Danny Shafer Bringing Back Open Stage Nights At New Boulder Venue

By: Elizabeth Lee

Singer-songwriter Danny Shafer will be bringing his Open Stage nights back to Boulder starting tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7th. After a 16-year run hosting the open mic night at Boulder’s now defunct Conor O’Neill’s, Shafer is ready to reconnect with the amazing community he’s helped create over the years at a new venue. Here at BolderBeat, we’ve heard stories from numerous local musicians who started playing out at Danny’s previous open mic night, so his new stage is sure to bring even more local talent together.

Danny Shafer.

Danny Shafer.

With over 200 shows a year on his own, Shafer has been bringing his original country and bluegrass tunes to audiences at venues such as The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, The Boulder Theater, The Fox Theatre, and Swallow Hill as well as many others across the country. His acclaimed songwriting skills and fingerstyle guitar are a treat to witness in person.

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For a fun night of tradition, community, and awesome music, be sure to catch Shafer’s Open Stage every Tuesday at Boulder's new Oskar Blues Taproom (formerly World of Beer). You can sign up for 15 minute sets starting at 7PM and the music begins at 730PM.

RSVP on Facebook and keep up with Danny here.

-Elizabeth

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

An interview with Boulder's Silent Bear: A powerful musician; a powerful spirit.

By: Hannah Oreskovich

From his work with Pete Seeger to his new protest songs, Silent Bear isn't so silent.

My first impression of Silent Bear was that his name fit him well: towering above me in his over-six-foot-tall frame, he was soft-spoken with kind eyes as he sat down across from me with a cup of coffee at The Laughing Goat. His ponytail touched the back of his jacket as he moved toward my tape recorder and clinked his cup against its saucer.

“So I started in open mics here [in Boulder],” he tells me, “and it was a lot different back then.”

I ask him when “back then” was, and Silent Bear tells me he moved to Boulder in 1993 when he drove his sister out to CU and ended up sticking around. And the difference?

“If you walked into a coffeehouse back then, it was before the digital age. So there were a bunch of people sitting around tables and they’d actually be talking to one another. They might not even know each other. But there would be artists drawing up posters for musicians, like, ‘Hey you got a gig Wednesday? Here’s some artwork for it.’ There would be people spreading the word about their gigs for the week, and there would be groups of us in philosophical conversation. And it’s different now. The world is so much bigger in some ways, but it’s a lot smaller in others. I miss that sometimes.”

I glance around. Save for the one soul actually reading a book by himself in the corner, every other person in the place (and it’s packed) is in front of a screen. As I ponder commenting on this, he beckons to me with a smile, “But certain things are the same- there are some artists who are still around and there’s still a great scene here.”

Silent Bear is one such scene staple himself. After becoming a Boulder transplant in the 90s, SB started out playing local open mic nights and worked his way up to co-hosting one at the late Penny Lane Coffeehouse with Chuck Nehring. Together, the two would tape the nights live to cassette, and the recordings were then played on KGNU. Silent Bear met a lot of local artists this way and started practicing his material in front of crowds, but after a few years in the scene, he had the itch to jump back to his origins in New York. There, he found himself inspired by the jazz club scene.

Silent Bear. Photo Credit:   Dancer Productions

Silent Bear. Photo Credit: Dancer Productions

“There was a real collective there- there were the jazz elders- the legends- and the up and comers. And I dabbled in jazz playing but my roots are more in folk and blues. There were ‘Big Band Mondays’ with 16-piece bands- there was a lot happening.”

Silent Bear connected with percussionist Kahlil Kwame Bell to record his first album, and although they were signed to a label, it was a jazz label. So when it came to booking shows and getting real distribution, things didn’t quite pan out. Their sound just wasn’t a fit for the jazz clubs Silent Bear was so inspired by. But he kept on.

Eventually, Silent Bear’s musical journey brought him back to the B in 2004. He found other artists to play with, and also kept doing a lot of solo work. One of his biggest music moments happened in 2012 when he played a benefit concert with Pete Seeger and the two became friends. Wanting to record and release some new material around that time, Silent Bear approached Seeger about working together. And soon after, he found himself in Seeger’s living room.

“Pete played banjo on a track- we recorded a couple of songs together in his living room in New York. My last album The Green Lion- it’s great because it’s a real honor that [Seeger’s] on there, but there are also a lot of local artists on there too.”

And that’s the thing about Silent Bear- he’s got the sort of spirit that welcomes you into his work whether you’re a music legend or an amateur.

Silent Bear performing with Pete Seeger. Photo Credit:   Skyhook Entertainment

Silent Bear performing with Pete Seeger. Photo Credit: Skyhook Entertainment

As Silent Bear and I continue to chat, I ask him about his name.

“You know a lot of people think the name is Native American but it’s not. I do a lot of work with Native Peoples- I’ve been honored to be a part of  of their traditional ceremonies, I’ve played benefit shows for Native causes, and I have been close with a lot of people in the community. They are my spiritual brothers and sisters and friends, but my blood ancestors are Russian and Polish. I’ve thought to myself, ‘There are bears in Russia as well as here in North America.’ But the way I actually got the name ‘Silent Bear’ was on a roadtrip when my sister Debra and I were just making up names for each other. She came up with Silent Bear and it kind of fit and stuck, you know? The bear is the guardian of the dream and the subconscious. The Big Dream. I like that. And it’s a strong image. I can be quiet, but when I get on stage, people are sometimes surprised by me; by my voice, by my performance; by the paradox. So you have the quiet nature of my character up front with the power and intensity of the bear behind it.”

I tell him I like that. And then I wonder aloud, “From Penny Lane, to your jazz days, to recording with Pete Seeger. . . what’s next for you at this point?”

“Well, we released The Green Lion album last year, but I’ve already got a lot of new material I want to record now and so I’m looking for avenues for that.” he smiled. “And I’m doing a lot of work with what I call my ‘Electric Band,’ my three piece. We’re a little louder, you know, a little different energy than what I do myself.”

Album Artwork for  The Green Lion .

Album Artwork for The Green Lion.

Silent Bear is also hosting an open-mic night at Sancho’s Boulder Arrow on Monday nights, which is ironically where he played his first Boulder gig back when it was Branden’s Cafe. I comment on how that seems to bring things full-circle for SB’s Boulder career, and Silent Bear laughs in agreement.

“I want to create a musical community there; an artist’s community. Kinda back to the Penny Lane days, where people come and support one another and get inspired. There might be someone playing a song that you like and you go home and write one because you get inspired. Or you might meet somebody, like I met Kahlil at the jazz clubs, and they might be your musical soulmate. Maybe you get together and form a band. Maybe you’re looking to record and somebody will come and say, ‘Oh yeah I got a studio and I’m looking to take on some projects, you know.’ The possibilities are endless.”

Listening to someone with so much experience, I agree with him that they are. Silent Bear is more than just a well-known musician in the local scene, he’s someone who has watched it transform over 20+ years. I tell him this as he hands me a copy of The Green Lion

He softly smiles.

“I want you to have this.” he says.

And that’s just like Silent Bear: Humble, but talented. Kind, but determined. Giving, but quiet. Strong on stage, but soft-spoken in conversation. A powerful spirit. A powerful musician.

Listen to Silent Bear here.

And check out Sancho’s Open Mic Mondays with Silent Bear here.

Watch the artistic video for the track “The Green Lion” below:

-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.

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.

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

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

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

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

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

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!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

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

By: Hannah Oreskovich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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

Colorado Open Mic Nights: Supporting Local Talent

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Catch an open-mic at any of these spots.

Today we’re talking Open Mic Nights- they’re a cool part of the Colorado music scene for a few reasons. If you’re just a casual listener, they can be a great place to grab a drink with more than just the radio in the background. If you’re a musician, they’re an awesome way to connect with other artists and industry professionals in your area. And if you’re like us and you’re always on the lookout for new talent, Open Mic Nights are a sweet spot to try and find up-and-coming musicians. A ton of the artists we’ve interviewed have had their start in Open Mic Nights; many have even gone on to host them at various venues. Most digs have a reserved weeknight for these shows, so depending on when you’re looking to find an Open Mic Night, here’s where to go:

Sundays:

Lucky Joe’s Sidewalk Saloon in Fort Collins 9PM

Mondays:

Johnny’s Cigar Bar in Boulder 8PM

Jamestown Mercantile Co. Cafe in Jamestown 6PM - Hosted by Jovan

Bootstrap Brewing Company in Niwot 6PM

Oskar Blues Tasty Weasel Tap Room in Longmont 6PM - Hosted by The Prairie Scholars

Mulligan’s Pub in Fort Collins 7PM

Tuesdays:

Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Boulder - Hosted by Danny Shafer

Twisted Pine Brewing Co. in Boulder 6PM - Hosted by Jim Herlihy of Augustus

Syntax Physic Opera in Denver 830PM

The Pioneer Inn in Nederland 9PM

Wednesdays:

The Swing Station in Laporte 7PM

The Mercury Cafe in Denver 9PM

Thursdays:

Vindication Brewing in Boulder 530PM - Hosted by Foxfeather

Swallow Hill Music Cafe in Denver 7PM

The Dickens Tavern in Longmont 7PM

Mishawaka’s Spokesbuzz Lounge in Bellvue 8PM - They give you free beer for playing!

That’s our list. Support local talent and check out an Open Mic Night near you.

-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.