Rocky Mountain Folks Festival 2019 Honored the Folk Tradition of the Past, Present & Future

By: Riley Ann 

Planet Bluegrass just wrapped up their festival season with the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, and they truly had something for nearly every flavor of folk. True to its tradition, the music at Folks Fest was by, for, and about the people. 

Ben Folds.

Ben Folds.

Headliners included household names from the past 30 years, such as Ani DiFranco, who’s songs feel just as relevant as when she was topping the charts in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Violent Femmes had the packed crowd dancing and hollering, and Ben Folds’ set felt like an intimate house concert on Saturday night. Josh Ritter’s band closed out the festival Sunday night with many families enjoying summer’s last hurrah before the start of the school year.

Hayley Heynderickx.

Hayley Heynderickx.

For the folks who want something old and something new, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, The War and Treaty, and Kira Small all fused throwback soul and R&B flavors into modern songwriting. The Oh Hellos shared the poppier side of folk, and Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards paired modern grooves and melodies with lush harmonies of the women’s voices and stringed instruments. Hayley Heynderickx demonstrated the songwriting tradition through the voice of a millennial with her quirky, dark tunes, and The East Pointers showcased their reinvention of traditional Celtic music by intertwining old time fiddle and tenor banjo with drum machines and synthesizers.

The folks who appreciate the early traditions could sing along in four-part harmony with Ysaÿe Barnwell’s spiritual set, which kicked off Sunday morning. The Canadian duo The Small Glories blended old time clawhammer banjo and traditional song forms with their own telling of historical events, many with modern-day connections.

Patty Larkin.

Patty Larkin.

While the phrase “folk music” generally connotes acoustic instruments, bands like Daniel Rodriguez (formerly of Elephant Revival), Gasoline Lollipops, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones featured ripping electric guitar solos. In contrast, Patty Larkin practically played a solo rock set on acoustic guitar (though she interspersed a few ballads and shook things up playing a violin bow on her electric guitar). The music was as musically diverse as the tastes of the listeners, providing a well-balanced palette of folk music. As Dylan once crooned, “Times, they are a changin’,” and Planet Bluegrass continues to curate folk festivals that honor the folk tradition of the past, present, and into the future.

Although their festival season is over, there’s still another chance to tap into the magic at Planet Bluegrass for the Autumnal Equinox on September 21st with Bonnie Paine & Friends. More information and tickets are available at the Wildflower Pavilion website here. Stay tuned for next year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, as well as their Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass Festival on the Planet Bluegrass website here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

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




Portugal. The Man Proved Their Reign In the Pop Rock Sphere at Recent Red Rocks Show

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The Lords of Portland landed in Morrison, CO yesterday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Portugal. The Man, the progressive rock and recent “Best Pop Performance” 2018 Grammy winners made a sold-out stop at the Rocks between summer festival performances. Formed by John Gourley in 2002, Portugal. The Man originally started as a side project to Gourley’s group Anatomy of a Ghost. After a move to Portland from the group’s origins in Wasilla, Alaska, Gourley and bassist Zachary Caruthers began working on tunes for Portugal. The Man full-time, releasing their debut Waiter: "You Vultures!"  in 2006. The group put out another record in 2007, Church Mouth, and embarked on their first US tour in support of the record. The band then released a series of records with independent label Approaching AIRballoons before signing with Atlantic Records in 2010.

Portugal. The Man.

Portugal. The Man.

With a growing number of festival appearances and the success of their record Evil Friends (2013), Portugal. The Man continued to grow a strong international fan base. After more than a decade of building their brand of prog psych pop rock, Portugal. The Man achieved true worldwide fame for the pop hit “Feel It Still,” which just came out last year. After rising to the top of the Billboard charts, earning the band their aforementioned Grammy, and snagging them a ASCAP Vanguard Music Award, Portugal. The Man suddenly went from that band you once enjoyed seeing at a Bonnaroo tent to a major festival headliner. For this band, that switch appears as though it were seamless, though it took sixteen years.

Now comprised of Gourley and Carothers with Kyle O’Quin, Eric Howk, Jason Sechrist, and Zoe Manville, the six-piece had an incredible Red Rocks performance, both sonically, and in their stage production. Prior to the start of the show, the band had local Lakota tribe members give a blessing to fans before diving into their “For Whom The Bell Tolls” Metallica cover. They then transitioned into their Pink Floyd “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” mashup with their original “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” before sliding into a catalogue of their originals including “Live in the Moment,” “Noise Pollution,” and of course, “Feel It Still.” The band is known for inserting cover snippets into a mix with their own tracks, and this was evident to listeners with T. Rex’s “Creep In a T-Shirt,” Violent Femmes’ “Children of the Revolution,” The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and the band’s encore, which featured a crazy mashup of their tracks “Sleep Forever,” “Plastic Soldiers,” and “Smile” with Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” It was also guitarist Eric Howk’s birthday, and the band had the crowd join in for a sing-along during their encore for this, which fans loved.

John Gourley.

John Gourley.

Along with their impressive instrumentalism, the band also had a massive projector onstage which displayed various messages from the band and “their management” since they claim to be bad with stage banter. This allowed for a great visual experience with the show whether you were close or far from the band, something that all major festival headliners know is important for a concert goer's experience. Gourley, who is also an artist, is as well-known to fans for his drawing, designs, and sketches, as he is for his music. Many of the art used throughout the show is his work, and was combined with lasers and projections onto the Rocks themselves, along with traditional stage lights.

Overall, the Lords of Portland proved their reign at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre with their sold-out show this past week. Take a listen to Portugal. The Man for yourselves here and keep up with the band’s current tour on their website.

See our full gallery of photos from this show here

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram.

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

The Ivories Want To Be Your Valentine This Year

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Los Angeles trio The Ivories identify their sounds as “indie surf psychedelic punk.” The band, who are signed to Vogue House Sounds, came together after meeting in college. The diversity of their backgrounds may explain why their style encapsulates several genres, so we sat down to talk with the three-piece about the music they grew up on, the atmosphere they try to create in their live shows, and why it’s appropriate that their debut EP will drop on Valentine’s Day this year.

Let’s start with a bit about your background. Where are you all from and how has that environment shaped your music?

Erin: I’m from Zaragoza, Spain. I remember starting to have some kind of interest for music when my aunt made a Spotify playlist for me when I was around 12 years old. It had songs from David Bowie, The Cure, The Doors… I thought it was sick! And then my family gave me my first guitar and I started playing music. One of the first albums that I discovered was The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie and it blew my mind. Later on I started digging a little bit more into Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, and also Spanish rock thanks to my group of friends back home. Rock’n’roll baby!

Bryan: I’m from Santa Fe, New Mexico. My mother’s from South Korea and my father is from Texas, so I got a lot of different cultures growing up. Before I knew how to use the internet, it was mostly my family’s CDs (Michael Jackson, Korean music, and my dad’s classic rock and blues stuff), MTV, and the music in the Gamecube games that I listened to. The first CD I ever bought was Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled record. Everyone around me in Santa Fe was self-loathing and depraved for the most part. I did a lot of crazy things- I traumatized myself by choice and had like 20 ego deaths from ‘shrooms by the time I was 17. I developed anxiety from all of that and then I started writing music that actually had some substance.

Xavier: I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado to a large family whose taste in music spans far and wide. I grew up surrounded by many amazing musicians who have inspired me to pursue my dreams. My earliest memories as a child were being in my father’s studio watching him record his EP. I was intrigued by the work he was doing and wanted to do the same thing. My parents had a nasty divorce that affected me for quite awhile as a child; as a result I was exposed to many things a kid were not supposed to see nor comprehend, so I became frustrated with the world around me. A few months after the dust settled I was gifted my first drum kit at the age of nine and found my escape from reality. I was able to take all of my angst and frustration and release them through rhythm.  

How did the three of you meet and start making music together?

Xavier: We met in one of our classes while attending college in Los Angeles and proceeded to form a band based on our mutual interest in music.

Listen to “Red”:

Talk to us about your newest single and your upcoming EP.

Xavier: We’re planning to release our EP on Valentine’s Day. We just put out our first song from the record, “Red.” I think we’re making a video for it soon- we’re working with the incredible Italian filmmaker Caterina Piccardo. We have SO many songs written that we want to record!! Making music takes so long though. We’re playing a bunch of shows in the next few months as well.

Beyond the artists you mentioned listening to growing up, who do you draw inspiration from for The Ivories sound?

Bryan: If Kurt Cobain and Paul McCartney had a baby and they were raised by Talking Heads’ grooves- that’s us. We cover a few artists like P.H.F (a New Zealand band we love), Blondie, Blur, and Violent Femmes. I also kinda wanna be Morrisey. The Cure is a big one. When people hear us play live, they usually compare us to The Smiths, The Cure, The Beatles, and The Pixies, which is one of the reasons our band name is what it is. I loved the Tony Hawk [video] games and skating when I was a kid too, so definitely those soundtracks influenced me.

Xavier: As a kid, my parents as well as my uncle inspired me to play the drums. Seeing them play music made me want to do the same thing. When I first started playing drums and bass I received a copy of Death From Above’s “You’re A Woman I’m A Machine,” and was immediately hooked- from that point on I knew I wanted to be a musician. I loved the high energy rock’n’roll and was determined to re-create that emotion in my music. I draw a lot of inspiration from disco/punk influenced bands such as LCD Soundsystem, Death From Above, and Moving Units.

Erin: When I was in Spain there were not a lot of women playing music in the young music scene of my town. And since I moved to LA, I’ve been finding so many bands fronted by women, which made me feel super inspired and empowered to keep writing music. Bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Savages, The Kills, or The Runaways have been pretty important in my life lately. And also the LA scene is amazing- I love to go to shows of small LA bands and get to know what their sound is and how can I add it into my music.

The Ivories.

The Ivories.

When you perform live, what type of environment are you trying to cultivate?

Xavier:  When we perform live, we want to pull people away from their thoughts, concerns, and troubles. We seek to make people feel euphoric as they witness one of the most raw forms of human expression known to man and woman.    

Bryan: I’m trying to make everyone in the audience feel like I’m their Valentine. All the songs are about a girl, and I’m singing them all in first person like I’m talking to that girl... disassociated and detached… a whisper in your ear when in reality, I’m screaming into a microphone. It’s weird. I feel like coming to our live show is like being my counselor and just listening to me talk about all my problems. All the lyrics I write are kinda self-loathing and sad, but people dance and that makes me feel good and I guess that’s what matters!

What about your music most makes you feel most empowered?

Bryan: Being able to tell people things that I would never otherwise express. Whenever I get nostalgic and reminisce back to something, a big part of how I remember it is what music was playing at the time of the memory. I even associate people with certain songs and albums. I’d love for someone to feel that was about my music. I often overthink when something doesn’t go my way, so writing songs is a good way to channel that anxiety into a tangible form so that I can release it all and get it out of my mind. I take stressful or traumatic experiences and analyze them in a third-person kind of way to take myself out of the equation and try and look at it from a different perspective. I notice little details and little gestures or expressions that made something go the way it did, you know? Writing is a good way to process things- healthier than drowning it or bottling it up.

Erin: The fact that there’s music that can make you go back to one time of your life when you were having a similar sentiment- it’s amazing to me. And being able to make people feel that blows my mind. Also, just being on a stage makes me feel so powerful. It’s the moment that we have to show the best part of ourselves.  

27907740_150079042356621_745457302133211170_o.jpg

Outside of the glory and fame of celebrity, where do you see your music going?

Bryan: I want our music to be in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 soundtrack.

What are your plans for 2018?

Xavier: As we play more shows and just get to know each other better, we start meshing our ideas together more. Our music past this first EP is going to be much more collaborative and live-sounding; more how we initially imagined our sound being.We want to play some festivals this summer but we’ve been so caught up finishing our EP, making this music video, and playing shows that we haven’t been looking beyond that very much!

Bryan: I wanna put out at least two more EP’s, a few music videos, and I wanna have some kind of event that will put together fashion, visual art, and music. I also want to become truly happy independently this year.

Solid goals. When are your next few booked shows/tours?

Bryan: Our next show is at Harvard & Stone in Thai Town in LA on the 21st of February.

Keep up with The Ivories on Facebook.

-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.

BolderBeat's Guide to Colorado's Summer Music Festivals 2016

By: Claire Woodcock

It finally feels like summer, so let's fest. 

We know you want to hit the festivals on our list. 

We know you want to hit the festivals on our list. 

It’s festival season, which has all of us here at BolderBeat elated. Press kits are flying, and we want you to be as on the curve as we are! So here are our top picks for Colorado’s summer music festivals:

Project Pabst May 20-21

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats at Denver's Project Pabst. 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats at Denver's Project Pabst. 

Project Pabst was a wild success,” were Zach Dahmen’s words in retrospect of the festival that rocked Denver a few weeks ago. We brought you exclusive coverage on Best Coast, TV on the Radio and more in our feature of the event. Relive that time Charles Bradley almost did the splits and The Violent Femmes helped us blister in the sun with our photos per Ian Glass.

Sasquatch Music Festival May 27-29

Kurt Vile at Sasquatch.

Kurt Vile at Sasquatch.

BolderBeat had a press invitation to Sasquatch Music Festival this year, so we threw down content on The Cure, Disclosure, Florence and the Machine, M83, Grimes, Sufjan Stevens, Purity Ring, Kurt Vile And The Violators, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats, and more! Take a scroll through our pictures right here and read over our recaps of the awesome weekend. It wasn't in CO folks, but it sure was awesome.

Sonic Bloom Festival June 16-19

The 11th annual Sonic Bloom Festival is coming up soon! This year, SB is at Hummingbird Ranch, nestled in the heart of Spanish Peaks country. The weekend will feature performances from Bonobo, Tipper, and a huge array of electronic beatmasters. The festival also features a crazy lineup of yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 16-19

Telluride's Bluegrass Festival has been a massive success for 43 years. 

Telluride's Bluegrass Festival has been a massive success for 43 years. 

Telluride is known as one of the best festival spots of the west, and Telluride Bluegrass Festival has been keeping that notoriety alive for 43 years! The festival dates fall on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, giving you the longest day of the year to wander from set to set. Guests this year include Ryan Adams, Neil Finn, Emmylou Harris, and more!

Westword Music Showcase June 25

Summer in the city at Westword's Music Showcase. 

Summer in the city at Westword's Music Showcase. 

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host more than 100 live acts, most of which are Colorado-based. Denver band 888 is slated to play one of Westword’s main stages, while Cold War Kids, Matt and Kim, and New Politics front a lineup sure to make this year’s showcase a success.

The Ride Festival July 9-10

Views on views at Telluride's Ride Festival.

Views on views at Telluride's Ride Festival.

The Ride Festival, another Telluride fest, is one of the first live music/camp combos of the summer. Since 2012, this festival has firmly established itself in rootsy rock vibes. This year’s headliners include Pearl Jam and Cage the Elephant.

The Divide Music Festival July 22-24

divide-2016-lineup.jpg

Divide in Winter Park is a new music festival in Colorado this year. Its lineup boasts performances by Bleachers, Cake, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Kid Cudi, Miike Snow and more! Festival perks include hiking, biking and yoga for festival-goers.

The Underground Music Showcase July 28-31

For many Colorado musicians, UMS is one of the biggest festivals of the summer. Performers on the national scene include San Francisco garage rockers Thee Oh Sees. Go celebrate over 100 local performers making it happen in CO's music scene at this Denver setup!

Bass Center July 29-30

Bassnectar is bringing a massive show to CO.

Bassnectar is bringing a massive show to CO.

California’s Bassnectar first brought Bass Center to Colorado in 2010; this festival is the traveling circus of electronic music. The Bassnectar tour travels with its own custom sound rig, and headlines some of the most noted venues in the country. Acts this year include Flux Pavilion, Flying Lotus, Wu-Tang Clan, and Lupe Fiasco. You can check it out in Commerce City, and there are two camping villages for the hardcores: “The Shire” and “Narnia”.

Vertex Festival August 5-7

At its core, Vertex is diverse music, outdoor adventure, and artful fun in beautiful Buena Vista, CO. Alabama Shakes and Odesza are two of the headliners, to give an idea of the range of performers on this lineup. We’re covering press at Vertex, so expect lots of info to hit our site over the summer on this one!

ARISE Music Festival August 5-7

Nighttime shows at Arise rule. 

Nighttime shows at Arise rule. 

Here’s another festival that is Colorado heavy. ARISE will take place at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch again this year, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films!

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest August 12-14

Did we mention this fest is free?

Did we mention this fest is free?

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in historic downtown Fort Collins. Local faves DeVotchKa and The Fray are headlining this bad boy, and there's a ton of other great local acts playing too. Check out the lineup here!

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival August 19-21

BYOBlanket to Rocky Mountain Folks Fest.

BYOBlanket to Rocky Mountain Folks Fest.

The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival is happening in Lyons, CO, a mountain town 15 miles north of Boulder that NPR’s All Things Considered once described as “the Nashville of the Rockies”. The festival recently added The Decemberists and Conor Oberst as national acts to their local lineup.

Riot Fest September 2-4

BolderBeat couldn’t be more excited to wrap up the summer festival roundup with Denver’s Riot Fest & Rodeo in September. With national acts like Sleater-Kinney, The Misfits and Yo La Tengo, to name a few, Riot Fest will be an explosive ending to the upcoming sunny summer of music!

Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all summer on our dedicated fest page!

-Claire

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

Project Pabst Denver: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats Announce New Music and More

By: Zach Dahmen

Project Pabst Denver was a wild success.

The fest. [All photos per   Ian Glass Media  . See more   on our Facebook .]

The fest. [All photos per Ian Glass Media. See more on our Facebook.]

Our Lyft came to a slow stop on Larimer Street in the heart of Denver, as the shape of the giant stage formed in front of us. Doors cracked open and the sweat began to make itself visible; it’s a hot one. Between the streets of 27th and 28th on Larimer this weekend lived the Pabst Project Denver: a forty-band music festival put on by PBR, the token drink of hipsters and cheap beer lovers everywhere. Long associated with music, PBR entered the festival circuit in 2014 in Portland, Oregon. This year, the fest branched out across three cities, with Denver being the first of the concert tour.

Raise 'em high.

Raise 'em high.

Walking around the closed-down streets, the scene was flooded with people bookended by two enormous stages: The Captain Pabst stage on 28th and The Laser Horse stage on 27th. Nearly everyone around me held a tall boy, walking between stages and multiple tents.

South of France.

South of France.

Our first stop was the Larimer Lounge, an indoor stage for hometown band South of France. The indie pop five-piece started things off right, with their fresh hooks and melodic vocals. Every band had about a 45 minute set to play, making for a lot to see over the course of the day.

All Chiefs.

All Chiefs.

Next was Boulder/Denver-based All Chiefs playing on the Meadowlark’s patio. The band sweat through a blazing set of their originals, and choice covers, including TV On The Radio’s “Wolf”. The group drew a good crowd for the small venue.

Fidlar.

Fidlar.

Back out in the sea of tank tops and sundresses Fidlar started on The Laser Horse Stage, demanding attention through the walls of the Meadowlark. The indie rock outfit played a heavy set, inciting a mosh-pit and lots of PBR spillage. Their cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” drew the loudest reaction from the crowd.

Charles Bradley.

Charles Bradley.

After another PBR and some much needed time in the shade, we ventured to see Charles Bradley, who brought his brand of soul and funk to the party. The 66-year-old singer moved around with ease, and sang through his vast catalog to cheers from the crowd. Bradley moved with grace and ease, even pulling the falling mic-pull move, and taking a small break for a wardrobe change. Bradley was quite possibly the classiest act of the day.

Violent Femmes.

Violent Femmes.

With little time to spare, we raced across the swelling crowds to the Captain Pabst Stage, where the Violent Femmes were just beginning. The 90’s band drew one of the biggest crowds of the day, playing their hits to a more than enthusiastic crowd. The band took an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, starting off with their biggest hit first (“Blister in the Sun”). With giant horns and xylophone solos, they proved why after so many years, they still deserve to be a headliner.

Best Coast.

Best Coast.

Beating the crowds back to The Laser Horse Stage, we were prepared for Best Coast, the act that replaced Courtney Barnett because she had to go and play Saturday Night Live (catch that here). But Best Coast were a great addition, and their first show in months had the female-fronted band bringing a sonically impressive, and yet very personal mix of tunes. They played until the sun set.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

As darkness enveloped the block, the masses silhouetted by street lights flocked to see hometown heroes Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Clad in an all white denim getup, Rateliff took the stage like a warrior returning from long travels. The crowd of more than 2,000 danced on command, and hung on to every note from the veteran performer. The band played through their current self-titled release, forcing many beer cans to be crushed under tapping toes. One of the highlights of their set was their announcement of a new EP set to be released sometime this fall, followed by the debut of a new track. The experience was not lost on the group themselves, as Nathaniel more than once extolled the greatness of the Denver music scene, and the band’s gratitude for the city.

Finally, the night capped off right where it had started that afternoon: at the Larimer Lounge. A. Tom Collins played to a raucous late night crowd, with an ample horn section, and plenty of onstage antics. Drunken dance abounded, as the crews outside began to clean up what amounted to be a giant, beer-fueled block party of great music. Let’s do it again soon Denver.

-Zach

All photos per Ian Glass Media for BolderBeat. See more on our Facebook. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.    

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

By: Zach Dahmen

Behind the scenes of Ben Hanna.

Boulder-based musician Ben Hanna.

Boulder-based musician Ben Hanna.

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

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

Tea Time.

Tea Time.

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

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

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

The Street Light Type.

The Street Light Type.

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

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

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

Sandboxin'.

Sandboxin'.

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

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

-Zach

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

Interviewer Zach Dahmen.

Interviewer Zach Dahmen.