Na'an Stop And Their Gnar'V Are Headed To A City Near You On Upcoming Record Release Tour

By: Mirna Tufekcic

“Everyone thinks we’re a food truck. We’re driving through all these beach communities playing shows and people are like, what kind of food do you sell?” laughed Caton Smith, bassist of Boulder’s Na’an Stop, as he playfully acknowledged that their name does in fact have the name of the Indian bread we all love served as a side to our Chicken Masala. It sums them up in a way though- the Na’an Stop fellas are a bunch of goofy, fun-loving musicians out to have a good time as they make their dreams come true.

Na'an Stop. 

Na'an Stop. 

Na’an Stop stands for “never stopping the pursuit of your dreams.” This becomes obvious once you start to know their music. It’s the van that confuses people. Colorful and painted in graffiti, it’s easy to see how passersby would mistake it for a food truck. But Na’an stop will not sell you food from the vehicle they’ve dubbed “Gnar’V.” They may, however, sell you a lifestyle. If, that is, they’re selling anything other than tickets to their shows, which are always a riot of good, positive vibes as reggae and ska music should be.

The legend that is Gnar'V. 

The legend that is Gnar'V. 

The first thing you’ll learn about Na’an Stop is about their aforementioned lifestyle. Personally, I was intrigued and had to dig deeper into what that meant. Lucky for me I got to go to the Na’an Stop lair for aninterview and see NS in their true habitat to talk about their upcoming CD Release Show at The Fox Theater this Wednesday, April 26th.

Na’an Stop started six years ago as five college friends playing at The Lazy Dog and (now defunct) The Goose. One of the first times they played an impactful gig was opening up for Boulder’s West Water Outlaws, a beloved rock outfit from Boulder that fell apart some years back. That show took place at The Fox, and ever since then, the venue on The Hill has been their home. Naturally, it’s the perfect spot for Na’an Stop to make their next moves known.

NS at The Fox.

NS at The Fox.

Released in 2015, their album From the Deep won accolades, climbing to #2 on iTunes Reggae Charts and #5 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. Following that, the weight was on their shoulders to make something cohesive and whole.  

“For our From the Deep album, we had a great sound engineer, but no producer. Nonetheless, I think we did a great job on that one,” said Caton.

It’s the album that opened doors and platforms in the reggae music scene for the group, and though From the Deep is an impressive body of work coming from very young musicians, they knew that they needed to get a bit more professional after the record’s success. So the five-piece put together a Kickstarter Campaign for a new album. They met their goal and went to Virginia to record the self-titled record with producer Danny Kalb at White Star Sound Studios. Kalb has worked with other established reggae bands like The Green, The Movement, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and Hirie who put out one of the best reggae albums of 2016. He’s also worked with artists like Beck and Ben Harper.

But don’t fret- the Na’an Stop guys are still keeping true to their fun roots, even as they grow their sound. When I walked into the NS crib, the boys were setting up to record a short dance video as a token of appreciation for their fans. That’s when Caton revealed what the Na’an Stop lifestyle means, “Time, practice, and dedication and having fun while doing it. The thing is, we’re all in this world trying to find our way and make a life for ourselves. Each of the members of Na’an Stop are giving their all, putting 100% of ourselves in everything we do, but also not succumbing to the pressures of American society to follow a cookie cutter career and climb ladders. It’s important for people to realize that you can do what you want to do if you actually take yourself seriously, but not too seriously, and have commitment. And we’re committed. We’ve made sacrifices in our lives to make Na’an Stop a priority, and that’s really what it takes to succeed in any career path you take.”

Life on the road. 

Life on the road. 

The “having fun while doing it” part is certainly true for these guys. Their video release for the single “Lazy Susan,” off the upcoming self-titled album, clearly shows the boys having fun. So does the video previously featured by BolderBeat for “Win a Bagel,” the single from From the Deep.  

Watch Na’an Stop’s video for “Lazy Susan”:

I asked Caton what else people can infer from their videos, because they’re pretty silly and have little to nothing to do with the actual song. His response was, “That we like to party. That we’re all friends. That it’s not a hard process for us to have fun on or off camera; on or off stage. We don’t want to follow any trend. We want to show our creativity and put out funny videos that haven’t been seen since The Foo Fighters crushed it.”  

The album art for the self-titled record.

The album art for the self-titled record.

Browsing around, I also noticed Na’an Stop’s upcoming self-titled album features a new logo for the group.

Said Caton, “We want to keep it fresh and show that we’re growing as musicians and artists. Each song that you record, looking back, shows you where you were and where you are now as a musician and as a group. ‘Win a Bagel,’ lacks harmonies in the recordings. It’s something we missed for being so green. But we definitely add them in our live sets now. Our new self-titled album shows how far we’ve come.”

You’ll definitely be able to notice the more refined, matured, and sophisticated rendition of the band with their new record available on all music platforms Wednesday, May 3rd. Hear them for yourself before the record drops as they kick off their spring tour at The Fox this Wednesday before heading west, where the people have “been really good to the band with legitimate fans and venues,” said Caton, “It’s a beautiful thing to watch the rise in our following and dedicated fans as they come out and support us. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Keep up with Na'an Stop here and make sure to wave hello if you see their Gnar'V in a city near you

-Mirna

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

Cosmic Collective: A Space For All The Things You Love About Live Music

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Amoramora, Cameron Bailey, Cycles, Euforquestra, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Na’an Stop, The Runnikine, and The Beeves. What do all these awesome artists have in common? They’ve worked with Cosmic Collective. The studio and performance space, which is located near 55th and Arapahoe in Boulder, came together back in 2015 with creative mastermind Eric Plein at the helm. The space, which has hosted live shows, rehearsals, performances, a podcast, and doubles as a recording studio “seeks to harbor community and creativity for conscious audio and visual artists by giving their work a place to manifest its full potential.” The DIY vibes draw you in; the professionalism of Plein and his crew keep you invested. Needless to say, we were stoked to have the chance to chat with Eric about all things Cosmic Collective. Read on:

Cosmic Collective is a part of so many musical happenings. What inspired you to start this?

After years of playing music with my brother and friends I had accumulated a fair amount of gear. When I was living up on 10th and College [in Boulder], I had all of that gear from my basement in Virginia shipped out here, and we set it up in the garage behind our house for jam sessions. In some respects it was a grungy precursor to what Cosmic is now. Between that and and learning from my experiences with Z2 Entertainment and Madison House, I took a leap and put together Cosmic Collective.

Eric Plein.

Eric Plein.

What all goes down at the CC?

Most of the time, Cosmic is rented out by artists and bands to rehearse for shows and write music. We provide everything you need including instruments, amps, drums, microphones and a PA system, although a lot of people like to bring some of their own gear.

Recently we’ve been doing more and more recording, ranging from live, in-studio performances to working on more polished material for some upcoming projects. I’ve always loved watching music documentaries and reading biographies so when Tyler Gwynn (drummer of Tenth Mountain Division) approached me about starting a podcast, I was all about it. We have local, regional, and nationally touring acts come in for an interview, and then have them play a couple songs live in the studio.

Boulder has an amazing music scene, but it’s not the most diverse. I started to miss going to folk, indie, punk, hardcore, and metal shows, but had a hard time finding venues to go and get my fix for smaller-scale artists. That’s when I started to put together events to help foster those musical communities and provide a space for them.

We hear that. Who all is on the Cosmic team and what are their roles?

On paper, it’s just me running the show, but in reality I’ve had a ton of help from friends, musicians, and mentors in the Colorado music community. There is no way I could do all of this on my own. I am constantly humbled by the desire and willingness of all those who help Cosmic.

Danny Evans of Amoramora (left) & Plein mix before a podcast. 

Danny Evans of Amoramora (left) & Plein mix before a podcast. 

How long ago did you guys start the podcast?

Tyler Gwynn and I started the "At Cosmic Collective Podcast" back in September of 2016. We didn’t really know what we were doing when we started- we just did it... Still not sure we do either. Pretty much all of our guests are touring acts passing through Boulder, or artists we’ve met or know that live in Colorado.

Anyone you can talk to us about that you’ve been stoked to record with recently?

I just finished recording an album for the project Mr. Smiley, which consists of two members from Shantyman (R.I.P.). They’re going to see if they can beat Anton Newcombe’s (Brian Jonestown Massacre) accomplishment of six albums in one year. We just started recording the second one and they’re already done writing the third.

Some of CC's pedal collection.

Some of CC's pedal collection.

Tell us something you have at CC that a true music gearhead would drool over.

Definitely the 1975 Fender Rhodes 88 keyboard. At one point in its not too distant past, it was bought to go on tour with Hieroglyphics, but the thing is a beast to lug around, so it wound up in an office until I picked it up.

The setup.

The setup.

What has been one of your favorite events put on in the Cosmic Collective space so far?

That’s a tough one, but I think I’d have to go with the first one we ever did with Jeffrey Martin & Anna Tivel. Maybe 25 people showed up, but we all sat in the stillest silence listening, half of us almost brought to tears. It was really intimate.

Do you sponsor events outside of the Cosmic studio?

Cosmic just started teaming up with one of my favorite non-profits, Bus To Show, to put on a series that takes place on the first Thursday of every month at Bohemian Biergarten. There is more in the works too, so stay tuned!

Life behind the board. 

Life behind the board. 

In these very politically charged times, do you have any comment on how the conscious community at CC creates change through art?

When people talk about change they are inclined to jump to something lofty and sweeping; end world hunger, find the cure to cancer. That’s not really my style- I see meaningful change in smaller day to day things. With all this divisive rhetoric bombarding us all the time, people have an intrinsic need to be part of communities that value them. When you meet someone new, find something you have in common before you define what makes that person different from you. At Cosmic, music is the built-in commonality that we all share. That’s the launching point for getting to know each other; getting to know ourselves. I think there is immense value in appreciating all the different perspectives and realities that define how one sees the world we live in.

Beautifully said Eric. We can’t wait to see who stops by Cosmic next.

Keep up with all things Cosmic Collective here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Listen to BolderBeat's 'End of Summer' Spotify Playlist

By: Joliene Adams

Every month, we publish a new Spotify playlist for your ears. Make sure to follow us on Spotify and take a listen at BolderBeat. Here is September's playlist:

BolderBeat's 'End of Summer' Playlist:

1. Tenth Mountain Division, “Drunk Man’s Blues”

Song most likely to sneak jam bandy vibes and bluegrass inspirations right under your nose without it mattering one wit.

There’s something about the way the vowels are pronounced. I’m convinced it has something to do with the hints of warm, soulful vocal spice. You won’t have much to say about a mandolin not being able to throw down after this song either. Rock undertones and jam overtones effectively avoid over-indulgence and hit the baby bear right where the Goldilocks counts.

2. Big Gigantic, “Got The Love”

Song most likely to dance in hi-tops on a spaceship to.

Somewhere along the way, soulful hip hop meets orchestral marching band and they all go to Burning Man together and start a band. This is what happens afterwards. If not a true story, it’s a believable back-story. Also, I couldn’t help but think, “Is that a wooden cowbell coming in at 1:44?”, even though I know better. How can that not make a person smile?

3. A Shadow Of A Jaguar, “Mama Needs The Bottle”

Song most likely to be mistaken as coming from Denver.

Denver isn’t the end all be all. But they do have more rock and roll. Bar none. We almost did, until West Water Outlaws broke up. And then there’s The Yawpers, who relocated to and announced themselves officially as a Denver band. Drop into the rock bowl at the sound of charging, down-stroke guitar grit, and quick, punchy drumbeat stalls between classic, unfrilled, rolling rock drums. Watch out for rhythmic vocals with attitude enough to make you want to spill your whiskey. Just buy the cheap stuff before, m’kay?

4. Envy Alo, “Bodzinger”

Song I most want to see the crew of Scooby Doo dance to.

Instrumentals done well drive me wild. I’m no less obsessed with words than music. But music doesn’t need words. It can communicate perfectly fine on it’s own. Also, killin’ it cool on the keyboards. Anyone would look amazing dancing to this song in bell bottoms. Groovy, but in the still totally hip way.

5. Policulture, “Great Respect”

Song most likely to render me unable to think of anything but bunny rabbits in sunglasses dancing in a field throughout it’s entirety.

You can definitely skank to this, but you don’t have to. You can dance like a slinky might to the guitar too. Ska and reggae are certain influences, but the track is in no way walled-in by them. Short, jumping keyboard strokes with a steady low-key bass keeps the groove moving forward.

6. Sunsquabi, “Odyssey” (feat. GriZ)

Song most likely to jet ski in outer space to.

If you hear this song in the elevator on your way to work, by golly you have the right job. Elevator music has a nasty reputation. My words here are no diss and all compliment. Sunsquabi and GRiZ could totally fly on an elevator, and chances are everyone’s day would be better and the world itself would be a better place for it. High five.

7. Gregory Alan Isakov, “Suitcase Full of Sparks”

Song with the best story to tell, and the best way of putting it.

“Travelin’ through the graveyard/suitcase full of sparks/honey I’m just trying to find you.” You’ve got my attention Mister Isakov. Light smatterings of harmonica and banjo punctuate earnest lyricism, and have a way of making new feelings come from old familiars. It’s amazing how light instrumentation and unobtrusive background vocals can hit your heart with a such a thunderous thud. Here is the song most likely to make me feel feelings & get those goosebumps.

8. Augustus, “Virtues”

Song that’s the most unto itself amongst all.

Augustus’ “Virtues” is the most own unto itself amongst the whole set. This number has the most interesting musical arrangements and distinct use of instrumentation. Won’t find vocals that hit so high delicately and then swing low anywhere else on this playlist, period. Cello like molasses that doesn’t stick, and thus doesn’t slow down the way it pours over you so warm and soft.

9. Cold River City, “Time Slips Away”

Song most likely to make me chill the heck out when a bus is late, all the while falling in love with the person at the bus stop next to me.

Now that’s some saxy sexaphone (courtesy of guest Jeremy Mohney). Back and forth male and female vocals lend this song a lyrical, crooning playfulness that doesn’t hinge on catchy word play. It speaks to the still-in-love love struggle when it’s done in reality, but far from it in heart. Hits me like permission to move on from any break up while still knowing the past was special and untouchable. If you think that’s hokey, it still won’t stop my pokey.

10. Sixty Minute Men, “Born This Way”

Song most likely to listen to on a catamaran at sunset.

Possiblly the best transition from and into a song on the playlist. Cold River City to Sixty Minute Men rolls like a board off one wave, up onto another. This song’s not in a hurry, and the slow simmer gives the listener rooted boots on the ground and soaring above the clouds vibes all at once. Put it in cruise control and tap those thumbs on your steering wheel folks.

11. Na’an Stop, “Questions”

Song that sounds most like an album single, and I somehow feel most likely to least question if I heard it on commercial alternative radio.

It’s catchy, folks. It makes me grateful for stereo speakers and headphones. It’s lyrics call you out and leave you feeling encouraged all at once. Keys and horns sometimes make you feel like someone might be laughing at you, but in a way that doubles back and only has you laughing at yourself, life, and all of us. It’s catchy. But it’s way more than a surface tune.

12. Evanoff, “Transcendance”

Song whose title best matches its music.  

Transcen + (d) + ance. That’s how we do on this ditty. The song title works on two levels. I feel like I could transcend my next climbing problem to this at The Spot, then dance the good vibes that follow off at The Fox straight after. Vocal thunder emanating from a teacup, heavy beats that don’t browbeat: this song communicates what it calls itself without riffing off some theme or line from lyrics, because it has none!! Best guitar shredding to boot.

13. The Motet, “Know It Too Well”

Song I’m most likely to dance to on isolated vocals alone.

More cowbell?! How yesterday of you. MORE ORGAN. The Motet knows it too well. I’d call this articulate funk, an ice cream sundae of funky guitar layers cut fresh and so clean. So much more than a wedding song, I can’t help but say that I can picture everyone from grandma to the youngest buckaroo dancing out on the floor having a good sass time at anyone’s matrimony.

Follow BolderBeat on Spotify for more Colorado music playlists. 

-Joliene

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

On the Record with Zach & David: The Red Petals

By: David Landry and Zach Dahmen

Colorado's newest blues band sat down with us for records and a chat.

On the Record: Where David & Zach sit down with musicians, listen to records, and bring you their conversation.

The Red Petals choices for this session were: 

  1. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deju Vu
  2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
  3. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves
  4. The Everly Brothers - The Very Best of
  5. The Band - The Band

House Choice:

  1. Ryan Adams - Rock n Roll

Newly formed blues band The Red Petals walked through the door and went straight for the records; that’s JC McKim, Matt Lowber, and Austin Pacharz. Their story goes likes this: JC and Matt both grew up in Alaska and played in rival high school bands before they both ended up in Boulder. The two played together in a local project, Slanted Jack, but that eventually came to an end.

The Red Petals.

The Red Petals.

In late 2015, JC wanted to start a new project and Matt was itching to play more after a stint of shows playing percussion for Na’an Stop. And that is where Austin (Cold River City) comes in. Na’an Stop happened to need a temporary bass player for a couple of shows and Austin got the gig.

One night, while loading gear, Matt was talking music with the guys and that’s when it happened, the “Hey Austin, want to start a trio with JC and I?” And Austin, “Yeah!” So the three met up in Lyons, the mountain town that Matt calls home, and started to jam old blues and soul standards. It was fluid from the start, and not a lot of questions were asked.

From the beginning, Austin and Matt locked in playing together, and that’s a good thing because it allows JC to dance. JC plays a red, semi-hollowbody guitar, which drives the sound of the band. JC describes the guitar as “flashy blues”, and it’s made him want to play just that.

The three-piece are influenced by 50s and 80s blues, but still allow pop elements to fold in. Each member has their own influences too:

“Funk, jazz, reggae, and hiphop [are] a huge part of my drumming, and my musical approach to drumming.” said Matt.

Austin, on the other hand, is more into the great Pino Palladino (JMT, D’Angelo) and Chris Wood (Wood Brothers). Said Austin, “They know when to hold back and when to push the music further out into space into something cohesive.”

With all of these influences, The Red Petals form a blues power trio, like the greats Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and even the John Mayer Trio. Being a three-piece lets every instrument have its own space, but blend well together, giving the guys a rich, full tone.

Watch a video about The Red Petals formation:

After their experiences in other projects, the guys decided to go into this one with a different approach: have a solid foundation and act like it’s a business. Which is why they went straight to the studio to record singles before playing shows.

“Knowing we want to approach this professionally means that we have more than just the music to worry about,” said Matt.

And so the guys went to Andrew Oakley’s (WWO, A Shadow of Jaguar, Cold River City, BANDITS) practice space, a spot well seasoned and setup for recording. After tracking their first single, “Ruby Sky”, and an old Robert Johnson tune, “Come On In My Kitchen”, The Red Petals headed to Coupe Studios, where Greg McRae helped engineer and mix their sessions. The trio already has plans for more recordings too, and music videos to help push their vision forward.

Currently, The Red Petals are gearing up to play their first live show in Boulder at the Bohemian Biergarten this Thursday, March 31st, with a hometown show for Matt the following day in Lyons at Pizza Bar 66. In the meantime, keep up with the band here and get a taste of The Red Petals' music on their website

-David and Zach on the record

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

An Open Letter to the Daily Camera & The Boulder Music Scene by Z2's Matt Banno

A note from BB Creative Director Hannah Oreskovich:

A couple of weeks ago, we shared an article from the Daily Camera’s staff writer Quentin Young entitled “Restriced access: How one company dominates Boulder’s live music scene.” We've heard from many industry players and artists with various positions about Boulder's music scene since then. Recently, we were in contact with Z2’s Matt Banno and he painted a very different picture of the local scene, Z2 as a whole, and Don Strasburg. We thought it only right that we bring you positions from both sides so that you can draw your own conclusions. That said, give Matt’s letter to the Daily Camera regarding Young's article a read:

To Whom It May Concern-

My name is Matt Banno and I am writing you in response to your article posted on 1/23/16, “Restricted access: How one company dominates Boulder's live music scene”. I had come to enjoy your publication in my few years as a Boulder resident, and after reading this particular article, I have had a strong change in my opinion of Daily Camera.

I consider myself fairly in tune and involved with the Boulder local music scene, and I would like to think that I have developed a good reputation as a strong contributor to it. I am currently employed in a variety of professions, all of which directly relate to the local music industry. I am the production manager and talent buyer for The Lazy Dog, I am a light designer and tech at Z2 Productions, and I am the owner of FieldView Productions. Some previous employments I have had here in CO include: an intern for Brownnote Productions, a talent buyer for a Denver venue, and a general manager/tour manager for a handful of Boulder based bands. I want you to know that I write you today, unsolicited by all the mentioned employers, and from a standpoint that is the combination of all these professions; as well as a passionate live music fan and Boulder County resident.

I feel this article was a very unfair and poorly sourced portrayal of not only Z2, but Don Strasburg as well. As a current member of their production staff, I find it insulting that an organization I take an immense amount of pride being part of was put into such a negative light. I relocated myself out here in pursuit of many things, one of which was to become a light designer at The Fox Theater. Prior to my move from Rhode Island in the summer of 2014, I worked as a member of the security staff at a small music venue in Providence, called The Spot. When the house light designer was absent for three shifts, I worked behind the lighting console. This is when I decided to pursue a career in music production. I came out here very unfamiliar with the national music scene. Parallel to my lack of knowledge about the industry, I was very familiar with the exceptional reputation that The Fox Theatre and Boulder, Colorado had in the nationwide spectrum. I did not have a full grasp on just how heavy Boulder and Z2 contribute to the nationwide music scene, but that does not mean their positive partnership went without notice to an amateur/aspiring light designer 2,000 miles away.  

In addition to my pride as an employee of Z2, I feel just as strongly about my currently held titles at The Lazy Dog. This local and independent business has attained a strong reputation as the stepping stone venue to The Fox Theatre within the local music community; and it was very much overlooked as that venue by the Daily Camera staff writer, Quentin Young, who wrote the article being discussed here. In the 28 months I have spent helping get The Lazy Dog the reputation it currently holds, I have never once felt the slightest bit of suppression that you imply Z2 and Don impose on small independent venues. Not only have I never dealt with any form of negative repercussion from Z2 for the success The Lazy Dog has seen as a local music venue, I happen to work in a very respectful, professional, and mutually beneficial capacity with them. I have had nothing but support and encouragement from all members of the Z2 staff, including their talent buyers, management, and owners. Their talent buyers, Dave Weingarden and Chris Peck, often send me bands that are unable to get on the very desired Fox Theatre calendar, both full well knowing that there is potential of that band drawing live music patrons to a concert that they are not hosting; this has oftentimes been the case. As a token of my genuine gratitude for the olive branch they often extend to me, I send them names and financial recaps of bands who are ready to move past The Lazy Dog and graduate to The Fox in a support or headline capacity.

One particular part of your article, which I found to be one of the more ironic points, talked about a talent buyer for a venue in Lyons that spoke about Don enforcing “far-reaching restrictions that blocked artists from playing competing venues”.  As the buyer for The Lazy Dog, I happen to work with a number of national booking agencies, one of which books an artist from South Carolina I have been trying to book here in Boulder at The Dog for over two years now. I was told in an email from that artist's agent, sent to me on 4/28/15, that his Denver and Lyons buyers frowned on and did not want him to do a Boulder play; as a result I have not been able to get him here for a show. There is an incredible similarity in their strong encouragement for this artist not to play Boulder and the “far reaching restrictions” that they felt deterred artists from playing their venues. In any market you go to in this country, buyers and bands are very familiar with a radius clause as a fairly common factor when booking shows consecutively in the same area. I think it is very unfair to highlight the fact that Z2 uses a radius clause, especially citing a source who has directly impeded a touring artist from doing a Boulder show by enforcing one of his own. There was another reason the artist wanted to hold off on a Boulder play I should mention as well, and that is because he wanted to wait until he was able to get into The Fox; I can only assume because the venue's exceptional reputation in the national scene also made its way to him out in South Carolina.

Up until a few months ago, I never included a radius clause in my booking at The Lazy Dog. Within the past year, a Denver venue owner made his way into Boulder to become a competing venue with us here at The Dog. Upon his arrival, I began to see a number of bands that I had confirmed upcoming shows with starting to get booked for a show at his venue within a week or two prior to their show with us. This happens to be another person you used as a source for your article, speaking to the unfair competitive edge Z2 has over him. This particular venue owner has established himself for many years in Denver and has used those years of experience, his Denver venue, and established connections, to entice bands to his venue over mine. Personally, I do not feel as if he is out of his rights to do this; and by doing so he clearly demonstrates an understanding of doing what you must as a business to stay competitive in such a demanding market. Once again, I feel that you have negatively highlighted Z2 and Don as a corporate conglomerate, that is executing some out of the realm business tactic, all the while using sources who execute the same tactics on a different scale.  

I also think it is important to point out that using the owner of a Boulder venue that is less than a year old as a source for an article on Boulder local music is not very fair to the numerous established venues in town that have been supporting this community’s music scene for far longer. I saw no mention of Mountain Sun, Southern Sun, Connor O'neill’s, the Biergarten, Shine, The Dark Horse, The Laughing Goat, 303 Vodka, Upslope Brewery, and last but far from least, The Lazy Dog. This town is a well known haven for artists, workers within the industry, and passionate live music fans. While Z2 operates the two major venues in town, the reputation that is held by Boulder is certainly not solely because of those two venues. It has been cultivated by the numerous establishments that host all types of, and levels of artists, local and national. By failing to even mention a single one of them does more to discredit all that we do for the community and only proves to be counterproductive for the point you are trying to make. Had your staff writer spoken with any member of the Boulder local music community, I have to imagine at least one of the live music establishments I mentioned would have come up. Those are also far from all the independent, small venues this town has to offer.  

You make mention of an anonymous music professional within your article that speaks to the lack of support for local emerging artists within Boulder. I personally just worked a show with my production company, at The Fox Theatre on 2/6/16, which was headlined by a local band, Na'an Stop. They were supported by two other local bands, Policulture and Realtalk. Realtalk just emerged as a new player in the scene within the last 6 months and is already playing shows at The Fox, by way of The Lazy Dog. The show was also sold out days prior to the event, which in my opinion speaks to the incredible support that is given by the community as a whole to the bands. It also leaves something to be said about the incredible effort some artists put into promotion, and the necessary marketing/business side of their band versus others. This is a business at the end of the day, and to imply that Z2 should take a more proactive role in fostering the success of local bands only ignores and discredits the bands that are able to earn their way into these historic venues. You relieve the artist of any responsibility to ensure that their show is also beneficial to the venue, and at the end of the day, all artists are competing with each other to get the slot at the venue, so why should the venue be held responsible for choosing to book a band that will turn into a better financial payout for them? In my experience, the bigger payout to the venue usually means that there were more people in the venue to see the artist, which means more music fans were able to see the artist that they preferred. At what point do we acknowledge that the fan is casting their vote of who gets to play the venues by way of their dollar?

Your article began with a Vail venue owner discussing disappointment that Z2 had acquired a venue he hoped to attain, and I know from experience that being on the losing end of any business deal is disappointing. I do not, however, think that you considered the various factors that come into play when it comes to operating a live music venue, which happen to go far beyond purchasing a building. I very much agree with Don in saying that the Boulder market cannot support another theater sized venue. Even if Z2 had given their blessing to the Vail venue owner, who is to say that the artist booking agency based in Burlington, VT or Chicago, IL is going to stop working with the Z2 talent buyers and move their bands to the other venue? This would again fall back to previously existing relationships that were formed over many years between the artists, buyers, venues, and agents that a simple real estate transaction cannot take the place of. You also seem to overlook the fact that Z2 has buyers which, upon hiring, open up the doors to The Fox for previous existing artist relationships they bring with them. Chris Peck came to Z2 with previous experience in the North Carolina and Tennessee market, and because he was there, the bands he is familiar with are afford a more feasible opportunity to showcase their talent on one of Z2's stages.  

I was, and still am, disappointed and frustrated by what this articles implies. The unfair nature in how it has been written negatively sways the mentality of the Boulder community toward a company that has brought, and continues to bring, some of the most amazing talent from around the country to our backyard. I am also insulted that as a contributor and member of the local music scene, my efforts and the efforts of my peer venues were so easily overlooked in an article that has the words “Boulder's live music scene” in the title of it. We are very much a part of what makes this music scene as great as it is, and Z2 Entertainment is a major contributor and a cornerstone of what attracts some of the unbelievable talent we get to see every week. We live in a time where generation X gets the majority of their news from social media and satire publications that are mistaken for real news. As a willing contributor and surviving member of the declining print media that is still being circulated, you have an obligation to this community to present unbiased and properly researched information, and this articles was neither.

As I sit here writing my final thoughts on this piece, I just received an email from Becca Yenney. She is the office and HR manager for Z2, and her email was to inform the staff that a member of Z2’s security team, Josh Elioseff, will be competing in a battle of the bands with his group, JC and The Deadly Sins at The Dark Horse tomorrow. She included a link to the event on social media, the time it starts, and strongly encouraged supporting one of our own. I could not have asked for a better example of how amazing the Boulder local music scene is, and what a wonderful part Z2 plays in it. Doors open at The Dark Horse at 7:30, and Josh's band goes on a little after 8. I would suggest swinging by and catching a local band at a local venue, being sponsored a local brewery, and supported by some Z2 staff. That to me is the more accurate picture of the Boulder local music scene.

-Matt Banno

Have your own thoughts on the scene? Contact us by clicking here.

This feature was edited for spelling and a few grammatical errors by BolderBeat. Thumbnail image per BolderBeat.

BolderBeat's Tiny Desk Contest Compilation + This Weekend's Shows to See

By: Hannah Oreskovich

You entered. We watched (and listened).

Hey Colorado! A lot of local acts have been working on something awesome the past couple of weeks- their submissions to NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest! As you probably know, NPR has a sweet feature called Tiny Desk, the brainchild of Bob Boilen, who is also the creator of All Songs Considered. Boilen essentially invites artists to play at his desk and their intimate performances are recorded live; often they’re really badass. Check out some of the most recent Tiny Desk performances here.

Last year, NPR started the Tiny Desk Contest, allowing any and every US artist to have a shot at getting an invite to play Boilen’s sought-after desk. The winner was Fantastic Negrito, who you can check out here. This year, the winner will play the Tiny Desk and also appear in a taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another and tour the US with NPR and Lagunitas. We kept seeing so many local band’s submissions pop up that we decided to throw them all in a feature for your viewing pleasure. We were impressed by everyone’s submissions and we're sure you will be too. So give these vids some traffic yo:

Asalott

Pretty sweet collection, eh?

PS: We couldn’t totally forgo our weekend picks, so here are some shows with their event links to check out the next two nights:

Tonight (Friday, 02/05):

Ancient Elk, The Velveteers, and The Savage Blush at Syntax Opera House in Denver

Hunter Stone at Taco Junky in Boulder

Many Mountains with Still Cellars Distillery and Arthouse in Longmont

Whiskey Autumn and Shiny Shoes First Funk Friday at The Bohemian Biergarten in Boulder

Tomorrow (Saturday, 02/06):

Andrew Sturtz at The Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver

Griz with Special Guests at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver

Imaginary Pointsmontropo, Glimjack, and Shuad’Dib at The Forge in Boulder

Na’an Stop with Policulture and Realtalk at The Fox Theatre in Boulder

Sam Hozdulick’ Album Release Party with Special Guests at Lost Lake in Denver

Both Nights:

Opening Music Weekend at Cafe Aion featuring Paul Kimbiris and Foxfeather

And don’t forget to tune in Sunday for our partnership with Green Light Radio and Streetside Productions! We will feature Na’an Stop’s “Win a Bagel” in honor of their headlining performance at The Fox this Saturday. Crank your dials to 95.5FM in Boulder Sunday night between 9-10PM, or stream Green Light here. Listen for local!

Thanks for keeping us afloat as we continue to support local music. If you dig what we’re doing, please give us a like on Facebook (especially from your band page so we can keep up with all you do).

-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.

Realtalk Plays The Fox Saturday + Watch Their New Music Video for "Freddie Gray"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Realtalk just dropped a new video. 

Remember when we last caught up with Boulder’s funk rock four-piece Realtalk? Well their Fox show with Boulder bands Na’an Stop and Policulture is fast approaching. The guys will take the stage as the first of the three bands this Saturday, February 6th. This is an awesome all-local lineup, so go support it! Get your tickets here before they sell out (it’s getting close!). And while you’re waiting to get groovy with these three Boulder bands this weekend, check out the new music video Realtalk just dropped for their politically-infused track “Freddie Gray”. It features footage from the Baltimore riots via frontman Sean Campbell’s Baltimore Sun-reporting brother, and is dedicated to Freddie Gray. As the band says, “Listen to it. Think about it. Freddie Gray.”

-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.

Catching Up with Boulder's Realtalk: New Tracks, a Music Video, & a Gig at The Fox

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Realtalk are headed to The Fox and have a lot more in store for 2016.

Realtalk.

Realtalk.

You may remember Boulder band Realtalk from our feature “From House Parties to Headliners,” where we talked about the group’s transition from playing shows for their friends at CU bangers to playing Denver’s Bluebird Theater. The four-piece has been insanely busy since then, so it’s time we brought you an update Boulder! Here’s what’s up:

Realtalk, composed of Sean Campbell (vocals/guitar), Ara Verbano (bass), Jack Guth (keys), and Julian Kitzmiller (drums), have been back in the studio. They also dropped a new music video (which you can watch below) andddd they’ve got an upcoming gig at The Fox Theatre February 6th with Boulder bands Na’an Stop and Policulture. That’s a sweet lineup of local music peeps! Score yourself some tickets to that here before they sell out! And check out our chat below with frontman Sean Campbell for the deets on Realtalk’s most recent recording experience, how stoked the guys are to play the Fox, and the story behind the track they just dropped a video for, “My Friend.” Keep reading:

Realtalk recording at  Augminished Studio .

Realtalk recording at Augminished Studio.

So Sean- tell us about your recent recording experience: where did you record, who did you work with, and how did you choose which material to record?

We recorded with a guy by the name of Payden Widner. Payden does great work; we have worked with him once before. The spot was just outside of Denver; a place called Augminished Studio. Payden produced our single “On an Island” last spring and we really liked what he did with that song, so we were very happy to get the chance to work with him again. All three of the tracks were recorded in about six hours, which was a lot of material to lay down in a short amount of time. The way we look at it is, if you’re gonna pay for studio time, you better take advantage of every second that you’re in there. We chose to record “Freddie Gray”, “Running Around”, and “My Friend” because they all have very different moods. The rush that you get from the chorus in “Running Around” is very different than the relaxed mindset of “My Friend.”

Realtalk frontman Sean Campbell shreddin'.

Realtalk frontman Sean Campbell shreddin'.

That’s awesome! Tell us about the inspiration behind “Freddie Gray.” We know it’s a very personal song for you guys.

Well I’m from Baltimore; I grew up ten minutes outside of the city. My older brother Colin is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. He covered the Freddie Gray case from front to back as it unfolded last April. Most of the marches and protests leading up to the rioting didn’t make national news. Nonviolent marches happened every day for a week. Then some protesters started violently protesting in front of Camden Yards. Rocks were thrown and police cars were damaged, and all of a sudden, it became breaking news across the country. The city sounded like a war-zone for five days after that. Anyway, that’s what inspired the lyrics in the chorus, “It takes riots and violence before we are listening.”  It’s seems to be the sad truth for a lot of the injustices that happens in our world.

Thanks for sharing that with us man- that is definitely some powerful stuff. It’s really great that you chose to turn that experience into music. Let’s change gears to “My Friend,” which you guys just dropped a video for recently. What was your favorite part of recording that track?

How it turned out honestly is the best part: It came out with a feeling; a soundscape, which is exactly what we were going for. We were trying to capture a very particular and consistent emotion in that track, and it’s fulfilling to hear it in the recording.

Get your tix from Realtalk for their February Fox show!

Get your tix from Realtalk for their February Fox show!

That’s sweet. Any story behind that song that you’d want to tell us more about?

Last summer, we roadtripped as a band to the West Coast to write music and play a few shows.  Ara, our bassist, is from the San Juan Islands in Washington, so we set up our stuff in his cabin and wrote music for 10 days. It was the best. It’s a small island and life is simple up there. No distractions; no noisy nonsense. Just a bunch of boys and their instruments. So the lyrics in “My Friend” reflect our 10-day stay on Guemes Island, you know, just taking note of the little things in life like a ferry-ride to the main town to get food and beer or the regular sight of Ara’s parents farming and working in their yard. That trip was the most time we had spent together as a band though, and tensions ran high at certain points. [That tension] is what we’re referring to in the chorus, “I walk away again,” because at times we all needed some space. But that’s part of the reason we’re doing big things together; we push each other to be better. It’s all a balance.

Definitely. That sort of tension can be rewarding- and it looks like that push for you guys has certainly been beneficial. We know that playing The Fox has been on your bucket list since your inception. Tell us about what you’re most looking forward to at that show and how the show came together.

Ahhhh man, where to start! We’re playing with Na’an Stop and Policulture, two groovy reggae bands from Boulder. Na’an Stop’s Patrick Mulholland (trombone/keys) saw us perform at The Lazy Dog back in October and he dug our sound enough to invite us onto the bill at their Fox show. Very stoked about it. I have seen so many sick shows at that venue. Musicians that I idolize tour through The Fox all the time, so it will be a wildly awesome dream-come-true to play a show there! We are getting so ready for this show, it’s not even funny. It’s gonna be off the chain.

Can’t wait! Get tickets. And check out Realtalk’s video for “My Friend” here: 

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Music Video Release: Na'an Stop "Win a Bagel"

By: Hannah Oreskovich

These party animals just dropped a new vid.

Boulder band Na’an Stop have been bringing their reggae sounds to the Front Range and beyond for quite some time now. The five-piece produces mad party vibes at their shows with what they call “The Na’an Stop Lifestyle” aka “a commitment to living life 100%. . . acting on your own terms, in your own way, and taking whatever you’re doing to the next level.” And taking things to the next level is exactly what the NS boys are doing this month as they launch their West Coast Morning Dew Tour, starting with their show this Friday at Belly Up in Aspen. But don’t worry kids! They’re making their way back to Boulder in February when they’ll headline The Fox with Boulder openers Policulture and Realtalk. More info on that here. But since you’ll be missing their sweet reggae-ska-dub-partyyyy antics while they’re away the next few months, we suggest you check out the crazy, ridiculous new music video they dropped today for “Win a Bagel,” a track off their debut album From the Deep. Watch it here:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Booster: No Guitars, Please.

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Sometimes funk doesn't need guitars.

Rocket Fuel. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Rocket Fuel. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Between the tantalizing food trucks, the fresh produce, and the people watching at the Boulder County Farmer’s Market, it’s hard not to have a great time. But Boulder band Booster brought an extra special treat to the market recently. They label themselves as “funk, fusion, rocket fuel.” And that last part should tell you that Booster is not your typical Boulder funk band. Why?

“We don’t have guitars.” says Aaron Pettine, the driving force behind the band. “We wanted to be different. We thought- let’s write songs where the bass leads or where the trumpet leads. And it kind of fell into place. So that’s what sets us apart.”

It does. And based on the energetic crowd of people they had dancing during their set, Booster must be doing something right.

Pettine, groovin'. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Pettine, groovin'. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Booster started with Pettine (keyboards) and Mike Lehman (drums) about 8 months ago. The two first met in college in Virginia and played in a band called Laser Pistol together, which Lehman says was “like jam rock; like Phish.” After moving out here specifically for the music scene, the two worked on several projects until eventually things fell into place with Alex Vouri on bass and Les Miller on trumpet/percussion with Booster. The four-piece has already played with some notable Boulder bands, including Na’an Stop. And they have a gig coming up with Realtalk at the Lazy Dog on August 28th that you should definitely check out.

Did I mention they play all original material too?

“We write everything. Everything is original and we’re working on things weekly.” says Pettine. “For something [like a BCFM set] where we play for four hours, there is some improv happening. But [in our regular sets] a lot of what we’re doing is what we’ve written. We don’t do covers.”

Groovy.

Tap Tap. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

Tap Tap. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

You can go dance at one of Booster’s summer events here. The guys also have studio plans for the fall, but until then check out their music here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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