The New Mastersounds' Recent 'Payback' Show Gave 100% of Proceeds to Homeless Youth

By: Will Baumgartner

Last Friday night at the Ogden Theatre in Denver was a joyful experience on multiple levels as The New Mastersounds, joined by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe guitarist DJ Williams and his band Shots Fired, brought their considerable talents and notoriety to the aid of Urban Peak to benefit Denver homeless youth. The New Mastersounds, led by guitarist Eddie Roberts, who is known for his love of and commitment to community, funneled 100% of the night’s proceeds back to Urban Peak. Everything sold for the night, including merchandise from Roberts’ new record label Color Red, went to the organization. So even if you didn’t participate in the silent auction or couldn’t afford to pick up an album or t-shirt, you knew that just by being there, you were helping make life better for others. Add that good feeling to the absolutely stellar performances and rock-solid grooves emanating from everyone on that stage, and it’s no wonder that all of us were smiling all night.

The event, aptly named The Payback, is not a new thing. This show marked the completion of its third year, with past shows in Denver, San Francisco, and New Orleans, which have featured special guests like the New Orleans Suspects and Neon Brown. Urban Peak have been doing their good work since 1988, and through The Payback shows, The New Mastersounds have helped them raise several thousand dollars and public awareness for homeless youth.

The crowd at  Payback .

The crowd at Payback.

As excited as I was to see the Mastersounds again, it was an extra special treat to be introduced to Shots Fired, as this was my first time catching them live. Mr. Williams is not only a masterful guitarist with a precise attack reminiscent of Roberts’ playing, but a coolly charismatic bandleader and compelling composer as well. Based in Denver, he featured several musicians in this set, including Analog Son keyboardist Eric Luba and trumpeter AnDre Mali. If you’ve seen Williams with Tiny Universe, you already know what a great guitarist he is; catch this band and see how much more he can do as a frontman.

When the New Mastersounds took the stage, we were all primed and had our inner groove machines well-oiled by Shots Fired’s dance-friendly set. Those of us who have been fans for years knew that New Mastersounds would not only dazzle us with their musicianship, but keep that dance vibe going while driving us all to new and blissful heights. Augmented by the dynamic duo of trumpeter Mike Olmos and saxophonist Jason Mingledorff, and featuring two mini-sets fronted by the outrageously soulful vocalist Lamar Williams Jr. (known for his work with the Greg Allman Band as well as his own prodigious talents as a songwriter and frontman in his own right), the band continued to show us that we can count on them to continue their traditions while continually growing and reaching higher and higher with each performance.

The New Mastersounds at  Payback .

The New Mastersounds at Payback.

If you happen to be in New York City in a couple of weeks, New Mastersounds will be doing a two-night run at the Gramercy Theater on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Then it’s straight back to Colorado for a run of shows at the Belly Up in Aspen January 3rd, Old Town Pub in Steamboat Springs the two nights following, and the Shakedown Bar in Vail on January 6th.

With all the great happy music we experienced last Friday though, we should not forget what the evening was about. Whether you were there or not, please visit Urban Peak at their website and get involved: donate, volunteer, whatever you can do. With the holidays abound, it’s the perfect season to give and you never know who you might help jump up off their feet to dance.

-Will

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

Alternative Punk Rock Group American Blackout Debut 'Yeah So What' EP

By: Jura Daubenspeck

The gifts just keep on coming this holiday season with today’s release of the newest 'Yeah So What' EP by alternative punk rock group American Blackout. Hailing from Fort Collins, CO, members Craig Miller (vocals/guitar), Damian Schoenecke (guitar), Ross Dougherty (bass) and Gus Mircos (drums) have been anticipating this release for almost a year. Needless to say, the band is excited for today’s debut, so we sat down with frontman Craig Miller to get the scoop on American Black’s new music and more. Here’s our chat:

The 'Yeah So What' EP is your third and final release of 2016. How long have you guys been working on this for?

For a while now. We released our first single “Pants on Fire” last January, and just released “Shots Fired” in September, so [the whole EP] has been about one year in the works. We recorded all five tracks at The Spot Studios, recording two at a time, then recording one last song to finish it up. Lately we’ve been getting it all packaged, mastered, and ready for release.

American Blackout. Photo Credit: Studio Ardesco.

American Blackout. Photo Credit: Studio Ardesco.

There’s been quite a bit of hype leading up to this release, with little sneak previews, bundles, and free giveaways. How have people reacted so far?

Everyone seems pretty excited about it. We’ve received really good reviews on the singles. We just previewed our title track, “Yeah So What” yesterday, which is our favorite song to play live. It’s upbeat and high energy, which is perfect because we get down at our live shows.

What can fans expect from this new EP? What kinds of sounds and influences are embedded in it? Any themes?

What I like most about it is that it’s a little bit of a deviation from our last EP, Summer’s Gone. It’s a much more matured sound and a lot less “poppy.” The last EP focused a lot more on relationships, whereas Yeah So What is more raw and edgy, especially “Shots Fired.” Our lyrics have matured and our sound is a bit more gritty. As always, we’ve got a clean, crisply produced sound from working at The Spot Studios, but [this new release] just ended up being more energetic rock’n’roll versus pop. We like the direction it’s going in.

Listen to American Blackout's new Yeah So What EP:

Are there any special guest features on this release?

No guest features. One major difference is that this EP was recorded with our old drummer Jason LaBella. We have a new drummer now, Gus Mircos, who will be playing at the EP release show with us. We’re grateful to have worked with Jason, and are excited to have Gus with us now.

What was the creative process behind this release? Any particular reason why you’re aiming for an end of year release VS a new year release?

An end of the year release was just how it ended up happening with the availability and materials. Our last full-length release was in January 2015, so we are due for another one. Also, December is a great time to go out, given the holidays. Regarding our creative process, we’ve been writing a lot, and have been picky about what songs we wanted to record and what songs we wanted to included. We’ve been much more selective, starting with a basic idea, gathering new ideas, and continuing that effort until those ideas materialize into a song.

AB. Photo Credit: Talia Lezama.

AB. Photo Credit: Talia Lezama.

Will there be a tour to accompany this release? Any holiday pit stops you plan to make?

Our EP Release Party is this Saturday, December 17th at Downtown Artery. Then we’ve got a series of shows in late January, including a show at The Moxi Theater. We plan to hit the road in March 2017, working our way through the Southwest, California, and Nevada.

Finally, as an alternative punk band in Colorado, where do you most find your niche?

We’ve been able to make a lot of friends in different genres of music. We love playing with Wiredogs, who will also be playing at our EP Release Party this Friday along with I Am The Owl. We like playing with those guys quite a bit. We met so many different bands through the SpokesBUZZ program and we have played with many other genres, like the Gasoline Lollipops, who are more bluegrass/folk. We like to mix it up and tailor our sets to the other bands’ styles. That’s what’s great about the Colorado music scene: everyone likes to work together, meet new people, and experience new styles of music.

Keep in touch with American Blackout via their Facebook, Instagram, and website. And be sure to grab your tickets to their EP Release Party this Saturday, December 17th!

-Jura

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