?!? Like hot chocolate and whipped cream!? Or I’ll be a lodge and he can be a mounted and stuffed bear? Perfect.

A mounted and stuffed bear. It’s reasons like these that we love Danielle Ate The Sandwich kids. Come watch her open up the party this Saturday! Get your tickets here. And join the Facebook event here.

Check out a Danielle Ate the Sandwich YouTube video for yourself:

-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.

Conor O'Neill's: The Closest Thing Boulder Has to a Mid-Level Music Venue

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Boulder doesn't have a real mid-level venue and it's a problem.

Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub and Restaurant, or “Conor’s” as it is more affectionately known, is a venue we’ve mentioned before. They have music every night of the week, their open mic night on Tuesdays is notable for hosting up-and-coming artists, and the talented Danny Shafer books the entertainment for the venue.

An Irish Pub is somehow one of Boulder's best music venues. Photo Credit:   Westword  .

An Irish Pub is somehow one of Boulder's best music venues. Photo Credit: Westword.

At first glance, Conor’s looks a little like your average college joint. There’s a big front room with booths and chairs, a bar wraps around the right corner, and the stage is in the back. And let’s be honest, the stage is small. With a lack of mid-level music venues in Boulder, if we’re ranking stages, The Lazy DogThe Biergarten and even The Riverside probably place ahead of Conor’s. Conor’s also stacks all of their floor furniture behind the performing band to make room for a dance floor, which makes it a bit cramped, even for something like a three-piece. And bands have to run their own sound. But Conor’s still holds a special place in Boulder’s music scene, and this is why:

As mentioned, Boulder lacks mid-level music venues. Oh how we crave a Larimer Lounge, a Hi-Dive, or a Cervantes. Alas, we have none (investors, please approach). Boulder bands start in coffee shops or small bars, advance to a place the size of Conor’s, and then go on to play the worshiped Fox or Boulder Theater. This is the Boulder ladder; this is often the standard progression for a band in the Boulder music scene. Thus Conor’s is, in some respects, all that we have to hope for when we pray for a mid-level club. And this makes Conor’s a pretty great stepping stone for local talent.

Local Band Whiskey Autumn at Conor's. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Local Band Whiskey Autumn at Conor's. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Conor’s has a winning combination with Danny Shafer's skilled ear approving shows, a fun atmosphere, and the fact that it is (almost) always really busy. The drinks are decent, the place attracts a lot of college kids + a twenty-something crowd interested in music, and because the stage room has no real seating during shows, people become more engaged with the performers. You have to stand (like you would at a rock club), you have to watch, you want to dance, and usually you do. It’s always a party; it’s always a good time. Even on slower nights, I’ve never walked out of Conor’s wishing I’d gone somewhere else.

Dr. Dog's Secret Show at CO. Photo Credit:   Daily Camera

Dr. Dog's Secret Show at CO. Photo Credit: Daily Camera

Conor’s support and showcase of local music is our best shot of pushing performers into bigger Boulder venues, or into legitimate mid-sized Denver spots. Seriously- go catch a Conor’s show. You are guaranteed a good time, you’re supporting local music, you make it possible for Conor’s to support said local music, and your presence at a Conor’s show is living proof of what Boulder needs: mid-level music venues. So rock club entrepreneurs, where you at?

-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.