So last weekend I was hanging in Denver with two of my favorite Colorado bands, Bad Weather California and The Knew. Hanging out grilling burgers with Tyler Ludwick, Bad Weather California's lead guitarist and backup vocalist, we started talking about side projects. For Ludwick, Bad Weather California is his side project. His primary focus happens to be Princess Music, a "five piece, all-star cast of classically- trained players, with backgrounds in a spectrum of musical stylings from chamber music to math metal."
I'd never heard of Princess Music before but I'm glad he brought it up. For the band's upcoming debut album "Odobenidae," Ludwick worked with 4 other musicians plus an orchestra to create a wall of music aimed directly at your heart and your head. The first single "White Wave" reminds me of Sufjan Stevens. It's a complex compesition of lyrics and music that's totally engaging.
"Music, from the time I started playing it, it's something that has always been very intimate and very emotional," Ludwick said in his Kickstarted campaign video. "It's something that I consider to be very personal. It's the kind of music I try and make."
The idea of combining indie rock with live orchestration is currently en vogue. Another Colorado based band DeVotchKa, recently played live with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks Ampitheater.
Princess Music will debut "Odebenidae" on August 9, 2013 live at the Bluebird Theater in Denver with an orchestra. Check out the first single, "White Wave," below.
Of the 12 bands slated to play this year’s festival, focus your attention on an outstanding septet from the Front Range. They are Paper Bird.
I first heard Paper Bird at last year’s Underground Music Showcase in Denver and have been a fan since. Listening to the live stream over Colorado Public Radio’s Open Air 1340, Paper Bird’s blend of indie folk rock Americana easily cut through 243 miles of spruce, pine, and aspen and into my little living room stereo. Even on two five-inch Panasonic speakers, the strength of the seven-piece Denver outfit was obvious.
Paper Bird sounds a bit like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros or the Head and the Heart. Because the band is so large, it is able to do things harmonically and dynamically that other bands simple can’t pull off.
Seven members, seven songwriters, each bringing their own flavor to the group. Sometimes they sound like a gospel jazz band, other times they are a rock band jamming on African rhythms.
The band is so musical, they are an absolute joy to listen to. I love hearing new music from groups that are fearless and free. Paper Bird is such a band. It is not caged in by a particular genre or sound. It is a band of explorers, discovering new sounds without limitation. Paper Bird ascends to levels of creativity rarely seen by other roots-based musicians.
“As I Am,” the opening track off Paper Bird’s 2013 album “Rooms,” is a perfect example of what Paper Bird is capable of.
“As I Am” starts off with an atmospheric and chordal guitar riff that wouldn’t be out of place on Jeff Buckley’s mid-‘90s rock standard “Grace.” A foot-stomping bass line leads the way to a bevy of beautiful birds — Sarah Anderson, Esme Patterson, and Genevieve Patterson, to be specific — collectively singing “these arms of mine/ were made for lifting up/ and when I set things down again/ I hope they are better than they were.”
A sweet acoustic guitar riff joins in, and, at this point, Paper Bird is soaring.
“These eyes of mine/ like what they see when they’re looking at you/ If ever I can’t see you anymore, I hope you’re more beautiful than before.”
As a listener and fan of what this band is doing, I humbly suggest my own lyrics: “These ears of mine/ like what they are hearing when they are listening to you.” That’s how I feel listening to the new album, anyhow.
Including “Rooms,” Paper Bird has produced three excellent studio albums and one live album collaboration with the Ballet Nouveau Colorado. They’ve been named one of the Top 10 Best Underground Bands in Denver three consecutive years and named the Top Local Band by 5280 Magazine in 2009.
It’s an impressive list of accomplishments for a band formed out of boredom on a vacation to Breckenridge.
Writing songs to pass the time, Paper Bird tested out its early material on street corners busking for cash. Apparently, they made enough money to keep this whole thing going, and I sure am grateful.
Paper Bird is such a nice addition to the Colorado music scene and my music collection.
Paper Bird makes romantic music perfect for an evening spent on the banks of the Colorado. Be sure to catch the group’s set at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 15, as it will be one of the highlights of this year’s festival.
As the Grand Junction City Council drags its feet when it comes to supporting the Avalon Theatre project, its important to remember what's at stake here. Live music venues are few and far between in Grand Junction and loosing a major venue would be devistating. Closing the Avalon affects all aspects of our music community. From the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and High Desert Opera to all the concert promoters and music fans in the valley, the Avalon closing would be a nail in the coffin for Grand Junction's culture.
To voice your support for the Avalon Theater, and the continued relevance of Dowtown Grand Junction, you can email your city council members. Their names and contact info is listed here for your convienience.
Mayor Sam Susuras, District B: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Pro Tem Marty Chazen, District D: email@example.com
Councilmember Phyllis Norris, District A: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Bennett Boeschenstein, District C: email@example.com
Councilmember Jim Doody, District at Large: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Rick Brainard, District at Large: email@example.com
The Ninja unmasked. Local Legends host Dustin Coren
Maybe you’ve read this quote from Dave Grohl, the apostle of modern rock. Speaking about his disdain for reality show singing contests, referring to them as the destroying force of “the next generation of musicians,” Grohl speaks passionately about bringing live instruments back to mainstream music.
“Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old (expletive) drum set and get in their garage and just suck,” Grohl said. “And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck too. And then they’ll (expletive) start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana, because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana.”
He’s right. There are no shortcuts to success in the music business. It takes hours and hours of just endless sucking before it starts to come together, before you develop your sound and learn how to work a stage and command an audience’s attention. You need motivation and support from your friends and community to keep pushing forward and keep playing.
Local radio personality Dustin Coren, aka the Ninja, is quite fond of Grohl’s assessment. It basically sums up what he is trying to do with The Local Legends Show every other Friday around 9 p.m. at Naggy McGee’s Irish Pub.
For Coren, the creator and host, Local Legends is the motivation for musicians to keep on keepin’ on.
Local Legends is a biweekly showcase for area musicians. It is sort of like open mic night with a twist. Each show features a local band or musician. They play a couple tunes throughout the night and the rest of the show is filled with additional musicians testing out new material or trying out new covers.
“Local Legends gives the budding musician in the valley, or the garage band that’s almost ready to start grabbing gigs, a place to come and play,” Coren said.
Coren provides the sound equipment so performers only have to worry about their specific gear.
On any given Friday at Naggy McGee’s you may find up-and-coming songwriter Will Whalen, as he says “an acoustic rock uno,” hanging around there. Or maybe Shea Bramer, someone so synonymous with the Grand Junction music scene it would be impossible not to mention his involvement. Members from Zolopht and the Destroyers, D&G Railroad, and new band Barrel Proof also are known to regularly play Local Legends.
“There’s no substitute for open venues like Local Legends,” Whalen says. “Back when I was just getting started, the most important thing for me to learn was how to get up on stage. I found open mics, live jams, busking, pretty much any opportunity to cut my teeth, to network with other musicians and just to jam.”
Whalen, who now plays live shows regularly around the area, credits Local Legends for helping him grow as a musician.
“No matter what level you’re at, to be a strong musician, you need a strong music community behind you,” Whalen said. “For that, you need a supportive venue where you can all meet and grow. Legends is invaluable for that.”
Thanks to Coren and all the folks who make Local Legends happen, this is a perfect venue for the next wave of area musicians to develop their skills in front of a guaranteed audience. As venues for local musicians are limited, credit has to be given to Naggys for opening its doors to Coren and the Grand Junction music scene.
The next Local Legends Show is Friday, June 7, at Naggy McGee’s. Who knows, maybe you’ll see the next Nirvana there. At the very least you’ll get a full dose of Grand Junction’s rocking talent.
Dixiefest starts today and if you don't know where to start when it comes to picking out which of the 40+ bands to see, start with these two: Forsberg and Cheapart. I caught up with the drummer of both bands, Joe Foelker, and he's pumped up for the weekend.
"Stoked for Dixiefest," Foelker said. " We will bring the punk rock and hardcore and we are ready to go fast and take names."
One of Foelker's bands, the trio Cheapart, are armed with new merch, new songs, and new DIY recordings. Forsberg, the latest of Foelker's projects, is a five piece hardcore band also ready to debut new material at Dixiefest.
"We just want to play music and share it with people," Foelker said.
Foelker has been drumming in local bands for as long as I can remember. You may have seen him playing in the popular (and disbanded) ska punk group Bad Karma Kings in the past.
Catch both of his new projects Cheapart and Forsberg this Saturday, June 8 at Dixiefest at the 4th Door in downtown Grand Junction. You can purchase a four day pass for $25 at the door or single day passes from any of these bands or at First Issue Tattoo Studios.