Storytelling and Song: Folks Fest Is So Much More Than Just a Music Festival

By: Riley Ann

I’m writing this sprawled across the bed of my ‘95 GMC Vandura passenger van in a field. Above the drone of crickets, I hear a man’s voice lilting over his guitar. Friends, old and new, are clustered together sharing songs they’ve written (as well as ones they wish they did). It’s Sunday night before Song School in Lyons, and we’re ready. We gathered here to be a part of this community: to eat together, to learn together, and to grow together.

Song School is the four-day camp that leads up to Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, a Planet Bluegrass festival that celebrates the power of song. This is my first year, and when I mentioned going to Song School to veteran attendees, the comment I heard on three separate occasions from three different people was: “It’s life changing.” I laughed at their evangelicalism about the whole thing, but really, I was intrigued.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, CO.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, CO.

This week will be filled with classes led by renowned songwriters, open-stage performances, and, of course, song circles throughout the campground. The property here is a Colorado version of paradise, with shady trees, soft grass, and a stream perfect for wading at the peak of a summer day’s heat. Even before the camp begins, the communion of songwriters creates an energy that’s almost palpable. It's the perfect mood for the 26th annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, which begins this Friday, 08/19.

Folks Fest.

Folks Fest.

When I spoke with Brian Eyster of Planet Bluegrass about the upcoming weekend, he described the unique identity of Folks Fest compared to the other festivals as this: “There’s definitely a different energy, especially compared to Rockygrass. Folks Fest has a much quieter energy because it’s about sharing songs and stories. You just feel a different energy with Song School starting, and people are looking more inward.”

With songwriting at the core of the entire week, the Folks Fest lineup features a diverse array of musicians, including internationally-acclaimed acts like The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, Conor Oberst, and The Lone Bellow, living legends like Lucinda Williams and Mavis Staples, and bands from the other side of the world like My Bubba (Scandinavia) and DakhaBrakha (Ukraine).

If you are interested in attending Folks Fest, day passes, 3-day tickets, and camping are still available here. Check back next week for full coverage of the festival on BolderBeat!

And if you’re curious about what it’s like being in Song School, I’ll be posting nightly updates on my blog.


Find out more about me on my blog.

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

Denver's Stella Nova Have Dropped Two EPs This Year

You may know some of Denver’s Stella Nova members from their first project, Grand Central. The former nine-piece classical/jazz ensemble consisted of members who had known each other since their highschool days. After playing at notable joints including Larimer Lounge, The Oriental Theater, The Pajama Baking Company, and The Deer Pile, Grand Central found some success in the Denver scene in 2013. As the crew experimented over the next couple of years with new sounds and various lineups, members Dominic Ellerbee and Jordan Smith decided they wanted to take things in a different direction circa 2015. And so Stella Nova was born.

Stella Nova.

Stella Nova.

Stella Nova is best known for what Ellerbee says are their “funky and intricate melodic guitar patterns and heavy-hitting riffs”. Ellerbee and Smith are the current members, and the duo are looking to complete their lineup with a permanent drummer and bassist soon. The two blend funk and indie rock, with influences from The Strokes to Bruno Mars.

Just five months ago, Stella Nova dropped their debut EP, Atomic, after releasing a number of demos. The five song release gives you a strong sense of their indie rock sensibilities, with catchy guitar bits and notable vocal effects.

Listen to Stella Nova’s Atomic EP:

The duo then went on to make an appearance on Radio1190, and shortly afterward, started working on a set of new tunes. And those new jams will be released this week! Stella Nova are dropping their second EP of 2016 this Thursday, July 28th, after their performance at Herman’s Hideaway. Stay tuned for their new music, and in the meantime, check out Atomic and plan to hit Herman’s this week! Keep with with Stella Nova on Facebook.


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

"Like the Legend of Zelda, but heavier" - Boulder's Progressive Alt-Rock Trio, Noctogon

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Come check out our masked madness this week. 

As some of you may have seen last week, we’re pumped to be sponsoring a show this Saturday with Studio 700! The night will be masquerade-themed and you can find the deets in the FB event here . Local alt-power trio Villain Baritone put together the all-Boulder lineup for this event, and this week, we’ll be bringing you info on all three bands involved: Noctogon, Villain Baritone, and Whiskey Autumn. Join us for #MusicMasquerade this Saturday, and in the meantime, check out our chat with the opening three-piece, Noctogon below:

Composed of Wilson McNeary (guitar/vocals), Jeremiah Traeger (keyboard/vocals/drums), and Brooke Holman (bass/vocals), Noctogon are a once four-piece, now three-piece “subtly intense atmospheric rock” group formed in good ‘ol Boulder. Here’s how they got started:

Jeremiah: Wilson and I lived together and loved jamming, and he was friends with our bassist, Brooke.

Brooke: Yeah Wilson and I went to the same college and started playing covers for fun. We both moved to Boulder and started creating our own tunes during our musical hangouts. Since Jeremiah and Wilson also jammed together at their place, [the three of us] decided to fuse together like sediments in sandstone. We actually found our former drummer through Craigslist, who ended up being a perfect fit.

Jeremiah: Yeah but unfortunately he wasn’t able to continue playing with us, so now I’m drumming. We started playing at The Outback Saloon, and we've had a few [other] gigs.

Jeremiah, Wilson, Brooke.

Jeremiah, Wilson, Brooke.

Whoa! The Outback Saloon was sort of the starting ground for Villain Baritone as well- interesting. Speaking of those boys, they told us that your “War Pigs” cover is legendary. Hoping to hear that at the show Saturday- any other plans for your set you want to tell us about?

Wilson: We will be debuting three new original songs since the last time we played at Studio 700, one of which has never been played live before. We are also planning to pay tribute to David Bowie, as he was (and will continue to be) a huge influence on all of us.

Another good one gone. Well that sounds righteous! Talk to us a little more about your sound.

Jeremiah: We’ve been told we sound like Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains, but I think my favorite description was when we were told that we sound like “Legend of Zelda but heavier”. We definitely have those influences; we all love 90s alternative and classic rock and metal, so we tend to sound like bands in those genres. We all have our other influences like progressive metal, post-rock, and 80s music, and we bring all of them to the table. If I had to pick a genre overall, it would be progressive alternative rock.

Haha “Legend of Zelda but heaver”? Hell yeah. We’re so stoked for your set. What are you three most excited about for the Music Masquerade show?

Brooke: Brooke: I’m excited that it’s masquerade-themed. I’m sure it will remind me of that tidbit in Labyrinth with David Bowie as the Goblin King. I’m just hoping to see someone or someones dressed up like that. Also the hosts at Studio 700 are so wonderful and I'm looking forward to being part of such a unique place.

Wilson: Yeah- shows at Studio 700 are always a great time, and I enjoy the sense of community that’s always there between the musicians and the audience.

Definitely. So what else is Noctogon up to this year?

Wilson: Recording new material, and gigging wherever and whenever we get the chance. We’d really like to get our name out there, so we’ll take any opportunity to play in front of an audience.

Sweet. Well- last question- where’d you get your name?

Brooke: When we first started playing together, I dreamt of a wolf howling at a geometrical moon. “Noctogon” came to mind after that.

Prophetic. We can dig. Come and see Noctogon play Studio 700 this Saturday! Join the FB event righhhht here. And give Noctogon’s EP Nocturne a listen below:


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

Radio Recap: Boulder Band Gingerslap! and their track "Stay the Same"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

GingerSlap! dropped a new single. 

Heyo folks! As you may have read about last Monday on the site, we are partnering with Colorado Community Radio Network (CCRN), Green Light Radio, and Streetside Productions for a weekly artist feature live on Boulder’s 95.5 FM. That means every Sunday night between 9-10PM, we will be promoting one artist on Rocky Flats’ The Network. Andddd then every #MusicMonday, we’ll give you a recap on said artist + another chance to hear their song streaming on our site!

Want to send us a track yourself? Info on how to submit is below!

So let’s chat about last night’s artist:

Boulder-based rock outfit GingerSlap!’s single “Stay the Same” hit the groovy Boulder airwaves last evening. Comprised of Heather Nelson-Boger (vocals), Derek Hayes (guitar), Mike Waldhoff (drums), Mike Morrison (pedal steel), and JD Droddy (bass), this is what the five-piece wants you to know about them:

Every once in awhile there is a synergistic combination of people that produces something greater than the sum of the parts. This is one of those times. Other than our resident diva, Heather, there are no virtuosos in this band, just good players who mesh extraordinarily well. On paper it doesn't look like it would work: power pop guitarist, funky southern bassist, pedal steel and pop diva vocals. But it works, and the recombination of American musical roots yields a sound that defies the current trend of laser focused sub-genres.

Pretty sweet. When it comes to their track “Stay the Same”, GingerSlap! told us:

Everybody contributed to the arrangements on this song. Guitar, bass, and drums had the most to do with the structure [of the track]. We recorded it at The Shop studio in Boulder in late 2015. Overall, the closest simple description of our sound is original classic rock, with power pop, funk and other influences. Different people hear different decades.

We like. So what’s up with GingerSlap! in 2016?

We’re preparing for our live show/CD release at Nissi’s on Thursday, January 21, 2016. Other than that, we’re looking for good places to play in the Denver/Boulder area, summer festivals etc.

Awesome. Keep up with GingerSlap! here. And lend your ear to their rockin' self-titled album here:

Want to have one of your tracks played on the radio? We want to hear ‘em! Just do the following:

*Please attach an MP3 file shared through GoogleDrive to us at

*If you have an accompanying music video for the song you’re submitting, please attach the URL YouTube link for it as well.

Hope to hear from you local artists!


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All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This interview 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.


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:


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


By: Hannah Oreskovich

The deets on submitting to us for features. 

It's #MusicMonday once again and today we're keeping it short & sweet Beaters. Over the past few months, we've had several local artists submit new singles, EPs, mixtapes and full-length albums for us to review. And guess what? WE WANT MORE!

When we review your work, we promote it on our website and our social media, PLUS you can pull press quotes from our pieces and use them for your own promo! Like this:

How cool is that kids?

How cool is that kids?

And guess what? We actually listen to your sh*t. So what we write isn't based on one or two spins of your track(s)- WE GO DEEP. We're artists ourselves so we know how personal it is to have someone review your work. Our intention is to extend the reach of your work by telling people how awesome it is and to build a long-term relationship with you so that we can keep growing your fan base, and our own. And though some room-for-improvement comments might be made, that's how we all grow in making art. We always find something to appreciate in everyone's creative work and process. And we want to share that with all of our local music lovers.

SO BOULDER AND DENVER: If you know someone who knows someone who's in a band (or that someone is you), send your work our way! We want to spread your creations; your vibrations. Simply head over to our Contact Page here and get in touch with us. We can't wait to put our headphones in and listen to you.


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

Sancho's Boulder Arrow is Starting an Open Mic Night

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Another open mic night to add to your list!

Rooftop views. Photo Credit:   Sancho's Boulder Arrow

Rooftop views. Photo Credit: Sancho's Boulder Arrow

Hey Boulder- remember that time we featured an article on local Open Mic Nights? Well we’d like to throw another one into the mix! Starting tonight, every Monday at Sancho’s Boulder Arrow will be Open Mic Night. Sign-up is at 7PM, the show starts at 730PM, and slots are 15 minutes each. Almost all of the musicians we’ve interviewed have had some experience in local Open Mic Nights- they’re an awesome way to network with other musicians and people who dig music in general. So get out there! Performers get half off all well drinks and draft beers, so that’s incentive enough to have a jammin’ Monday evening.

AND most importantly, your host for tonight’s Open Mic is Boulder’s Silent Bear! We’ll be bringing you a feature on his work soon, so stay tuned.

Silent Bear. Photo Credit:   Joshua Elioseff of Dancer Productions

Silent Bear. Photo Credit: Joshua Elioseff of Dancer Productions

Head to Sancho’s tonight Boulder! Let's get weird. Happy Music Monday!


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

Ben Hanna Wants to Surf with You at The Fall Showcase This Friday.

By: Zach Dahmen

Behind the scenes of Ben Hanna.

Boulder-based musician Ben Hanna.

Boulder-based musician Ben Hanna.

It’s a cold and wet fall evening as I wait for BolderBeat’s Fall Showcase opener at a coffee shop on Pearl Street’s west end. I take a few more sips of coffee and in walks a mop of black curls with a five o’clock shadow. Ben Hanna sits down across from me and instantly, his deep voice becomes the prominent sound over a bustling coffeehouse. With little prompting Ben starts telling me his story, with little to no filter; much like his music. He has these basset hound eyes which, as he starts to tell me how he fell in love with music, draw me into his twenty minute answer.

Hanna grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan. As he describes it, the suburbs are more akin to Orange County, California than the inner city. Instead of the hard knocks attributed to growing up in Detroit, Hanna was afforded an adolescence steeped in whatever music he could get his hands on. The earliest parts of his musical journey had him taking huge pit stops with The Violent Femmes, Ryan Adams, Radiohead, and Nirvana, the latter being a big enough influence that he’s actually wearing one of their shirts under his bulky cardigan tonight. Starting with simple bar chords and punk rock at the age of 15, Hanna progressed into taking lessons and giving serious thought to being a musician: “I wanted to be a player. I had a vision of me sitting in as a session musician down the road.”

Tea Time.

Tea Time.

After high school, Hanna moved to Colorado for college. He tells me this part of his life was framed by the music of Townes Van Zandt, whom he lends credit to as a catalyst for finding his voice as a songwriter. An even more noticeable influence in his music is Lou Reed (watch Ben Hanna’s “High Society Scene” as a perfect example). And Ben does credit Lou for helping him find direction. He tells me, “Lou Reed and Bob Dylan, they didn’t have these panty-dropping singing voices, but they were getting the point across in a really effective and powerful way. And so I realized that is kind of the voice I have.”

More recently, Ben’s musical efforts have been shaped with difficult times and personal hardship. The end of a relationship left him unable to write a song for months. That struggle lead him to a different way of approaching music: Being present in each moment.

“It’s being cultivated even when I’m asleep or just observing things, and there is this thought that I am absorbing it like a musical sponge.”

The Street Light Type.

The Street Light Type.

Ben keeps a notebook of lyrics on his phone that he calls “my emotional well.” He shows it to me- there are lyrics, sayings, and musings- a collection that takes more than a few finger strokes to move through. As I glance through it, Hanna tells me he’s got somewhat of a “different sound” overall, especially within Boulder. Unfiltered but focused is what comes to mind as Ben describes his musical life; much like our interview.

That “different” quality was exactly what drew BolderBeat to ask Hanna to open The Fall Showcase. With Ben Hanna & The Knighthawks, Hanna’s sound is a fleshed out, full rock and roll experience, fitting nicely into the night’s lineup of Blvd. and Whiskey Autumn.

“I look at it as a wonderful opportunity to just kinda go surfing; play with the energy of the space and share a stage with different bands because we are all in subtle ways influencing each other. It’s going to be a really nice blend of sounds. People are in for a treat.” Hanna said of the upcoming show.



Beyond his Fall Showcase performance this Friday, Ben will be playing more live shows with the Knighthawks around the Front Range and beyond. Lately though his focus has been continued work on his new record. He’s been in the studio with Robbie Stiefel and Todd Adleman at The Mountain House Recording Studio in Nederland. Ben, admittedly ambitiously, tells me the new record is “a mix between Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker and The Violent Femmes self-titled.”

Come see the ambitious, unfiltered Ben Hanna & The Knighthawks THIS FRIDAY at The Fall Showcase. And let’s surf.


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

Interviewer Zach Dahmen.

Interviewer Zach Dahmen.

The Fall Showcase: Everything You Need to Know

By: Hannah Oreskovich

We are throwing one sweet show for you Boulder. 

Our Polaroid Poster was created by   David Landry   with the help of   Zach Dahmen   and GREG LAUT. Colorado Community Radio Network is our official sponsor!

Our Polaroid Poster was created by David Landry with the help of Zach Dahmen and GREG LAUT. Colorado Community Radio Network is our official sponsor!

It’s official Boulder- we’ve been up and running for six awesome months. To all of our readers, musicians, followers, friends, artists, fans, and Colorado music lovers: thank you! We are proud and excited to announce that we are hosting our first official event, The Fall Showcase. Here’s what you need to know:

Specifics: Friday, November 6th from 8PM-Midnight

Where to Roll: The Riverside, at the corner of Broadway & Arapahoe

the riverside looks like this. it's next to conoco and across from colonel mustard's last stand: 1724 Broadway 

the riverside looks like this. it's next to conoco and across from colonel mustard's last stand: 1724 Broadway 

The Lineup*: Whiskey Autumn, Paul Kimbiris' BLVD, & Ben Hanna and the Knighthawks

*We will be posting interviews and tons of exclusive content on these bands over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out!

Cost: Only $5 -You’re helping us pay the bands, the sound guy, and the event costs. We’re not taking a profit. Plus there will be merch giveaways, free stickers, and the chance to win a ton of awesome prizes!-

Other happenings: Booze, Dancing, Polaroid Snapping, Pete Laffin as Emcee, Free Stuff, & Live Streaming and Interviews with Colorado Community Radio Network (CRN)!

Our official sponsor for this event is CRN- tune in to one of their stations here over the next week and listen for this:

You do not have to be 21 for this show; everyone will be ID’d at the door.

this is the riverside on a map guys.

this is the riverside on a map guys.


This is going to be one for the books! We can’t wait to share it with you, Boulder.

Keep up with The Fall Showcase:

Join The Fall Showcase Facebook Event Here

Like Us On Facebook Here

Follow Us On Instagram Here  

Follow Us On Twitter Here

See you at the show!


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

David’s Guest at the Desk: Robbie Stiefel on Leon Russell

By: David Landry and Robbie Stiefel

Leon Russell ain't stoppin' anytime soon.

Robbie came over one evening and heard a song spinning on the record player that he claimed to know, but by a man he could not name. I told him: this is the legendary Leon Russell. And it just so happened that Leon was headed to the Oriental, so we bought tickets. I had planned to craft a write-up for Leon’s show, but in the morning I woke up to a “David’s Desk by Robbie Stiefel” email. And so it follows:

He wobbles out from the wings of the stage with a cane looking very old and crooked. He sets his cane on the stage floor and seats himself at a white baby grand piano striped with red, blue, and green. He immediately launches into Ray Charles' 1954 hit, "I Got a Woman". He looks mean and defiant as if to say, "F*ck gravity and time.” You quickly realize that his “wobble” was a “saunter” and he ain’t stiff or crooked, he’s spry! His playing belies the old man's hands.

Photo Credit:   David Landry

Photo Credit: David Landry

This IS and WAS what rock and roll has always been: the organic protest of everything that slows us down. At 73, Leon proves himself a patriarch; an old school musician who plays because he knows nothing else. A phrase like “Keep on Keepin’ On” was born from the need to describe men like Leon. Keep on, Leon.

-David Landry and Robbie Stiefel at the desk

David’s Guest Robbie Stiefel: Robbie Stiefel is a producer and musician. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. Click here to read more about Robbie.

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