Mitchel Evan's Intimate, Informal Solo Debut Record Is Also A Send Off

By: Brody Coronelli

The newly solo singer/songwriter reflects on his former band, the experience that inspired his upcoming, informal debut The Little Horse Tapes, and how it drove him to seek rejuvenation back home.

Mitchel Evan.

Mitchel Evan.

The road to Mitchel Evan becoming a solo artist has been long and winding. It’s taken a complete uprooting from his home state of Virginia, the inception, prosperity, and disbanding of his former band The Mangrove, and past struggles with addiction and personal tragedy to lay the emotional groundwork for a career that has recently become entirely his own.

At heart, Evan has always been a solo artist. He writes forthright and honest music that strikes the arduous balance between being relatable and personally expressive, and although collaboration has often been a step between the creation and delivery of his work, his music has always been a vibrant extension of himself, above all else.

“The disbanding of The Mangrove was probably the best thing that ever happened to me artistically. The material for the band was written by me, for the band. It had a specific sound in mind. After awhile, I felt constricted doing this,” he says, “I’m really grateful that I had the Mangrove for three years, [though]. It allotted me a lot of time to experiment with different sounds, to work with a producer, to learn to record, and figure out how I like to write. It was the middle of the road; it was somewhere between being a solo artist, and being in a band.”

Since his band split for good late last year, Evan has yet to officially debut as a solo artist. This is where The Little Horse Tapes comes in. Recorded at Little Horse, a vintage music and bookstore in Louisville, CO that occasionally doubles as a recording studio, this six-track, live-to-tape cassette will be Evan’s first release since he struck out on his own.

The songs that comprise The Little Horse Tapes were written from a place of heartache, and released entirely out of circumstance. After Evan struck up a friendship with Ryan Sniegowski, Little Horse’s sound engineer, six songs Evan had written but didn’t have any plans of including on his debut LP It’s A Hell of a Drug, Nostalgia (due out this summer), suddenly found a home. Loosely, the tapes are a concept album; each stripped-down, acoustic track was written during a recent romantic relationship, and they document the beginning, middle, and end.  

“They’re all- more or less- hopeful love songs, but through the filter of my cynical mind,” he says.

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“Open Season,” the opening track of Side A, was one of the first songs Evan wrote during the relationship, and instead of it basking in the honeymoon phase, it projects to the end, foreseeing a future where he and the girl are no longer together. “I’m at the mercy of a fragile heart,” he croons on the song, coming to terms with his sensitivity and the mess it can make.  

“Cancel Out The Noise” is a breezy and irresistible folk song about relinquishing control to love. Evan sings of love as an entity that operates on its own terms, having come over him like a storm he couldn’t outrun.

“[It’s about me] falling in love, but I don’t like that I’m falling in love. I had just gotten out of a three-year relationship, and I was only single for three months before I fell again. I knew it was gonna be a long road, and that I didn’t have a say in the matter,” he says.

“I don’t wanna feel this way/I don’t wanna feel the way I do/And that’s your cue,” he sings on the chorus, acknowledging that his feelings are out of his control, but still ultimately remain his own.

“[The track is also about] acknowledging the illusion of free will. It’s been a crazy, very hard couple of months,” he says, “We have this illusion to wrestle our will into place and gain control over our lives, but we have control over so little that happens to us. We only have control over the way we respond to life.”

“I Can’t Stop Thinking About You” continues the theme of not having control over how we feel or what comes over us. It’s a slow-burning, magnetic song that uses simple, yet powerful imagery to portray the struggle of not being able to get someone off your mind. “I can’t stop thinking about you” is repeated throughout the song, mimicking the spiraling and redundant noise that love fills your head with. It features a slow, pulsing drum machine that quietly lulls behind the music like a pulse or a subway sonar, subtly stitching the song together.

“It’s supposed to be redundant and repetitive, because that’s how [love] feels. I [couldn’t] stop thinking about [her]; [she was] running through my head over and over like this cyclical pulse,” he says. “[The song] stays true to the cynical nature of [this record]. It was irritating that I was falling in love, and I was fighting it every step of the way, instead of allowing myself to fall.”

“Thirty Miles (Juliette)” is a quaint and stripped-down song about Evan uprooting himself from Virginia, coming to Colorado, and the doubts that followed, particularly towards the end of the relationship that inspired these songs.

“I’m an eternally restless person, and a lot of that has to do with not knowing if I should be in Colorado. This song documents the push and pull between being here and loving it and also missing my family, the humidity, the ocean, and the East Coast in general,” he says.

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These feelings of doubt have culminated, and Evan is planning on leaving Colorado soon and going back home on the East Coast for a few months. He isn’t leaving without a proper goodbye, though. He’s playing a release show for The Little Horse Tapes at Little Horse Books and Vintage in Louisville on April 14th. With opening acts David Burchfield, Maya Bennett and Many Mountains, the night is a celebration of local talent as well as an intimate send off for Evan; an artist that’s done everything he can to make Colorado feel like home, but still feels the irresistible tug of the Atlantic.

“I was overwhelmed by the circumstances that ended this relationship, and I felt really alone. I didn’t know how to cope with it, but I knew I needed a break, so I started planning a trip back home to reconnect, take a look at myself, be with people who love me, and to breathe and re-center,” he says.

While back home, he has a number of shows planned in Virginia, as well as the surrounding states. With big plans of touring the Carolinas, to play Washington D.C., and to make a stop in Nashville, the trip is also about bringing his music to new scenes and new audiences. After all, he has a lot to be excited about. The past year as seen Evan at his most fully-formed and prolific. He released Back and Forth, a full length album with The Mangrove last year, and he’s set to release It’s A Hell Of A Drug, Nostalgia this summer, in addition to The Little Horse Tapes. People on the East Coast need to hear his work just as much as he needs to reflect and re-center in a place that truly feels like home.

 ** Mitchel’s upcoming show at Little Horse Books has been unfortunately cancelled. 

Keep up with Mitchel here.

-Brody

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

Sweat, Booze, & A Lot of Heart: My Rock'n'Roll Weekend With The Yawpers & Blackfoot Gypsies

By: Zach Dahmen

A personal account of my two days with The Yawpers and Blackfoot Gypsies in Denver. It was a rock and roll blur of sweat, booze, and a lot of heart:

My weekend felt like this: Matthew Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies.

My weekend felt like this: Matthew Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies.

The Blackfoot Gypsies are a four-piece soul and blues rock’n’roll mashup of perfection. Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, BFG are the type of band that you can’t help but notice the minute you walk into the venue. With their long hair, bell bottom jeans, and wide-brimmed hats, you instantly know that they’re playing tonight, even as they casually order beers with you at the bar; they ooze American rock band. The only thing more prominent than their rootsy Southern influences injected into their wild rockin’ blues sound is their humility.

Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

The Yawpers are a three piece, and one of Denver’s favorite local acts. They are thumping rock and roll mixed with poignant lyrics. They are a non-stop manic roller coaster of rock with country/blues sensibility, and some heavy Americana touches.

Paige, Cook, & Dylan Whitlow.

Paige, Cook, & Dylan Whitlow.

My weekend with The Yawpers and Blackfoot Gypsies started a week before the show. I went online to purchase my tickets for the Saturday night performance, which had sold out. Luckily, there was a Sunday BBQ show still available, so I grabbed my tickets for the alternative option. I was not going to miss my opportunity to see Denver’s own Yawpers return. Days later, the Saturday show moved from the Lost Lake to Larimer Lounge, opening up over a hundred more tickets. Without hesitation, I grabbed one. It was time for a Yawpers/BFG double dip.

Zack Murphy of Blackfoot Gypsies.

Zack Murphy of Blackfoot Gypsies.

Upon entering the Larimer, anticipation in the crowd was bowling over with the threat of a true rock’n’roll show, and one which happened to be the end of a month-long tour for both bands. The room swelled as The Blackfoot Gypsies moved to take the stage. The four piece took little time to endear themselves to the PBR-swilling crowd. Frontman Matthew Paige’s slender body moved across the stage with the grace of a rock’n’roll royal, setting the tone for the entire evening. With Zach Murphy fitted in a flower-print button up and a leather hat banging on the drums with maracas and sticks, the crew launched into a gorgeous set of barn burners, landing one after another. Dylan Whitlow’s checkered pants swayed with his bass playing, forcing the crowd to move along with him, while Ollie Dog leaned into the crowd with his harmonica solos and generally hilarious personality.

Noah Shomberg & Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

Noah Shomberg & Nate Cook of The Yawpers.

The Yawpers took the stage to a sold out crowd with pure poetry and fury. With their alt-country and overdriven acoustic guitars, stomping drums, and one enthusiastic mustache, the trio commanded the crowd to do whatever they asked. Frontman Nate Cook made love to the microphone, enthralling the audience to fever pitches, minor bruises from stage diving, and a swirl of rock’n’roll debauchery. Jesse Parmet slid around his guitar like a master commanding the sound, his long hair shadowing his face with a perfect element of mystery. Meanwhile, drummer Noah Shomberg beat the hell out of his kit with energy, sweat, and the driving rhythm that carried every song. From the quiet moments where the group had us singing back “3 am”, to the numerous tracks where The Yawpers had a usually docile Denver crowd dancing, it was a sweaty, booze-soaked good time. Celebration and conversations lasted late into night, with the crowd eager to greet the bands like long lost friends.

Paige & Cook.

Paige & Cook.

As Yawpers’ Noah Shomberg put it, “You couldn't ask for more to come home to after a month away from family and friends. I was proud of this show."

Added BFG’s Matthew Paige, “This is one of the best nights we’ve had [on tour]. This was one of our favorites.”

The Yawpers.

The Yawpers.

If the Saturday night Larimer show was a boozed soaked barn burner, then the Sunday afternoon Lost Lake show was the hair of the dog. The afternoon started with Cook offering me shots of whiskey in the green room, and little did I know that moment would set the tone for one hell of a Sunday-funday BBQ. Venue doors opened at 2pm, when a shuffling crowd made their way to hear openers Mitchel Evan & The Mangrove and The Velveteers. Both bands came out hitting it hard, pulling energy out of people where it didn’t exist before. It was delightful mania, with older songs shared for die-hard fans. The Yawpers of course played another raging set, with the crowd wanting every last bit of what the band had left to give.

Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies. 

Paige of Blackfoot Gypsies. 

After three weeks and over 20 shows together, the Yawpers/BFG tour had come to its end. While both are glad to spend some much needed time off, we wouldn’t be surprised if these two groups joined forces for another round on the road again.

Said Shomberg, “We had camaraderie right off the bat. We drove each other to play better each night; it’s been fantastic.”

The Yawpers closing out their Larimer Lounge set. 

The Yawpers closing out their Larimer Lounge set. 

So what’s next for these rock’n’rollers?

They're gonna miss each other. 

They're gonna miss each other. 

The Blackfoot Gypsies are heading back to Nashville to gear up for a string of tour dates in Europe. From there, they have plans to release their next studio album in September.

The Yawpers will take some time to enjoy being home before touring later this summer; they’ll also make a return appearance at Denver’s UMS.

And as for me, I think I’ll be recovering from this weekend for awhile. While listening to “Doing It Right”, of course.   

-Zach

All photos per Hannah Oreskovich for BolderBeat. To see more of this show, follow her on Instagram. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 10/23 & 10/24

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Rain had yah inside watching Netflix all week kids? Well it’s time to get out and hear some tunes! Here’s your Weekend Six:

Today (Friday, 10/23)

Mitchel Evan & The Mangrove at Still Cellars 630PM-Close

Mitchel evan and the Mangrove and their matching suitcases.

Mitchel evan and the Mangrove and their matching suitcases.

Mitchel Evan & The Mangrove are a Boulder-based folk-rock trio who “bring together an eclectic sound of roots, rock, and blue music accompanied by tasteful harmonies and powerful lyrics.” We checked them out once at The Laughing Goat and it was a good time. Go grab your post-workday brew at Still and dance with these boys.

Many Mountains at The Laughing Goat 9PM-Close

Katie and Dustin of Many Mountains.

Katie and Dustin of Many Mountains.

Many Mountains consists of Katie Rose and Dustin Moran, who started playing together in Salt Lake City, UT before they moved to Colorado five years ago. They’re a couple and a musical duo who are going to bring some soft, sweet sounds to the LG tonight. Perfect way to jumpstart your evening on Pearl. Go check them out and listen to their track “Distant and Mythical” here.

The Indulgers at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub 10PM-Close

THEY WILL SHAMROCK YOUR SOCKS.

THEY WILL SHAMROCK YOUR SOCKS.

Celtic Rock. You heard me. It’s happening tonight at Conor’s. I’m not gonna lie- I’m a sucker for violins, so this seems totally worth checking out! The Indulgers are Colorado-based and they actually play quite a bit around the state. Their web URL is shamrocker.com. Need I see more? Watch their bio here:

Tomorrow (Saturday, 10/24)

The Powerlung Rangers at The Dark Horse 9PM-Close

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If you’ve never checked out music at The Dark Horse, you should probably head over because the names of the bands they book are always cray + I often have a hard time finding much info on them. Which makes the night a surprise that could take you in any direction. Who are the Powerlung Rangers? I don’t totally know, but I imagine if they were red ranger, they would use bong smoke to battle enemies. Show up, eat a burger, and live without expectations tomorrow night. Go Go Power(lung) Rangers:

Timber at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub 10PM-Close

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If you’re itching for Bluegrass, Timber is all yours tomorrow night! One warning, from the band: “While we do have a large Dutch fan base, we are not in fact a Dutch band.”  So there’s that Boulder! They’re local. Go howl with them at Conor’s and stomp around! It will definitely be a good time. Listen to their song “Little Maggie” here:

Both Nights (Friday, 10/23 & Saturday, 10/24)

The Floozies at The Boulder Theater 8PM-Close

The Floozies.

The Floozies.

The Floozies consist of producer/guitarist Matt Hill and drummer Mark Hill. This duo of brothers make catchy, electronic beats with party rock/funk vibes. They've developed a huge following and you can catch them either night this weekend at The Boulder Theater for only $20. Check out their song "Cheese" here:

See you at zee shows Boulder!

-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.