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Jazz Aspen Snowmass Hitting Labor Day Weekend The 25th Anniversary JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience will feature one of the most exciting line-ups in the non-profit organization’s history. Held Labor Day weekend in Snowmass Town Park (Sept. 4-6) the event features three nights of headliners, all of whom will be making their first ever Aspen appearance. The Experience kicks-off on Friday, September 4th with two of the hottest touring acts on the road. Irish sensation Hozier will headline with Soulsters, Fitz and the Tantrums, who first performed at JAS Labor Day weekend in 2011, opening. Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” the debut single off of his self-titled 2014 album, has achieved widespread global popularity, becoming a number-one hit in 12 countries and earning a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. The video has received over 146 million views on YouTube and was Spotify’s most viral song of 2014. On Saturday, September 5th Grammy Award winning superstars No Doubt will headline in one of only a select number of performances they are scheduled to play in the US this year. “No Doubt is only performing a few select high profile shows at large major festivals this summer, including New Orleans, KAABOO, Bottlerock and Rock in Rio Vegas, so it’s a great honor that they agreed to join JAS for our 25th Season event,” said JAS President and CEO Jim Horowitz. No Doubt has released several multi-platinum albums (1995’s diamond-certified Tragic Kingdom, 2001’s Rock Steady, and a 2003 singles collection) and a string of chart-topping hits (“Just a Girl,” “Don’t Speak,” “Hey Baby,” “Hella Good,” and “It’s My Life”). Lead singer Gwen Stefani has further emerged as a global music and fashion icon via two best-selling solo albums and multiple clothing lines. Reggae artist Jimmy Cliff will open for No Doubt at 5pm in his first JAS appearance since 2000. Grammy winning 9-piece Latin band Grupo Fantasma will be performing at 3pm. Closing the Experience on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7:30pm, yet another International superstar, Lenny Kravitz will perform. Kravitz, a multi-instrumentalist and actor, is known for his elaborate stage performances and music videos. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for four years in a row (1999-2002), breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male. Denver based rock band The Fray will open for Lenny at 5pm with up and coming singer/ songwriter Conrad Sewell performing at 3pm. The Fray achieved national success with their 2005 debut, featuring the hit singles “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “How to Save a Life,” which went double-platinum. “ Having one of the breakout artists of 2014-15 in Hozier added to our concert bill, as well as multi-Grammy winning rock and fashion icon Lenny Kravitz, plus Colorado’s own nationally recognized pop rock headliners in their own right, The Fray… All in all it looks like 2015 will, no doubt, be the biggest event in JAS history across the three days,” added Horowitz.
Cervantes Other SIde Welcomes Monday Night Menagerie by Tim Wenger
If you have been looking for a fresh way to spend your Monday evenings, look no further than Cervantes Other Side. Doran Joseph is the originator of a new concept called Monday Night Menagerie, an eclectic circus-like event that will be taking place each Monday evening starting in August. According to a news release, The event has 2 different stages and an art gallery chock full of local Colorado talent every week. From bands and Dj’s to dance troupes, jugglers, and literally everything else that won’t set the venue on fire, Monday Night Menagerie is a show like none other in town and starting in August, will be a weekly powerhouse in the Denver nightlife scene. “It’s kind of a new-school vaudeville,” says Joseph. “The idea is to combine diverse talents.” Each week the event will showcase musicians, local artists, and a wide variety of performers that will change each week. “Basically a new circus is going to be rolling in to town every Monday.” The talent, no matter what kind it is, is sourced from around the Denver metro area and beyond by Joseph. There is no specific genre, angle, or physical act that he is looking for- anything that will entertain a crowd and make for a good story is game enough. “I go out around town almost every night talent scouting,” Joseph says. “The objectives to qualify are completely if I think you’re awesome and want you to be part of the family.” Joseph feels that the Mile High City does not have enough to offer on Monday nights. “Monday is a really popular live music night in a lot of cities around the world and (around the) country,” he says. “Denver is under-doing it, so I had the idea to pinpoint Monday as a home base for the whole scene, to bring everyone together that wants to be a part of showcasing the talent that we have.” The event has debuted at the Larimer Lounge, but Joseph feels that The Other Side is a better venue for the multi-stage setup he will be orchestrating. “(Cervantes) has been unbelievable in helping me put together and produce this show that is going to blow Denver away,” says Joseph.
This Ain’t No Cowtown Accepting Submissions for Upcoming Comp
Fundraiser for Denver Children’s Advocacy Center August 14
ZetaKaye House is now accepting submissions for ‘This Ain’t No Cowtown (A Colorado Comp), Vol 7’! The submission deadline is Sunday, August 9th, and all music, comedy, spoken word, etc tracks can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. “Already getting some tremendous submissions,” says John Baxter of ZetaKaye House, the group that organizes and puts together the compilations. “Very excited to see how this one all comes together in it’s finished piece!”
DENVER – On Aug. 14, a fundraising concert will benefit the Denver Children’s Advocacy Center. This year’s event, Skyline and Cocktails presented by Mike Shomaker and Michael Fadell, will be at the rooftop terrace of DaVita’s World Headquarters in downtown Denver, 2000 16th St., Denver, Colorado, from 6 to 11:30 p.m.
Previous volumes of ‘Cowtown’ have gone on to benefit members of our community who have seen too many medical bills, serious illnesses, as well as helping out community driven entities. This year, Vol 7 will have all it’s proceeds be donated directly to the ‘Go Do Some Good: The Chris Haney Memorial Fund’. If you’re familiar with whom Chris was, then you’re familiar with love, passion, and fun. Chris was taken from us far too early a couple of years ago, leaving behind a beautiful daughter with an entire life to live, love, and to Go Do Some Good. For more information regarding the Fund, you can visit the website or the Facebook page. As always, the comp will be available for free, but there will be a prompt through Bandcamp (‘Name Your Price’) if listeners would like to donate to this most worthy of causes. All previous volumes are still available and can be downloaded, streamed, etc for free here: thisaintnocowtown.bandcamp.com. Donations for The Haney Fund will be accepted on the day that the comp is released (hoping before the end of August). Adding the artwork this year will be Joshua Finley (of Cabal Art Gallery, Granny Tweed [band], Oroya [band])!! Very excited as Josh has been a master of poster artwork here in Colorado for a few years. His stuff is great! Very excited to see his final draft... (Attached is an example of some of Josh’s artwork). Submission deadline for Vol 7 is Sunday, August 9th. All tracks (music/comedy/spoken word/podcasts/etc) can be emailed.
The grand kickoff is Monday, August 3. Artists and performers interested in being a part of the Monday Night Menagerie can contact Doran Joseph at mondaynightmenagerie@gmail. com. The event has a Facebook page for those looking for more information- facebook.com/ mondaynightmenagerie
UP-TO-THE-MINUTE NEWS AT COLORADOMUSICBUZZ.COM
Three-day Patron (VIP) passes are available now at www.jazzaspensnowmass.org or by calling 970-920-4996.
August 2015 | ColoradoMusicBuzz.com
The event will bring some amazing music in a truly unique and inspiring setting together with giving back to the community. “A special band has been pulled together just for this event,” said Shomaker. World renowned musicians Eddie Roberts and Pete Shand of the New Mastersounds, Robert Walter of The Grey Boy All-stars and 20th Congress, and Chadzilla from Chadzilla & the Asteroids, along with an all-star horn section and additional special guests have come together to compose this Supergroup, aka Mo-Funk. Mo-Funk will play two sets and the evening will begin and end with DJ Logic. Tickets are now on sale with an early bird price of $75 per person or $125 per couple when purchased by July 24, 2015. Tickets after July 25, will be $100 per person and $160 per couple. A limited number of special VIP tickets can be purchased for $200 each, which include VIP seating, a private meet & greet with the band, champagne, and drink service during the event. “The event has sold out in the past and we are expecting this year to be bigger and better at a more spectacular location,” said Fadell. The event includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a live auction. DCAC works to improve the lives of children traumatized by sexual abuse and violence - as well as those who are at high-risk - with prevention, education and direct services. The organization’s mission is to prevent abuse, strengthen families and restore childhood. In 2014, more than 2,000 children received services from DCAC that included forensic interviews, assessments, crisis management, therapy and mental health treatment. In addition, 2,100 children, 50 parents, 2,300 community members and 100 teachers received prevention programming training and consultation. More information about the Denver Children’s Advocacy Center can be found at denvercac. org. For more information about the event and tickets, visit the website.
CMB Talks to Longtime Colorado Musician Trevor Jones Colorado Music Buzz recently caught up with Trevor Jones (Frogs Gone Fishin’, Trevor Jones Band) to discuss his most recent promotion endeavor, the Bridge to Nepal Fest at State Bridge Amphitheater, August 21st-23rd. CMB: What have you been up to recently?
Emily Shreve, Baring Her Soul
by Charlie Sullivan
Not too long ago I covered Emily Shreve, an up-and-coming contemporary singer songwriter looking for an audience. The talented young lady has just put the finishing touches on her first album, Bliss And Gravity, which will be released on August 27th. Everybody gets something different out of music but with this release Shreve is on target with her concept, we get a taste of just how vulnerable we can be as human beings. The new music comes straight from Shreve’s heart, brutally honest. The music is about her own relationships, falling in love, falling down, and finding the courage to pull herself back up out of the abyss. In the process Shreve embraces the vulnerability and shares it with the listeners. The music paints a vivid picture. I’ve always admired a songwriter that writes music about what’s going on in their life at that moment, it keeps it real.The album was produced by Differential Productions with the engineering prowess of Michael Zucker, who also lends his talents on guitar. Tim Beilic from Saturn Return flew in from New York in final phases to lay down some live drum tracks. Eat The Sun’s David Sandoval adds his guitar talents as well. Shreve provides keyboards and whispery vocals.It’s becoming evident that Shreve’s music requires an intimate environment when being performed. A busy bar isn’t a place to ponder music that bares the soul. “I want to find venues where people can hear what I’m singing,” says Shreve, “I want to capture the listener’s attention, captivate them with the music.”The new music has a dream like quality with progressive undertones. Shreve’s whispery vocals float effortlessly on the music. The songs meld together creating one long suite meant to be listened to in its entirety. Shreve isn’t just a songwriter she’s a musical artist that’s managed to paint an insightful picture with Bliss And Gravity. Shreve wanted to be taken a little more seriously as a performer; well it doesn’t get any more serious than this album.
TCJ: I have a weird double life. It usually takes a little while for people to understand everything I’m up to, the bigger picture. I’ve never felt comfortable only playing music. I worked on housing rights in Denver for a while, and am finishing up a master’s degree in international studies at University of Denver. I write about humanitarianism, which is probably where the idea for this fest came from. I’m always looking for ways to help others. CMB: Where did you grow up? Did you play music as a kid? TCJ: I was born at Rose Hospital in Denver! I learned piano first, and to sing in choirs, but we really starting jamming in high school Let’s just say it was one of the preppy ones in South Denver, but you know what, when I look at the bands that have been on the scene in Colorado for years and years, so many of those guys went to that school.* But year, I have maximum love and respect for this city and our state as its grown. I remember growing up we had mountain lion training at elementary school. Now that part of town is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. (*The notion is based in fact: members of Trevor’s own Frogs Gone Fishin’ and CO music vanguards The Fox Street All-Stars, Springdale Quartet, The Congress and more all have ties to the unnamed school. When pressed, Trevor says the HS name rhymes with “hairy cheek”.) CMB: What happened after that? TCJ: I studied psychology in New Orleans during college. Hurricane Katrina and the musical response to the disaster shaped a lot of how I approach community now. It felt like we were counselors as much as musicians… the bars were the first places that people got back on their feet, oftentimes just by being around others and sharing in that crazy time and place. I actually started Frogs in Nashville with Andrew Portwood during that period. Being a refugee inside of the United States of America was a tough experience, but taught me a little bit of self-reliance but also that you should never assume what anyone has been through in life. CMB: But FGF really grew in CO
and you continue to play with NOLA musicians… TCJ: Right. Even though we started touring and playing shows in New Orleans and Nashville, it was Colorado that really allowed us to grow, to learn to improvise.” We played at Jay Bianci’s bars and built a following in the mountains. After college I felt the need to connect the two communities [NOLA and Denver}. After learning to speak the musical language of NOLA, I wanted to bring my friends to Red Rocks and planned Mountainside Mardi Gras. at Red Rocks. I can tell you we lost our hats on that one, but I still have people who come up to me and talk about that show in 2009. The line-up included Dr. John and funk scions Dumpstaphunk, of Neville Bro’s lineage. I sat-in with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I’ll never forget looking up into the crowd at Red Rocks, I can check that off the list. I suppose I wouldn’t mind going back one day (laughs). CMB: So why not become a full time promoter after that? TCJ: I didn’t really want to be a promoter after Mountainside. I really respect
Scott (Morrill of Cervantes) and a number of other promoters in Colorado. Playing music always felt like the right way to contribute to the community. We toured all over with Frogs and planned small-scale events. It took a long time for me to want to promote again. The combination of the beauty at State Bridge , what happened in Nepal and a unique scheduling opportunity made me want to jump in this time. I have been having an unbelievably fun time playing with the horns and B-3 organ in Trevor Jones Band. I essentially see it as big party for some of my favorite artists and friends at a great venue, for a great cause.” CMB: Who will be receiving money from the show? TCJ: I’m very satisfied that a solid nonprofit called NAMLO International has come forward to responsibly receive the money. I would really encourage everyone to check out their work. They do awesome things in both Nepal and Nicaragua. Nepal had two devastating earthquakes earlier this year. The response needs are still relatively high, and most media has moved on to cover other things. The communities that were affected are very remote and individuals are still trying to create permanent housing
August 2015 | ColoradoMusicBuzz.com
options. Earthquakes, or hurricanes for that matter, aren’t political in nature, the need is just there, and I think that played into the idea of starting this fest. CMB: What Colorado artists will be playing? TCJ: They are all Colorado artists this time around! One of the first bands I called was Atomga, the afro-beat cats in Denver. Leah kills it on bari (-tone sax). I’m also very excited to hear Tiger Party, several of the DJ’s and I’ll also be DJ’ing a set late night. Lady and The Gentleman will be there. In addition, Art Smart Anatomy, several fantastic DJ’s, some local Vail bands like The Sessh, Renegade Sons and Altitones, as well. I’ll be playing in 3 groups, and DJ’ing (laughs). CMB: Wow you have your work cut out for you! How do you do it? TCJ: (Laughs) I can’t stop, lots of coffee. I’m very grateful to Eric Frank at COJam for sponsoring the show, helping me find artists and playing drums in several groups, I might add. I think what he is doing over there is just great. Also a big shout out is necessary to Liz Claire and Sarah Puddy for constantly thinking of creative ideas. CMB: Why should people come to State Bridge at the end of August? TCJ: The lineup has really solidified, there will be great food, yoga and river activities and it’s all for a great cause! We are very much emphasizing the wellness aspect of things and there will be some cool people who are knowledgeable about not only Nepal, but things like health and the environment, too. I know I look forward to events like this to celebrate this beautiful Colorado community of ours, especially during the summer. TJ Band Bio Trevor Jones (of Frogs Gone Fishin’) and his PRS have graced stages from Red Rocks to deep In the Bayou of Louisiana. With musical influences from The bright lights of NYC to the West Coast and beyond, Trevor’s new project, The Trevor Jones Band will delight listeners of all musical genres. With over 12 years of experience playing music in the Denver area, Trevor has gathered the cream of the crop from the city he loves, to help take his guitar playing to the next level. Horns, keys, percussion and female vocals constitute this deep, funky arsenal of killer musicians. Playing both Trevor’s originals and B-Side covers with great influence from New Orleans, a city close to Trevor’s heart, TJB is guaranteed to please. The Trevor Jones Band exhibits the man’s command of both a bigger band and the instrument he loves: the electric guitar. Rediscovering his organic voice, Trevor has mastered improvisation on his main instrument. Having played music in India and Central America, the TJB will synthesize this global musicianship through the voice of Trevor’s guitar and the deep musicianship of his bandmates.
DJ Chonz Talks Freestyle World Qualifier, CU Summer Music Program by Tim Wenger
It has certainly been a while (two years to be exact) since we’ve talked about break dancing in the pages of Colorado Music Buzz, but August 8 will see the biggest break dancing event hit the Mile High in quite some time. DJ Chonz (Mario Rodriguez), who you may know him from KS 107.5 as well his DJ sets and events around town, is hosting Freestyle Session World Qualifier at Beta Nightclub that day, showcasing the world’s finest talent competing for a chance to win $1500 and a slot at the national finals in Los Angeles. “Me and my brother have been throwing BBoy events for about seven years,” Chonz says. “But this year is the second year that we’re throwing this event. Last year sixteen cities did this event, this year only eight cities are doing this event.” The event is a break dancing battle in the lines of the movie Step On Up. “We are honored to have this event and they kept our city on the map.” The event is all ages. More info can be found at djchonz.com. DJ Chonz has, in many ways, come to embody the free-wheeling spirit of B-Boy culture and scratch turntable-ism in here in Denver. He is well known as a radio personality, DJ, promoter, and philanthropist. When he’s not behind the booth, Chonz is out working to give kids a better shot at a career in the music world. He is part of CU Denver’s Summer Music Industry Program, currently in its second year. He awards the DJ Chonz scholarship to a deserving teenager, who otherwise might not be able to afford college, a scholarship to attend CU’s Summer Music Industry Program with the intention of giving them the supportive boost needed to pursue
Ticket Pulse Offering Cheap Day-Of Concert Tickets by Tim Wenger
TicketPulse seeks to provide prospective concert goers with cheap day-of-show tickets. At the Underground Music Showcase, CMB’s booth was right next to theirs and I had the chance to have a few drinks with founder Evan Vall. Him and his brother Byron Vall, whom you may know as the GM at the Marquis Theatre, shared with us what their new company is all about. CMB: Give us the lowdown on what you guys do. TP: Through living in Denver for 20+ years we have seen the Denver music scene turn into the thriving beast that it is today, but there is always room for improvement. There are so many great shows that slip through the cracks and don’t get the attention and attendance they deserve. We work with promoters and venues to introduce people to new music and shows by offering up to half price, day of show ticket sales while at the same time act as a news source for the
higher education. “Last year we awarded two scholarships worth $1900 each,” says Chonz. “This year, we awarded one scholarship that was $1800. Basically, what it is is that they are trying to get kids coming out of high school interested in college.”
Random Hero Speak About Their Message, Studio Plans
“I get applicants and what not and I choose someone that I feel is deserving, that has been through the same struggle that I have,” Chonz says. “Some people don’t have a lot of money to go to college or they don’t know what they want to do at that age, but if they just get that extra push, that could set them up for a life changing experience.”
Random Hero will rock the HeavenFest music festival at Bandimere Speedway on August 7. In preview, CMB caught up with the band’s Aaron Watkins to get the lowdown on the group and what is happening the rest of the summer.
Chonz himself has been behind the tables for over twenty years, and has become one of the most respected DJs in Denver. “The thing about me is that I can adapt to any crowd, that’s my forte,” Chonz says. “I can scratch, I can do all the things that all the other DJs do but my main task is to make everyone dance.” Being from Denver “is a blessing,” Chonz says. In college, he worked an internship in Los Angeles and considered staying there, but in 2001 the pull of Denver started calling him back, helped largely by an offer from KS 107.5. The station brought him on as a DJ playing records for the established shows that were already on air, and over time he worked up to his own show. “Things were going pretty well for me (in LA). I was DJing in clubs and things of that nature, but I had the opportunity to be on the radio, and I decided to come back home and do the radio thing.” Fourteen years later, Chonz is still going strong as one of the station’s most popular DJs, and has been able to make a dream career out of his passion for music. “Being on the radio created longevity for me in the long run.” Check Chonz’ website to keep up to date on all that he is involved in.
Denver music scene that is not biased to any specific scene. CMB: If a venue or club wants to get involved, what do they need to do and what will be asked of them? TP: The process for venues is made to be extremely easy. They simply give us a schedule for the amount of time they choose, be it by the week, month, etc, and the amount of tickets they want us to sell. After that we simply give the venue their money, direct deposited of course, and they enjoy higher attendance, a bump in bar sales, and ideally a returning customer. CMB: How did you get into the business? TP:Afteralmostadecadeofrunningdifferent Denver music venues and promoting concerts we constantly watched shows not get the attention they’ve deserved, while at the same time continuously heard people talk about the shows they’ve missed. Everyone loves live music, however not everyone scours venue calendars to find all the great music available. This is a concept
by Tim Wenger
CMB: When people want to talk to you after a show, what are the most common things that they say? AW: Honestly, the most common things that we get told after a show are, how much they loved they show, which we really appreciate! We also get told how much they love Bertrand’s dreads and Los’s style (Our bassist) which if you’ve never seen him on stage, he has a very steam punk style to him. But, the coolest things we get told are how much our music has helped them through difficult times, which is incredibly humbling to us and is a complete affirmation that what we’re doing through our music is making an impact in people’s lives. CMB: What are the most noticeable differences between performing at Christian festivals as opposed to secular ones? Is the vibe completely different? AW: To us, there really isn’t a huge difference between Christian and secular festivals, everyone is there to listen to good music and see great shows, so we approach each one the same, as we’re still out proving ourselves with each and every person, so we go out and put on the best high energy show we can and meet, take photos and shake hands with every single person that comes by our merch table. The vibes at each are amazing, plus festivals are always like huge band family reunions, everyone is stoked to see each other and that always makes festival season the best! CMB: This #vanchatter thing on your website looks pretty cool, lots of people want to know what bands do all day on the road. When can we expect to see that live? AW: Thank you! We definitely want to give people an insight into what we do on the road, as well as, get to know we came up with to expose people to new music while at the same time adding value to the scene we love. CMB: What are you most excited about in the scene this summer? TP: Summer’s in Denver seem to bring another festival almost every weekend that gets us just excited as the last. All summer we look forward to The Underground Music Showcase, Higher
August 2015 | ColoradoMusicBuzz.com
us on a more personal level. We’ve been working on doing a live version through Periscope lately, which we’ll put out a post on our social media sites about when we’ll be on, so find us on Periscope at @RandomHeroBand. CMB: You guys seem to do a lot of action sports related events, are you into any of that yourselves? Is your van full of skateboards? AW: Haha, I wish, no skateboards, we have done several action sports related events and they’ve been a blast. I used to skate a lot, but since touring began, between the long drives or craziness of the shows, we really don’t get a whole lot of time to ourselves. So we spend most of it filming # Va n C h a t t e r, doinginterviews, preproduction for our new record, face timing our f a m i l i e s , catching up on sleep or going to the gym when we can, that’s a must on the road! CMB: How did Random Hero come together and decide on the message you want to bring to your fans? Have there been any tweaks to the message as you’ve traveled to new places and met people from new walks of life? AW: We all have been through difficult things in lives and our faith in God has always seen us through those times, so it was really a calling that was placed on our hearts to tell people about our hope in Jesus. We’ve definitely tweaked our message as we’ve toured, seeing so many people who are struggling with suicide, depression, abuse and addiction. We’ve also been blessed to partner up with organizations like Project Semicolon who believe in our message and vice versa, we definitely don’t water it down because we want people to know they are not alone and no matter what Jesus loves them. CMB: When are you guys back in the studio? AW: We will be back in the studio this fall, we’ve been having pre-production meetings and we’re super excited to get new music out to everyone. I believe this new record will be one of the best records we’ve put out! So be on the look out for it! Ground, and Riot Fest. After having worked with Soda Jerk for years we are unbelievably excited for Riot Fest this year. Regardless of venue relocation those guys always put together a killer line up and throw an incredible weekend. CMB: Where can we go to learn more? TP: In the very near future, we may just be in your app store, but for now, sign up for our mailing list at www.ticketpulse.com.
Fat Wreck Chords Celebrating 25 Years, and Fat Mike Feels Punk Rock Again by Tim Wenger
I’d be willing to bet that NOFX front man Fat Mike never set out to be a role model. When he started the band with guitarist and best friend Eric Melvin in 1983, he was a teenage punk rocker in California raised on The Misfits and Bad Religion. But 32 years later, the punk world has grown up and so has Fat Mike, in some ways at least. His band has stood the tests of changing times and constant scrutiny and have come out on top, one of only a handful of punk bands to reach such a high level of success and carry it through four decades without imploding. His band has released twelve full-length albums, way too many EPs and other releases to count, filmed their 2008 world tour for a documentary series on FuseTV, and have done it all (and a lot more) while resisting many of the sources of outside influence that so many of their contemporaries succumbed to. Their 1994 record Punk In Drublic has sold well over 1 million copies worldwide. Outside the realm of recording and shows, Mike and ex-wife Erin Kelly-Burkett are currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of their seminal independent record label Fat Wreck Chords with a cross-country caravan tour this month that will showcase NOFX and many of the label’s other acts, hitting the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Thursday, August 20. Mike has quite the resume (I haven’t even mentioned Me First and the Gimme Gimmes) that is rather inspirational on its own. But, the reason why Fat Mike has been and has remained a role model, at least to me, goes back to the whole ‘growing’ thing. I am 31 years old. I remember the night I saw my first punk show, in junior high with my best friend from up the street. I had no idea what to think, or do, but as soon as I saw the band and the mosh pit and the hair, I wanted to be a part of it so badly. I don’t remember the time I bought my first NOFX cd, must have been sometime in the mid to late nineties, but I do remember how I related to the lyrics. They were crass, immature, and not very serious, much like me. I connected with them because in all their pubescent glory they perfectly personified my life and my train of thought. Fast forward a few years and about sixteen more NOFX releases. High school. Girls. Drinking. Sneaking out of the house at night to smoke weed at the park. Trying to be a rebel but not really having much of a stance on anything other than wanting to live my life my own way. Fat Mike’s lyrics still in my head, but newer, and slightly more socially conscious. More years. Anti-Bush protests. The War on Errorism. More years. Wolves in Wolves Clothing. Coaster. Self-Entitled. I have debated with many people whether Wolves is the greatest NOFX album. I think it is. For a long time I thought Punk In Drublic was the greatest record of all time, but Wolves and the subsequent albums are the most relatable to my life now. The best punk rock bands are, in my opinion, the ones that grow along with their fans. Even if the chord progressions stay the same, the message is reflective of where the members are in their lives. For over half my life, I have been able to put on a NOFX album and relate it to my current situation or opinions. I don’t always agree with or understand everything Fat Mike says, but he has an undeniable talent at putting his life experiences into relevant, relatable, often humorous poetry and presenting it in a way that I can listen to his songs and think, ‘I couldn’t have said it better myself!’ Mike’s followers know that he isn’t always the biggest fan of interviews. But the Fat Wreck tour needs public-
ity just like any other tour does, and a couple weeks ago I was on the ball at work and hit ‘Reply’ quickly enough on an email that came in from Fat Wreck’s publicity team to secure a few minutes with Mike via phone. Here is our conversation. CMB: First off, congratulations on the 25th anniversary tour, that’s a huge accomplishment. Mike: Thank you very much. CMB: You have some pretty good longevity with your endeavors. What is the key to that? Mike: I think with both NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords, the key is to not try to impress people, not try to fool people, just do what I love and that’s doing punk rock as good as I can. Find the best punk bands, write the best punk songs. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before and it’s going to sound terrible, but we are the Kentucky Fried Chicken of punk rock. We can only do one thing. We try not to go with music trends. When ska bands took off, I didn’t sign a ska band. When emo took off, I didn’t sign an emo band. We just stick with what kind of music the people on Fat Wreck Chords love. CMB: As a business owner also a punk rocker, how do you maintain your ideals and also run a profitable business, make tough calls, and be a dick when you need to be a dick? Mike: That’s the thing, is that capitalism can’t work if you don’t get greedy. That’s one of the things that makes (Fat Wreck) work is that I try to be fair all around, with people that work for you and with bands. What I think we’re pretty well known for is that we’ve never fucked over a band. Or anybody. And sometimes the tough choices have been that we have to fuck over ourselves before we fuck over somebody else. We’ve lost money on a lot of record deals instead of doing the dick thing and charging a band back for stuff that we’re legally allowed to, but it’s just a dickhead thing to do. They’re your friends. And also, if you do it once, then you’re reputation is gone. If you fuck over one band it could ruin your entire reputation. I tell everyone that works for me ‘Just don’t be a dick, ever.’ Luckily, when I started the label, I was in a band that was on another label. So when a band would ask for something and the people at Fat Wreck Chords would say ‘That’s not cool,’ I could look at it from both ways. I could say ‘If I was in that band, I would want my label to do this.’ If they say ‘Why don’t you give us a discount on cds, we’re on the road and we’re working,’ I would say, ‘OK.’ If I was starving, I would want my label to do that. Really, people at the label did not see my perspective because they were not in a band on the road. Most labels are not run by people in bands on the road at the same time. CMB: Do you think that goes into your longevity? All these big labels that are crashing because their business model is bullshit and they make a life out of fucking people over, and now it’s coming back to them, but a business like yours is still able to rely on your reputation? Mike: Yeah, well sure. It didn’t happen exactly how I thought. I wrote that song “Dinosaurs Will Die” I don’t know how many years ago,
twelve years ago or something. The thing is that the big problem is that kids today don’t know what buying a record is. It’s just free. And it’s such a shame because it’s not just the buying of it. It’s like books- books are still in print almost as much as they always were because it’s still fun to sit down and read a book. It’s not fun on a computer. But people listen to music, it’s just information on a computer. That’s why our record sales started taking off because people like to have something to look at and to hold and smell and listen to, it makes it theirs. That was the greatest thing about punk rock as a kid was you went and got a record and it was yours, and nobody at your high school knew it and you were listening to something that was so much better than everything else. CMB: I read an interview that you did years ago where you were asked about songs like “Shut Up Already” and how your views have changed over the years. I liked what you said because it shows how you have grown and what you are putting out music that is representative of where you are in your life now. What do you have to say about how punk rock has evolved and grown up, and maybe has a different world view than it did in the 80’s or 90’s? Mike: That’s a long question. But at some point I said, and I still say it, it’s interesting to see how band’s views have changed. Part of being intelligent is changing your mind. I find it really refreshing when you’re talking to someone about something you’ve always believed in and they give you a point of view you’ve never thought of before. It’s nice to see that there are still bands that are singing about things that are important. That’s another thing that’s great about punk rock is bands sing about things that are important. Not everybody, not The Ramones, but the Pistols and The Clash, and of course Bad Religion and Propagandhi. They sing about things that are fucking important that rock bands never did. CMB: Yeah. So, how bout tour life. Are you still stoked on touring these days? Mike: The thing is is that NOFX, we only tour for three weeks at a time, and that’s why we still love it so much. Because three weeks is a vacation, and in three weeks we do I think 14 shows, and that’s it. We go home. At the end of three weeks, we’re fucking done. We only get burned by the last show. Bands who tour for two months, three months, four months, of course you don’t like touring because it fucking sucks for that long. It turns into a job. It’s never turned into a job for us, and that’s another reason why NOFX has been so successful because people can see it in our eyes on stage- we’re not just there doing our job, we’re having a good time. You’ve probably seen us before, you know the difference. CMB: Yeah, just the fact that you guys come out and bullshit, you’re not just boom-boom-boom and then you’re offstage. You take your time and do your thing. Mike: Yeah, and I change the set list every night and we keep records of what we’ve played in every city so we make sure not to play the same songs. Except for, you know, maybe eight or ten of the real popular ones. Like “Linoleum” we’ll always do. But besides
August 2015 | ColoradoMusicBuzz.com
that we change it up because I want to do a different performance and I want to have a good time. Playing the same set every night gets boring. CMB: Do you feel at all, with NOFX and Fat Wreck having the success that they’ve had, that you’ve become some kind of a kingpin in the punk world? Like you need to represent yourself when you go places, like Hunter Thompson not knowing if people want Duke or if they want Thompson. Mike: I mean, I feel like I’m always under scrutiny for sure. It always amazes me how many people dislike me. I can never figure out what I did wrong. All I try to do is what I am. I’m not rude to people. I’ll say ‘Oh Hey, how are you doing?’ or ‘Oh a picture, sure!’ but I’m not necessarily trying to have a conversation with this sixteen year old who I’ve never met before. I really, especially since I got more into the media somewhat lately, I don’t about that shit anymore so much. I’m just getting crazier and crazier, I’ve started wearing dresses on stage, I’m starting to feel like a punk rocker again these days because I’m just doing whatever the fuck I want to. This tour, there is some pressure on this tour. It’s a Fat Wreck tour and I’ve gotta headline, and I’ve gotta be the man. I was going to take a big sober break right now because I’m working on the musical, but I can’t go on this tour, all my best friends are going to be on this tour! CMB: So are you going to be taking the musical (Home Street Home) on the road at all? Mike: We don’t know. The end game is to open on Broadway, but we’re not sure. We’ve got a lot of choices right now. But in a year from now, we’re going to be on Broadway. It’s something I’ve never realized, but people have a notion that it’s not going to be good. That it’s going to be a punk rock musical. I thought people would want to see it because I wrote it, but people actually don’t want to see it because I wrote it. They think it’s going to be a punk rock, like an American Idiot type musical, but it’s not. It’s a fucking musical. We played Home Street Home in front of a room of senior citizens, and every one of them liked it. Every single one. It’s better than everybody thinks it’s going to be. CMB: Hopefully I’ll see it one of these days. One last thing- do you feel that the top threat to humanity is religion? Mike: You know, I’d say in the top three. If you’re talking about fundamentalist Muslims, I think they are the most dangerous people in the world right now. But it’s because they are on the wrong end of capitalism. It’s not because they are religious, it’s because their lives are so fucked that they have to turn to something. If they were growing up and their friends and family weren’t being killed or starving to death, they wouldn’t be so fucking angry. These days I really do think it’s corporations and big money that is making the world a terrible place to be. Happy people do not turn into fundamentalists, desperate people do. Learn more about the Fat Wrecked for 25 Years tour and grab tickets at fatwreckchords.com
The Manager’s Corner by Chris Daniels
I’ve managed my own band for 31 years and I’m in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. All that’s nice but today’s music business is changing at light-speed and you have to be more engaged in the ‘biz’ than ever. Some things have not changed, careers are built on some tried and true elements: great music, performance and timing. But today’s artists must work harder than ever to succeed. The good news is that we have new tools to help young musicians grow their fan base. The book I wrote for the course I teach at CU Denver on artist management is called “DIY: You’re Not in it Alone.” While you are ultimately responsible for your own career, these days it’s essential to make the most of all the outlets that are offered along the way. We are just over halfway through the year (amazing) and it looks like there are some interesting trends hitting various sectors of our music business marketplace. The first and most telling is that streaming is taking over and vinyl is gaining strength. Most of you know this and are already using some form of streaming in your daily music consumption. But here are some things you may not know. (1) Tidal looks like it is dead in the water, which is too bad because they paid artists the best (about a penny and a half per stream). (2) ITunes’ streaming service screwed up their interface so badly that iTunes Music Streaming may actually not survive. In addition, Digital Music News reported that they are now messing with the Spotify app distributed in Apple’s app store. Spotify’s subscription model is increasing in membership but it is still not financially viable. Despite these issues, some astonishing facts and figures were released this month in Pollstar, Billboard, Digital Music News and others. They all indicate shifts in the record business – “a disturbance in the force.” Most important for DIY artists is the fact that video streaming (YouTube) is up 109% over last year and audio streaming is up almost 75%. Streaming is, for better or worse, where we are going. That means that revenue for the DIY artist from the “sale” of recordings via streaming will increase in pennies (about half a cent for every stream on Spotify) while the sale of digital downloads and physical, (iTunes/ Amazon and CD) will decrease in dollars. iTunes pays about $6.40 to a DIY artist for a 10-song album. If a fan buys a CD at the merch booth or even at Twist & Shout, the artist nets about $9.00. Streaming albums are measured as SEA (1,500 streams equals one album download). If that same fan streams a song on Spotify 1,500 times - the DIY artist would make about $5.50. And if that same fan streamed it on iTunes, the DIY artist would get a whopping $2.20. YouTube is worse – but that is due to how views are calculated and whether it is a repeat view and whether there are advertisements on the video and whether the DIY artist is tapped into that revenue stream. Vinyl, as discussed many times in these articles, is coming on strong. Sale of LPs are up 38%. But there are some things to consider. It still only makes up less than 5% of the total revenue spent on recorded music - and we are starting to get solid data on who’s buying it…in short, young fans, particularly of hip-hop and EDM. Last but not least on the sale of recorded music, CD sales are only down 4 percent and
still make up almost half of the revenue for sale of all recorded music – roughly 48%, especially at touring artist’s merch booths. What is the take away? DIY artists who make records should look for other funding because record sales from streaming won’t recoup the studio, pressing and marketing expenses. This is one of the many reasons why major labels are pushing 360 deals on their new artists. The big three simply cannot recoup on sale of recordings. It is also why labels are even more reluctant to “develop” an act over time like they did with Springsteen and many others from that golden era of the record business. There is no incentive or ability to cover years of loss in hopes of a big payoff. Catalogue and sale of repackaged “evergreens” are now the backbone of the major label economy - along with the one or two annual break out singles that keep a label afloat – songs like “Uptown Funk” 6.4 million actual downloads. So far, Taylor Swift is the only “million selling” album this year, though she is likely to be joined by others at year’s end. That brings us to the concert business. It has not succumbed to digital destruction like the record business despite some very innovative internet concert events. Live music is the oldest and now, most lucrative revenue stream for artists – provided they can get to a level where they are paid a living wage. This summer we’ve seen some remarkable “events” like the Grateful Dead’s farewell concerts in Chicago (we’ll see if that really was their last). The Stones and U2 didn’t have to drop their prices despite troubles early on in tickets sales. For artists like the Stones it took some pretty sophisticated manipulation to maintain their $178 average price but they succeeded. The overall major tour industry average ticket price hit $76.20 (up about $4 from last year’s high - before “service” fees). There were plenty of seats that went for less. Red Rocks will see promoters like AEG and Live Nation present more than 120 shows this season…the most ever. And that is only one part of the major Colorado tour market. Fiddler’s Green (operated by AEG) and The 1stBank Center (also operated by AEG) are doing more than 30 shows this summer and fall. Others like the Pepsi Center, The Budweiser Events Center, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and even Sports Authority Field are doing major concert events. Add to this the major festivals like Telluride Bluegrass and the traveling festivals like Riot Fest and Warped Tour and you have more major shows than one market can accommodate – unless that market is Colorado. The top 100 grossing tours pulled in $1.34 billion so far this year, up $402 million over this time last year. The concert industry is still in the “sweet-spot” with ”demand,” pricing and ticket sales – meaning that even though fans may complain about the prices – if they really want to see a show – they will find a way to get tickets. Aging artists, who can bring in major crowds, are doing well – as are a growing number of young artists with a good business sense and survival skills. Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Drake and others are business savvy and tough as nails – making the hundreds of millions that was once the domain of the old farts. What it means for the DIY artist is a little harder to quantify but there is some clear information coming in. Venues like the Bluebird, Ogden and Fillmore are part of a growing circuit of 300 to 3,500 seat rooms that include House of Blues, the 930 Club in Washington D.C. and the Fox in Boulder. There are over 200 US venues that are presenting acts like Johnnyswim and Lake Street Dive and a new generation of artists who can pack these rooms on a Sunday or
Thursday night using sophisticated internet marketing. These rooms are paying headliners anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 and up. That means that a touring act doing 150 dates a year is making a good living – if they keep their expenses down and the merch stocked. The numbers are pretty strong. If you can sell out the Gothic with a $5,000 guarantee vs. 80% of the door after expenses – and you can do that in 150 markets and venues – your gross is about $750,000 a year before management, road and agent expenses. Assuming you are a 5-piece band and you can net around half-amillion, your potential is $90,000 each before taxes. That is better than a standard “middleclass” wage – but is hard work and takes a toll on families and player’s lives. That figure doesn’t include merch or, as I have preached many times in this column, publishing money. You should be working with your “performing rights organization,” registering your songs and performances with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Publishing should bring in money above and beyond performance royalties but also placement revenue. Last and truly not least in this mid-year review are the “innovators” in the industry. I’m not talking about Pono and some of the unsupported “vanity” efforts of “stars.” Like Donald Trump, a lot of these folks have a weird factor that gets them plenty of media coverage but in the long run they add little value to the musician or music fan. Services like Tidal that got a huge
Why Jazz Matters by Norman Provizer
Back in 1926, Chicago hosted a six-day long International Jazz Congress that had Paul Whiteman as its honorary chairman. The event is widely viewed as a key precursor of the phenomenon we know as jazz festivals, three of which take place in Colorado in August. It’s also an event that reminds us of an interesting connection or two between Colorado and jazz festivals. First of all, there’s Paul Whiteman who was born in Denver in 1890 and whose father was a jazz educator in the city’s school system, where he influenced musicians who would became famous big-band leaders – Andy Kirk and Jimmie Lunceford. Second, in 1963, Dick and Mattie Gibson created a special offshoot of the jazz festival that was called the Colorado Jazz Party that had a 30-year run and helped launch jazz parties all over the country. Sticking with Colorado, during the first two days of August, you can catch a large part of the Telluride Jazz Festival in Telluride and the Denver Vintage Jazz Festival in Northglenn, both of which started on the last day of July. The Telluride fest is in its 39th year and has more and more in the groove band direction in recent years. There’s still guitarist Bill Frisell and his trio, Hammond B-3 player Joey DeFrancesco and his trio and saxophonist Ernie Watts who is the festival’s guest of honor this year. But groove dominates with the M&M’s (John Medeski, Stanton Moore, Rob Mercurio and Papa Mali), saxophonist Maceo Parker, the Soul Rebels, Nth Power, Eddie Robert’s West Coast Sounds with Jennifer Hartwick and Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. A number of those groups will also be playing in the DenverBoulder area. The second festival, the Denver Vintage Jazz Festival, looks at the music in an entirely different way, essentially defining vintage as the music before the be-bop revolution. The event in the Castle Events Center in Northglenn features bands from New York, Pittsburgh and Seattle, though, I must confess, I am not really familiar with any of them.
August 2015 | ColoradoMusicBuzz.com
star-studded rollout contained basic design flaws that seem to spell their doom almost from the get-go. No, what I’m writing about are the ones that ARE changing the music industry. Things like Ticketfly and Pledge Music. There are about 20 companies and innovators that are currently reshaping the music business, as we know it. Next Big Sound, which got its start in Boulder in 2008 and moved to NYC in 2012 is probably one of the most exciting. For those of you who are not familiar with what they do, NBS is a data analytic company that tracks your internet presences and how effectively you are reaching your fans. They have an introductory level that is free and it is actually pretty helpful. They also have advanced levels for artists with a more national or global reach. They track all of your internet interfaces (YouTube, website etc) and once you get past the free level you can really drill down into the analytical information to come up with better strategies for marketing your “brand.” If that all sounds foreign to you, like it has nothing to do with your rockin’ show at the Larimer Lounge last night – you need to understand that the headliner at that show was not from Colorado – that they packed that room by using the internet – and that they were selling a “brand.” If you want to take that one step farther, ask yourself how you are going to fill The Village Underground in New York or The Fineline in Minneapolis where nobody knows who you are, where radio is not interested in playing your record and where you have never played before. Answer, lots of data. The festivals return in mid and late August. Jazz on 2nd Ave in Niwot runs August 13-15 with a full day of free music on the 15th with a host of bands and special guests saxophonist Donald Harrison, Howard Levy (of Bela Fleck’s band) and singer Aisha DeHaas. Then on August 2830, the focus shifts to Copper Mountain and the crossover, smooth-jazz oriented Genuine Jazz event. Peter White, Denver-native Paul Taylor, Euge Groove, and Kim Waters are among the featured players. Along with festivals, there’s another theme to the merry month of August – women jazz artists. On August 2, the great, young jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding brings her new, rock-directed band (Emily’s D + Evolution) to the Fox Theater in Boulder. Three days later, on August 5, Spalding’s new group shares the stage with Trombone Shorty out of New Orleans at the Paramount Theater. Additionally on August 2, trombonist/singer Natalie Cressman is on stage at Baur’s Listening Lounge. Cressman has worked with strong jazz players and those of a more rock persuasion, such as the Trey Anastasio, She is also an alum of the all-female big band, Diva that, performed in Vail at the end of July. Continuing with August 2, pianist Ellyn Rucker performs that evening at the free, City Park Jazz series. Beyond performing, Rucker is the special guest of honor at this year’s City Park series. Then on August 8, Denver’s five-timeGrammy-winning jazz vocalist, Dianne Reeves, celebrates KUVO’s (89.3 FM) 30th anniversary as the headliner at the PBS station’s “Live at the Vineyard” event at Balistreri Vineyards in Denver. Reeves is a true treasure; and singer Kevin Mahogany is also part of the party. Four days after Reeves sings with her quartet, singer/pianist Diana Krall takes the stage at Red Rocks. For her appearance on August 12, Krall performs with the Colorado Symphony and Pink Martini is also on the program. And to end by switching genders for a moment, the very swinging pianist Cyrus Chestnut and his trio are at Dazzle on August 26-27.
Allout Helter- Ruins
Float Like A Buffalo
by Tim Wenger
So many bands grow soft with age. Not Allout Helter. The five-piece Denver thrash outfit droppep a new six-song EP entitled Ruins that is Denver’s hardest hitting release of 2015. The biggest difference I have been able to decipher, from a critiquing view, between most other evolutions of punk rock and the thrash variety is the ability to use the term ‘ripping.’ Just listen to Helter’s track “Manufactured Distraction.” Our fair city has seldom seen ripping guitar leads hit in the way they do on this track. What I have noticed with these guys is when front man Ross Hostage gets super intrinsic with his lyrics, the ‘ripping’ follows suit. As Hostage calls bullshit on indoctrinations as old as religion and the modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse of societies, I delight in the fact that social commentary rarely cuts as deep, in the heart as well as the ears, as it does on this record. Online: allouthelter.bandcamp.com Liver Down River
by Dana Stellavato Few bands’ represent the rebellious yet refined culture of the Colorado grass stompin’ scene as perfectly as Liver Down the River. After hearing Liver’s energetic, encompassing sound you’ll be surprised to hear the Durango native group consists of only six members. Formed first during college campus jam sessions in 2012 that lit a spark, Liver proudly released their first EP on June 30th, 2015, titled Liver Down The River EP. The five featured tracks show how Liver’s sound has evolved throughout the years to collect and reflect their wide range of musical inspirations. With a huge diversity in influences (i.e. String Cheese Incident to Wild Cherry), Liver’s sound compounds countless subgenres of bluegrass, has basslines inherent to funk, and even stems from Irish influence-exercised in the solely instrumental fourth track, titled “Irish”. With a theatrical female and male vocalist duo, their reckless but thoughtful lyrics drive the music as passionately as their mandolin and banjo. “I’m Coming Home” features the lyrics “I wake up in the morning and I tell you what I need, a line of cocaine and a shot of whiskey.” Liver’s sound is classic and dynamic, not only their experimental syncopation setting them apart from other modern bluegrass groups, but as well as their uncommon use of a drummer within the bluegrass genre. With a youthful excellence combined with a group of musicians talented far beyond their years, latch on to the opportunity of seeing Liver Down the River live. Online: facebook.com/LiverDownTheRiver? fref=ts
by Thom Jackson
Although they claim Littleton as their home, Float Like A Buffalo seeks to embody the spirit of the mountains with their music. An eclectic combination of Americana, jam, and psych-rock, the band tops intrinsic, if somewhat arbitrary, melodies with relatable stories. Their music has the ability to appeal to a wide audience in a live setting- as I listen to the tunes, I easily picture the group performing everywhere from dark dive bars to ski resort festivals to house parties. Very versatile, a jam-rock style very appropriate for Colorado. Online: reverbnation.com/floatlikeabuffalo Ando Gro- Half Life
by Thom Jackson
Ando Gro has the harmonic pop thing down. His new record, Half Life, combines soothing and mellow instrumentation with Gro’s dominant mid-tempo vocals. The strongest song is the album’s title track. The song is very ambient yet somehow remains emotionally moving, a trait Gro employs throughout the record, and contains enough of a solid drumbeat that the song could easily fall into the ‘light rock’ or ‘pop’ categories.
by Tim Wenger
Soft, intricate, and real- that is how the new EP from Morning Bear (John Runnels) hits. Runnels walks a fine line of emotional expression through both lyricism and guitar work on the record. A clear demonstration of a musician influenced heavily by his surroundings, the music has a unique Colorado flair to it- I caught my mind drifting from being stuck in the urban confines of downtown Denver or being lost up into the mountains based on where Runnels takes his lyrics. Very emotive, straight to the soul, carves his music. An enjoyable listen. Online: morningbear.bandcamp.com Young AncientsFishstory
by Thom Jackson
It is good to see his music evolving because, as he says in the catchy opening track, “Everything changes” and those who don’t grow get left behind. Look for the album out August 27.
Young Ancients showcase a wide variety of talents on their debut full-length Fishstory. At heart, their music is pure Americana- but this group of veterans from Subdudes and Pura Fe Trio mixes in a strong and very noticeable element of blues throughout the record. Tracks such as “Angels and Devils” also feature accordion leads, adding a fresh flavor to the music and separating them from the hordes of Americana groups dotting Colorado’s musical landscape. The lyrics are heartfelt and warm in the way that the musicians of the four corners region draw images of rugged landscape through their music- Young Ancients are equally picturesque.
Online: youngancients.com Sad Star Café – Self Titled [LP]
by the Swami
After a long and heroic climb back, Mark Sundermeier and company return with a F*(king rocking disc! Sad Star Café was somewhat of an institution about 10 years ago, sharing the stages with likes of Rubber Planet and Love 45. Following an incredible life changing car crash, Sundermeier returns with the original line-up to expose how one moment can completely transform the way life is looked at…and the music and lyrics prove it on this release. Heavier guitar riffs, solid melodies, and harmonies dominate the album. Sundermeier knows what radio friendly is, and showcases his penchant for songwriting with songs like “Down by the Water” with it’s bluesy 80’s door kickin rock, a Rush like “Déjà vu”, with melodic open chords, and great production, and my personal fav, “The District of Me” that would make Butch Walker and Green Day proud. Expect some personal reflection on this album as Sundermeier releases some of the pains and miracles he has recently experienced.
Signs and SignalsHuman Again
by Thom Jackson
Human Again, the debut effort from Signs and Signals, has two things going for it that a good portion of Denver’s indie rock releases lack. First, front man Jason Kelly can sing. His vocals, when paired with the band’s light, harmonic modern rock instrumentation, stand tall on their own two feet without need of muffling or egregious studio effects. Second, the production on the record is near perfect for the imagery portrayed by the music. Guitar leads stand out and drive the sound, a la SR-71, coupling with the vocal effort to create an emotional brand of alternative rock. Signs and Signals take the Hi-Dive/Larimer sound that is so popular in Denver, adds a bit of nineties influence (back when there was more rock in alt-rock) and presents a style that is both fresh and enjoyable. Online: signsandsignalsmusic.com
High Five- Call It What You Want
by Tim Wenger
This is the deal- High Five is the most talented, versatilitywise, hip hop act in Denver. The lyricism starts off at the point of good, clean fun- then dives head-first into the abyss of lost feelings of youth and then the pool of challenges that daunt everyday life. All of these feelings are then wrapped tightly into a sticky joint and sparked with beats drawing influence from early hip-hop as well as rock, electronica, and the rebounding scene of turntable dj-ing. The new record, Call It What You Want, truly showcases how these guys came to be a group in the first place- a molding of the Denver hip-hop scene’s honor roll. Catch them August 20-22 at Higher Ground Music Festival in RiNo. Online: facebook.com/highfivehiphop
August 2015 | ColoradoMusicBuzz.com