Boulder Weekly 04.11.2024

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Joy Oladokun brightens the corners at Bluebird Music Festival P . 12


Q&A P . 13 • 303.492.5148 Explore your passions. Reach your goals. Earn credit toward your degree. Own your journey. That moment you FIND CLASSES THAT FIT YOUR NEEDS.
CONTENTS 0 4 .11.2024 BOULDER WEEKLY APRIL 11 , 202 4 3 At Twig we take pride in creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing their unique style. Monday-Friday 8a-8p Saturday 8a-6p Sunday Closed 1831 Pearl St Boulder, CO 303-447-0880 Cut • Color • Balayage • Highlights Root Retouch • Blow Dry Style Hair Care Services 04 OPINION Trains, plans and automobiles 09 NEWS A public hearing on BoCo’s pesticide plans 11 MUSIC Katie Pruitt gets real on Mantras 15 THEATER Out of the Blue: harrowing, heartfelt and humorous 16 FILM Civil War exposes uncomfortable American truths 17 SCREEN Melissa Benoist talks politics and The Girls on the Bus 19 EVENTS Where to go and what to do 24 ASTROLOGY Restless seekers are never bored 24 SAVAGE LOVE Crime and punishment 27 NIBBLES A guide to mindful dining ONLINE ONLY OPINION BoCo endangers volunteers with herbicide use: WeedWarriorsBW OPINION Boulder needs your voice for Civic Area redesign: civicareaBW THEATER A Broomfield children’s theater fights for survival: DEPARTMENTS 12 COVER Bluebird Music Festival co-headliner Joy Oladokun keeps the light on BY JEZY J. GRAY 13 MUSIC Three questions with Bluebird Music Festival founder Travis Albright BY JEZY J. GRAY 31 WEED Colorado companies are inflating THC percentages on their products BY WILL BRENDZA 06




Colorado should embrace passenger rail, but the Front Range train is not the way to do it

Colorado’s Front Range is positioned as the only feasible north-south corridor between the coasts where Amtrak’s three major long-distance routes (Southwest Chief, California Zephyr and Empire Builder) can be directly

linked. The Denver metro could become the nexus of a national passenger rail network, with significant economic, political and social benefits for all Coloradans.

We should not underestimate the significance of Colorado’s opportunity to become a hub in a future North American passenger rail network. Gov. Polis is right to highlight this as an urgent public policy initiative.

The revival of interest in intercity passenger rail service, amplified by $8 billion in federal cash, represents an opportunity for states and cities that are prepared to advance worthy corridors and projects. Unfortunately, Colorado has fallen behind the peloton in this race. Much of the money available to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) by Congress has been claimed by corridors that were already in the pipeline and were

supported by multi-city, multi-state intergovernmental agreements, service plans and design concepts.

Colorado has for three decades been mired in the “study phase” of passenger rail development. This has enabled Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the state’s elected officials to continue pouring money into endless expansion of highways, freeways and airports. The time has come to move beyond studies.

Here are some suggested principles to guide the effort:


The U.S. will develop a passenger rail network linking its major cities — our version of the Paris to Madrid to Barcelona, Berlin to Hanover to Amsterdam, or Tokyo to Fukushima to Sendai corridors. This was the original

APRIL 11, 2024 Volume 31, Number 34 COVER CREDIT: Emily Nava PUBLISHER: Francis Zankowski EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Shay Castle ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR: Jezy J. Gray REPORTERS: Kaylee Harter, Will Matuska FOOD EDITOR: John Lehndorff INTERN: Lauren Hill CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Will Brendza, Rob Brezsny, Michael J. Casey, Dan Savage, Toni Tresca, Gregory Wakeman, Jim Charlier, Justin Criado, Kevin J. Krizek SALES AND MARKETING MARKET DEVELOPMENT MANAGER: Kellie Robinson SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Matthew Fischer ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Chris Allred, Holden Hauke SPECIAL PROJECTS MANAGER: Carter Ferryman MRS. BOULDER WEEKLY: Mari Nevar PRODUCTION CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Erik Wogen SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Mark Goodman CIRCULATION CIRCULATION MANAGER: Cal Winn CIRCULATION TEAM: Sue Butcher, Ken Rott, Chris Bauer BUSINESS OFFICE BOOKKEEPER/ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Austen Lopp FOUNDER / CEO: Stewart Sallo As Boulder County’s only independently owned newspaper, Boulder Weekly is dedicated to illuminating truth, advancing justice and protecting the First Amendment through ethical, no-holdsbarred journalism and thought-provoking opinion writing. Free every Thursday since 1993, the Weekly also offers the county’s most comprehensive arts and entertainment coverage. Read the print version, or visit Boulder Weekly does not accept unsolicited editorial submissions. If you’re interested in writing for the paper, please send queries to: Any materials sent to Boulder Weekly become the property of the newspaper. 690 South Lashley Lane, Boulder, CO 80305 Phone: 303.494.5511, FAX: 303.494.2585 Boulder Weekly is published every Thursday. No portion may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. ©2024 Boulder Weekly, Inc., all rights reserved. Boulder Weekly welcomes your correspondence via email ( Preference will be given to short letters (under 300 words) that deal with recent stories or local issues, and letters may be edited for style, length and libel. Letters should include your name, address and telephone number for verification. We do not publish anonymous letters or those signed with pseudonyms. Letters become the property of Boulder Weekly and will be published on our website.

idea behind our Interstate Highway System: Once a trunk is built, the branches will follow. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (Washington, D.C. to New York to Boston) continues to spawn connecting passenger rail lines in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. That’s not only a workable plan, it’s an exciting vision.

And our big idea is a train to Craig? Colorado’s vision is too small, too parochial.

Even the line CDOT has proposed from Pueblo to Fort Collins through Denver, Boulder, Longmont and Loveland is a misfire. We should be talking about Denver as a major passenger rail hub with spokes to Houston/ Dallas, Albuquerque/Santa Fe, Cheyenne/Billings and Omaha/ Chicago, with connections to Phoenix/ Tucson, Southern California and Spokane/Seattle. Commuter rail links to smaller cities can come later, but that’s not where we should start.


Gov. Polis envisions the Front Range rail as the way to correct RTD’s failure to build a train from Denver to Boulder. There is no question Boulder and Longmont have a legitimate beef with

RTD. And it would be great to board a train at Union Station and go to Boulder. But the national passenger rail initiative is not the way to make that happen.

The projects moving forward in USDOT’s revitalized passenger rail program are the result of coordinated, multi-state efforts that have been in the works for years. An example is the collaboration between Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota on a line connecting Chicago to Minneapolis. (In an interesting parallel, Madison, the “Boulder of Wisconsin,” has complained that it’s not on the proposed line. Amtrak has responded politely by adding a dottedline, side connection to Madison.)

The political reality is there is no faster way to kill a passenger rail program in Colorado than to have it be seen by voters as an attempt to pay for a train to Boulder.


Many Coloradans (and visitors) would love to ride trains into our mountains for a ski weekend or a summer vacation. Some have had the experience of riding trains in Austria or Switzerland, with gorgeous views and great on-board service, arriving in quaint mountain vil-

lages where cars are not allowed. But the costs of building mountain rail lines in Colorado are off the scale of feasibility, at least in the near term.

Whether or not rail service to the Colorado mountains will ever happen is an interesting topic to debate. But that is not where we start and clearly is not a national priority.


Another reality we should embrace is that U.S. states and cities have been lousy at building modern rail projects. Over budget and behind schedule with ridership below forecast has been the norm, not the exception. Two egregious examples are Honolulu Rail (100% over budget, a decade late) and California High Speed Rail (200% over budget, over a decade late… so far).

Passenger rail lines are high-risk mega-projects that require sophisticated planning, design and project management. We can learn from our peers in Europe, especially the major infrastructure entities (Eurostar, SNCF, Deutsch Bahn, Trenitalia, Renfe, etc.). And there are lessons to learn from Brightline, which has delivered a major intercity rail corridor in Florida on a tight schedule and budget.

But we cannot go to the voters in Colorado without direct and realistic answers to questions about how we intend to avoid the pitfalls that the public now associates with major rail projects.


Developing a passenger rail program will be a complex endeavor that will help us meet economic and climate goals. To succeed, Colorado will need to be clear-headed and surefooted. We need a compelling, long-term vision. We need strategic partners. We need to anticipate and dodge the pitfalls.

The risks are big, but the potential benefits are enormous.

Jim Charlier has been a transportation planner for over five decades. He held senior management positions at two state DOTs and has provided consulting services to many of Colorado’s cities and towns. He has worked on rail and rail-related projects in Orlando, Phoenix, Honolulu, Redmond, Portland, Santa Fe and Houston. Jim lives in Denver.

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.



Boulder should stop repeating past transportation mistakes

The Boulder Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a quarterly lunch for roughly 60 people invested in transport safety. At the event, I experienced a profound sense of déjà vu, as I’ve attended similar gatherings around the U.S. for decades.

Among the participants including transport professionals, elected officials and citizens, there is a recurring theme: Advocate for improved conveniences for walkers, transit users and cyclists. A collective wisdom persists that if we allocate more resources to these ways of traveling, we’ll change people’s behavior.

Rarely do I hear talk about making matters more costly for car users. That’s a political taboo and has been for decades. But until the political will changes, the costs of past practices will continue to mount: more fatal crashes on our roads (~70 million global deaths since the invention of the car), more resource-intensive travel and widening disparities between who gets access to what.

Most transport discussions orbit around minor adjustments to an existing system. Incremental steps amount to temporary fixes or slight gains. They fail to address how the underlying issues of our transport system are more profound than many of us realize. Incrementalism allows politicians to maintain the status quo. It’s easier that way.

The sole city council member present at the Chamber lunch, Ryan Schuchard, emphasized the need to overhaul how we do transport planning and how Boulder can fundamentally reevaluate and redesign its transport ethos.

That’s good, because the core issue that we continue to sidestep is our collective acquiescence to making cars — and increasingly, larger and larger

cars — convenient to use, even for short trips.

A needed conversation starts when we critically examine our relationship with cars — their size, their necessity and how our urban planning practices roll out the red carpet for them. Policy and corporate interests cater to this paradigm.

We’ll finally gain traction when we focus conversations on subsidies for parking and roads, the proliferation of oversized vehicles, a fascination with electric cars despite their mixed benefits and resistance to reducing car-centric infrastructure.


For too long, politicians have balked at such measures due to short-term pushback, ignoring long-term benefits. We can challenge leaders to courageously pivot towards tangible, bold actions that do more with less.

It’s time to modernize transport dialogue. Let’s focus on accessibility and how easy it is to get what we want and need with other modes of travel. Put in place new rules into city code and make new policies to guide new practices for how we engineer traffic, manage parking and moderate travel. Take actions that allow for some car conveniences while greatly enhancing the conveniences of alternatives, including much smaller versions of cars. Reduce the subsidies given to cars, especially big cars. Recognize how parking and space on the roads is given away. Bring into view how city budgets fund different streets projects mostly to make driving easier, cheaper and faster.

Simultaneously, let’s make it safer and cheaper for residents to use other transportation options. Subsidize better and smarter forms of transport so that users of more sustainable modes pay substantially less.


It’s necessary and politically courageous to redirect funding and planning to remedy this disparity. Focus on high-impact, low-cost strategies that don’t rely heavily on construction. Redesign street space for a robust network of compact mobility options, like bikes and mini-vehicles,

to prevent the past seven decades’ mistakes.

We can set immediate and threeyear targets to reshape our community’s use patterns. It’s time to innovate, not iterate.

Drawing inspiration from the ideas that Schuchard presented at the Chamber of Commerce, here’s where we should go:

Design for micro-mobility, including bikes, scooters, cargo-bikes and much smaller cars. Implement a Cambridge, Massachusetts-style ordinance to standardize road designs that, by default, allow for full implementation of a network that supports people of all ages and abilities, including much smaller vehicles. Prioritize safety and accessibility; stop focusing on vehicle throughput and delay. Rethink how we use parking lanes and streets for people instead of only vehicles; invite various uses rather than crowding them out. Celebrate shop pop-ups, in-street dining and more dynamic parking pricing. Make improvements faster and overcome backlash that is formed by old-school thinking.

Let’s empower our elected officials to scrap old-school rules based on oldschool mentality. Help them build back better for micro-mobility, based on new thinking that incentives innovation.

Existing codes built on existing mindsets lock us in.

Take, for example, CU Boulder’s plans for a parking garage next to its new hotel and conference center, and plans to “improve the efficiency” of a surface lot near Boulder High School to get more parking spaces.

Creating more parking so close to our community’s activity centers jeopardizes other ways to access nearby destinations. It runs counter to stated public goals of addressing climate change (e.g., embodied carbon). It squanders an opportunity to revamp a new culture of providing access

Communities around the world have already reckoned with the high costs of automobility. The time is now for Boulder to leverage new pathways and stop repeating misses of the past.

Kevin J. Krizek is a professor of environmental design at CU Boulder and a former senior advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment (U.S. Department of State). He is the author of Advanced Introduction to Urban Transport Planning, available online and in local bookstores.

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.







Local news at a glance


Xcel Energy proactively shut off power for the first time in Colorado history because of high wildfire risk over the weekend, leaving thousands without power for multiple days.

The utility “de-energized” more than 600 miles of power lines Saturday afternoon, impacting about 55,000 customers in Boulder, Gilpin, Larimer, Douglas, Broomfield and Jefferson counties. Xcel estimated 100,000 more were without electricity at the height of the storm because of high winds damaging infrastructure.

As of 8 a.m. Monday morning, 49,000 customers were still without power. The outage continued to impact nearly 850 customers as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Xcel’s website.

Many customers were blindsided by the shutoffs. Local business owners voiced frustrations at a Boulder Chamber of Commerce forum with Xcel on Monday morning, citing poor, late or nonexistent communication about the planned outages.

Hosea Rosenberg’s restaurant, Blackbelly, was without power until midday on Monday. He first heard about the outage from an employee, and didn’t receive any communication from the utility about when electricity would turn back on.

“We have $50-$60,000 worth of food in our building that is under refrigeration. And if you know food code, you have about four hours to save your products or you have to throw it all away,” he said. “That big of a loss to us would essentially put us out of business forever.”

Rosenberg was able to salvage some product, but without power he was “just watching our food die.”

Other business owners voiced similar problems, especially with Xcel’s notifi-

cation process. George Karakehian, owner of Art Source International, said the lack of communication was “awful.”

“I’ve been downtown in business for 45 years,” he said, “but the handling of this event is the worst handling of any disaster or near disaster in history down here.”

Robert Kenney, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, said there’s an “opportunity to improve” the timeliness of customer notification up to the industry standard of 72 to 96 hours in advance. But he stood by his company’s decision.

“This is a public safety decision that we do not take lightly,” he said during the forum. “I am heartened to note that we did not have any ignitions and we did not see any wildfires. I ultimately believe that, despite the challenges that were created, that it was ultimately the best decision to avoid a catastrophic wildfire from happening.”

Xcel Energy is facing nearly 300 lawsuits stemming from the Marshall Fire, but Kenney said that this event was “very different” from the most destructive fire in Colorado history.

“We continue to maintain that our equipment didn’t start the Marshall Fire. And so we made this decision not as a litigation risk mitigation; this was a public safety mitigation to avoid a fire.”

The combination of dry vegetation and high winds (gusts up to 90 miles per hour) justified the shutoff last weekend because a potentially downed power line could ignite a rapidly spreading fire, Kenney said. Xcel has de-energized in other states as a “tool of last resort.”

De-energizing will continue to be a strategy the company uses in

coupled with low fuel moisture, Kenney said, but won’t necessarily be used every time there are high winds.

Instead of automatically restoring electricity to impacted power lines, which is Xcel’s standard practice, the company inspected each area before re-energizing for safety reasons, meaning power outages lasted longer, according to a press release.

Boulder City Manager Nuria RiveraVandermyde said police attended more than 200 calls during the first 12 hours of the outage. Despite Xcel saying it would exclude “critical care facilities” from the shutdown, Frasier Meadows, a senior living community with 500 people, lost power. So did Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital.


The Boulder County Commissioners announced on April 4 that the housing and human services department (HHS) will split into two. A new housing department will focus on housing and homelessness, and include Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA), and the other solely on human services such as food and financial assistance.

The change won’t result in staff changes. A new housing director will be hired internally to lead the housing department and BCHA, the county said.

The new consolidated housing department will create a more focused approach to address housing challenges in an area with over 28,000 cost-burdened households (who spend more than 30% of their income on housing),

including 16,000 households spending more than half their income on rent, according to a county press release.

Boulder County currently has about 7,400 affordable rentals and homes, but it estimates it needs to more than double that number to meet today’s needs.

Housing needs include managing the growing number of people experiencing homelessness. The most recent pointin-time count recorded over 800 homeless people in Boulder County.


Over 500,000 new units are required to meet 2050 regional housing needs, according to preliminary findings from a regional assessment.

The assessment, led by the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) that includes Boulder County and some cities within it, aims to outline both the scale and barriers to address the region’s housing needs.

According to a presentation at an April 3 DRCOG Board work session, short-term needs include adding 216,000 new units by 2033. More than half need to be affordable to households earning under 60% of the area median income (AMI), roughly $75,240 for a family of four in Boulder. The assessment started last September and it is still in the development phase, but its complete findings will be published in June.


• The City of Lafayette is launching another e-bike rebate program following the success of last year’s program. The standard rebate is $300, and the income-qualified rebate is $600. The application is open for Lafayette residents through May 5. Learn more and apply: lafayette_rebate

• A dead calf found in Grand County on April 2 is the result of the first wolf-related livestock death since the animal’s reintroduction in December 2023. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the livestock producer is eligible for fair market value compensation from the state.



What your local officials are up to


At the April 18 meeting, council will:

• Vote on a number of items, including:

• Transferring property at 925-933 Marine St. to the nonprofit Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA). EFAA has leased the space since 1981 for use as permanently affordable emergency transitional housing for families.

• Authorizing Flatirons Habitat for Humanity to build 12 permanently affordable homes at 4475 North Broadway as part of the Ponderosa Community Stabilization Project.

• Settling a lawsuit with Joslynn Montoya and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) for $75,000. CCDC and Montoya, who is deaf, filed the lawsuit in 2023, claiming the city had violated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and discriminated against her when police didn’t provide a sign language interpreter during an interaction at a domestic violence shelter and ultimately removed her children from her custody.

• Hold a public hearing and vote on the city’s 2024 energy conservation code. Among the biggest changes from the 2020 code is the require-

ment for most new construction and major renovations to have all electric equipment and appliances. Some exceptions would be permitted, such as natural gas appliances in commercial kitchens.

• Hear an update and recommendations for next steps on Boulder Social Streets, a project that aims to “reimagine downtown streets as welcoming spaces to gather, attend events and connect.”

ICYMI: Council set its priorities for the next two years at its retreat April 3 and 4. Council’s 11 priorities included homelessness programs, economic development, increasing council member pay and updating the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, the Daily Camera reports.


During the week of April 15, commissioners will:

• Hold a public hearing on the new Integrated Weed Management Plan (3 p.m., April 16). The proposed plan would reduce herbicide use by 50% by 2030 and eliminate aerial spraying by helicopter, though it would allow for some aerial spraying by drone. Climate action groups have opposed the plan and say they want the county to eliminate all herbicide use on public lands. A final vote is scheduled for May 21.

• Hold a public hearing and vote on the Sherwood Creek Restoration project (9 a.m., April 18) The project, located just north of Nederland, aims to restore ecological function to a portion of the creek that is currently impacted by historic mining activities.

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journeys from self sabotage to self compassion on sophomore album

Katie Pruitt wears her heart on her sleeve, and you can hear it beat in her music. Even after releasing two deeply personal records, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter from Atlanta is still trying to find the balance of “sharing and oversharing,” she says.

“It’s a trial-and-error process for me, figuring out how much of my personal life do I really want to share,” says Pruitt, who now calls Nashville home.

On 2020 debut Expectations, Pruitt works through her experience of coming out as a lesbian as a Catholic school student in the conservative South in songs like “Loving Her” and “It’s Always Been You.” It’s a heavy-hitting album, especially for a young musician introducing herself to the world.

“The first record I shared a fucking lot of it, but it came at the expense of the relationship with my family and all these things,” Pruitt says.

On Mantras, her sophomore record released last week via Rounder Records, Pruitt navigates her recent mental health journey that started with “self-sabotage” and ended in “self-compassion.”

“I was trying to find that balance this time around,” Pruitt continues. “But I can’t help it, I just end up talking about what’s happening in my life, which at this time was going through some mental health issues. There’s a lot of breakup songs on the album, too. Honestly, writing about that is hard, but it was healing in a lot of ways, too.”


Previously released singles “Worst Case Scenario,” “All My Friends” and “White Lies, White Jesus and You” fea-

and Fort Collins. Don’t worry, “it’s a rock show,” Pruitt confirms. But it’s OK if you feel like shedding a tear or two.

“I want people to have fucking fun,” she says. “I want people to dance and party, but also there are songs that might make you cry, so there’s a little of both. But that’s life, right? The ebb and flow. Sometimes you’re dancing, and sometimes you cry.”


Now that Mantras is officially out in the world, Pruitt says she’s feeling “relieved” more than anything, as she paces around the parking lot of the historic Kessler Theater in Dallas after finishing up soundcheck.

“Everybody says the second record is the hardest one. I didn’t want to believe them, but now I do,” she says with a laugh. “It’s sort of hard to have one other thing to compare it to. I’m just ready for it to be out and start working on the third one and building up a catalog.”

one differently. For Expectations, most tracks were recorded in the studio live with a band, while Mantras required more workshopping and took into account input from producers Jake Finch and Collin Pastore, both known for their work with indie-rock supergroup boygenius.

“They brought a really fun, lighthearted energy to the process that I really was needing,” she recalls. “I was needing it to feel like I don’t have to do this — I get to do this. It turned the pressure into a playground.”

Pruitt admits she got into her head and wanted the recent release to be “the greatest thing ever.” In the end, she got more out of it than she could have imagined.

ture folksy Americana laced with Pruitt’s trademark vulnerability. The title Mantras is a reference to Pruitt’s practice of leaving loving notes and repeating positive affirmations in the mirror to herself. Then there was writing music, her long-held, go-to means of release, coupled with the power of therapy.

“They both kind of fed each other in ways,” she says. “The songwriting is always an extension of my life. It’s an outlet for what’s going on in my life, but I do feel like the therapy helped me open up the floodgates to talk about that. Before, I would just stop myself before I could even start. Therapy was a catalyst for me being able to express what’s really going on in my life.”

Pruitt says her live performances offer a similar experience. The idea is to create a space “for people to feel what they need to feel” and perhaps learn something about themselves in the process.

“I do want people to walk away from the shows feeling like they see their life reflected in some ways,” Pruitt adds.

She’ll be offering this opportunity for reflection in Boulder on April 13 at the Fox Theatre with Jack Van Cleaf — the final show of a four-night Colorado run through Colorado Springs, Denver

While she mentions new material, she knows the next album won’t start coming together for another a year or so — especially with the current tour, and how it’s “almost fucking impossible to find a private moment with a guitar.” The two record cycles are hard to compare since she approached each

“It’s kind of ironic because I feel like I was struggling mentally and it led me to therapy, which ended up being a really good thing and being what a lot of the songs are about,” she says. “It’s just overcoming this internal battle with myself of feeling like enough and being OK on a daily basis.” ON

THE BILL: Katie Pruitt with Jack Van Cleaf. 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. $25 Pruitt Nashville singer-songwriter Katie Pruitt says her emotionally charged music walks a fine line between “sharing and oversharing.” Credit: Alysse Gafkjen Katie Pruitt’s second LP, Mantras, was released April 5. Courtesy: Rounder Records



Joy Oladokun keeps the light on

In the music video for “Changes,” the fourth single from her verdant new double album Proof of Life, Joy Oladokun casts her fishing line on a calm country lake as the woods around her go up in flames.

“Newspaper says the world’s on fire,” she sings with a breezy shrug. “People yelling and the water’s rising / it’s easy to feel kinda anxious.”

But if the heat is making her sweat, Oladokun doesn’t let it show. Her line bobbing on the water as she untangles big feelings about climate change and social justice, the video ends with the unbothered folk-pop poet lighting a loose joint on a burning globe. And why not? As she’s quick to remind listeners: “Life’s always been a little dangerous.”

“That is a song everybody sings along to at shows: the queer couple in crop tops, the old fisherman in the back and the aunties sitting at the table on the second level,” Oladokun told Boulder Weekly from her Nashville studio ahead of the artist’s headlining Bluebird Music Festival appearance on April 20. “I love it, because the song is both biographical and also just about how much I don’t like change, which I think is pretty human. Like, when HBO Max switched to Max — I still haven’t gotten over it.

“I was born right before the L.A. riots, and I was writing this music during the more recent civil rights uprisings in the States,” she continues. “I hate change, but I’m also living on this planet, where it seems like things change fast and not at all.”


When it comes to the 32-year-old’s aversion to change, the year since the release of Oladokun’s fourth LP has been a sort of exposure therapy. As critics hail Proof of Life as her “break-

out” record — featuring guest turns from mega stars like Chris Stapleton, Noah Kahan and Mt. Joy — she says daily life isn’t quite what it used to be. Even a routine trip to her local Kroger finds the artist gladhanding with eager fans, a new phenomenon she’s still adjusting to.

“There’s a version of my life where I just go get groceries, and that’s all that happened at the grocery store. But that version of my life is gone,” says the self-described introvert. “There’s a level of joy and excitement that comes with that, but there’s also this other, maybe less-spoken side. It’s not coming from a place of not being grateful, but I don’t know that this is the most natural position for a human to find themselves in.”

Natural or not, Oladokun is poised at a pivotal moment in her professional life. The singer-songwriter’s rising star has brought a lot more than a high profile in public spaces. It has also cata-

young. I sort of wanted to become a professional friend, where I would go into songwriting rooms and help artists tell their stories in a way that didn’t feel like it was chipping away at their sense of self or mental health,” she explains. “Now that I’m in this position I never thought I would be in, it’s like: ‘OK, how do I make this last for a long time?’”


Oladokun gets a certain charge from challenging assumptions around what is and isn’t “Americana” — as a queer Black woman born to Nigerian immigrant parents, but also as a genre-curious shapeshifter skilled in the vocabulary of pop and R&B. As the conversation surrounding who counts as country reaches a new pitch in the wake of Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter, Oladokun sees two diverging paths for artists who don’t fit the stereotypical mold set by industry gatekeepers.

But it’s another potential outcome that worries Oladokun, an Arizona native who has called the countrymusic capital of Nashville home since 2016.

“The second thing that could possibly happen is all the Johns and Chads and Bobs say, ‘OK, Beyoncé is No. 1, our jobs are over.’ And they do no further research or self correcting,” she says. “I get a little worried this will be what actually happens, but only time will tell.”

However this national dialogue shakes out, you’ll find Oladokun doing what she does best: casting her proverbial fishing line on the water as “a stoner in Crocs who just likes to play with guitars and drum machines.”

Amid industry hang-ups, rising sea levels and reckonings on racism in America, there’s a steadying effect in Oladokun’s laid-back, human-scaled approach to processing all this uncertainty. The world may be on fire, but it will be listening.

pulted her into an unexpected new arena of success that’s a far cry from her early behind-the-scenes ambition to help other artists find their voice.

“I became a songwriter because a lot of my favorite musicians died

“I think there’s two versions of events that could happen,” she says. “The first is: ‘OK, Beyoncé is No. 1 on the country charts — what have we been missing in terms of what marginalized artists bring to country music, and how can we elevate it?’”


Joy Oladokun at the Bluebird Music Festival. 6:15 p.m. Saturday, April 20, Macky Auditorium Concert Hall, 1595 Pleasant St., Boulder. $50-$60
Joy Oladokun headlines the first night of the 2024 Bluebird Music Festival on April 20. Credit: Lexander Bryant Proof of Life, the fourth album by Nashville-based artist Joy Oladokun, was released last year by Republic Records. Courtesy: Universal Music Group



Bluebird Music Festival founder Travis Albright on Boulder’s annual ‘family reunion’

Travis Albright took a leap when he launched the Bluebird Music Festival six years ago, and it paid off. Since 2018, the founder of the local youth-focused nonprofit Future Arts Foundation has brought the best in the worlds of indie, folk and Americana to our doorstep at CU Boulder’s Macky Auditorium Concert Hall. Booking big-name headliners like Waxahatchee, Ben Harper and Margo Price alongside a smattering of local talent, the two-day event has blossomed into the city’s premier showcase of who’s who in the arena of roots music.

Now returning for another go-round, this year’s event is set to continue that tradition. From top-of-the-bill standouts like the homegrown Gregory Alan Isakov and Jeff Tweedy of Chicago alt-country standard bearers Wilco, to rising acts like Sunny War and Colorado’s own Cody Sisters, the 2024 Bluebird Music Festival is — as the kids say — so back

We caught up with Albright to ask a few questions ahead of the big weekend. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What sets Bluebird apart from your

average music festival?

The festival and the foundation are going up against a lot of behemoths in the industry: AEG, Live Nation, etc. So I always curate it to kind of feel like the world’s largest living room. There are so many familiar faces that come year after year — whether it’s performers like Langhorne Slim, back for his fourth time in six years, or the production crew who have been with us the entire time, or even the ushers and people selling merch. It’s not like a normal festival where you’re getting

patted down and hassled. We want it to feel like a family reunion. I don’t know if I want to call it a feather in our cap, but the Strings and Stories event is also really special. I’m 45 now, and I grew up with MTV Unplugged and VH1 Storytellers. I always loved seeing behind the brain of the artist — hearing them talk a little bit about the music and not just hearing the songs. We incorporated that starting in our second year, and I think that kind of separates the festival from others as well, because we get to see these performers being very vulnerable.

How did you get such a major enterprise off the ground as a one-person operation?

I put on music festivals about 15 years ago. I hosted a bunch of them around the state, and one of them

was the Pearl Street Music and Arts Festival in 2011. It was kind of like a little mini South by Southwest — we had The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, Gregory Alan Isakov, Dr. Dog and a bunch of really big bands. I was doing that all on my own. Then I went to grad school at CU for education, and I kind of tied the two of those together to start the Future Arts Foundation, which provides musical instruments for Colorado youth, so I could still put on those events but also give back.

To be honest, I don’t want to say it wasn’t hard — but our very first year of the Bluebird Music Festival, it sold out like two months in advance.

Who are some of the emerging artists on this year’s bill that people should definitely not sleep on?

Well, I don’t know if Joy Oladokun is considered an emerging artist anymore. She is headlining the first night, but she’s still not a household name. Her last album [Proof of Life] is probably my favorite of the last couple years.

Other than Joy, it’s gotta be Bendigo Fletcher and Briscoe. I think they’re both on a pretty great trajectory. They play the Newport Folk Festival and Bonnaroo and all the big festivals. Briscoe was signed by Dave Matthews on his label and opened for Dave Matthews Band at The Gorge. They played the [Grateful] Dead Mexico festival called Dead Ahead, and then another big one down there with CAAMP and Joy Oladokun and a bunch of others. So they’re kind of on every lineup right now. But then Bendigo Fletcher, I just think their sound is so unique. Their name isn’t really out there as much yet, but I think they’re really gonna be a great band to watch.

ON THE BILL: Bluebird Music Festival. Sat.-Sun, April 20-21, Macky Auditorium Concert Hall, 1595 Pleasant St., Boulder. Pricing and schedule at

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Lafayette resident Travis Albright launched the Bluebird Music Festival at CU Boulder’s Macky Auditorium Concert Hall in 2018. Courtesy: Travis Albright
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‘Out of the Blue’ makes its way from Mexico to Boulder for LGBTQ fundraiser

When the spotlight hits the stage at the Dairy Arts Center’s Grace Gamm Theatre this April, it’ll reveal more than just a set. It will illuminate the harrowing and heartfelt story of Eli Hans, who uses melody to process a grim cancer diagnosis as the producer and star of the touring musical Out of the Blue

But don’t expect a sob fest — this production has enough humor and toe-tapping tunes to make you forget you’re learning life lessons. Based on his own life, the show depicts Hans’ unwavering spirit of survival as he faced a dire lymphoma diagnosis with a 10% chance of recovery.

“I didn’t know it was going to be a musical when I first started writing it,” Hans says. “I just knew that when we were all sheltering at home [during the COVID-19 pandemic], it was time for me to write about my journey. So many wonderful things happened to me that I felt it would be kind of selfish to keep all that to myself, especially if I could help somebody else get through this.”


Since Hans grew up watching musical theater and dreaming of being on Broadway, he says singing and dancing were a “natural form of expression” for his story.

“A lot can happen through music, because it’s very healing,” he says.

“The songs I wrote express the charac-

sent my demos to a music arranger in Canada [Konrad Pluta], and we would talk about how I wanted them to sound Broadway-ish. He would fix them and send them back to me. We’d go back and forth until they were what I had heard in my head, and then boom! It became a musical.”

Once the music was written, the only thing that really “scared” Hans was mastering the dance elements. “I hired a choreographer [Christie Olvera] because I like to dance, but I’m not a dancer, necessarily,” he says. “There’s not a ton of dancing in this, but I knew I needed a good understanding of dance because the opening number was snazzy.”

Yates and his wife, Katy — were sitting in the audience of Out of the Blue’s world premiere in Mexico. Hans says that the couple was impressed with the musical and urged him to bring the show to Boulder.

Two years later, Hans is making his first visit to the People’s Republic, but he won’t have much time for sightseeing. In addition to ensuring that Out of the Blue is ready to perform at the Dairy, Hans is serving as a panelist at the Conference on World Affairs hosted at CU Boulder.

“Bob nominated me to be a panelist, so between rehearsals and three panels at the conference, that’s going to keep me pretty busy,” Hans says. “We’re only going to have a day or two to explore Boulder. The rest of the time, we’re there to work.”

Portraying 25 different characters, Hans invites viewers behind the scenes of his inspirational life story in what he calls a “mostly one-man show.” The only other performer is his husband, Joseph Bennett, who joins him briefly in the first and third act.

“Joseph is an incredible human being,” Hans says. “He’s beyond description, and the way he supported me through my cancer journey and the miraculous way we met just had to be portrayed in the show. He’s a wonderful partner and a great actor. I just love sharing the stage with him and being able to recreate our moments together.”

ter’s internal emotional state — audiences are better able to handle information when it is wrapped up in a nice song.”

Although Hans could play the piano, he had never written an orchestration before, so he taught himself GarageBand to create the arrangement he wanted. Without formal music training, he wanted to recreate the music he could hear in his head.

“I didn’t know anything about composing, but because of the pandemic, I had so much time to learn,” he says. “I

Hans approached the creation of Out of the Blue holistically by becoming involved in every aspect of the production, from costume and set design to serving as show producer. He has continued to fine tune the musical since its sold-out world premiere in San Miguel, Mexico, in March 2022 and its wellreviewed appearance at that year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, where it was nominated for six Broadway World Awards.


As fate would have it, two Boulderites — former city council member Bob

All ticket sales after expenses from the Boulder run of Out of the Blue will go to Out Boulder County, a local nonprofit supporting the LGBTQ community. The April 13 performance is a special $100 VIP fundraising event for the organization, complete with pre-show drinks and postshow meetings with the actors. Local donors have purchased a significant portion of the seats on April 14, allowing the Out Boulder youth program to attend for free.

“My whole mission and vision when I created Out of the Blue was to be able to help gay youth,” Hans says. “I wanted to support them as they came out with self-awareness, love and self-acceptance. This show is very much about loving who we are and not living our lives with any degree of shame, so the fact that it’s going to support Out Boulder is icing on the cake.”

ON STAGE: Out of the Blue April 12-14, Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. $30-$100

Eli Hans shares his cancer journey through the “mostly one-man musical” Out of the Blue, running April 12-14 at the Dairy Arts Center’s Grace Gamm Theatre. Credit: Scott Umstattd


‘Civil War’ exposes more than a few uncomfortable truths about America

What are you boys fighting for?

That’s the question writerhistorian Shelby Foote tries to answer in Ken Burns’ landmark 1990 documentary The Civil War. Foote finds it in the story of a Union soldier encountering a beleaguered Confederate rebel, a young man obviously impoverished who owns neither slaves nor land. “Why you boys fighting?” the Union soldier asks the rebel. “Because you’re down here,” the Confederate responds.

Writer-director Alex Garland’s Civil War is shot through with that same sense of defiance — without Foote’s folksy relish for a good allegory. Civil War is harsh. Set in the modern day, or

at least very near future, Garland’s cinematic distress signal doesn’t just feel familiar; it feels inevitable. But for future audiences, Civil War may be harder to decode as Garland offers only broad strokes for his backstory. The United States government has been at war with the secessionists of California and Texas — known collectively as the Western Front and represented by an American flag with two stars. Florida has also rebelled, trying to take the Carolinas with it. The cause of the secession is never stated, only assumed, and the length of the war at the point we enter the story is undefined. Seen only briefly and mirroring a former real-life commander-in-chief

through his use of hyperbole is the President (Nick Offerman), whose disdain for the press core runs so deep he’s known to have reporters executed on the South Lawn. Naturally, these are the characters through which we experience Civil War.

As you might expect, the four who make up the movie’s core are a motley crew. There’s Joel (Wagner Moura), a Reuters reporter with a sexual attraction to combat; Lee (Kirsten Dunst), a decorated war photographer who’s seen it all and let it claim every last bit of her; Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson), an aging journalist from the New York Times who cares more about the company he keeps than the story he files; and Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), the newcomer on the scene who wants to get in on the action while the getting’s good.

Jessie gets what she wants, including an experience that molds and shapes her into the person she’s dreamed of becoming. In Garland’s hands, that’s not an aspiration. He and cinematographer Rob Hardy shoot

Jessie and Lee like vultures hovering close to their prey, waiting for the situation to go sideways, for a soldier to get shot or worse, so they can take their picture. Death in 10,000 words is what Jessie and Lee are selling, and the story isn’t complete until the body stops moving.

Too jaundiced? Hardly. In one of Civil War’s quiet moments, Lee and Sammy share a heart-to-heart, with Lee admitting that she used to hope that the right photo would change things. “I thought I was sending a warning home: Don’t do this,” she says. “But here we are.”

And here she is, surrounded constantly by reporters, from Sammy to Joel to a bevy of others, who are no longer grappling with the moral complexities of their work and maybe never did in the first place. Lee’s photos aren’t warning others to stay away; they’re galvanizing a whole generation of Jessies to come and join the party.

It might not be fair to compare Garland’s Civil War feature with Burns’ documentary — but, really, they don’t seem that far off. Burns dives so deeply into the minutiae and the politics that defined four years of American history that the only real definitive answer it offers seems to be the birth of our national discontent. Garland ups the ante by giving his Civil War no anchoring conflict, no debated morals and no righteous grounding of any kind. Here is a nation ready to tear itself apart for no more reason than the fun of it.

So it was 160 years ago when the North and the South took up arms against each other. Both sides were eager, and both sides thought the whole shebang would be over in a couple of weeks. That’s the moment from Burns’ 12-hour doc that’s stuck with me the strongest. And that’s the sentiment that came to mind when a young man in my screening of Civil War yelled, “Fuck yeah!” as one character ran over another with a car. I know a lot of people fear the next American Civil War is right around the corner. It might be closer than they think.

ON SCREEN: Civil War opens in theaters and IMAX on April 12

Kirsten Dunst (left) and Cailee Spaeny in Civil War Courtesy: A24


Melissa Benoist hits the campaign trail in ‘The Girls on the Bus’

When a teenage Melissa Benoist found herself facing graduation at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, the longtime performer had a hard time shaking the naysayers.

“There was a moment where I maybe wasn’t considering majoring in art or musical theater in college,” she says. “Just because so many people had told me nobody actually makes it as an actor, and there’s not a way to make a living doing it.”

Over the last decade, Benoist has silenced those doubters. Her feature film roles have included the Oscarwinning Whiplash, Patriots Day and Danny Collins, along with a major role as Marley Rose in the smash musical-dramedy series Glee. But to superhero fans, she’ll always be known as Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, the iconic comic character she played for six years across a number of shows in the DC Extended Universe.

Benoist’s new show, The Girls On The Bus, marks a change of pace for the 35-year-old artist, but there are still some similarities to Supergirl. Like Kara Danvers, Sadie McCarthy is a journalist. She doesn’t spend her downtime saving lives, though. Instead, she is consumed by her profession as she follows a number of flawed presidential candidates jockeying for the White House.

Inspired by Amy Chozik’s memoir Chasing Hillary, the adapted Max series also stars Carla Gugino, Christina Elmore and Natasha Behnam as fellow journalists reporting on the presidential hopefuls as they travel across the country to secure votes — with each member of the foursome finding friendship, love and scandal along the way.


When Benoist was first approached about The Girls On The Bus, her initial instinct was to turn it down. “I wasn’t really looking for work,” she says. “I had just finished Supergirl. I was exhausted, wanted to take a break and just focus on being a mom.”

But once she learned more about the idea from producers Julie Plec and Sarah Schechter, Benoist changed her tune. “I just had this gut feeling that this was something I had to do. I’ve always been drawn to people who are passionate, committed and work hard, and Sadie is certainly someone who is

jazz at age 3. She caught the acting bug soon after and spent the remainder of her formative years learning the craft on the Front Range, including three summers with the Academy of Theatre Arts in Littleton.

“It’s such a rich community,” she says of the local performing arts network where she cut her teeth. “I’ve never seen another regional theater scene like it anywhere else in America. That’s where I fell in love with acting and wanted to do it as a profession.”

Her mom lives in Grand Junction now, so Benoist doesn’t make it back to the Denver metro nearly as much as she’d like. But regardless of which side of the range she finds herself on these days, she says growing up in the Centennial State — “how beautiful it is, how genuine and kind the people are” — had a huge influence on how she navigates her Hollywood career.

producer. She made the decision to get more involved behind the camera after realizing the power of having “ownership of her work.”

She felt something similar on Supergirl, where she was on set with the crew day-in, day-out, but it felt different on The Girls On The Bus. “I feel an immense sense of pride with the finished product,” she says. “Much more than I have in the past when I have not had that [producer] title.”

With the actual U.S. election taking place in November, The Girls On The Bus arrives at a time when the political environment is particularly divisive. Rather than providing answers, Benoist wants the show to explore our role in the media landscape without getting too heavy.

unapologetic about what she wants to do with her life and career.”

Thanks to a healthy diet of Gene Kelly movies supplied to her by her grandparents, the Houston-born Benoist began doing ballet, tap and

“I really developed my work ethic in Colorado,” she says. “I worked with people that were so hard-working, who were passionate, showed up every day and committed. I’ve carried that with me.”


That Colorado-forged work ethic is on full display in The Girls On The Bus, which marks Benoist’s debut as a

“We are able to comment on the changing tides of journalism in the political arena with a lightness,” she says. “There’s a silver lining to our show that I think we all need to be reminded of. I hope audiences think twice about the truth and how they digest the news, while also remembering that, in every election, their voice deserves and needs to be heard.”

ON SCREEN: The Girls on the Bus is streaming now on Max.

Melissa Benoist co-stars as Sadie McCarthy in The Girls on the Bus, streaming now on Max. Courtesy: Warner Bros. Discovery The Girls on the Bus follows four women journalists navigating the pitfalls of covering the presidential campaign trail. Courtesy: Warner Bros. Discovery

An “endearingly funny and deeply affecting” Pulitzer-finalist play about one woman — and all of us.


May 3 -19

The Dairy Arts Center | Boulder






The one and only Coach

Prime heads to Denver’s flagship Tattered Cover on Colfax for a reading and signing event to promote his new book, Elevate and Dominate: 21 Ways to Win On and Off the Field on April 16. Registration includes a signed copy and a photo opp. See listing for details

Tennessee Williams’

1944 classic The Glass Menagerie gets a refresh at Vintage Theatre in Aurora. The haunting tale of memory, hope and disillusionment stars Matt Murry, Emma Messenger, Clara Papula and Cameron Davis

Scan the QR code for a Boulder Weekly review before you go. See listing for details

Boulder Valley School District and the Dairy Arts Center present this annual showcase of works by local students and teachers during the BVSD High School and Faculty Exhibition. Mediums include painting, drawing, digital art, animation, ceramics and more. See listing for details.

MJ: THE MUSICAL Through April 28, Denver Center for the Performing Arts - Buell Theatre, 1350 Curtis St. $49-$199

NOISES OFF. Through May 5, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. $56-$83


Through April 21, Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora. $20-$34


PERFORMING SELF Through April 28, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th St. $2


Through May 4, Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. Free BW PICK OF THE WEEK



Thursday, April 11, Boulder Book Store, Pearl St. $5


Friday, April 12, Tattered CoverAspen Grove, 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton. Free


6:30 p.m. Monday, April 15, Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl St. $5

WHERE DID WE SIT ON THE BUS? Through June 2, Denver Center for the Performing Arts - Singleton Theatre, 1400 Curtis St. $35-$52

MY FAIR LADY. Through June 9, Jesters Dinner Theatre, 224 Main St., Longmont. $30-$50


Through May 12, Denver Art Museum, 100 W 14th Ave. $18

ARE YOU OK?: A TRANS SURVIVAL PROJECT Through June 22, East Window Gallery, 4550 Broadway, Suite C-3B2, Boulder. Free | Through May 31, Dairy Arts Center – Northeast Mural Wall, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. Free

NOUF ALJOWAYSIR: SALAF (ANCESTOR). Through July 27, East Window Gallery, 4550 Broadway, Suite C-3B2, Boulder. Free

DEION SANDERS: ELEVATE AND DOMINATE. 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, Tattered Cover, 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. $30



CENTER READING AND OPEN MIC. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl St. Free


Crosby and



11 –



All day. Fri. April 11-Sun. April 14, virtual. Free

Did you miss this year’s slate of shorts at the Boulder International Film Festival? Catch ’em all during this multi-day virtual screening as part of Boulder Arts Week. Tickets are free, but there are a limited number of spaces — register now at BIFFshortsBW



8 p.m. Friday, April 12, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. $50

Support the LGTBQ-affirming work of Out Boulder County with an evening of Broadway drag and dance performance featuring “Colorado’s loudest and proudest tastemakers” Hugh Panaro, Latrice Royale and John McDaniel.



11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Valmont Bike Park, 3160 Airport Road, Boulder. $10 (bring your own bike) / $25 (with bike rental)

Wheel over to Valmont Bike Park to join the CU Bike Program for a fun and informative introduction to mountain biking. You’ll learn to ride with balance while picking up basics like steering, cornering, trail climbing and more.

show8:00pm time Apr 20th Vitalwild & Zaje In the Bar

show8:00pm time Apr 21st LunarFest 24’ Pre Party

show8:00pm time Apr 24th Many Mountains In the Bar Thursday show8:00pm time Apr 25th Chuck Sitero & Dylan Kober In the Bar

Friday show8:00pm time Apr 26th Lionel Young Duo In the Bar



7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, Jesters Dinner Theatre, 224 Main St., Longmont. $12-$17

Leave the kids at home and head to Jesters Dinner Theatre with your most outlandish scene suggestions for the Front deRanged Improv Comedy Troupe during this adults-only performance in Longmont.



8 p.m. Friday, April 12, Chautauqua Community House, 301 Morning Glory Drive, Boulder. $30

Wrap up Boulder Arts Week with Colorado soul queen Hazel Miller during this intimate and stirring performance at Chautauqua Community House. Read a Boulder Weekly feature on the artist before you go:



6-7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, Dairy Arts CenterBoedecker Theater, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. $12

Following last summer’s iconic needle drop in Barbie, revered folk-rock duo Indigo Girls get the big-screen treatment in this documentary by Alexandria Bombach. Come find out why so many generations of fans say “the Indigo Girls saved my life.”

show8:00pm time Apr 10th John ohnmacht In the Bar
show8:00pm time Apr 12th Lionel Young Duo In the Bar Peak2peak
show8:00pm time Apr 13th $19 All Fees included
show8:00pm time Apr 14th Deva Yoder In the Bar
show8:00pm time Apr 17th Stephen Brooks Duo In the Bar Jeff
The BARLOW thURSDAY show8:00pm time Apr 18th $21 All Fees included
show8:00pm time Apr 19TH Justin
In the Bar



All day. Saturday, April 13, Pearl Street Mall, 1942 Broadway St., Boulder. Free

Boulder’s “most interactive street theater poetry festival” hits the Pearl Street Mall for a day of readings from an ensemble of local poets, hosted by organizations offering services and programs for literary artists.



9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, April 12 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Growing Gardens, 1630 Hawthorn Ave., Boulder. Free

Spring means savings at Growing Gardens in Boulder, where you can score big deals on cool-weather starts and seeds like kales, greens, cabbages, peas, early spring flowers and more.



Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Kin Studio and Gallery, 4725 16th St., Boulder. Free

Celebrate the grand opening of Kin Studio and Gallery in the NoBo Holiday neighborhood to round out Boulder Arts Week. The event also marks the opening reception of Tasty, a new exhibition of prints by local artist Allyson McDuffie.



2-6 p.m. Sunday, April 14, downtown Boulder. $85-$130

Experience Boulder’s downtown culinary arts scene bite by bite at the return of this food-forward community celebration on Pearl Street and beyond. Admission price gets you entry to all 15 participating locations for food samples and wine and spirit tastings, plus a keepsake bag and wine glass.



5-7 p.m. Sunday, April 14, Left Hand Brewing, 1265 Boston Ave., Longmont. Free

Feeling lucky? Join the fabulous Miss Jessica L’Whor for the return of this outrageous adults-only bingo series. Whether you come for the drag, the prizes or the world-class beers, it’s sure to be a fierce night of fun.



7 p.m. Monday, April 15, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. Free

The earth needs a champion and we all need a laugh, so head to Boulder Theater for the 9th annual Stand Up for Climate Comedy featuring sketches by students from the CU Creative Climate Communication course along with headliners Chuck Nice, Rollie Williams and Kasha Patel.

Want more Boulder County events? Check out the complete listings online by scanning this QR code.





6 p.m. Bootstrap Brewing Company, 142 Pratt St., Longmont. Free

ONE DRUM 6 p.m. BOCO Cider, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 14, Boulder. Free

ANDREW ELWOOD. 7 p.m. Muse Performance Space, 200 E. South Boulder Road, Lafayette. $20


8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. $15


8 p.m. Hi-Dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver. $18

PAUL CHERRY WITH JW FRANCIS AND LITTLE TRIPS 8 p.m. Globe Hall, 4483 Logan St., Denver. $17


8 p.m. Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., Denver. $21


JAMES HOSKINS WITH VICTOR MESTAS 2:30 p.m. Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road. $12

BIG SEASONS. 6 p.m. BOCO Cider, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 14, Boulder. Free

VUDU SUNSHINE. 6 p.m. Bootstrap Brewing Company, 142 Pratt St., Longmont. Free

STARLIGHT & PINE 6 p.m. Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 940 Pearl St., Boulder. Free

MONO VERDE COLLECTIVE. 7 p.m. Rayback Collective, 2775 Valmont Road, Boulder. Free

LAPOMPE 7:30 p.m. Center for Musical Arts, 200 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette. $20

JON MCLAUGHLIN 7 p.m. eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St., Boulder. $25

LIONEL YOUNG DUO 8 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. Free

HUNTER STONE WITH RIVER MANN 8 p.m. Roots Music Project, 4747 Pearl, Suite V3A, Boulder. $15

EGGY WITH NEIGHBOR. 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. $21


9 p.m. Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, 1535 Pearl St., Boulder. Free



MCNOWN 8 p.m. Globe Hall, 4483 Logan St., Denver. $16



3 p.m. Left Hand Brewing, 1265 Boston Ave., Longmont. Free

SWEET N’ JUICY. 6 p.m. BOCO Cider, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 14, Boulder. Free


6 p.m. Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 940 Pearl St., Boulder. Free

AMINA FIGAROVA SEXTET WITH MATSIKO WORLD ORPHAN CHOIR. 7 p.m. Muse Performance Space, 200 E. South Boulder Road, Lafayette. $40

WESTWARD HO! 7 p.m. First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine St., Boulder. $10

MERCY CLUB WITH FOXES FLOAT TRIP 7 p.m. The Laughing Goat, 1709 Pearl St., Boulder. Free

ER-HSUAN LI. 7:30 p.m. Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. $15

TERESA STORCH BAND. 8 p.m. Roots Music Project, 4747 Pearl, Suite V3A, Boulder. $15

PEAK2PEAK 8 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. $19

5280S BAND. 8 p.m. Louisville Underground, 640 Main St. $18

KATIE PRUITT WITH JACK VAN CLEAF 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. $25 STORY ON P. 11

SPELLS WITH CHURCH FIRE, DEAD PIONEERS AND CHAP 8 p.m. Hi-Dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver. $18

MUSUJI WITH MILQUETOAST & CO. AND THE EPHINJIS. 8 p.m. Globe Hall, 4483 Logan St., Denver. $15

6367 Arapahoe Rd. • Boulder 303.449.0011


Following last fall’s sold-out show in Boulder, The Mountain Goats return to the Front Range for a twonight stint with celebrated Nashville singer-songwriter Katy Kirby at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood. The time-tested indie darlings perform in support of their 22nd album, Jenny from Thebes, out now via Merge Records. Scan the QR code for a Boulder Weekly interview with frontman John Darnielle before you go. See listing for details



7 p.m. Muse Performance Space, 200 E. South Boulder Road, Lafayette. $40


3 p.m. Spirit Hound Distillers, 4196 Ute Highway, Lyons. Free

LATE FOR SUPPER. 4 p.m. BOCO Cider, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 14, Boulder. Free

THE LONG RUN. 4 p.m. Bootstrap Brewing Company, 142 Pratt St., Longmont. $25

‘LET’S SING TAYLOR’ (TAYLOR SWIFT CELEBRATION) 4 p.m. Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. $25

ELENA WITH FRIENDS 7 p.m. Muse Performance Space, 200 E. South Boulder Road, Lafayette. $20

DEVA YODER 8 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. Free


REPOSER WITH PARANORMAL BBQ, CURB SURFER AND DIAMOND 5 p.m. Globe Hall, 4483 Logan St., Denver. $12


NONPOINT WITH PHIL MAURO AND (HED) P.E. 7:30 p.m. Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer St., Denver. $36


SONGWRITERS WORKSHOP. 6 p.m. Firehouse Art Center, 667 4th Ave., Longmont. Free

BADI ASSAD WITH SIERRA MILES 7 p.m. Roots Music Project, 4747 Pearl, Suite V3A, Boulder. $20

BOYWITHUKE WITH NAETHAN APOLLO 8 p.m. Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. $30

MOUNTAIN GOATS WITH KATY KIRBY (NIGHT 1). 8 p.m. Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood. $45 BW PICK OF THE WEEK


ADAM BODINE. 7 p.m. Dry Land Distillers, 519 Main St., Longmont. Free

STEPHEN BROOKS DUO 8 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. Free

CHICKEN WIRE EMPIRE WITH JOSY ROSALES 8 p.m. Roots Music Project, 4747 Pearl, Suite V3A, Boulder. $12

SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG (SOLO) WITH ERIN RAE. 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. $30

R.A.P. FERREIRA WITH PSALM ONE AND DAMN SELENE 8 p.m. Hi-Dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver. $20

JOHN-ROBERT WITH ZOE COZ AND PLAIN FARADAY 8 p.m. Globe Hall, 4483 Logan St., Denver. $20

MOUNTAIN GOATS (NIGHT 2). 8 p.m. Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood. $45



ARIES (MARCH 21-APRIL 19): Now is a favorable time to make initial inquiries, ask for free samples and enjoy window shopping. But it’s not an opportune time to seal final decisions or sign binding contracts. Have fun haggling and exploring, even as you avoid making permanent promises. Follow the inklings of your heart more than the speculations of your head, but refrain from pledging your heart until lots of evidence is available. You are in a prime position to attract and consider an array of possibilities. For best results, remain noncommittal for the foreseeable future.

TAURUS (APRIL 20-MAY 20): Author Betty Bender said, “Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile initially scared me to death.” Painter Georgia O’Keeffe confessed she always harbored chronic anxiety, yet that never stopped her from doing what she loved. Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Anyone who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” I hope these testimonials inspire you to bolster your grit, Taurus. In the coming days, you may not have any more or less fear than usual. But you will be able to summon extra courage and willpower as you render the fear at least semi-irrelevant.

GEMINI (MAY 21-JUNE 20): Richard the Lionheart (1157–1199) was a medieval king of England. How did he get his nickname? Scholars say it was because of his skill as a military leader. But legend tells an additional story. As a young man, Richard was imprisoned by an enemy who arranged for a hungry lion to be brought into his cell. As the beast opened its maw to maul the future king, Richard thrust his arm down its throat and tore out its heart, killing it. What does this tale have to do with you, Gemini? I predict you will soon encounter a test that’s less extreme than Richard’s but equally solvable by bursts of creative ingenuity. Though there will be no physical danger, you will be wise to call on similar boldness. Drawing on the element of surprise may also serve you well.

CANCER (JUNE 21-JULY 22): Will the adventures heading your way be unusual, amusing and even unprecedented? I bet they will have at least some of those elements. You could encounter plot twists you’ve never witnessed or imagined. You may be inspired to dream up creative adjustments unlike any you’ve tried. These would be very positive developments. They suggest you’re becoming more comfortable with expressing your authentic self and less susceptible to the influence of people’s expectations. Every one of us is a unique genius in some ways. You’re getting closer to inhabiting the fullness of yours.

LEO (JULY 23-AUG. 22): At least for now, help may not be available from the usual sources. Is the doctor sick? Does mommy need mothering? Is the therapist feeling depressed? My advice is to not worry about the deficiencies but rather shift your attention to skillful surrogates and substitutes. They may give you what you need — and even more. I’m reminded of The Crystal Cave, a novel about the Arthurian legend. The king, Ambrosius Aurelianus, advises the magician Merlin, “Take power where it is offered.” In other words: not where you think or wish power would be, but from sources that are unexpected or outside your customary parameters.

VIRGO (AUG. 23-SEPT. 22): The rest of the story is not yet ready to emerge, but it will be soon. Be patient just a while longer. When full disclosure arrives, you will no longer have to guess about hidden agendas and simmering subtexts. Adventures in the underworld will move above ground. Missing links will finally appear, and perplexing ambiguities will be clarified. Here’s how you can expedite these developments: Make sure you are thoroughly receptive to knowing the rest of the story. Assert your strong desire to dissolve ignorance.

LIBRA (SEPT. 23-OCT. 22): In the coming weeks, you can ask for and receive more blessings than usual. So please be aggressive and imaginative about asking! Here are suggestions about what gifts to seek out: 1. Vigorous support as you transform two oppositional forces into complementary influences; 2. Extra money, time and spaciousness as you convert a drawback into an asset; 3. Kindness and understanding as you ripen an unripe aspect of yourself; 4. Inspiration and advice as you make new connections that will serve your future goals.

SCORPIO (OCT. 23-NOV. 21): Read the two help-wanted ads below. Meditate on which appeals to you more, and treat this choice as a metaphor for a personal decision you face. 1. “Pedestrian, predictable organization seeks humdrum people with lowgrade ambitions for tasks that perform marginally useful services. Interested in exploring mild passions and learning more about the art of spiritual bypassing?” 2. “Our high-octane enclave values the arts of playing while you work and working while you play. Are you ready and able to provide your creative input? Are you interested in exploring the privilege and responsibility of forever reinventing yourself? We love restless seekers who are never bored.”

SAGITTARIUS (NOV. 22-DEC. 21): What is a gourmet bargain? What is a discount marvel? How about an inspiring breakthrough that incurs no debt? Themes like those are weaving their way into your destiny. Be alert for the likelihood that cheap thrills will be superior to the expensive kind. Search for elegance and beauty in earthy locations that aren’t sleek and polished. Be receptive to the possibility that splendor and awe may be available to you at a low cost. Now may be one of those rare times when imperfect things are more sublime than the so-called perfect stuff.

CAPRICORN (DEC. 22-JAN. 19): “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in,” wrote novelist Graham Greene. For me, it was three days near the end of third grade when I wrote a fairy tale about the unruly adventures of a fictional kid named Polly. Her wildness was infused with kindness. Her rebellions were assertive but friendly. As I told Polly’s story, I realized for the first time that I wanted to be an unconventional writer when I grew up. What about you, Capricorn? When you were young, was there a comparable opening to your future? If so, now is a good phase to revisit it, commune with your memories of it and invite it to inspire the next stage of its evolution in you.

AQUARIUS (JAN. 20-FEB. 18): Even when you are your regular, ordinary self, you have a knack and fondness for irregularity and originality. And these days, your affinity for what’s unprecedented and uncommon is even higher than usual. I am happy about that. I am cheering you on. So please enjoy yourself profoundly as you experiment with nonstandard approaches. Be as idiosyncratic as you dare! Even downright weird! But also try to avoid direct conflicts with the Guardians of How Things Have Always Been Done. Don’t allow change haters to interfere with your fun or obstruct the enhancements you want to instigate. Be a slippery innovator. Be an irrepressible instigator.

PISCES (FEB. 19-MARCH 20): Below are truths I hope you will ripen and deepen in the coming months. 1. Negative feelings are not necessarily truer and more profound than positive ones. 2. Cynical opinions are not automatically more intelligent or wellfounded than optimistic opinions. 3. Criticizing and berating yourself is not a more robust sign of self-awareness than praising and appreciating yourself. 4. Any paranoia you feel may be a stunted emotion resulting from psychic skills you have neglected to develop. 5. Agitation and anxiety can almost always be converted into creative energy.



I was told you help women who feel shame about their orgasms I’ve been in my relationship for five years and always had difficulty orgasming. About a year ago, I had an affair during a manic episode. I hardly remember any of it, but it haunts me every day.

It doesn’t help that my boyfriend constantly brings up the affair when we have sex. He knows two solid ways to make me orgasm, but he focuses instead on two ways I have a hard time orgasming and gets very angry when I don’t. When I tell him that it’s just my body, he brings up the affair and angrily says I was able to orgasm these ways with a stranger. I now feel anxious to have the big O as fast as humanly possible and try to guide him to do what feels best and even show him how to do it. But it always ends in an argument about how I orgasmed doing these things with someone else. We’ve had this fight at least three times a week for the last eleven months.

Now I feel like my vagina is broken. He says it’s because I’ve had too much sex and accuses me of preferring sex with strangers and then starts berating himself for being too small. I’ve had many successful orgasms with him from penetrative and oral sex. I don’t understand why I can’t from his hand or when he’s behind me, and those are the only ways he cares about. Can you help me?

— Feeling Increasingly Broken Somehow

You don’t have any trouble getting off during sex — you’re fully orgasmic even during PIV alone! — your boyfriend has decided to ignore what he knows works for you and the gentle feedback you give him during sex.

Instead, he’s choosing to do what he knows doesn’t work and then throwing mean-spirited tantrums about the size of his dick and the regrettable affair you had during a mental health crisis. (An affair you told him entirely too much about! He didn’t need to know exactly how you got off.)

He’s not having sex with you to reconnect after the affair or even just for sex’s sake: He’s having sex with you to control and punish you. He’s intentionally setting you up for failure because wants to throw this affair in your face again and again and again.

Yes, you had an affair and, yes, that was wrong. But if he can’t forgive you and get past it, FIBS, he has no place in your life, your bed, your vagina or your mouth.

P.S. You aren’t broken — not yet. But longer you stay in this hell of a relationship, the likelier you are to start having the problem you’re worried about, i.e., difficulty climaxing. DTMFA: dump the motherfucker already

P.P.S. Some people insist on being told everything in the wake of an affair. But telling the person you cheated on everything — or extracting everything from the person you cheated on — is the relationship equivalent of salting the Earth. Everything withers and dies, and nothing new grows.




BOULDER WEEKLY APRIL 11 , 202 4 25 Send your burning questions to Podcasts, columns and more at Savage.Love
13 • Mural Tour by bike with Happy Hour @ Sanitas Brewing
13 • NoBo Art Tour Visit local artist studios for Boulder Arts Week
13 • Odd Creatures Club Create and develop your own characters, cartoons and creatures.
17 • Wind Chime Workshop Create a tailored wind chime. Three class options!
20 • ‘Intuition’ Art Reception with Alex Hamm at the NoBO Art Center › MORE INFO Tantric Sacred Sexuality Exploration & Education For more information: 720-333-7978 Beginners Weekend for Singles AND Couples May 3 - 5, 2024


A mindful Boulder dining guide

Waylon Lewis may be the most famous vegan in a city famous for its natural foods. Through Elephant Journal, his independent Boulder-based media platform, Lewis connects with thousands of people around the world interested in living a mindful life.

On his Walk the Talk podcast and in social media posts, he has never been shy about espousing the benefits of a meatless existence: He just doesn’t want to discuss it every single time he goes out for a sandwich.

“There are lots of jokes about vegans I think are funny. One is: ‘How do you know if someone’s vegan? Don’t worry,

they’ll tell you.’” Lewis says. “I actually don’t want to talk about being vegan. I want to be a customer. I want to hang out with my friends. I want to have fun, order some good stuff and tip well.”

The problem, in Lewis’ eyes, is that few local restaurants are truly welcoming to vegans.

“At a lot of Boulder restaurants, there may not be a clear vegan option, let alone two or three that you can order without ever saying the word ‘vegan,’” Lewis says. “The only time I talk about it is asking if I can substitute this for that. Sometimes it doesn’t feel right if the chef has to take the guts out of this beautiful dish and substitute avocado.”

A vegan since 2007, Lewis says not eating animals is really only one aspect that matters in mindful dining. He also tries to frequent spots that utilize local farms or limit plastic use.

“I think of the dining question as a Venn diagram where delicious, healthy and ethical intersect,” Lewis says. “I don’t like healthy if it doesn’t taste great.”

Lewis often gets asked for advice on navigating the dining landscape. It can

be vexing to identify restaurants that fill the prescription. Yelp and Google offer tons of dining categories for Boulder, but “mindful” isn’t one of them.

“You have to balance deeply caring about everything with being willing to be a little brokenhearted about the state of the world,” he says, “and then doing your best.”


The following list of restaurants includes Lewis’ favorites as well as suggestions crowd-sourced from the Elephant Journal community. The quoted comments are from Lewis.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

1710 Pearl St.

“I go to Leaf so much because they have 30 options in different cuisines and their own farm. I never get bored. They mess up and put dairy in stuff sometimes, like all non-vegan restaurants do.”

a taste of modern Japan in the heart of beautiful Boulder

an unmatched selection of rare whiskey, sake, and craft cocktails

the scenery on one of our 3 fireside patios, a feast alongside the jellyfish, or a front row seat at a lively bar

Sun-Thur 11am to 10pm | Fri-Sat 11am to 11pm | 303.938.0330 | 1136 Pearl JapangoRestaurant JapangoBoulder
Elephant Journal’s Waylon Lewis at Cafe Aion in Boulder. Credit: Rhianna Truex

Boulder Weekly Market

New merchants and specials added regularly

Check it out so you can start saving! Go to website to purchase

An online market for discounts on local dining & retail up to 30% off



3101 Pearl Parkway

“Lots of vegan, healthy, yummy choices.”


1509 Arapahoe Ave.

“They have a good all-vegan menu, but it’s all packaged to-go in containers that can’t be composted on the Front Range.”

Skratch Labs Cafe

1600 Pearl St. Unit 110

“Amazing, affordable, healthy bowls. Great hot sauce.”

Tiffin’s Indian Cafe

2416 Arapahoe Ave.

“Wide selection of vegan South Indian dishes.”

Just BE Kitchen

2500 30th St. #101

A new restaurant focused on gluten-free and allergy-free dishes.

Meta Burger

1905 29th St. #1174

Vegetarian and vegan burgers and shakes

Flower Child

2580 Arapahoe Ave. #110

“It’s a chain restaurant, but there are some good, healthy options.”

January Coffee

1886 30th St. Suite B

Westword just named its vegan breakfast burrito the best in the Denver area.

Nok’s Donuts

Jaipur Indian Restaurant

1214 Walnut St.

“Jaipur has one entirely vegan menu, but I never order from it because the buffet is three-fourths vegan anyway.”

Tsing Tao

607 S. Broadway Suite A Vegan buffet Mondays and Thursdays

Jill’s Restaurant

900 Walnut St.

Monthly vegan lunch buffet

400 W. South Boulder Road #2300, Lafayette

Scratch-made vegan and gluten-free doughnuts available made using steamed sweet potatoes with vegan chocolate icing.

Other recommended eateries offering a variety of vegan choices include Sherpa’s Restaurant, Cafe Aion, T/aco, China Gourmet, Centro Mexican Kitchen, Illegal Pete’s, Gelato Boy and the Corner Cafe on the Hill.


Coors Field is launching another effort to distract vegan Rockies fans from the team’s dismal play with the Better-Off Burgers stand. Game day choices include plant-based chorizo burgers and dairy-free strawberry tahini milkshakes.


Denver’s Town Hall Collaborative hosts Vegan Night from 5-9 p.m. on April 11, presented by VegFest Colorado with six vegan food stands and trucks.

Jill’s Restaurant at the St Julien Hotel hosts an Earth Day vegan communal dinner on April 22.

John Lehndorff talks about food, cooking, local dining, farming and issues weekly on Radio Nibbles. Podcasts: radio-nibbles

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THC levels are inflated across Colorado

Anna Schwabe was studying cannabis genetics for her PhD at Northern Colorado University, investigating whether people could smell genetic differences between cannabis strains. After getting back reports on samples she’d sent to a lab, she noticed something that had nothing to do with her research.

“I’m seeing 15%, 12%, 17%, 11%,” Schwabe recalls. “And I didn’t remember buying anything with that low of THC content.”

Schwabe shifted focus. She started collecting more flower samples from Fort Collins, Denver and Garden City. She sought out the highest and lowest THC content she could find, gathering 23 samples of indica, sativa and hybrid cannabis. She then sent them to a thirdparty, high-performance liquid chromatography testing lab.

The results indicated only four of the 23 samples were accurate to the reported THC on their labels. More than 75% of the tested samples fell below the advertised potency — 16 had 15% lower potency, 13 had 30% lower potency, and three had just half of the THC reported on the labels.

“Any [cannabis flower] above about 28% is going to be questionable,” Schwabe says. “Anything above 30% is

highly questionable. Anything over 35% is extremely rare, like, almost to the point of being biologically impossible.

“Whatever is printed on the label, multiply it by 0.7, and you’ll be much closer to what the THC content actually is.”

Schwabe published a paper in Plos One indicating that around 70% of Colorado’s cannabis flower could be mismarketed with inflated THC percentages.

While THC does degrade over time, Schwabe ruled that out as a factor: None of the 23 samples had detectable levels of compounds she would have expected to see in old cannabis, nor did the THC show signs of degredation.

To Schwabe, this indicates that some producers are engaging in “lab shopping.” Her study describes cultivators and dispensaries seeking out labs that generate the “most desirable lab results.”

“Cultivators need to have high THC in order to get their money,” Schwabe points out. The higher their potency, the more valuable their product is. Labs are also incentivized to bump potency numbers, she explains.

“If you’re an ethical lab, and you’re giving accurate results but they’re 10% less than the guy down the street, you’re going to lose all your customers

to the guy down the street,” she says, adding that numerous labs she knew of have gone out of business due to this competition.

The study’s abstract notes that “the lack of standardized testing protocols, limited regulatory oversight and financial incentives to market high THC potency” are driving this problem.

The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division’s (MED) Code of Colorado Regulations has a section on potency testing. It says a regulated testing facility “may test and report results” following

the standard operating procedure, which allows a 10% deviation from the stated potency for retail and medical marijuana products.

If samples from a test batch exceed that allowance — in either direction; 10% more or less THC than is on the label — the product fails the potency test.

But the catch is that MED doesn’t verify that on its own. Once the producer has submitted potency testing results, that gets printed on the label with no

verification. It would be too expensive for the state to do its own third-party testing on all products. So there isn’t really a way to prove a producer is fibbing on potency reporting.

When asked about Schwabe’s findings, MED said it does not provide opinions on specific studies. But communications manager Heather Draper did offer one comment.

“We would point out that there are regulations in place that promote public safety and establish expectations for licensees regarding the collection and submission of test samples to ensure they are representative of the batches they are submitted on behalf of,” Draper said. “In addition, there are requirements regarding labeling and advertising of marijuana products for licensees.”

The state’s extensive labeling and advertising rules require that the potency be clearly marked, but there isn’t much guidance for the actual testing. The state and producers are reliant on third-party labs.

Schwabe believes this issue could be mitigated with regulation and standardized third-party testing requirements. However, cannabis’ status as a Schedule I substance means the Food and Drug Administration enforces no such requirements at a federal level.

“Regulators and policymakers need to make sure that not only are they looking out for the consumer safety and best interests, but also that they’re following through with the whole point of this testing and making sure that there is accuracy in the reporting,” Schwabe says. “Otherwise, what’s the point?”

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