Music On The Goe
David Goe on music
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By David Goe
Friday, March 21, 2014
After a slow, bitterly cold couple of months of nothing but eating, drinking and Netflix marathons, spring is finally here to spell us from miserable temperatures and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
It’s finally warming up to the point where I’m ready to put on some pants and feel optimistic in the morning. Thank God, it’s March!
March means new life for the music scene. It was dull, dull, dull this winter, but bands are starting to tour again. March also means South By Southwest.
Not only is SXSW is the biggest music event of the year, it sets the tone for the next 12 months. Thousands of underground bands across all genres and industry professionals all trying to make a name for themselves descend on Austin, Texas, for one week of pure madness.
It’s an overwhelming mass of hysteria, so let’s only think about what we can see and hear and not about who got run over by who, and why someone was throwing up all over Lady Gaga at her Stubbs showcase.
Thanks to SXSW, March is typically a very productive month for the Grand Valley music scene. Due to our prime location, many bands funnel through Grand Junction on the way from SXSW to the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho.
The Grand Valley happens to sit almost smack dab in the middle of two major music festivals. It’s a golden opportunity to book some very good, young bands for local shows and a couple savvy local promoters are all over it.
The first crew making the SXSW to GJ trek are Rose Quartz from Denver, playing Friday night, March 21, at the Cavalcade in Fruita.
The Cavalcade, which continues to book the most progressive shows in the valley, is on it once again. Last year, it got the show of the year hosting SXSW studs Radiation City, Brainstorm and Social Studies. This year it snagged Rose Quartz just before the band heads off to Boise.
Formally known as Flash/Lights, the electronic duo Rose Quartz make vocal, hook driven, synthesizer music that I categorize as indie electronic dance music. Its bass lines are often steady and predictable but never heavy handed in delivery.
Rose Quartz isn’t going to blow out your chest with massive bass drops typical of mainstream EDM, but what it will fill your soul with infectious and melodic dance rhythms.
Rose Quartz made a name for itself in Denver’s DIY scene, and certainly knows how to play to an intimate crowd. It should be a fun night as our own DJ crew Chamber Bot also will be there to keep the groove moving well into the evening.
The other band making a stop in Grand Junction is Useless Eaters from Memphis, Tenn.
Playing Wednesday, March 26, with local outfit Wavebaby and DJ Roughstuff and Brownskul at Sabrosa, Useless Eaters is exactly the type of band you’d expect to find at SXSW. It plays garage, ‘60s throwback and punk rock music that is equal parts attitude and skill.
Useless Eaters is not masterful tacticians, but that hardly matters. For this band, it is all about feeling. Useless Eaters is able to pull a very specific vibe out of purposely miss-bent guitar notes and slightly off tempo bass lines. It walks a fine line between not giving a crap and caring just enough to bother tuning its instruments before shows.
Sabrosa has turned into the downtown dive bar du jour and Useless Eaters will be right at home there.
While the spring runoff from SXSW may be a little shallow this year, it brings new life to Grand Junction. Get out there and see a show because, who knows, one of these bands might be the next big thing.
By David Goe
Friday, March 7, 2014
Where most bands fizzle out, over stay their welcome, or break up over petty issues, a few manage to go out on top, ending things on their own terms.
The Band did that with its farewell concert “The Last Waltz” and if you’ve seen the film think back to the title card, “this film should be played loud!”
Well, if possible, this column should be read loud, Lowlands would prefer it that way.
Lowlands, Grand Junction’s favorite adopted sons, is calling it quits, staging its own last waltz tonight at Sabrosa. With lead singer and guitarist Jeremy Rizer moving to Big Sky Country, it’s a bittersweet goodbye for a band at the top of its game.
“It’s the celebration of a fantastic time we’ve had together, but I for one am terribly sad about this band going away,” Willie DeFord said.
DeFord, who contributes on guitar, lap steal guitar and fiddle, isn’t the only one feeling that way. There’s no way around it, Grand Junction is losing a really good band after Friday, March 7, night’s final Colorado performance. The band will reunite for one more show at the end of the summer in Minot, N.D., but for all intensive purposes this is your last chance to see Lowlands play live.
Since 2011, Lowlands has been a group of friends bonded over country, Americana and rock ‘n’ roll music. With members from all corners of the United States, the band combined everything from Southern blues and Texas swing to bluegrass and fuzz rock into a sound uniquely its own.
“As a band, we never really set out to be anything really,” Rizer said. “This band exists because Willie wanted to play loud. I think we have succeeded.”
If Lowlands is anything, it is a perfect example of balanced energies working together as one focused force. Never once could you detect a hint of individual ego from any band members on a record or at a live performance, and that is very appealing. Even when DeFord shows off with a screaming fiddle solo or Rizer steals a song with a grizzly vocal, Lowlands never takes the excess to the point of rock ‘n’ roll ridiculousness.
Clearly each band member is self-aware and plays while knowing the strength of the group is greater than any individual performance. They don’t seem to crave the glory that comes with being in a successful band and definitely don’t seek that attention.
In talking to the group about this article they seemed more concerned with thanking all the fans who showed up to every show and danced the night away with them, than gushing over personal achievements.
“It’s just the coolest thing to start out loving to make music in my basement and then get to where people know your songs, and come to get down at your shows, and have as much fun as us. It blows my mind,” Rizer said.
For Rizer, DeFord, Dick Sterling (bass, harmonia, vocals) and Alex Slorby (drums, banjo) Friday night’s show is a last chance to be selfish and play music with each other and for some great people, and enjoy one last Lowlands’ tradition: a post-gig, Village Inn visit.
Lowlands is a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit honky tonk and a whole lot of humility. The converging talent of these four musicians is ideally suited to play anywhere from a block party to a dive bar, and for anyone willing to come down and listen.
It is as close to a perfect band Grand Junction has ever seen and it is unfortunate Lowlands only has one show left to give to the Colorado faithful.
By David Goe
Friday, February 21, 2014
One of my favorite things about writing this column is getting the chance to highlight those in the music community who really deserve recognition.
I’m talking about bands that write and play original material. Bands that have ambition beyond being just a bar band and put in the work to really perform.
I’m not sure that extra effort is always appreciated or even noticed, but for me, it is a relief to see bands put their valuable time into the craft I love.
One band that is most deservedly worthy of praise is The Williams Brothers Band. A mainstay of the western Colorado music scene since 2000, The Williams Brothers Band is certainly at the top of the local music heap and has earned that position by doing things the right way.
Ever since I found out the band had plans to record two upcoming shows featuring new material, I knew that was something I had to write about.
It has been more than five years since The Williams Brothers Band released “Live! In Aspen,” a live show recorded in, you guessed it, Aspen, and the band is eager to replicate the album’s success with two upcoming recordings.
The first show is Saturday, Feb. 22. The band will record its set live from the Mesa Theater and Lounge, with the results earmarked for national release.
“We will do an acoustic duo set, then a full electric band set, and then finish with our ‘big band’ lineup which will feature additional instrumentation,” lead singer and guitarist James Williams said about the show. “Each of these sections will add different elements and dynamics that change the feel of songs.”
Though the band may play songs featured on “Live! In Aspen” this Saturday, Williams notes the band never plays the same song exactly the same way twice.
As you may have guessed, there is another Williams involved in the band. Phillip Williams, James brother, plays shredding lead guitar featured on many of the band’s tracks and is one of the reasons why you’ll never hear identical takes.
Drummer Jared Schmidt and bassist Allen Bradley hold down a strong rhythm section that allows Phillip Williams to explore the fret board of his guitar and play off emotion and the energy of the crowd.
“Our mindset is to do what we’ve always done, get up there and put down the best sound we can in that particular moment,” Williams said. “We consider the Mesa Theater our ‘home venue’ so we couldn’t ask for a more comfortable surrounding or better situation.”
If you can’t make it to Saturday’s show, The Williams Brothers Band also plans to record its March 1 show at Sabrosa. The night is branded as “The Williams Brothers & Friends” and will feature guest performers from Zolopht & The Destroyers, Lowlands, Pineapple Crackers, Jack+Jill, We Speak Imaginese, Intertwined, Bronco Country, Wheel, Flat Top Reed, Dualakoo, No Outlet, Showcage, King, Donny Morales, That Guy and Will Whalen.
For the band, the show is a chance to give back to its fans and to the musicians who have supported them over the years. The recording from Sabrosa will be available as free downloads and the best tracks from the night will be available at future Williams Brothers Band shows and at local retailers.
“We have the best fans in the Grand Valley. We lean on them and feed off the energy and love they give,” James Williams said.
You’ll no doubt hear that sentiment in the band’s playing on each of these live recordings.
The Williams Brothers Band are everything you should desire in a band. The band plays original music, maintains the highest quality standards for both its live shows and recordings, and is gracious of fan’s support. Most importantly it is just a really good, confident band.
By David Goe
Friday, February 7, 2014
Watching DJ Trizz spin live, you can tell he’s got things under control.
Behind a set of Technic turntables, Trizz, aka Aaron Markham, smoothly transitions from one song to the other like it’s no big deal when really it’s an impressive display of confidence from an underappreciated artist.
Perhaps the only frantic behavior comes from his eyes. Peering over the edge of his Mac Book Pro, Trizz constantly scans the room gauging the reaction each song gets as it hits the floor. If it sets the dance floor off, job well done. If the energy is off however, it’s no big deal. Trizz makes a quick course adjustment to get things back on point.
You know what you are in for when Trizz is at the controls: a dance-able night specifically tailored to you. One thing you can say about Trizz is he has got your best interest at heart.
“I believe in letting the night and crowd take us where it may,” Trizz said. “I play out a lot so I run through a lot of different genres and tunes and just feel out the crowd. Some nights you know exactly what you’re getting into and others you have to really work for a reaction.”
This exact mentality is the difference between a good DJ and a bad DJ. In an age of digital DJing when literally anyone can download a smart phone app and start mixing tunes in a matter of minutes, this skill of reading and reacting to an audience separates the good from the bad.
Trizz is a good DJ.
“I like to give people enough to make them feel comfortable and trust me,” Trizz said. Once he feels like he’s gained their trust, that’s when he ads his own flourishes and touches to the set.
What Trizz is able to accomplish on a given night out is actually pretty amazing to think about. He curates a music collection large and diverse enough to meet the needs of an audience, and has the ability to skillfully and seamlessly mix them together at the drop of a hat.
That’s probably why Trizz holds down so many weekly shows in Grand Junction. He plays Tuesday and Thursday nights at Charlie Dwellington’s, and Friday nights at the Rockslide.
All this steady work and devotion to his craft has paid off in a big way.
Trizz recently played a number of high profile shows in the Aspen area, including the most recent Winter X Games, and opened for Capital Cities at the Belly Up.
“I started doing some gigs in Aspen in 2012 and became good friends with Mike Nakagawa,” Trizz said. Nakagawa, better known as DJ Naka G, serves as the X Games resident DJ and music director, and currently isin Sochi Russia working during the Winter Olympics.
“He’s a busy guy and I was fortunate to pick up some of the gigs he couldn’t take on. That’s how I got my foot in the door. I owe quite a bit to Mike,” Trizz said.
While their friendship will almost certainly bring more high profile gigs Trizz’s way, he prefers to spend most of his time in the clubs.
“I like club gigs. I like the feeling of when you have the club in a stranglehold and every tune kills,” he said.
That right there says it all. Trizz gets just as much from the audience as the audience gets from him. It’s a special relationship that only performers understand and the driving force behind one of Grand Junction’s premier DJs.
By David Goe
Friday, February 7, 2014
1) How long have you been DJing for? When did you first know this is something you wanted to do? What DJs do you look up too?
I've officially been DJ'ing for a little over four years. I have always been into music and started taking piano lessons and joined choir in middle school. I used to be in charge of the music at our middle school dances but I wouldn't consider that DJ'ing, more of song selecting. I was heavy into those CD clubs back in the day so my collection was respectable amongst my peers.
I really wanted to get into DJ'ing after seeing Z-Trip open for The Roots back in 2004. Since then I started following DJ culture and going to shows. I always had the itch to get into dj'ing but didn't know where to begin. I kept going to shows and stayed a fan observing from afar until 2009 when I bought my first gear with my college scholarship money, sorry Mom!
DJ's I look up to: Z-Trip, Jazzy Jeff, A-Trak, Diplo, Vice, DJ Spider, DJ Bonics, Chris Karns, D-JR, Naka G, Jazzy Gems
2) Talk about your setup. It looks like you use Serrato w/ time coded vinyl. That's a pretty unique setup, how'd you decide on that gear?
I use Technics 1200MK5 turntables, Rane 62 mixer w/ Serato Software and time coded vinyl and Macbook Pro. The DJ's I admired the most were using the same setup. Turntables and CDJ's are considered the "Club Standard" so I thought, why not learn on a universally accepted setup and be able to play whenever and wherever. I always carry my laptop so I'm good to go!
3) What's your personal philosophy when putting together a set? You play a lot of different genres, how do you mix it all together in a cohesive way?
It's not very unique but I believe in taking a musical journey and letting the night and crowd take us where it may. I play out a lot so I run through a lot of different genres and tunes and just feel out the crowd. Some nights you know exactly what you're getting into and others you have to really work for a reaction. Sometimes that reaction is good, sometimes it's bad but that's what makes it fun.
I like to give people enough to make them feel comfortable and trust me and then it's time for some curve balls to keep people on their toes.
4) You've been up to some pretty cool things lately, playing the XGames, opening for Capital Cities, past Snowboarding Grand Prix events. How'd you get hooked up with those gigs?
I started doing some gigs in Aspen in 2012 and became good friends with Mike Nakagawa who is the X-Games resident DJ and was the music director for the 2010 Olympics and will be working the 2014 Olympics as well. He's a busy guy and I was fortunate to pick up some of the gigs he couldn't take on. That's how I got my foot in the door. I owe quite a bit to Mike, shout out DJ Naka G!
5) What's your favorite type of show to play? A big event like the XGames or a club show?
I like club gigs. It's good to be versatile, helps paying the bills and it's refreshing to do something different but I like the feeling of when you have the club in a stranglehold and every tune kills.
6) You've got pretty steady work in GJ (Dwellington's on Tuesdays and Rockslide on Fridays), what do you make of the local music scene here (both musicians and audiences)? Where do you see it going in the future?
Yes. I currently hold down three nights in GJ. TwoferTuesday at Charlies, Flip Night on Thursdays (Charlies) and Catch The Beat on Friday's at The Rockslide.
The local scene is getting better. There is a good core of musicians, DJ's, and promoters that work hard to maintain and develop this area. I think with the growth of the College, we'll start to see a boom in the local scene. There's some traction right now, and it's exciting to see where it may go. There's major potential for expansion but it's on the shoulders of the musicians, DJ's, Promoters, bars/venues, fans, and music lovers to make it happen. The scene is what you make of it. If you want it better, get up off your ass and quit complaining and help make it better! There's no magic formula, it comes down to who is willing to hustle and work for it. The more people participating- whether it's performing, promoting, attending shows, the better. I'm interested to see how Junction develops in the next couple of years, musically.
7) Whats the biggest misnomer and pet peeve about the Grand Junction music scene?
My biggest pet peeve about the Grand Junction scene is hearing people say there isn't anything going on. There may not be as many options as a big city, but there still is something worthwhile to check out regularly.
Biggest misnomer would be outsiders may think GJ doesn't know how to get down. Not true. People here know how to have a good time!
8) What sound are you obsessed with right now? Where do you hope to take your sound in the next couple years?
Really been digging artists like Wave Racer, Keys N Krates, and Trippy Turtle. It's almost a soulful trap, jersey club sound if you will. I get so happy when I hear stuff like that.
I really wanted to develop my skills as a DJ before I tried any production. In the next couple of years I would like to experiment with producing. In the meantime, I would like to keep pushing myself as a DJ and hopefully deliver the soundtrack to people's night out, one they can enjoy themselves to!
9) What does the future of DJing look like?
I wish I knew! I think it's in a good place, the exposure is at an all time high and I think with technology and people's curiosity it's only going to get more creative.
10) Anything you'd like to add?
Thanks to David Goe! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook!