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.
CPR Performance Studio
The Colorado Pubic Radio Performance Studio provides a stage to showcase the depth and variety of both classical, and new and independent music coming to, and from, Colorado. CPR's OpenAir also offers a podcast of interviews and performances from select musicians, and additional performances from the archive available here.
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.
Marika Hackman released her Sub Pop debut, "I'm Not Your Man," in June. The British singer-songwriter recruited London quartet The Big Moon as her band for the album and subsequent American tour. The Big Moon adds a vicious punk rock edge to much of the record, but the band is just as capable playing Hackman's subdued folk songs. Hackman and the members of The Big Moon stopped into the CPR Performance Studio the day after a gig at Lost Lake Lounge. They played four songs and spoke with Alisha Sweeney about how their musical collaboration began, their pre-show rituals during the American tour and the London music scene.
Pleasure Prince is a New York-based duo featuring Lilly Scott, formerly of Denver band Varlet. She and bandmate Will Duncan create pop music that blends disco, electronica and psychedelic influences. Scott switches instruments from guitar to synthesizer for the new band, but her outstanding vocals remain a centerpiece of her music. Pleasure Prince stopped into the CPR Performance Studio before a headlining show at Denver's Hi-Dive. Scott and Duncan played three songs and spoke with Scott Carney about the origin of their collaboration, how teaching piano lessons helped the band develop and plans for a full-length record.
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.