Denver's version of South by Southwest, The Underground Music Showcase, just released its 2013 line up and look who made their way onto the bill. That's right Junction boys Bronco Country are nestled right in there with the likes of Cults and Mudhoney.
This is big news for one of Grand Junction's most exciting indie bands.
"We are really pumped to spread our message of love and freedom of expression," front man Matt Zurek said. In response to if the band was excited about traveling to Denver to play the UMS Zurek simply added, "hot dog!"
The UMS has grown into a massive showcase featuring over 350 national and local acts in venues and clubs up and down Broadway in downtown Denver.
“We are incredibly excited for the 13th UMS. Today’s lineup release represents a compelling mix of local and national talent — solid evidence that the music scene in this region is thriving. While this announcement includes almost 350 acts, we still have more to come,” said UMS Executive Director Kendall Smith.
After one of the most epic live music weekends ever it's time to gather your senses and get ready for another round. Kicking things off this week are the homegrown Americana foot stomping Spirit Family Reunion, playing live on Tuesday (4/23) at the Cavalcade in Fruita.
Spirit Family Reunion has grown a lot since busking on street corners and subway stations. The band has garnered quiet the following and are now making major tour stops at the Newport Folk Festival and NPR's Tiny Desk Series (see below). I usually don't like quoting other media outlets but this line by Paste Magazine is just too good not to share.
"Dusty acoustic guitars, wailing fiddles and weeping accordions, with a woozy-yet-skintight rhythm section-- and topped off with burr-edged vocals that sound like they've been soaked in a Mason jar for generations -- it's the type of music that blurs the line between past and present so thoroughly, and so deftly, that time feels irrelevant." Well said. Reminds me of this article...
Catch Spirit Family Reunion and listen as they rekindle that old familiar feeling of home in your soul.
Generally, I try to avoid classifying music into genres or oversimplified terms. Talking about a song or an artist in a couple easy words creates preconceived limitations and bias before you even have a chance to judge for yourself.
One such oversimplified term, and one taking center stage this weekend, is “white rapper.”
Traditionally, hip-hop as a culture has four elements: DJing, breakdancing, graffiti art and MCing. Since the dawn of hip-hop in the mid-1970s, that culture has included people of all races. Only MCing has been commercially tagged as a black art form.
Labeling an MC as a “white rapper” is a diss on his or her skills and brings up comparisons of race and the underlying notion that he or she is not as skilled or as authentic as a black rapper.
The historic knock on “white rappers” is that they talk about things they know nothing of and come across corny as hell. While there have been plenty of wack MCs to make people wary of other “white rappers” — see Marky Mark, MC Snow, Vanilla Ice, Limp Bizkit, K-Fed, Asher Roth, etc. — skin tone has nothing to do with talent.
Both Sage Francis and Macklemore are skilled MCs, and referring to them in part by skin tone is just silly. Neither pretends to be someone nor represents something that isn’t authentic to their true self.
The best way to judge a rapper’s ability is to examine his or her flow. The lyrics an MC spits are so closely associated with the artist’s identity that they are the only thing that matter.
Forget “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore’s crossover smash hit, and check out tracks such as “Same Love.” A plea to end bigotry toward gay couples, “Same Love” is the kind of track that separates Macklemore from other MCs. Over the 30 odd years of hip-dhop history, the one topic that remains off limits is homosexuality.
“We become so numb to what we’re saying / A culture founded from oppression / Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em,” Macklemore rhymes over a Ryan Lewis beat. “No freedom till we’re equal / Damn right I support it.”
No one can accuse Macklemore of frontin’ with lyrics like that. He’s just about the only MC out there with the guts to say anything positive about the topic.
Sage Francis also is no stranger to tackling tough topics. His response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “Makeshift Patriot,” is a poetic fallout that, as he says, “goes far beyond the toxic cloud where people look like debris.”
“I’ve got exclusive, explicit images to present to impressionable / American kids and it’s time to show this world how big our edifice is / That’s exactly what they attacked when a typically dark-skinned Disney villain / Used civilians against civilians and charged the Trojan horses into our buildings.”
Those lines are raw but true to Sage Francis’ character.
Hip-hop culture demands authenticity in its MCs. Those who take their skill seriously transcend the ideas of race. Look at Eminem, the Beastie Boys or the group 3rd Bass. Respected for their group individuality and flow, they shed the “white” adjective and are just known as rappers.
MCs such as Sage Francis and Macklemore, who speak their mind and challenge stereotypes, are more deserving than the inferior labels. Hold them to the same accountability as other MCs. Do they have lyrical skill? Yes or no. Simple as that.
With Record Store Day just around the corner, Triple Play Records and the Mesa Theater have teamed up to show the film "Last Shop Standing." This 50 minute film charts the rise of record shops in the 1960s to the demise of locally owned businesses today. Hear from over 20 record shop owners and music industry leaders, as well as musicians including Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, Norman Cook, Billy Bragg, Nerina Pallot, Richard Hawley and Clint Boon. Each discuss how record shops became a part of their musical education, a place to discover and cherish new bands, and why they might just have a brighter future.
This film showing is free to the public and starts at 7 p.m., tonight. Remember, Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 20. Triple Play will have exclusive releases and also live music from several local musicians.