SoDown Lifted and Lit Up the Fox Theatre Last Saturday

By: Will Baumgartner

A Saturday night at one of the top-rated music venues in the country, which happens to be within walking distance of my house, surrounded by joyful energy and kept moving by irresistible dance grooves- not a bad way to spend an evening, right? Add the pleasure of getting to review a headlining set plus a consistently mesmerizing light show with a packed crowd of young friendly faces, and the end result was a music lover whose walk home felt elevated.

I also felt enlightened, because to be honest, electronic music isn’t my field of expertise. That being said, I learned long ago not to ignore it because I love to dance. And what SoDown does-Bass music- is specifically designed for dance lovers. One of the things I’ve learned from talking with those immersed in the culture is “Don’t call it Dubstep!” Also sometimes called “UK Bass,” this music is clearly influenced by dubstep, but also draws on so many different types of sounds that it’s asserted itself to the point where it has its own identity and commands special attention.

SoDown.

SoDown.

So how does SoDown, a relative newcomer in an already exploding field, distinguish itself within the burgeoning Bass pantheon? And who exactly is SoDown? The answers to these questions are interconnected. As is often the case in the electronic music galaxy, we’re talking about one person here: his name is Ehren River Wright. He stands out because he’s an accomplished saxophonist in addition to his clear mastery as a producer, and a fascinating young star whose rise is an exhilarating thing to experience. In the interest of trying to share a bit of that experience, let’s go back to Saturday’s show for a minute.

The crisp autumnal spark outside the theater became a surge of crackling energy inside. Supporting act Megan Hamilton pumped the swelling crowd with her own brand of uplift, blending some live vocals and bits of drumming on a set of pads mounted next to her rig. Everyone was engaged and the smiles exploded toward the entry of SoDown, whereupon the bliss meter hit the high end of the spectrum. From the first notes and flashes of stylized imagery, through the entire barrage of thumping rhythm, soaring melody and spectacular light show, SoDown ascended to some new and dizzying heights.

When young Mister Wright raised his tenor sax to surf the swells and crests on this sea of sound, it was like we were all riding these waves together, light breaking through storm clouds, all surge and spray with a good dose of sway. I’m not sure where all the voices came from, but the familiar backing bits (including, of all people, some Britney Spears) brought a somewhat grounding effect to the ensemble; a reminder that music is a continuum which leads us into an ever-expanding future while holding the power of its own past. Wright came onstage already dancing to the music in his head, and the dance kept growing throughout the night, and throughout the crowd. Even when the “show” experience was “over,” the dance continued on.

SoDown.

SoDown.

Being considerably less well-versed than others in the Bass world, I needed to make allowances for a few things at SoDown’s set. For one, in my research leading up to this night, I’d expected something a bit different. The recorded music that SoDown has released led me to expect something a little more low-key, a tad more downtempo. So it took me a few minutes to adjust my consciousness to the heavier side of his music, until I remembered that if you’re going to create a party or keep one going, it’s necessary to bring some of your heaviest gear with you. As someone who’s attended countless shows by live bands using no electronics whatsoever, I knew this: virtually everyone plays louder, faster, and harder live. That’s the nature of the beast. Once I’d navigated this shift, a handful of the aspects that make up the whole of who and what SoDown is reasserted themselves: the soulful, sometimes even moody smokiness that belie Wright’s love of jazz, soul, and funk were still there. They simply made their presence a little more of an unassuming and pleasant thing, like the quieter guests at a party- they might be bopping a bit more unobtrusively on the periphery or in the midst of all that more frenzied activity, but they aren’t about to leave.

So, ultimately, this is one of the greatest things about the fully alive and ever-evolving world of music we’re so lucky to be part of: there’s room for everyone and everything, all types of people and emotions, all levels of experience and knowledge. That openness was in great evidence at this gathering. There’s no one watching the door at a dance party thrown by SoDown, and if it takes you a minute or three to fold yourself into the crowd, they’re more than happy to make room for you to get in there and be your unique and indispensable self. This element, like the music itself, resists being pigeonholed because there are so many parts needed to make it whole and keep on lifting.

-Will

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

This Is Why Every Fruition Show Feels Like Home

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Fruition, a five-piece band from Portland, Oregon, have been playing around Colorado for around ten years, accumulating big love from their fans and innocent first-time observers alike. I proudly consider myself a part of the Fruity Freaks Family, as we Fruition fans like to call ourselves. I have been following Fruition for over eight years now, seeing them play in bars like Oskar Blues in Lyons and at day sets at Ned Fest. They’ve come a long way since then and their newest album, Watching It All Fall Apart, which dropped earlier this month, is a testament to that growth.

Fruition.

Fruition.

For someone like me, who has seen Fruition turn from a green seedling into a blossoming tree, experiencing them rock Denver’s Ogden this past weekend was heartwarming. Their Saturday night performance was nothing short of awesome. The set was filled with music off the new record with soulful songs like “Northern Town” and “I Should Be (On Top Of The World),” rock’n’roll tunes like “I’ll Never Sing Your Name,” “Stuck On You,” “There She Was,” and finally sprinkled throughout were old school Fruition barn-stompers like “Never Again and Boil Over.”  As the band got onstage and the lights turned red and blue, the energy was stoked and by the third song in, the room was electric. People were dancing and singing and catching up with old friends. Taking it all in was a blast.

The thing about a band like Fruition is their family, good-time, sing-and-stomp-along vibe beckons to be experienced on multiple occasions. Going to their shows is like coming back home to catch up with old friends and family and share in the common thread that is their amazing musical talent and performance. And although their latest record is a departure from their grassroots foundation toward an experiment in rock‘n’roll and soul, the essence of Fruition still remains. Any band that plays together and stays together for ten years or more is bound to search and experiment new ways of expressing themselves, and these five members just keep exploring ways to harmonize and express themselves individually and simultaneously cohesively. Morphing into maturity through depth and curiosity, all the while staying grounded and kind, is something that I have always admired about Fruition and why I always believed that they were a powerhouse of musicians worthy of everyone’s attention. After seeing them play this past weekend, my admiration of them is only stronger and my anticipation of their next Colorado visit only higher.   

Check out Fruition at Winter Wondergrass this month, February 24th in Steamboat Springs and later this summer at Red Rocks Amphitheater on August 18th. You can follow them on Facebook for more events and cool videos, like behind the making of their latest album.

-Mirna

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

Review: Chewy&Bach's Debut Single "Potion" Is Hypnotizing Electro-Americana

By: Elizabeth Lee

In a world of music and a sea of artists, it is always refreshing to find a track that showcases a fresh take on multiple genres and creates a sound of its own. 

Chewy&Bach.

Chewy&Bach.

Electro-Americana production duo Chewy&Bach do just that with the release of their new single “Potion.” Justin Long (guitar/vocals) and Elliot Olbright (production/sound design) started collaborating as a business venture in 2016, both coming from very different artistic backgrounds. The two found a kind of harmony in music, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Their style is described as “a love of the roots perfected through electronic music.”

Listen to "Potion":

“Potion” is a superb example of their admirable talent, drawing you in with smooth melodies and hypnotizing the listener with its ambience. The track features the soulful R&B vocals of Tucker Riley, whose voice is layered with psychedelic guitar and keyboard harmonies drenched in dreamy reverb. This unique track is a perfect debut for the duo, as it showcases their ability to combine modern electronic production techniques with their passion for blues, funk, and soul.

Keep up with the latest on Chewy&Bach 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.

Boogie Lights Brings Electronic Dance Funk To Denver


“The feeling of the 70s mixed with the sounds of today to create a new genre: Electronic Dance Funk.”  

That’s what Denver’s DJ Boogie Lights has become known for in the local music scene. Mixing the sweet, sweet sounds of 70s funk and soul with 90s house, nu-disco, and modern tropical house, Boogie Lights has become affectionately known as the “Everlasting Gobstopper of Funk.” 

The man behind Boogie Lights, Mark Henrichs, has been releasing remixes, mash-ups, and original tracks for the past two years under his current moniker. Just last May, Boogie Lights released his biggest single to date, “The Feeling (ft. Abi Clark).” It’s a transportive fun house of funk and disco with upbeat electronic elements and catchy lyrics. It’s got a 90s nostalgia to it that makes it hard not to want to just rave out to in your favorite mesh vest.

Listen to Boogie Lights’ “The Feeling (ft. Abi Clark)”: 

This Saturday, July 8th, Boogie Lights has his debut show at Denver’s Tony P’s. Mammoth Water and Universal Concepts will share the stage for a funkclectic evening. Grab details here and if you miss it, make sure to catch Boogie Lights next at Moe’s Original BBQ in Englewood on August 19th with Johnny & The Mongrels and Sylva.

 Keep up with Denver’s Boogie Lights here.  

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

Mlima Goes Interstellar: Fiske Planetarium Concert To Become New Album

By: Will Baumgartner

Denver’s Mlima have covered a lot of ground in the five years since their formation, but their journey, in a lot of ways, is only beginning. The group, who have coined the term “mountain groove music” in an attempt to encapsulate their sprawling sounds, first played together in 2012. Since then, they’ve played Red Rocks and were discovered and nurtured by the late legendary concert promoter Barry Fey; they’ve been with Fey’s management company, Feyline Presents, ever since. The band has also seen multiple personnel changes since their inception, with the one constant being percussionist Jack Breitenbach, the group’s founder. But as saxophonist/vocalist Zach Simms told me in a recent interview, it’s really been in the past year and a half that Mlima has found itself coalescing into the type of band that can look into the sky and say, “We could go there. And fill it with music.”

Mlima at Fiske Planetarium.

Mlima at Fiske Planetarium.

 In a very tangible way, that’s exactly what they did in their recent concert at CU Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium. Following a set of powerful, funky space-jazz by opening trio Dandu (definitely another Denver band to watch, by the way), Mlima populated the stage in their current incarnation featuring the locally ubiquitous vocalist Jessica Jones (who has sung with dozens of bands from the Glitta Kings to Galactic), masterful guitarist Jeph Kennedy, keyboardist Nate Todd (of Whiskey Tango and Jaden Carlson Band), bassist Ryan Thrush, drummer Lance Croucher, and the aforementioned Zach Simms on sax and vocals (also of Zobomaze and Like A Kenny G6). Together, these musicians proceeded to take the audience on a sonic journey that perfectly complemented the planetarium’s projected backdrop of intergalactic scenery.  

Watch Mlima’s live set at Fiske Planetarium: 

 

Aside from rallying all the talent onstage into an impressive and affecting musical whole, the concert marked another rather stunning achievement: virtually the entire set had been recently written by the band specifically for the planetarium concert, and the show was a debut performance of that material. This ambitious undertaking harkens back to another recent Mlima project, the transformation of their 2016 New Year’s show at The Bluebird Theater in Denver into the band’s soon-to-be-released next album, which drops August 17th, 2017. Much like this show, the Fiske Planetarium set will now be taken into the studio and made into the group’s next album, which they plan to release just a couple of months after the upcoming Bluebird record. These are not going to be live albums, but rather present an interesting twist on the live album formula: write a set for a specific show, go perform that show, and then take the material into the studio. If another band has taken that approach in the past, I haven’t heard about it! 

The tradition among local bands playing Fiske Planetarium has been to gear their sets toward the starry, trippy background of projections against Fiske’s domed ceiling, and for both Mlima and openers Dandu, this concert was no exception. But make no mistake that both bands, while playing sets that definitely leaned toward a reflection of the psychedelic/spacey feel of the visuals, did not skimp on the funk and hard grooves. Fiske has a largely seated arrangement, but that didn’t stop people from getting out of those seats and dancing in the aisles during portions of the show. Since most of the music in Mlima’s set was new, I of course didn’t recognize most of the songs, but for being brand-new material, there was no sense of the band “rehearsing” the songs onstage. In fact, many of these songs came across as anthems one might remember from dreams, or from life in another galaxy. With titles like “Planet Borscht” and “Hallucination Rain,” there was a sense of not only the type of tripping-through-the-universe groove which might remind one of Pink Floyd at their “Astronomy Domine”/”Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun” starry best, but also of the kind of mad fun one might find at a concert by Gogol Bordello, especially in the crazed performance of the Klezmer-party Mlima original “Kosher Dumpling,” which came near the end of the show and had Simms wandering among the audience honking on his baritone sax while audience members danced gleefully around him. 

The one song I definitely did recognize was their cover of the psyche-pop classic “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” which was Kenny Rogers’ first hit in 1968. Mlima did the song proud, ably abetted by Jessica Jones’ always soulful and hugely powerful voice. For as much as that girl gigs, I must admit rather shame-facedly that this was my first time catching a performance by her, and I was far from disappointed. Her vocals are indeed a local treasure, but then again, everyone in Mlima brought so much to the stage: Simms is an insanely watchable frontman and an excellent saxophonist, and all the other musicians displayed dazzling virtuosity while making it all look easy and ridiculously fun. They definitely made a fan of me, and I can’t wait to hear their two upcoming albums when they’re released nearly back-to-back later this year.  

I don’t know what Mlima were like when they started, but Barry Fey must have seen their potential when he arranged to have them open for The Disco Biscuits at Red Rocks during their first year as a band. It seems from that highly auspicious beginning, the band has truly grown into a full realization of that potential, and will go amazingly onward and upward from here: even the sky may not be the limit for this band.

Mlima play The Fox Theatre July 7th opening for Jaden Carlson and Broccoli Samurai. Tickets here. Keep up with Mlima on their Facebook.

-Will

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

Review: Whiskey Autumn's 'Ice Cream In The Sun' Is Tasty Electropop With R&B Vibes

By: Trevor Ryan

These days, the electronic-leaning movement in music is strong. And although the growing brand definitely holds the current popular vote, it can be challenging to make a true mark worth hearing. But that is exactly where Colorado’s Whiskey Autumn shine through. The project, founded by multi-instrumentalist Greg Laut, is a fluid blend of pop/soul, incredibly catchy synth work, smooth euphonic vocals, and a lyrical witticism that originally found its voice with their EP 2014 EP Into Something New. Though the band has made a turn from Americana to electropop with their latest EP, Ice Cream In The Sun, they’ve managed to keep their music warm and inviting while introducing R&B hooks with synth sounds and soul.

Whiskey Autumn.

Whiskey Autumn.

There’s a futuristic sound blended with their early soul-feel too- you'll hear what I mean in the opening track “Dog Days.” And the song following, “Human Frailty,” brings back the tempo with a slightly more mellow-groove-type R&B vibe, but not enough to really make you question it. This pattern seems to weave throughout the rest of the EP, along with a pretty upbeat energy and catchy storytelling. My favorite track is the closer, “Postcard From Tokyo.” It blends interesting sounds with harmonies that will make you float off into space, or at least I know I did...

Listen to Ice Cream In The Sun:

My only criticism: I would love to see WA experiment with bringing out their percussion even further, with more of a build from time to time. The instrumentals here are very tight though, making this trio refreshing to listen to (Matty Schelling is on drums, Jason Paton is on bass). They seem to have their sound really pined with this record, and I for one am excited to see how they grow with it.

The band has described Ice Cream In The Sun, as their “most confident release yet,” and it’s easy to see why. Giving us a taste of a their new brand of electronic influence with classic R&B nodes, along with that touch of soul ultimately forces our mouths (and ears) to water in the hopes that we may have more from the “Coney Island” crooners sooner rather than later.

Schelling, Laut, & Paton.

Schelling, Laut, & Paton.

Whiskey Autumn play The Fox Theatre Friday, May 26th and have discount tickets available. Contact them on their Facebook for free ticket delivery from the crew (they’ve got $12 presale tickets for you), and follow them on Instagram and Twitter for other updates. The rest of their summer tour schedule throughout Colorado and the Midwest and Southwest can be viewed here.

-Trevor

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

Review: Dragondeer Breathe Fire On New Record 'Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1'

By: Ben Jewell

Dragondeer, a self-described psych-blues band from Colorado, released Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1, their latest 7” record, today! And tonight they’re celebrating with a hometown show at the Bluebird Theater in Denver. The album is just the right length to occupy your time on the way to the show, so I suggest downloading it for the trip here.

I listened to this album before knowing anything about Dragondeer. I must say, Dragondeer is one of the most aptly chosen band names I’ve heard in a very long time. It describes the album in one word better than I can surely do. Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1 has three songs (including the digital “Bonus Track”), three moods, and three contradictory stories. Much like viewing a dragondeer creature for the first time, you’ll likely tilt your head slightly to get another perspective and check just what you thought you heard.

Dragondeer.

Dragondeer.

If you are not a self-described psych blues lover, fear not! This album is for almost everyone. For me, this is best described as a modern soul blues album. Soul blues is a bit like a mood ring. It can be light and frothy, sexy, mean and gritty, optimistic, even down-right depressing. The beauty of it is, that much like people, it’s a complicated array of styles and emotions all mashed together to make something awesome, and yet surprisingly easy to listen to. Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1 succinctly conveys this in three songs, and will have you moving the entire time.

Listen to Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1:

It breaks down like this…..

Track 1, “When I See You” is light and sexy. Snare on the quarter notes, a motown bass line, rhythm guitar dancing up the fretboard, a baritone vocal exclaiming, “I got a feeling, I just can’t hide,” and background “ooo's” in falsetto, which make this a well executed ode to love makin’ that will get you winking at your significant other, or that soul across the bar.

Track 2, “Broadway Avenue” is driving and gritty. If Pinocchio was remade today, this would be the song played when the naughty boys were dancing around on Pleasure Island. Harmonica and guitar are intertwined in a rhythmic, sometimes wavelike mix of ebb and flow, while the rhythm section creates a swinging march like cadence. Frontman Eric Halborg’s vocals showcase his blues side as he sings of a place where “what ya gonna do… there are so many fine, fine things for children to do;” and I can assure you, they’re all naughty!

Bonus Track, “If You Got The Blues” is a soulful song with great blues instrumentals. The harmonica sets the tone, the rhythm section gets you swaying back and forth, and the lapsteel sings over the whole thing. The vocals are strong, yet as each note is held out, they emphasize the longing and almost begging plea: “Don't leave me, ma please don’t leave.” The melody doesn’t always end up where you think it will, and that gives it a nice originality to a song type and story that is often all too familiar.  

This brings me back to the mythical dragondeer. Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1 makes love to you, breaks your heart while running around on you, and then begs you to come back with promises that it’ll be there for you when you have the blues. It is fun and playful, and simultaneously breathes fire. It is soul blues performed in a very respectable way. Enjoy!

Get tickets to Dragondeer's Bluebird Theatre Release Show here.

Deets: Topanga Canyon Sessions Vol. 1. was recorded by Dragondeer featuring Eric Halberg on Vocals, Guitar, and Harmonica; Cole Rudy on Mandolin, Lap Steel, Guitar, and Vocals; Carl Sorensen on Drums and Percussion; and Casey Sidewell on Bass. The album was produced by Mark Howard and Executive Producer Peter Bowers. Artwork was created by Ryder Evan Robison. For more information on Dragondeer visit www.dragondeer.com .

-Ben

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

San Francisco's Whiskerman Chat With Us About Their Current Tour

By: Sierra Voss

San Francisco’s Whiskerman are stopping by Denver’s Larimer Lounge this Friday, April 21st, so come dance around to all their sweet tunes! Whiskerman is comprised of members Graham Patzner (lead vocals/guitar/violin/keys), Will Lawrence (bass/vocals), Charles Lloyd (guitar/sitar/vocals), Trevor Bahnson (guitar/vocals) and Dan Schwartz (drums). The band became known in the bay area for their downright foot stompin’ folk tunes. Their 2015 album 'Nomad' introduced the band's new soul-infused sound, and currently, the band exists within a beautiful self-created mosaic of folk, soul, rock and roots music. Recently, I interviewed the band on their way to Denver. Read on:

How did Whiskerman come to be? Where did you all meet each other?

Will went to college with Graham's cousin, who encouraged Will to see Graham play solo. Will immediately recognized Graham's immense and unique talents and knew right away that he wanted to play with him. About a year later, they shared a bill with Charles' progressive rock band. They hit it off with Charles and soon thereafter invited him to come to a few practice sessions; Charles officially took up the lead guitar role soon thereafter.

In the fall of 2015, Dan filled in on drums for a run of shows. When the original drummer left the band, Dan was the obvious and perfect choice. Trevor had been in the same music circle for years, playing solo and with other great bands in the area. In November 2016, he joined Whiskerman on tour to open shows as a solo act, joining them on stage for more and more songs as the tour went on, and it became immediately clear that he should join the band full time.

Whiskerman.

Whiskerman.

Is this Whiskerman's first tour?

This is our second time coming to Denver, but have been touring loosely for the last five years. We really started hitting it hard this year.  

What is the band’s current theme song on the road?

The theme songs for our tours lately have been "Unknown Legend" by Neil Young and "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams Jr.

Graham. 

Graham. 

I hate to ask this question, but I am going to. What does Whiskerman mean? How did you guys come up with the band name?

It was based around a song that Graham wrote off of our first LP release. Whiskerman is a folk legend who returns during the end of days.  

Any future music coming out soon?

We are working on our fourth full length record right now with no release date set.

Any additional tours on the horizon?

We are playing a nationwide summer tour in July and August, including a stop at Denver Blues and Brews on August 12th!

Listen to Whiskerman’s record Nomad:

Get yourself over to Larimer Lounge Friday to see Whiskerman live for yourself, and keep up with the band here.

-Sierra

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

Review: Steady Dreamin' with Sam Rae's 'Bring Us To New Islands'

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Dive into the sweet, moody sounds of Denver’s soul-folk artist Sam Rae. She’s about to drop her new album Bring Us To New Islands this Friday, April 21st and, oh yes, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Sam Rae. Photo Credit:  Art Heffron

Sam Rae. Photo Credit: Art Heffron

Performing on the cello for nearly 17 years and composing for six years, this Midwest native has made waves with her eccentric, euphoric, and explorative music. She’s traveled throughout the country touring and accompanying folk artists artists like Gregory Alan Isakov, Brandi Carlile, and pop duo The Posiesyet she’s established her own sonic blend of looped cello, dreamy vocals, and folk/electric guitar.

Sam Rae’s 2014 album Stories from the Marrow left much to be anticipated for future releases, and Bring Us To New Islands has definitely delivered. It is a bewitching 8-track album that is just as sensual as it is disembodied. With songs like “The Let Go” and “Dragons,” Sam Rae’s music bares resemblance to the visual qualities of a Miyazaki film, while others like “Don’t Forget The Spaceship” have a slightly heavier cello and electric guitar-influenced sound. With constant incorporation of cooing vocals and rhythmic looping, Bring Us To New Islands is a meal that can be sampled one morsel at a time, but is best served whole. With each song comes a new energy shift that will float you on to your happy place, in whatever realm it may be in.

It’s time to harness the power of badass women like Sam Rae and join her on her exploration of music as a universal language. Check out her shadowy music video for “It’s Alright, It’s OK” here:

Connect with Sam Rae on Facebook and Soundcloud and be sure to give her new album Bring Us To New Islands a prompt listen when it’s released this Friday on all music platforms. The album will be a precursor to her upcoming spring tour, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

-Jura

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

Breaking Up With Bluegrass: The Railsplitters’ Upcoming Album Pushes New Boundaries

By: Riley Ann

The Railsplitters return to the Fox Theatre for a homecoming show in Boulder this Wednesday, and it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss. This homegrown Colorado band continues to explore the depths of bluegrass and isn’t afraid to cross the boundaries of people’s expectations. They’re sharing the bill with Front Country and Caribou Mountain Collective.

The Railsplitters. 

The Railsplitters. 

The Railsplitters gained national and international attention with their first two albums, which launched them on cross-country and international tours, including two tours through the UK and Germany. While their last album had pre-production support from Gabe Witcher, (fiddler of Punch Brothers) the current album is being produced by Kai Welch, a renowned Nashville producer who has worked with Abigail Washburn, the Molly Tuttle Band, and Front Country. Working with Welch was the next logical step for the band in their music careers. The attention they’re getting for their songwriting and performances warrants professionally produced albums, and they’re ready for the next big leap upward.

While their new album continues to cross-pollinate genres to their ever-evolving sound, the band keeps stretching its legs in performance environments, especially since touring with Yonder Mountain String Band. Lauren Stovall, guitarist and lead vocalist for The Railsplitters, described that experience saying, “Watching a band like that every night for two weeks straight was a huge influence. Seeing how they connected with their audience, we started experimenting with some of their approaches, like giving more time for breaks and jamming them out more. It really moved us out of our arrangements and into something more loose, giving us more time to riff off melodies and giving our listeners something to connect to better in a live setting.”

Watch The Railsplitters' live video for their song "Lessons I've Learned":

Aside from a new dimension of their live shows, the band has fresh tunes from their forthcoming record to share on Wednesday. Their third album still maintains their catchy pop-centric melodies and intricate instrumental lines. However, there’s an even greater interplay of soul, jazz, and pop music within their bluegrass roots on their upcoming release. Furthermore, the songs are steeped in social commentary about contemporary issues.

“It was sort of a subconscious thing, but we recorded the album, and when we listened back, we realized that several of the songs have political and feminist themes,” said Stovall. “Every album we’ve come out with has been different from the last, and this one has evolved even further. When we went into the studio this time, we came home at the end of the week saying, ‘What just happened- did we just break up with bluegrass?”’

The band is no stranger to breaking the rules of traditional bluegrass. While many people have specific expectations of bluegrass, newgrass, progressive bluegrass, and jamgrass also create expectations for listeners that don’t quite convey the sound of The Railsplitters, especially in their new album.

“Anybody that knows us and our music knows that we’ve been heading in this direction for a while. We still think of our band as a bluegrass band at heart, but we’ve always struggled with that title and know that other people struggle with that title for us as well.” said Lauren.

The band currently identifies as “unconventional bluegrass,” which they claim represents their hybridization of Coloradograss with their influences by bands from Boston and New York like the Punch Brothers, Lake Street Dive, and Joy Kills Sorrow.

Come out to The Fox on Wednesday and get a taste of their new tunes and their new vibe. You can find more information about The Railsplitters’ new album and upcoming tour dates on their website, and you can get tickets for Wednesday’s show here.

-Riley

Find out more about me on my blog.

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

If You Like Soulful Melodies & Tight Folk Instrumentation, Avenhart May Be Your Next Favorite Band

By: Sierra Voss

Denver’s Avenhart have become known for their unique blend of soulful vocals, folky instrumentation, and harmonies. Just last month, they dropped their debut self-titled EP and a live music video. The group is comprised of Andrea Pares (lead vocals), Phil Heifferon (vocals/banjo), Olivia Shaw (vocals/fiddle), Payden Widner (guitar), Alex Drapela (mandolin) and Alex Goldberg (bass). This Saturday, you can catch them at Lakewood Heritage Center's Earth Day Celebration. But before they launch into full summer show mode, I wanted to chat with the crew about their formation, their new music, and their plans for the season. Read on:

How did Avenhart come together?

We formed Avenhart after meeting in Greg Garrison's Bluegrass Ensemble at CU Denver. We loved making music together and got along well, so we decided to pursue something more outside of school. We've been playing and performing together since the spring of 2014, so [we’ve been together] about three years now.

Avenhart. 

Avenhart. 

You guys have a lot going on with a six member band! What does your songwriting process look like?

It really varies from song to song. Sometimes, one of us will write a full song and bring it to the band for arranging. Other times, we craft the whole thing together. Both processes are utterly unique and impossible to compare, but I love that every song eventually finds its way to the group to be fused in a way that is meaningful to all of us. Really bonding with the song through deep arrangement work is a challenge, but it's so worthwhile. It's a little bit like going on a road trip, except that the destination is not a place, but an emotion or well-told story and the road that you take to get there is one of notes and poetry.

Listen to Avenhart’s debut self-titled EP:

What inspirations do you pull from in terms of musical influence?

Our inspirations are amorphous and constantly developing, but we ultimately just want to sound authentic to who we are as people and musicians. Our musical tastes are varied, which really helps us draw on different styles to craft the sound that feels right to us. We love creating intricate arrangements of songs that could be played with much more sparse instrumentation. There's always an element of trying to balance strong, bold grooves with more ethereal and floating melodies.

Without getting too abstract, I think that we try to find the beauty of balance through exploring how we can utilize our instrumentation to communicate something meaningful. Our lead singer Andrea Pares has an amazingly soulful strength to her voice, and we support her distinctive tone through a blend of folky arrangements with gritty grooves and intentional melodies.

Tell me more about your debut EP. What were you trying to achieve with the selected songs? How did it all come together? What do you want people to take away?

Our EP is comprised of four songs that were born from experiences in our everyday lives, or emotions that drive the way we live. I think that we were trying to translate our memories into music that is honest and real. Regardless of what people take from it, we made something that helped us explore our relationship with the world, music, and each other.

If you could have everyone who reads this article listen to one of your songs, which song would you pick?

One of our favorites from the EP is "If I Go." It's a song that represents the paradox between longing to explore the possibilities of a path not yet traveled and the beauty of opportunities that arise through growing roots in one place.

Watch Avenhart’s live video for “The Path”:

Any tours planned for the future?

Although we don't have any tours planned for the near future, we're looking forward to exploring our region more expansively this summer. We're hoping to play in Boulder, Durango, Colorado Springs, Golden, and more.

So make sure to get down with Avenhart’s folky soulful sounds at Lakewood Heritage Center's Earth Day Celebration this Saturday, April 22 at 11:00AM. Keep up with the band here.

-Sierra

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

Boogie Down at Euforquestra’s Fort Funk at The Aggie Theatre This Friday

By: Benjamin Jewell

As you are undoubtedly bummed-out about this weekend's weather and wondering how to wipe that frown from your face, I will now give you the prescription for your woes: Fort Funk. I am sure you’ve listened and danced to Euforquestra (EUF) at one time or another. If you haven’t, press pause on your Jock Jams CD and prepare to groove all night. If you are a fan, this is the last time you’ll be able to see this band live for awhile in Colorado, and with special guest Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds sitting in, maybe ever.

Proof that Eddie Roberts can jam:

Let me give you a few more reasons why you need to head to this show. The night opens with Moves At Midnight. This quintet is the special reward for coming around 9ish. You’ll get a funky-pop-soul instrumental feel and if you want awesome vocals, those are right here. If you close your eyes, you’ll swear Adam Levine’s much cooler guitar-wailing brother is fronting this band. Enough said.

Denver based TNERTLE will step up next to deliver some electro funk hip-hop. They’ll likely dip into their album MataMata, and hopefully play “Dance All Night.” You’ll get vocal harmonies, rap, horns, and a rhythm section that is reminiscent of Flobots. Come ear hungry, for this show will be a musical buffet.

Euforquestra will light you up this Friday with FIRE:

Then, as if Christmas and your birthday had a baby and it’s name was Euforquestra ft. Eddie Roberts, it gets better. I last heard EUF in Iowa City more than ten years ago and they’ve never disappointed. Their newest album, FIRE, and hopefully one of Eddie Roberts’ tunes from The Nashville Session will be on the set list. The combination of these two powerhouses is going to be really special. If you fancy yourself a budding guitarist or musician you should come for the inspiration alone.

EUF.

EUF.

I recommend getting your tickets in advance right here. I’ll see you there and we can forget about the bad weather together.

-Benjamin

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

Robert Randolph and the Family Band 'Got Soul' And It Shows

By: Will Baumgartner

When I first heard of Robert Randolph, I was intrigued enough by the idea of a pedal steel guitarist playing a high-energy soul/blues/funk/groove mix that I pulled up a live video to see and hear what all the noise was about. What came up was a performance on David Letterman of Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s hit “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That.” I was immediately hooked, not only by the song itself and Randolph’s outrageously good pedal steel playing, but by the overall tightness and infectious joy of the band.

That was about 10 years ago. Last Friday night at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, I finally got to actually see and hear Robert Randolph and the Family Band live in person, and my initial impressions of the group not only proved themselves true, but were greatly expanded by this ridiculously fun, funky and soulful show. RRTFB haven’t just stood the test of time, they’ve grown into an irresistible force of nature. The band is aptly named, with Robert’s sister Lenesha providing hugely powerful vocal support and joyful showmanship, powerhouse drumming by Marcus Randolph, and their cousin Kasey Square on keys. And while bassist Steve Ladson and guitarist Ray Holloman may not be directly related, they sure act, play, and sing like family onstage.

The concert began with Robert playing solo, wrenching gutsy wailing sounds in a free-form bluesy style, out of his instrument. The band eventually wove into this soundscape, building on the power of the pedal steel’s soulful soliloquy, and then BOOM: They kicked into a sledgehammer-heavy and solidly uplifting version of Sam & Dave’s soul classic “I Thank You.” You’ve never seen a dance floor spring to life faster.

While the setlist I was provided had “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” listed as the second song, either I was already so deliriously hypnotized that I missed it, or they decided to forego the ol’ “Let’s give ‘em the hits!” approach, disregard the setlist, and play what felt right at the moment. This happened several times during the show, as when, midway through their set, they crunched their way through a badass instrumental reading of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

The constant thread running through this celebratory show was Robert Randolph’s virtuosic pedal steel playing. The word “virtuoso” often makes me cringe just a bit, as it’s almost as overused as the word “genius.” But here I have no qualms: the man is a master of his instrument. Between virtually every song in the set he took little solo excursions, and while all members of the Family Band proved themselves powerful soloists, it was obvious why Robert was consistently featured: his inventiveness and fluency, his melodic improvisational skills, the sheer eloquence with which he joyfully tears into yet another solo break. All of these were heavily evidenced and undeniably exciting every time they were used. I never once thought, “Oh no, not another pedal steel solo!” To the contrary, every solo, every note he played just had me shaking my head in awe. Enough has already been said about the novelty of hearing a pedal steel guitar used outside of country music, especially in the way Randolph does. I’ll let it suffice to say here that if you haven’t checked him out yet, do it! Especially if you love funk and soul as much as I do. I haven’t been nearly as blown away by an unusual instrument in this type of music since seeing violinist Lili Haydn tear it up with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

Since the band is currently touring on their Got Soul album (released in mid-February of this year), it was no surprise to hear songs from it throughout the show. Standouts for me included the one-two punch of the title track leading into its “sister” song, “She Got Soul” (a tribute to mothers inspired by a Mother’s Day church service Randolph attended), the supremely soulful tunes “Love Do What It Do,” “Find A Way,” and “Shake It Off” with their inspirational messages of self-affirmation, the lovely “Heaven’s Calling,” and of course their rendition of “I Thank You.”

My number one criterion for rating a show is this: “Did I ever feel like it was okay to go outside for a break?” And my answer for this show was: “Nope!” I was fearful of missing anything. And when, near the end, Robert called out the members of opening act The New Respects for an onstage jam of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again),” I felt grateful for staying right where I was all night, though of course I had never stopped moving since the first song of the show. That’s another thing about Robert Randolph and the Family Band live: You just have to dance.

Robert Randolph.

Robert Randolph.

In chatting with Robert a bit before the show, I learned he and his family grew up in a Pentecostal church in which music played a huge part. In fact, their particular church has its own term for its music: “sacred steel.” One thing I was curious about was how Robert’s relationship with his family who are still involved in the church has been affected by his going out and playing “secular” music. He said it was “a little strained at first,” but that their relationship is still strong. To which I replied, “Oh, so it’s not like some of these religions where you actually get shunned if you leave? I’ve always thought that was so sad.” “Well I’ve been shunned by the church, though,” he said, “They don’t let me play there anymore. They call me the devil.”

Now that is truly a shame, and a mistake, and let me tell you why. I’m not religious, but I’ve seldom felt closer to something like heaven than I did at this show.

-Will

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

Review: Legato's New Single "Tasty" Lives Up to Its Name

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Colorado’s funk aficionados Legato have released their new single “Tasty,” and it sure does live up to its name. But before we get into that, you might be wondering, who is Legato? Well, you may know them by their previous band name, Technicolor Tone Factory.

Legato. Photo Credit:   Miles Photography  .

Legato. Photo Credit: Miles Photography.

Since 2011, the four-piece group, comprised of Bryan LeFever (drums), Greg Kallfa (keys/ vocals), Cameron Canepa (guitar/vocals), and Karl Summers (bass/vocals) have swept the Denver-Boulder jam music scene. In their time, they’ve shared the stage with big acts such as: moe., Dopapod, Twiddle, and Tauk, just to name a few. Together, Legato brings a unique, colorful vibe to their music, tipping their hats to sounds ranging from jazz, to rock, to hip-hop and soul.

After a few lineup changes, TTF decided it was high time for a rebrand and thus changed their name to Legato, an Italian term meaning tied-together. Band member Karl Summers shared his thoughts on this new stylistic shift in sound:

“Our aim is to maintain the energetic musical prowess we've held onto over the years as well as enter a new chapter and direction in our careers.”

Legato’s newest single, “Tasty,” holds true to their new vibrant sound. The 8-minute-long tune is playful, high-energy, and danceable as all get-out. With an almost disco-like sound at times and Daft Punk-type robotic vocals repeating the mantra “this shit is reaaaal tasty,” the urge to move and groove is an unavoidable feeling for any listeners. “Tasty” is the first of two more yet-to-be-released, but highly anticipated singles from this crew.

To celebrate their new image, Legato will be supporting the electro-funk fusion group Kung Fu at the Boulder Theater on Saturday, April 15th. Peep the event page here for more details and tickets!

In the meantime, be sure to link up with Legato on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud for more insight into their releases and general whereabouts.

-Jura

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

The Night The Funk Took Over Boulder's Club 156

By: Trevor Ryan

There were many things that stood out to me as I walked through the University of Colorado’s Memorial Building and into the “Connection,” a social spot for students that leads into an almost secret entrance to the quaint, yet nostalgically grungy venue known as Club 156. The building itself, for one, is a beautiful dedication to Colorado's servicemen and an almost overwhelming structure that is home to several campus-affiliated organizations. I saw students come and go, chatting amongst their peers about their daily lives, and I could feel the energy as I found my way through the crowd and into the dimly lit club. To my left was a small stage with lights from top to bottom covered in equipment. And on my right, there was a small open control room for lights and sound. I got the vibe that this place puts on shows that are both intimate and really cool, and I was relieved they’re not just for students.

13055891_1076133792409842_5652281232087441407_o.jpg

Barking at Dogs, a funk/soul group out of Denver, were up first and I walked in mid-mic check. Crew members scrambled to get everything in order, and the show started with a deep bass line from the five-piece outfit. This group is confident, to say the least, in their sound. With funky bass lines accompanied by sweet lead riffs and a saxophone, frontwoman Lauren Duff uses a wide vocal range, and an almost raspy tone to really bring the band’s sound together. Playing all originals with a variety of funk, soul, and a touch of swing, Barking at Dogs create groovy beats that promise to keep you moving. The crowd responded well to their set, with one listener commenting on the saxophone being an interesting choice of instrument for the group while another talked about how easy their music is to dance to. And by looking at the rest of the audience, it was safe to say she was right.

Sun Time Hannah.

Sun Time Hannah.

Sun Time Hannah was next, with their own unique blend of funk and soul. Using their extreme motivation and high energy to intoxicate the crowd, frontman Josh Ewers eventually parted ways with his t-shirt in an excited frenzy around three and a half songs into the band’s set. Sun Time Hannah played a lot of their own music, and even throw in a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover. These guys are definitely an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in the funk community.

Public Safety. 

Public Safety. 

Finally, Public Safety took the stage. The funk rock headliners of the bill are also based out of Denver, and when I asked how fans would describe their sound, one listener whispered, “Funk rock with a little soul.” Yes. Drummer Tim Kane described the project similarly, but “with a few more elements that can't really be described.” The group had an extremely well-performed set list of originals and threw a little Kid Cudi cover into the mix toward the end. Overall, PS gave us a variety of smooth, almost jazz-like interludes with the familiar funk and soul rock they’re known for.

At the end of the night, the outcome was one happy crowd. What had started out with bit of swaying and the occasional chant had turned into something more: a bond between listeners shouting and singing with each other while feeding off of the immense energy coming from such a tight show. This bill proved that it doesn't take a million people to bring the house down, nor does it take a big venue with bands you've heard a million times. It just a few loud and ambitious talented acts in a great space with great vibes. And that’s Club 156.

Be sure to keep up with Barking at Dogs, Sun Time Hannah, and Public Safety on their Facebook pages for news and future shows.

Get tickets to a Club 156 show here

-Trevor

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

Breaking Up The Boys' Club: The Seratones’ A.J. Haynes Is A Female Rock Powerhouse

By: Riley Ann

The Seratones are blowing up the rock scene as we know it. My advice? Go see this band the next time they’re in town, when you still might be able to catch them play a basement show.

Seratones played two consecutive nights at the Larimer Lounge last weekend, and the shows were sponsored by Colorado Public Radio’s OpenAir. The band actually played for OpenAir in a session last fall, and they returned to Denver packing both nights at the Larimer. The first night, The Kinky Fingers and The Guestlist opened the show; the second night Wes Watkins’ Septet and Quantum Creep shared the stage.

Wes Watkins' Septet.

Wes Watkins' Septet.

At heart, Seratones is a garage rock band with funk, soul, and jazz influences combined with a touch of Southern flavor. Fronted by the powerhouse vocals of A.J. Haynes, the band compels you to dance with heavy, driving guitar chords, bluesy rock riffs, and syncopated rhythms. Haynes’ vocals are equally powerful as they are playful, as is her stage presence, making for a captivating show both sonically and visually. Haynes isn’t shy about her feminine energy either, whether in her vocals or her dancing, and she also isn’t afraid to headbang on stage while hammering out guitar chords, dive on top of the crowd while belting out a chorus, or stomp through a horde of people dancing and singing along with her.

The Seratones.

The Seratones.

Having already appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk and Audiotree, this band continues to gain national and international recognition, and are making waves with their album Get Gone. Immediately following their Denver shows, the band flew to Paris to begin their European tour this week. Inevitably, their future holds sold-out theatre shows, so see this band as soon as you can, because nothing beats the intimate show of a band like this in a dive bar, a basement, or a garage.

More about the Seratones’ music and tour dates can be found on their website.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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

(Un)Traditional Love Songs: A Playlist For Your Valentine's Day & So Much More

By: Joliene Adams

Forget complaints about Valentine’s Day commercialism. Let’s think instead on the limitations of the kind of love that gets advertised to us. Love comes in all shapes and sizes far beyond romantic, and this playlist reflects all those feelings and shades of love. Wherever you are at in your love life and whoever you love in whatever ways, whether the burning embers of passion or the charcoal heart of getting burned from love; from your lover to your mother, it’s all here:

Listen to BolderBeat’s “(Un)Traditional Love Songs” Playlist:

1. “Death Hex” – The VelveteersDeath Hex (2016)

No one said love came without barbs. Hook, line, and sinker, The Velveteers rock straight for the jugular. John Demitro’s drums thunder with the urgency of foreboding storms while Demi Demitro’s tight, heavy guitar licks smack you awake. Staggered vocal notes build tension up to lift off as Demi lets melodic hollers unapologetically rip. If their rock doesn’t shatter the teacups on your shelf, you haven’t turned that heavy grit up loud enough.

And this one’s lyrical content doesn’t dote expressly on love. Demi speaks to this in an interview covered by BolderBeat’s Hannah Oreskovich, “‘Death Hex’ is about awakening from the dead and saying goodbye to the past. It was really inspired by a sense of magic I felt happening. It’s a story of coming back from a bad situation and coming out on the other side better than you ever imagined.” It might not be about love, but it’s an ages old story, that of the lover who rises from the ashes. Take your heartbreak, wipe the floor clean with it, and rise from the ashes bigger, better, stronger, faster, badder-asser.

2. “Didn’t See You There” – Red Fox RunRed Fox Run (2015)

Ever turned around or glanced sidelong at your buddy and all of a sudden SPLAT, you think, “I did NOT realize my friend was this cute let alone that that I was in love with them this whole time?” This number cascades and careens as your own feelings might at such a realization. Red Fox Run fearlessly showcase vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daniel Rondeau shouting out a proclamation from the truths that sit in the center pit of a heart. He’s proclaiming hopeful, but it’s clearly uncertain since “I couldn’t love you more than I do right now” isn’t the end of the sentence. Red Fox Run keep it playful, but in the end, they’ve said all they need to say.

It’s the year anniversary of Red Fox Run being no longer, an anniversary that may bring with it many a fan’s broken heart. But the good news is that three out of four original RFR members continue on in their new Denver-based project Wildermiss.

3. “I Like You” – Ned Garthe Explosion Flashlight Tan (2016)

Crash forward, skid in sideways, stop abruptly- you’ll travel at all different speeds in Ned Garthe Explosion’s capable hands. Splaying themselves across diverse elements is something familiar to Ned Garthe Explosion and their fans. As Andy Thomas of Westword notes, 2016’s Flashlight Tan finds frontman Ned Garthe and his co-conspirators messing around with genre and intent “writing deliberately toward a certain genre, in an earnest near-parody that’s so good you can’t tell it’s a parody. It’s a depth of vision that can only be achieved late at night, when the cops are nowhere to be found.” But isn’t that love sometimes? Crashing forward, landing backwards… and even sometimes ending in a weird parody you sort of knew existed.

4. “Call Through the Wire” – Inner Oceans Call Through the Wire (2016)

“If I leave you in the night...” The suggestion alone leaves you indignant, does it not? The sentiment wells up from something clearly much deeper as Inner Oceans’ frontman Griffith Snyder sings lushly of the story unfolding. “I see you all the time and it hurts to think you were right,” he sings. The sound is atmospherically absorbing while the message delivers clear adoration with a twinge of regret and a still-in-love/lust-with-you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two, in life or in music, and I can’t come down on which it might be here but I’m ok with it.

5. “Shooting Star” – RossonianYou Are Your Own Dentist (2013)

Rossonian use space and astral phenomena as metaphor, delivering dreamy and delicate wonder. This one is absolutely a love song, but also earns love for the success of their symbolic narrative. It propels, then floats, taking pause to deliver changes in emphatic subtleties. Rossonian is master of small sound shifts across a slow build, lending the song a complexity that doesn’t announce itself like a smack to the face, but rather comes at and through you like the feeling of slowly waking up. This one’s a gentle journey from one end of conscious awareness to another, starting gently and sleepily as it comes to burn bright-eyed awake.  

6.  “Day I Was Born” – 5ive, Jessica Jones – Radioland (2016)

There’s romantic love, and then there’s the love for your mother. Both can overpower. If I had any doubts as to which it was here at first (the word “mama” is sufficiently vague enough terminology to always throw me off without further clear direction), Jessica Jones’ vocal turn sways results to the latter. “Mama you believed in me, even when my skies were gray, you gave me the entire world… people asked me how’d I got so strong. I tell ‘em that my mama showed me the way. You always raised me up right, with all the love you gave.” Where 5ive (Quinn Lynch) and Jessica Jones put the soul in your playlist, your mother put you and your soul into this world. So if you tell anyone you love them on Valentine’s Day, make it your mother and be sure to thank her.

7. “If I Grew a Violet (You’d Ask for a Rose)” – Andy Sydow A Little Messed Up (2016)

Ever read the children’s book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? This is an adult version of that tale in more ways than one. If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk. They will want something else and more after the glass of milk, so on and so forth until eternity. Sydow dishes up love pangs boiled over lost hopes in the spirit of said book. Emotionally honest, raw words of disappointed love come in, combined with loving, earnest, even sweet melody. The message delivered could interpret as one lover's greed or the other’s embittered pessimistic complacency. You can’t tell who is at fault but you can tell who fell short of the two: the “I” of the singer. It sounds at once an apology, and at once a screw you.

But this tune is also for the times everything you give or have isn’t enough. It’s a song of love exhausted and felled short. Although heartbreak does lead to some great songwriting, as Andy Sydow reminds. Thank you for breaking your open heart for us, Andy.

8. “Tilt-A-Whirl” – The RailsplittersThe Faster It Goes (2015)

If Colorado’s associated with bluegrass, The Railsplitters play a huge support role in buttressing the strong reputation and taking it on tour across the nation. Clear-ringing harmonies usher in a fast-paced minimalism foregrounding wise essentials and together, they come carrying melodies at different speeds, much as a Tilt-a-Whirl carousel making circles. Research lends insight here, for when Dusty Rider songwrites he, “writes with the full band in mind, imagining an entire song in his head before it’s even heard it out loud.” This one is a reflective reminiscence on the memories of someone who came before, but is gone now. And with mind racing, you start to question yourself and all that was.

Lauren Stoval’s lead vocals are clear as sunlight on snow, while Dusty Rider and Peter Sharpe’s alternations between plucking each note and full-bodied strumming chords lend interest and supplement with distinctive, rhythmic filler. Leslie Ziegler’s bass comes in barely, but richly, serving the more invisible role, like that of editor to writer. And of course, there’s Joe D’Esposito’s fiddle coming in on the top to send the song off into its final soars of that gloriously spinning Tilt-a-Whirl.

9.  “Someone Like Me” – SF1 Inamorata (2012)

From hand drums to lyrical repetitions, SF1 keeps their sound light, and their message relatively straightforward. There’s a serious sense in which this song seems at once upbeat, and then anything but. It’s a song that wouldn’t have to come without heartbreak, but it takes its pride on walking away in fulfilled request from another. “You’ll never find someone like me” could come out all wrong in a breakup, but the cheerful sonic delivery here gives this song a quality of what you sing in your head knowingly to comfort and uplift your own self on the walk home, giving props to your emotional regulation in honoring a request, and moving on.

10. “Bloodstream” – IoliteBloodstream (2016)

Bloodstream’s sophisticated stormy pop comes through even better on headphones, as Iolite’s (Elina Odnorlav) full-bodied indie-electronica pounces at you with confident authority. She fuses an ear, talent, and a decade of piano work with electronic assets wisely, and all at the ripe old age of seventeen. Laying down this kind of sophisticated, well-calibrated arrangement with undergirding convinces you she’s worth your ear time. The sheer carnal sensuality of this tune pulses at you with a cosmopolitan sensibility, one that makes the heart beat fast. Iolite is fierce, and if you need more proof, read BolderBeat’s interview with Odnorlav by Sierra Voss.

11. "Wait to Rust” – Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut, Sur EllzLive and Die Like This (2016)

Triple Denver whammy! This Kayla Marque, Kid Astronaut (Jon Shockness), and Sur Ellz (Khalil Arcady) collaboration 110% comes out the most natural thing in the world. Lyrically and vocally caressing you with emotion, this trio allures in their fervent R&B/soul blend as soft finger snaps and harmonies soften your ear and melt into your heart chambers.

Marque caresses your emotions with intimacy in both lyric and lead vocals. Muted cymbal, reliant drums, and the hushed guitar unobtrusively lend rhythm, combining together and across this song to create instrumental romance and a certain sense of enchantment. The heart, bloodstream, nervous system, and muscle memory in you recognize the message: wanting something at a cellular level you know at a cognitive one is only going to destroy or undo you. Having a heart is a wonderful gift and real son of a gun, ain’t it?

12.  “They Love to Hate” – Molina Speaks, DJ Icewater Sex Money Ego (2016)

Robust, fresh beats thump and bump as they palpitate at heart rate speed. Chill, smooth, and with a pinch of lyrical sass, this one’s also purely carnal. It’s got sexy love and wantingness combined with a creed of holding-your-cool and enjoying all the spontaneous pleasures of life. It’s definitely a turn-up tune for cruising in your car, or even cooler, on your low-rider bike with the sweet speaker you should probably have. Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater have collaborated to make something seductive, both in romantic passions and in making you just want to live out loud to the full. So get to it.

13. “Lucid Recall” – Sunboy Yesterday Is in Love With You (2016)

Yes to a song that I’d enjoy instrumentally, yet do with its lyrics just the same. Sunboy give it a good 55 seconds before vocals seep in though, setting the feel first. If only we all had lucid recall, but memory doesn’t always work that way. Yet, at the same time, it’s by dint of the lyric “haven’t felt this way in a long time” that we remember: sometimes it isn’t the memory, but the feelings evoked that bring back lucid recall in all its vivid glory. And what a robust memory sensation it is when it hits.

Synthy sounds and a certain protraction allow emotions here to take flight. Vocals and piano instrumentation undergird a sound that might be tinny and emotionless otherwise, which would be the last desirable thing in a song so emotionally charged in content. Like Iolite’s “Bloodstream,” headphones are most recommended on Sunboy’s “Lucid Recall” for best up-close-and-personal vibes.  

14. “Medicine” – Rose QuartzAxis of Love (2015)

In the abstract, medicine is there to make us better. Humans are no strangers to using or abusing another person in this way at some time. Sometimes leaning on others is necessary and appropriate. But there is a difference between asking for help and being soul-suckingly co-dependent or reliant. Like a prescription drug, it can be toxic, and this song rails against the notion that one partner serves that role. You can use medicine or abuse it, and this one splits the difference.

A combination of electronic space-esque warble, full-bodied guitar notes, and clips on the drum machine set the scene. Lyrically unapologetic, this is a power number for those times you need to speak to your decision to leave someone who treats you like something to be used up rather than given to. Rose Quartz build and release tension with efficacy, establishing a subtle back and forth strain that fits the bill in the stark truths this electronic groove-pop song seeks to sing out and deliver sans apology. The only thing bigger than its sound may be the heart behind it. This is definitely one to get sassy to under lights on the dance floor, and that sounds like a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to follow us on Spotify to take a listen to this playlist and more Colorado music playlists at BolderBeat.

-Joliene

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

Living Room Live's Next House Show Is Coming Up

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Who doesn’t love a killer house show? Comfy couches, soft lighting, and getting the chance to meet other locals as into the scene as you are… at least that’s how Living Room Live sets up their gigs, and lucky for you, they’ve got one on the way. Saturday, February 11th, LRL is throwing a house show featuring Jay Nash and The Contenders and Andrew Sturtz.

Andrew Sturtz.

Andrew Sturtz.

Boulder sing/songwriter Andrew Sturtz is well known for his soulful pop work both solo and in groups like Constellation Collective. He spent 2016 weaving his way into the local music scene and is currently working on an album slated for a spring release. He’s the first opening act that Living Room Live has hosted, so obviously, he’s dope.

Jay Nash & Josh Day.

Jay Nash & Josh Day.

Headliner Jay Nash’s music “is like the river that raised him- strong and deep with a little bit of lullaby and a big damn current.” Nash has been a touring rock troubadour for years now, performing over a thousand live shows and sharing stages with everyone from Counting Crows to Sara Bareilles to Katy Perry. In this project, Josh Day joins Nash onstage bringing a “percussive virtuosity” to the duo’s sound.

Check out Jay Nash’s “Barcelona” live:

Living Room Live’s February 11th show starts at 7PM, but there’s an optional potluck at 545PM (yum!). Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased here. There are only a few tickets left, so make sure to get yours and check out this awesome night!

-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.

You 'Gotta Get Back' to Denver's Walnut Room Tonight with Seth Walker

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Seth Walker is playing at The Walnut Room in Denver tonight, Friday, January 20th. He’s a singer/songwriter who has been writing songs and creating albums since childhood. His Spotify profile goes back to 2007, but he’s been steeped in the culture of music since birth. In fact, he may just have genetically inherited his talents from the generations of musicians he comes from: his grandfather was a professional band and choir director, and both of his parents, who collaborated with him on his latest album Gotta Get Back, are professional musicians who have helped shape Walker’s musical inclinations, aspirations, and talent. But genetics aside, it’s clear that Walker’s been putting time and work into his artistry for years.

You’ll be quick to realize the talent and professionalism that envelops each song in Walker’s new album once you have a listen. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that it takes a village to create a whole, cohesive sound. Beside his parents, Walker brought his sister into the mix, making it truly a family affair. And to further the family theme, Jano Rix of The Wood Brothers produced the album, and member Oliver Wood collaborated on some of the songs too. The “keeping it in the family” is a sizzling thing with musicians these days and Walker’s got his finger all over it.  

Check out Walker's Gotta Get Back:

As for genre, which can be a difficult thing to pin down sometimes, Seth Walker makes it even harder to confine. Gotta Get Back is certainly an eclectic mix of jazz, country, soul, funk, blues, and classic gospel. All of these flavors come through on the album and they’re a direct reflection of Walker’s experiences from living in places like North Carolina (where he was raised in a commune) to Austin, Texas, to New Orleans, and finally to his current place of residence in Nashville, Tennessee.  

So, if you want to feast your ears on a spread of good tunes, and you know they’ll be played to a T considering Walker’s history and experience with music, come out tonight! Besides, if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get  to experience the community vibes that Walker used to create his latest record and even see some of the other musicians who collaborated on Gotta Get Back right next to Walker onstage.

See you there! Peep the Facebook event; tickets here.

-Mirna

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

Your Guide To Colorado Shows For New Year's Eve

By: Hannah Oreskovich

It’s time to pop bottles Colorado! Here are our picks for New Year’s Eve shows this weekend:

Berthoud

Jeremy Mohney at City Star Brewing in Berthoud 9PM-Close

Jeremy Mohney.

Jeremy Mohney.

Boulder’s Jeremy Mohney released multiple EPs this year, both of which definitely caught our ear. The jazz/swing artist is throwing down at City Star Brewery to welcome in 2017, and we definitely recommend getting your swing moves on at this one. Mohney will have your feet tappin’ in no time, and after a few celebration libations, you won’t want to sit still. Details here.

Boulder

Andrew Sturtz & Friends at The No Name in Boulder 10PM-Close

Andrew Sturtz.

Andrew Sturtz.

Soulful singer/songwriter Andrew Sturtz will be holding things down behind the big brown door tomorrow night for NYE. Known locally for his solo work and his performances with The Constellation Collective and other groups, Strutz will croon you into the new year in style. Plus, there’s no cover. What’s not to dig? Deets here.

Lady and The Gentleman at The Lazy Dog in Boulder 10PM-Close

Boulder’s Lady and The Gentleman have made some changes to their lineup this year, but they’re still bringing mad grooves to the Colorado scene. Tomorrow they’ll grace the stage at The Lazy Dog, and no cover means no excuses. Get to it! More info right here.

The Alcapones at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Boulder 10PM-Close

The Alcapones.

The Alcapones.

If you want to be shaken up Boulder, here’s your chance! The minstrel show of The Alcapones will be taking over Conor’s to dance you into the wee hours of 2017. Come hang and get rowdy! There will be lots of funky horn playing for your listening pleasure. More info here.

Yonder Mountain String Band with The Railsplitters at The Boulder Theater in Boulder 8PM-Close

Yonder Mountain String Band.

Yonder Mountain String Band.

Nederland’s Yonder Mountain String Band are holding down the BT for NYE. The five-piece bluegrass band well-known around these parts will share the stage with Boulder’s The Railsplitters. Get over to get down! Tickets here.

Denver

Flobots with Nahko and Medicine For The People at The Ogden Theatre in Denver 8PM-Close

Flobots

Flobots

Denver’s Flobots members have been locally active in several awesome events this year, including Denver’s “Our Neighbors, Ourslves” refugee benefit and the Rock Against The TPP event. Tonight, the crew will swing you into the new year with Portland’s Nahko and Medicine For The People at The Ogden. Tickets here.

Fox Street & Friends with Tiger Party at The Bluebird Theatre in Denver 9PM-Close

Dever’s Fox Street & Friends will be rolling in the new year tomorrow at The Bluebird with a 12-piece band and double sets, which will include music from the movies Boogie Nights and Blow, and tracks by Rick James, David Bowie, and Prince. The band’s frontman Jonathan Huvard is relocating to NYC in 2017, so this show is your chance to catch this crew together in what may be their last local performance for awhile. Tiger Party will open the night with songs by LCD Soundsystem. Tickets for this dance party here!

Itchy-O with Total Unicorn at Summit Music Hall in Denver 8PM-Close

We actually spent our NYE with Denver’s Itchy-O last year, so we’re here to tell you this show is going to be a magical time! The mysteriously masked band will have you boogieing all over Summit Music Hall; Total Unicorn is opening. Enter the dark. Tickets here.

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club with Kid Congo Powers at 3 Kings Tavern in Denver 10PM-Close

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club will be laying out their ‘Commandments’ for you tomorrow evening at 3 Kings Tavern, and we’ve actually got a whole interview with Slim himself for you here. This show will be one crazy ride into 2017, so take it! Tickets here.

The Yawpers with The Other Black at The Oriental Theater in Denver 7PM-Close

The Yawpers. Photo Credit:   Hannah Oreskovich

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

We love The Yawpers. And we love The Other Black. And both of them are sharing the stage tomorrow night at The Oriental for NYE! The Moved and Evan Holm & The Restless Ones are opening the show, making for a full lineup of Denver badassery. Get to this gig- seriously. Tickets here.

Winehouse Masquerade Ball with Judge Roughneck at Mercury Cafe in Denver 930PM-Close

Winehouse.

Winehouse.

Denver’s Amy Winehouse tribute band Winehouse are ringing in the new year at Mercury Cafe with plenty of sultry, soulful vibes. Presales are only $20 and Judge Roughneck is opening the night, so grab tickets while you can! This will be an awesome show. Deets here.

Durango

Nappy Roots with Jerney at Animas City Theatre in Durango 9PM-Close

Jerney.

Jerney.

Nappy Roots are closing out the year in Durango tomorrow, and Denver’s Jerney is opening the gig. Jerney has been dropping new music like crazy this year, and this is one of his last Colorado shows, so make sure to get to it! Tickets here.

Greeley

The Burroughs with Bryce Merritt at The Moxi Theatre in Greeley 8PM-Close

The Burroughs.

The Burroughs.

Greeley’s The Burroughs dropped some sweet new music this past year, and they’ll be playing that for you tonight + more tunes at The Moxi. The nine-piece soul pop outfit will be joined by Bryce Merritt for good measure. Wicked. Tickets here!

Fort Collins

Rose Hill Drive with The Velveteers at Hodi’s Half Note in Denver 9PM-Close

The Velveteers. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss

The Velveteers. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

Denver’s The Velveteers are arguably one of the most successful acts coming out of Colorado right now. Fronted by Demi Demitro, the heavy rock two-piece will make you headbang all the way up until Boulder’s Rose Hill Drive takes the stage at Hodi’s. Go get yourself hypnotized. Tickets here.

Rollinsville

Jaden Carlson Band at The Stage Stop in Rollinsville 10PM-Close

Jaden Carlson.

Jaden Carlson.

Teenage musical prodigy Jaden Carlson has had quite the year in the Colorado music scene. From impressive opening slots for bands like The Revivalists to her own headlining performances at The Fox, Carlson has proved she knows how to break. things. down. Head out to her last performance of the year tomorrow at The Stage Stop! We guarantee it will be an impressively good time. More info here.

That’s it for us for NYE Colorado! See you in 2017!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

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