Denver musician John Runnels began performing as Morning Bear in 2014. He draws inspiration from indie folk artists like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver while adding classical instruments like flute and cello to his music. Next month the band heads to Brest, France -- one of Denver's sister cities -- to perform as part of a cultural exchange program. Morning Bear stopped into the CPR Performance Studio with string quintet Denver Nexus Project. In addition to playing a few songs, Runnels spoke with Jeremy Petersen about his teenage street performances on Denver's 16th Street Mall, how he started the band after a spontaneous trip to Europe and his forthcoming visit to Brest.
Motion Trap's music ranges from party-ready dance music to ethereal synth-rock. The Denver duo of Kyle Williams and Nathan Rogers formed the band in 2012 and this month released its sophomore album, "Heavenly Bodies." Last week Motion Trap stopped into the CPR Performance Studio for the first time. Williams and Rogers played four songs and spoke with Scott Carney about forming the band in a college dorm in Nebraska and taking inspiration from dance-rock bands like Cut Copy for "Heavenly Bodies."
The music of Ancient Elk is hard to define. The Denver quartet has won a Westword Music Award in both the "avant-garde" and "Americana" categories. But it also incorporates jazz, psych-rock and folk on its debut self-titled album, which it released this week. Ancient Elk visited the CPR Performance Studio to play four songs from the LP. The members also spoke with Alisha Sweeney about writing the album over the course of three years, the coloring book they're offering with "Ancient Elk" and their connection to the Moon Magnet music collective in Denver.
The Guestlist last visited CPR's OpenAir in 2015, then known as Josh Moorehead & The Guestlist. Since the name change, the band has released the new album "Racing, Chasing." The six-piece crafts an exciting blend of jazz and Americana-rock on the new record, which explores themes of creative struggle. The Guestlist performed four songs from "Racing, Chasing" in the CPR Performance Studio. The members also spoke with Alisha Sweeney about the band's name change, recording at the new Denver studio Hum House and collaborating with members of Denver band Paper Bird on the new LP.
Panther Martin first caught our attention with 2015's "Pile" EP, a collection of psych-surf rock songs recorded with members of Inner Oceans. The Denver quartet has since made a splash with performances around Colorado, including a gig at this year's Underground Music Showcase. Panther Martin stopped into the CPR Performance Studio to play three new songs. The members also spoke with Alisha Sweeney about their long musical friendship dating back to middle school, their recent burrito-themed concert and their involvement with the Colorado-based Grouphug Records.
Solohawk is the acoustic side project of Steve Faceman, best known as frontman for Denver rock group FaceMan. He performs understated folk songs with Kansas musician Til Willis backing on guitar and stomp box. The duo last year released its debut album "Another Way Out." Solohawk stopped by for its first session in the CPR Performance Studio earlier this month. Faceman and Willis played four songs and spoke with Alisha Sweeney about the origin of their collaboration, the experimental studio techniques on "Another Way Out" and how Solohawk differs from their other bands.
Instant Empire released its sophomore album "Last Of The Lovers" earlier this month. The LP is a concept record about the "relentless march of time" and features the Denver band's full-bodied indie rock with harmonies from Emma Cole of Wildermiss. Singer Scotty Saunders calls it the most personal record the band has made. Instant Empire recently stopped into the CPR Performance Studio for the third time. The members played four songs and spoke with Alisha Sweeney about how the band's lineup has changed since its debut album, producing their own record for the first time and drummer Tristan Kelley's notable "beat-a-day" Instagram project.
Tyto Alba draws its sound from folk and experimental rock influences. The Denver quartet formed in 2014 and released in March its second EP, "In Our Own Time." Singer Melanie Steinway says the record chronicles a relationship from early infatuation to an eventual breakup. Tyto Alba stopped into the CPR Performance Studio for the first time earlier this month. The members played three songs and spoke with Scott Carney about how the band came together and its recent "Tyto Eclipse of the Heart" tour of the Pacific Northwest.
U.S. Tygers is a young band, but its members are established local musicians. The Denver quintet features several members of jazz-punk group Champagne Charlie. U.S. Tygers' music leans more towards country and Americana rock, with heavy use of lap steel guitar. The band released its debut album last year and followed it up with the "High, Wasted Genes" EP in July. U.S. Tygers stopped into the CPR Performance Studio to play songs from the new EP as well as a brand new song. The members spoke with Jeremy Petersen about the definition of the so-called "Hashville" genre, recording at the Queen City Sound studio in Denver and the personal subject material of "High, Wasted Genes."
The Reminders have explored an intersection of hip-hop and soul for more than a decade. The Colorado Springs duo of Big Samir and Aja Black has released two albums and shared a bill with acts like Snoop Dogg and Nas. The group recently performed at the new Levitt Pavilion with Denver act Fed Rez. The Reminders stopped into the CPR Performance Studio for a memorably upbeat session. The married couple performed four songs and spoke with Bruce Mitchell about a forthcoming third album, their energetic approach to live performance and a recent memorable show in their hometown.