You would think that because my name starts with an MC, that I was born to MC an event like the Westword Music Showcase. But you'd be wrong. Sure, I can stand up and introduce various acts and thank the sponsors, but there in lies the extent of my abilities. For the full 2 minutes I spoke in between acts, I was able to relive the moment my teacher made me recite the love note I wrote to Bobby Frutchey in the 3rd grade.Read More
Although it took us driving through an apocalyptic storm, the trip to the 20th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival was well worth the anxiety. Nothing a little Xanax couldn’t cure; my nerves were at ease. We made it bright and early on Friday and had the sunshine tease us while we set up our campsite. For a second, I may have broken a sweat. We learned from last year’s adventure to plan for every season and so I packed: Hunter boots, a zero degree jacket and sleeping bag, skirts to twirl in, and a rain jacket. It rained just about every other hour while we were there. It would rain, never too hard, and then the sun would peak it’s rays out and dry our skin just enough to forget.
I was excited to see the raspy gypsy queen, ZZ Ward. She was the first act that I caught and I was, of course, impressed. She had great energy and presence and man, that girl has style. She was channeling a young Stevie Nicks in her over-sized coat and floppy hat. There were definitely festy-trends throughout the weekend which caught my eye. Denim pearl snap shirts, various boot styles, layers, ponchos, and aztec patterns. You definitely knew you were in southern Colorado at a festival. Even Allen Stone really honed in on the trend in his fringe vest. He was vibrant and a great compliment to ZZ Ward and though he experienced some technical snafus halfway through his set, his band backed him up and I would never have known had I not been in the photo pit.
Friday's music continued with Gary Clark Jr. who was soulful with smooth vocals. The weather was beginning to change and Gary's bluesy tunes carried us into the night as the temperature began to drop - just a bit. He played his well-known songs like, "Right Now" and "I Don't Owe You a Thang" which had the mountain folks dancing.
There's something about being in Telluride surrounded by green, lush mountains with massive spires jutting out while listening to live music. The San Juan Mountains are breath-taking; from the streets of Telluride you can see a massive waterfall nestled between two peaks. It's as if it makes the music sound that much sweeter.
The Black Crowes closed out Friday night and while it rained a bit during Gary Clark Jr.'s set, the sky cleared up just in time. Chris Robinson was able to light up the stage for all in attendance. His unusual dance moves added an entertaining element to the night with all of his twirling and Jagger-esque moves.
If it weren't for the Grand Beer Tasting on Saturday afternoon, the crowd's spirits may have been a bit down considering the amount of rain we received that afternoon. We weren't phased, though. With over 50 microbreweries and over 200 beer selections, the festy-goers had beer in their belly's and music on their mind. I discovered a coconut Porter from Horsefly that I can't stop dreaming about. The New Mastersounds were great drinking music for the beer tasting. Their quick, upbeat tunes kept the chugging pace at an all time high. Guitarist Eddie Roberts took a seat through the set due to a broken foot but he didn't let that slow him down one bit.
Rebirth Brass Band closed out the Grand Beer Tasting followed by a later afternoon set from the Mickey Hart Band, drummer for the Grateful Dead. Playing a solid mix of both Mickey Hart material and classic Grateful Dead, they had us twirling in the rain with songs like "Bertha", "China Cat Sunflower", "I Know You Rider" and "Fire on the Mountain".
And then, Jim James. I overheard someone say that perhaps they hadn't done enough mild-altering drugs to get it. The set was dark and mysterious and while it rained quite a bit, it added a special element to the evening. He opened the set with "State of the Art (A.E.I.OU.)" and swiveled around the stage with his crazy hair in his purple suit. Things would slow down at times and then he'd pick up a guitar and just rip shit. There was a time and a place and a rainy Saturday night in Telluride, was the time and the place.
The Denver weather and the potential to return home to a flooded basement, caused us to leave on Sunday. It rained early Sunday morning and cleared up for a fantastic last day. Anders Osborne and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe gave folks something to look forward to on their last day. I've seen both in the past, though I was still bummed I missed them.
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival is something I will continue to attend. The scenery, the people, the music, the food, and the beer will keep me coming back
Wanderlust Festival displayed the same values and mission as last year but showed exponential growth in such a short time. The small music and yoga festival was originated in the minds of music producers Jeff Krasno and Sean Hoess and inspired by Krasno’s wife Schuyler Grant, a yoga instructor. The seed was planted six years ago in a small shared studio space where Jeff and Sean saw an emerging culture and the impact that the music world has on a mindful lifestyle. After Grant’s yoga studio began to expand, the music studio got the boot and so began the brainstorming for Wanderlust Festival. The concept was divine and brilliant. The name, while tossed around these days, is fitting for the weekend experience at the festival. Krasno explains Wanderlust just as defined, “an innate desire to travel or roam”. Whether your adventure takes you to Copper from Denver, Aspen, or from out of state, there is a sense of getting away that is good for the soul.
This year’s Wanderlust brought a more blended crowd - yogis of all levels, a few more men than I recall from last year, some younger faces, and families. The Copper Resort festival has quite the advantage being that it is open area for the public. This provides free exposure from folks that wouldn’t otherwise experience what is Wanderlust. Hoess made an excellent point - you’ll never see fences anywhere at the festival - not even at the photo pit (annoying). This allows for a sense of openness, lack of restriction, and the “roaming” piece that the festival embraces. New activities catered to different lifestyles; paddleboard yoga with BOGA filled up so quickly and has become a huge success for Wanderlust. Other activities outside of yoga included rock climbing, white water rafting, mountain biking, and a new New Belgium brewing bike tour. What a great opportunity to try new activities with a sense of openness.
Fashion played a large role in this year’s Wanderlust Festival with their huge sponsor, Lululemon. I mean, who doesn’t want to look damn good in a pair of yoga pants? Not only that, you want to feel comfortable as well. While Lululemon’s gear can come with a pretty penny, it’s designed to breathe, be comfortable, and last. Some new trends I’ve seen emerging are those crazy, cosmic yoga pants. Pretty wild, I’d say, but they are a reminder that yoga is fun. Tie-dye patterns, floral prints, and bright colors in addition to those galaxy-esque pants.
Oh, and food. Food, of course, played a huge role in Wanderlust - as always. This was fantastic marketing not only targeted to the festival go-ers but those famished mountain bikers coming down off those trails were able to load up on samples versus a $12.00 resort hotdog. Lyfe Kitchen was a huge contributor this year, hooking it up for media (thanks!). With a couple restaurants in California, their meals can be found in Whole Foods, Natural Groceries, Safeway, and even Albertson’s. A quick grab-and-go meal that is healthy, nutritious, and delicious. I swear, they didn’t make me say that. The whole grain pilaf was out of this world. The most fascinating and humbling thing from a large, and still growing, company was to see Chef John Mitchell in the tent prepping meals and interacting with the festival go-ers. This spoke volumes to the company, their mission, and values. Other fantastic sponsors included Kind, So Delicious, Keifir, and Evolution Fresh to name a few.
It’s always great when the music makes sense with the weekend theme. Moby, along with Caravan Palace, and Quixotic was such an awesome pair to the weekend. The music scene at the festival can be a little quieter than you may expect, but the crowd for Moby this year was huge in comparison to what I saw last year. The energy was high and it catered to a large demographic - the younger crowd for the upbeat tempo and those that followed Moby during his prime when he collaborated with Gwen Stefani and remixed huge names like The Beastie Boys, Nas, Metallica, and David Bowie.
The festival is continuing to expand, upward and outward. There are plans for international destinations like New Zealand and the opportunity to take your compass and really “find your true north”. While we are regularly seeing festivals close their doors due to low ticket sales and funds, it’s great to see Wanderlust become so successful with such a powerful message.
wan·der·lust noun \ˈwän-dər-ˌləst\ strong longing for or impulse toward wandering
There is this little place tucked away, past Breckenridge, called Copper Mountain. Have you heard of it? Well, in the summer time it's spectacular. It's home to mountain biking and hiking but in the month of July it is manifested with positivity and harmony when Wanderlust Festival moves in the for July 4th weekend. Yoga during the day, fantastic music at night. It's not one of those festivals where you end up in another dimension from drinking the water; rather you achieve it through meditation. There is something for everyone whether you are a beginner yogi or experienced, coming just for the music, or just for the day.
This summer, big names include: Moby (speaker and performer, SICK!), Tim Ryan, Ohio Congressman and yogi, Quixotic, MC Yogi, and experimental violinist Hannah Thiem, just to name a few. It will be an amazing and rejuvenating weekend that will be both physically demanding and yet soul-enlightening.
A weekend full of perfect weather, delicious beer, iconic artists, and a scenery that can only be appreciated in person, this was the The 19th Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. If you haven’t had the opportunity to make it to the festival, I strongly encourage you to do so, however, make sure you are prepared for both warm weather and cold. We thought we were coming well-prepared for the cooler temperatures, but with not a cloud in the sky, I ended up with a bit of a sunburn in 70 degrees. Be sure to bring shorts and tank tops (and sunscreen) for the day but the second that sun passes behind the mountains, be sure you have brought long johns, a winter jacket, and close-toed shoes. Also, a wagon is a must for hauling your camping gear to your campsite, this will save you five trips. And above anything, a bike is a necessity, and not just a road bike. The festival lies at the end of the town and while it isn’t a long walk, you are able to see more and get around more quickly on a bike. Around the campsite and festival grounds, it is unpaved so I would suggest a mountain bike. And that is my rant.
And now, the meat and potatoes of the weekend. A number of factors make this festival what it is and sets the standard of quality. When camping, you must park in overnight parking which led us to the top of Mountain Village. This sounded like an inconvenience at first, but we parked at the gondola and took it straight into the heart of Telluride, enjoying three miles and thirteen minutes of scenic Colorado. Walking back to our campsite we noticed lines of folks with their lawn chairs, tarps, and coolers waiting for hours. Perplexed, and wondering if we should be doing the same, I asked what was going on. It is called “The Running of the Tarps”; attendees start lining up hours before the festival grounds open in hopes to lay their tarp and snag the best spot for the entire day. Some huge names ranging from Robert Randolph, The B-52s, Phil Lesh, Gov’t Mule, and so on graced one stage throughout the day. This is something that I enjoyed of a smaller festival, music does not overlap. I’ve paid the $300.00 Bonnaroo ticket and had to compromise my time, splitting it between acts, this was not the case this weekend. The music was prompt and started on schedule. Yes, you heard that correctly. Top-notch artists understand why you travelled long and far, they didn’t pull a Kanye.
Friday’s lineup included Robert Randolph, Little Feat, and the B-52s among others (full lineup listed below). Robert Randolph with his giant grin, was great for a day show. The crowd was dancing and taking it all in on that first day. The B-52s were.. interesting. I didn’t know what to think but all I knew was that I had to stick around to hear “Love Shack”, you could tell they were less than enthused to play it for the billionth time. However, the costume contest was something for conversation.
Saturday was my favorite day, not just because of the Grand Tasting with over fifty Microbrews, but also for the talented music from Monophonics, Orgone, Anders Osborne, and Gov’t Mule. Warren Haynes is the man! Back to the beer tasting for just a minute; the Saturday crowd had three hours to try ninety-six different beers from microbreweries all over the country. The winner for the third year in a row, and my favorite, was Eddyline Brewery from Buena Vista, CO. Later that evening, after a little afternoon nap, we attended a late night show with The Lee Boys from Miami. Although it was bitter cold, they had the small crowd dancing so much you were peeling off layers.
Sunday we took it easy. I made pancakes and bacon, we cruised the town, and we packed up the car. We wanted to beat the rush Monday morning (which was the best idea we had all weekend) and camped just outside of Telluride in a National Forest. Sunday brought acts like The Lee Boys (again), Kelley Hunt, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and Phil Lesh & Friends: Warren Haynes, Grahame Lesh (son), Brian Lesh (son), Tony Leone, and Jeff Chimenti (from Furthur). Phil’s set spanned from 6 pm until 10 pm; festival-goers certainly got their money’s worth with that show, packed full of Grateful Dead tunes.
In all, the festival was amazing and friendly for all ages. There was plenty to do outside of the festival and plenty to eat if you grew sick of camp food (I would recommend the dumplings from Sisters’ Pantry, if you’re nice she will throw in an extra dumpling or wonton). It was a beautiful weekend and I will certainly be back next year. To see more photos from the weekend, click here.
Friday, September 14: Pickwick | Little Hurricane | Heartless Bastards | Robert Randolph & the Family Band | Little Feat | The B-52s
Saturday, September 15: Grand Tasting with over 50 Microbrews | Monophonics | Orgone | MarchFourth MArching Band | Anders Osborne | Acoustic Blues Competition Winner | Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue | Gov’t Mule
Sunday, September 16: The Lee Boys | Kelley Hunt | Phil Wiggins & Rev. John Wilkins | Tab Benoit | The Chris Robinson Brotherhood | Phil Lesh & Friends
The 2012 Underground Music Showcase displayed Denver’s greatest local bands in those bars that we’ve become so familiar with. Four days, 300 bands, and 90 plus degree weather made for a memorable weekend. Similar to the setup of SXSW in Austin, Denver’s own UMS spanned several blocks and included more than fifteen different establishments from a bar to a church; it was a weekend that paid serious homage to an incedible music scene.
The first night of the mini festival gave people a glimpse of what was in store with it's outstanding lineup that jumpstarted the weekend. Thursday brought popular bands such as Fairchildren, The Oak Creek Band, Petals of Spain, Brandon Reid, Bop Skizzum, among others.
Friday’s highlights included Sarah Slaton with guest appearances by Josh Lee of Eldren followed by The Raven and the Writing Desk, both at South Broadway Christian Church. What an interesting environment; there was an eerie peacefulness to the space that I enjoyed even though I had to watch my mouth. We made a dash from the church to the Main Stage at Goodwill just in time to catch the last 25 minutes of Big Freedia & The Divas. Holy. Ass. Everywhere. I had no idea that a couple hundred hipsters would retire their skinny jeans for booty shorts (guys not excluded) but Big Freedia brought serious ass shakin' on Friday night.
One of my favorite sets from Saturday were the guys of In The Whale, Nate Valdez and Eric Riley. Beginning their set with a sincere apology they rocked the hell out in a backyard giving it that house party feel. Churchill was pretty fantastic as well, playing some of their popular songs such as "Change" and then wow'ing the crowd with their covers of Fleetwood Mac with favorites like "Go Your Own Way" again, in a backyard. Those present were pretty fortunate to catch that show; I can't wait to see what's in store for them in the coming days. Denver welcomed Texans Michael Donner and the Southern Renaissance at the Irish Rover and following shortly after, Air Dubai had the walls shaking at the Hi-Dive as one of Denver's more well-known local bands played to a packed house starting after midnight. Even Total Ghost got into the action with a 1:00 a.m. set time that had the late party-goers spilled out onto the streets of Delite. Some big names at the main stage were A Place To Bury Strangers, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, and Shabazz Palaces.
Sunday was not the day to skip the UMS; Rachel and The Kings rocked the main stage with their first official performance as a band. Paperbird was pretty fantastic as well as Ian Cooke, and Nathaniel Rateliff who was backed by his band Fairchildren. Fans made the trek to Moe's to see Carl Carell and the Consequence as well as the handsome guys of Mr. Right. The list goes on with Atlas Sound, Reviving Cecelia, Kyle James Hauser, Attic Attack, and again the guys of In The Whale dressed to the nines ready to deliver their sermon.
I can't say it enough, we have an incredibly talented music scene in Denver. There's a flavor for everyone and with such a tight community everyone truly supports each other. I am anxious to see the growing success of these incredible musicians as well as the Underground Music Showcase. Special thanks to the sponsors of this years event, Illegal Pete's, Breckenridge Brewery, Open Air CPR, and all the volunteers who put in the long hours.
Photo Credits: Justin Schoenborn and Robert Castro
Every year in March the masses migrate to Austin, Texas for South By Southwest. Industry execs, musicians, and bloggers all congregate to the eclectic city for four days of non-stop music. It is the only place you can find your stereotypical hipster enjoying a Shiner Bock right next to a CEO of a major record label. I consider myself a veteran of the SXSW circuit now, so I am always prepared for the what goes down, I have gotten used to walking around town from venue to venue briefly stopping to eat bland pizza by the slice on Sixth Street (although I did try Stony’s this year and was pretty satisfied). This year was one of the most productive, as I was able to catch more bands than in years past. This year seemed more chaotic; it seems that this festival continues to grow and grow every year with the number of corporate sponsorships exploding at an unparalleled pace. It still, however, will be my favorite festival and this year received my stamp of approval.
South By Southwest is always about trying to discover that hidden gem, but it is also about watching established artist and bands in a more intimate setting than we are used to. The whole ecosystem of South By Southwest is interesting. One can say if you play your cards right and effectively manage your schedule, you can manage to catch your favorite artist one way or another. I always make a list of 4-5 “must-sees” every year, and since these artist play 4 or 5 times during the festival, chances are you will probably get to see them at some point. Word to the wise if your artist is playing a 3 o’clock set and are considered “buzz”, arrive at noon, trust me you don’t want to be waiting in the hot sun with others hoping you will get in.
One of the bands on my radar this year was Grimes. The Canadian duo has been creating an online buzz recently so I wanted to see how that translated to live sound. The venue was at The Google Play Lot, which also included a line up of Jimmy Cliff, Talib Kweli, and The Shins; not a bad way to spend my afternoon. Grimes reminds me of a throwback synth sound that I grew up to listening to with bands such as New Order, Aphex Twin, and newer artist like Crystal Castles. In fact it is as if Sleigh Bells took a muscle relaxer and turned the amps down six notches to create the Grimes sound. The performance left me a little bit disappointed as it seemed like singer Claire Boucher was having vocal problems, making sure the audience knew about it. It got to the point where I was looking forward to the next act on the bill: the legendary Jimmy Cliff.
Another band I was looking forward to seeing was Fun. Currently sitting atop the iTunes charts with their number one single “We Are Young”, they remind me a lot of what Vampire Weekend was a few years ago at SXSW, the band everybody was eager to catch. Fun is a project by former members of bands The Format, Anathallo and Steel Train. They played a short acoustic set at the Time Warner Sound Showcase presented by NIkon. I was very impressed with their performance as was the limited capacity crowd who got to witness them in a small intimate venue.
I can go on and write about all 48 bands that I saw but will give you a small run down of the hits and misses.
Bands I considered worthy:
The Drums, Fun., The Shins (new stuff will blow you away), Of Monsters and Men, Guards, Dives, Mr. MFNEsquire (this year’s Odd Future), The Roots, Air Dubai, Politics
Bands who I considered un-worthy:
Grimes (too much complaining), SBTRKT (not enough energy), Wiz Khalifa (we all thought you were going to rap, yet you didn’t), Dragonette (meh), Neon Trees (can you say sellout)
Band I wish I would have seen:
Cults, The Oh-Sees, Youth Lagoon, Radiation City, Fiona Apple. Alabama Shakes.
Stay tuned for followed posts about performance highlights and more photos!
In all my years that I have attended SXSW, I have never seen a stronger contingent of Colorado bands representing. This year brought some of the best that our state has to offer. With a couple of Colorado based showcases, it was easy to catch some of the bands we are accustomed to seeing back home. One band in particular was the guys from Air Dubai, I was anxious to see the reaction from the crowd in Austin for their performance since I know what they are capable of. One of their first stops, (in fact it was their second show that day), was at The Blind Pig, this venue sits interestingly on a patio facing the famous Sixth Street in Austin. I was able to arrive early and meet some other Denver folks including members of My Body Sings Electric, The Epiloques, In The Whale, Mr. Right, and others. The band had one of those performances that I will rant about for days. It was full of hype, energy, and passion, having strangers ask me who these talented musicians were. I have never seen the band do an encore, but the crowd ate up the Dubai vibe so they chanted for more. Aside from the encore, one lucky lady was serenaded for her birthday, something she’ll never forget. I didn’t get a chance to see the rest of Air Dubai’s shows, but I am sure they left the same impression on Texas as they did this night. Well done guys, well done.