Even as businesses begin to reopen across the state, the music industry is still in flux with tours canceled, venues closed, and recording studios silent.
While we continue to practice safer-at-home measures at Colorado Public Radio, we want to continue to do our part to elevate the local music scene with as much on-air exposure as we can via the Local 303. There is also a musicians resource guide and a list of how we as a community can help. Until things get back to (a new) normal for our music scene, we love seeing the creative ways musicians continue to connect online with their fanbase.
This month's Local 303 features a variety of new acts like the debut solo project of Luke Mossman, the lead guitarist of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, as well as a pop musician who moved to Colorado from New Zealand at age 19. We also welcome scene mainstays Dragondeer and Nasty Nachos.
Are you a Colorado musician who wants to be featured in the Local 303? Send us your music.
Meet June's picks:
Latest Release: "Am I Gonna Die Now?" is a self-release out June 12, 2020.
About: This solo project started as a way to process a pretty hard season in my life. In the spring of 2018 I found out I have a rare genetic condition called Gardner’s Syndrome. My wife and I spent the next several months searching for answers and understanding, but with little information and not knowing where to turn, we found ourselves in a really dark place. We found out firsthand how hard things change us. It distorted our humanity and made the most basic parts of life seem impossible at times. It made us different and we could not control it. Every relationship and interaction became immediately more precious and complicated.
This record captures some of the emotions and mental weariness of this season. I set out to write this album and record all of the instruments on my own as a way of processing the depths of this painful season alone. I really didn't feel comfortable sharing it with anyone else. It wasn't until I was almost done that I realized what a gift it was to be this vulnerable and honest with the hurts and mental exhaustion I had being going through. It was incredibly cathartic. I made this record for me but I'm glad to be sharing it now. My wife and I are in a good place today and we have so many people in our life to thank. I know that without this community we would be living in a much different space. I hope you'll take the time to listen.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: It's been strange. I am connected to so many great musicians in our city and one of my favorite parts of being a musician is the shared experience of getting to create something together. For this particular project I played everything on the record and so, while it's been strange to be apart, it has somehow fit nicely with this introspective season.
Band Website: https://adamanglin.bandcamp.com/releases
Get Social: Instagram, Twitter
Latest Release: "Take What You Got," Hooker Pistol Records, May 15, 2020
About: "Shoot first, ask questions later.” It’s the motto that surreptitiously brought Boot Gun together in 2018, when the band booked its debut show –– before the band was even formed. Now, with two years of experience, Boot Gun continues to draw from rock and roll’s past and present to create an unstoppable powerhouse of retro-meets-modern sound.
Boot Gun’s energetic and rambunctious nature draws fans from near and far, boasting packed houses and a guaranteed party. Boot Gun is Keith Lawrence (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Davie Landry (Bass/Lead Vocals), Sam Janik (Guitar/Backing Vocals), and Cody Hart (Drums).
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: It definitely hasn't been easy since our entire summer schedule was wiped out. Obviously we miss the live shows and miss our fans partying since that's what we thrive on but we've seem to have found the silver lining in all of this. It's given us a chance to write more and not feel so rushed with our time. It gave us an open window to release our debut album, "Take What You Got," accompanied by a live, in-studio stream. Previously, we were always grinding to promote and sell tickets to the next show. But now we've found ourselves taking a step back to realize why we started playing music in the first place, because we all personally love creating art. It's been a breath of fresh air and one we might not ever have again. But damn we REALLY miss playing shows! Hopefully we'll see you at the Fox Theater on Sept. 4!
Band Website: https://bootgun.bandcamp.com/
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, Spotify
Latest Release: "Stay High" (Single), Color Red, April 20, 2020
About: Denver band Dragondeer has conjured the rhythm spirits to concoct a blend of psychedelic blues, retro funk, soul and rock-n-roll into a genre blur that aims to speak to souls and keep the body moving. These four good friends can be heard across radio waves, through the trees at festivals like Electric Forrest, Firefly, and Telluride Blues. Dragondeer has shared the stage with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Marcus King, The Revivalists, Shakey Graves, Southern Avenue, Dumpstaphunk, Drive By Truckers, Anders Osbourne, and Jerry Joseph.
"Dragondeer hit the stage with their thick blues-rock sound. Reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin, The Black Keys, and electric Taj Mahal, the quartet stunned the audience with their hybrid of Mississippi Delta blues and 1960s psychedelic rock. Lead vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player Eric Halborg led the band with a rare ferocity, his deep growl and swampy harmonica blending perfectly with Cole Rudy’s raw pedal steel playing. Shocking many in attendance and quickly catapulting onto the Denver scene, Dragondeer is a growing force to be reckoned with." - Live For Live Music
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: Dragondeer has been laying low and taking in the paradigm shift with one another. The four members keep the ideas flowing by creating, writing, hanging out online and catching up with our label Color Red and management and booking team. We've also been getting our live streaming chops together so we can come hang with y'all.
Band Website: http://www.dragondeer.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, Spotify
Hometown: Boulder, CO via New Zealand
Latest Release: "Wonderlust" (Single), Purplestar Records, April 29, 2020 and "I Dare You" (Single), Purplestar Records, June 4, 2020
About: Estella is a 23-year-old New Zealand born, Colorado-based singer-songwriter whose songs are a mixture of pop, neo-soul, and rock. Estella started singing original songs from the booster seat in the back of her parent's car growing up in New Zealand (true, ask her mother) and learned songwriting, piano, guitar, music production and recording at a young age.
She moved to the USA when she was 19 and landed in Denver. In 2018 she released her debut EP ‘Dancing Girl’s” and also shot the music video in and around Denver. It has had showings at various film festivals and can be viewed on her YouTube channel.
During 2019 Estella released another nine singles. Now about halfway into 2020 and on track to deliver a full length LP by the end of the year, Estella is releasing a new single every 6 weeks. The songs range from the neo-soul vibes of "Cadmium Yellow" (released in January), the "burn the town down" dynamics of "Hallow" to the attitude heavy anthemic rock of "I Dare You", due out on June 4.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: Like everyone I'm concerned with how things will be in the future, whether it is performing live, touring or just moving around safely. That being said I had planned on spending most of this year working on my record and as I work and record at a production company (that I'm a part of) close to home, we're still able to stick to that plan. The extra time I've had to spend writing and producing music has been a welcomed silver lining during all of this craziness. Songwriting is a wonderful escape, it soothes the mind and has definitely kept me (mostly) sane! However, so many musicians and businesses that support live music rely on shows to pay their bills, to put food on the table etc. It's a pretty scary reality not knowing when things will return to normal or what that normal will even look like. I think this is a time for musicians to get even more creative when it comes to finding new income streams, engaging with their fans and getting their music heard.
Latest Release: "ghost gnotes," self-released, May 29, 2020
About: Ghost Gnotes (pronounced Ghost neeyotes) is the nom-de-plume of Denver musician Luke Mossman (of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats).
Mossman wrote “Takes Some Time” to process the complications in his relationship after his girlfriend unexpectedly decided to move out after years of living together. Mossman explained to American Songwriter, “We were still planning to stay together, but obviously there was something in the air. And this song was an attempt to negotiate these feelings into something I could process. Trying to prepare myself for a reckoning and wondering if this was a path to growth, or something just the opposite.” “Takes Some Time” serves as the catalyst of the album’s themes - of Mossman’s introspection and a sort of therapy to help understand the pain and underlying beauty to be found in loneliness.
Mossman, who has spent much of the past 5 years touring the world as the lead guitarist with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, devoted his quiet, fleeting moments off the road to writing and recording deeply personal music of his own. These songs, which at first felt too personal to share, came together to create the serene, often haunting, collection of songs featured on Ghost Gnotes' debut album.
The self-titled album was produced by Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Local Natives) – a longtime friend of Mossman. Joseph got wind of Mossman’s writing, and invited him to come to Eau Claire, Wisconsin so they could work on the record together. Joseph said “Luke is as strange as he is gifted. Often lost in thought, there is a quiet charm in knowing him and in seeing him drag a song into light. This album is a slowly drifting boat, headed down the river in a still dark. It is a moment where your breath hangs long in the cold air before sinking to the top of the water, and just out of reach is the bloated moon all orange and golden. Luke exists fully inside this music, and it's discovery.”
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: Well it's absolutely terrifying. Constantly wondering when there will be shows again. What that will even look like. But I suppose the silver lining is all the time to play and write, which are the most calming things I know how to do. And I really think my relationship to music has changed. I've sort of reconnected with why I originally got into music. Because it felt good. Before all this, it was a profession, but now it's an escape.
Band Website: ghostgnotes.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
Latest Release: "The Departure," self-released, May 22, 2020
About: Micah Wilson is an 18-year-old indie-pop producer and artist based in Denver. Coming from a high school known for its extensive academics, the self-taught artist found production and songwriting as an escape from the normal lifestyle his peers sought out. Using music as an outlet for his self expression, he transformed his room into his own studio, and quickly created a buzz around his name.
His music often comes from a place of vulnerability, something not many artists do currently. “Music to me is therapy” Micah says. “It’s a way I can figure out myself, and hopefully let others do the same”
With the release of his debut album, "The Departure," Micah opens up about mental health, especially for teens. The album is out now on all streaming platforms.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: Being a musician during COVID-19 has both its ups and downs. I definitely attempted to use the spare time to my advantage, but I also had to cancel a concert promoting the new debut album. As tough as this was, I feel that this virus has definitely given me more patience.
Latest Release: "The Getaway" EP, Self-Released, April 24, 2020
About: Nasty Nachos is the moniker of modular and vintage synthesizer enthusiast, Alex Anderson. When he is not developing and creating eurorack synthesizer modules for Denver-based company WMD, he is making tunes. Known for a wide variety of music, Nasty Nachos is about the moment, the feeling, and the vibe.
Anderson is the man behind two monthly synthesizer focused parties in Denver -- Freq Boutique, and Patched Out! Freq Boutique is hosted every second Monday at Fort Greene in Denver's Globeville neighborhood and is an open mic for modular synthesizer performances. Patched Out! happens every third Friday, also at Fort Greene. Patched Out! is a modular synth focused dance party and embodies Hardware, Techno, and House music. Freq Boutique is now happening virtually via the WMD YouTube channel. Patched Out! is currently postponed until further notice.
His first studio release, the single "The Getaway," was written in Norway, and recorded in Los Angeles at a vintage synthesizer studio. It features sounds from classic gear like the Yamaha CS80, Minimoog Model D, Korg Mono Poly, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland Juno 106, Dave Smith Prophet 08 and drums from Anderson's custom Eurorack Modular synthesizer consisting mostly of WMD Eurorack modules which he had a hand in designing.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: Things are a bit different. Opportunities look much different than they used to and you have to think a bit more about things before going after it. My EP release show was scheduled for early April at the Hi-Dive in Denver and that was canceled.
As a partygoer and party thrower, I had to rethink my strategy and goals for the release of the EP, which were previously just "throw a good party." I still get to DJ a residency gig at the Birdcall Evans restaurant. In this gig, my wife and I DJ for the Drive-Thru and Curbside customers. It is a much different vibe than a dance party, but is still fun to see music bring a smile to people's faces... even if it's just their eyes we can see and the smile is hidden under a mask.
The other new addition is the increased amount of live streaming. I have fully outfitted my studio to be a streaming studio with hardwired internet and technology that lets me get a direct audio stream of my performance rig to the streaming platform. This is new to a lot of artists and a work of art in its own right but has some advantages as everything can remain set up and does not need to travel for "the gig."
I have some really exciting streaming events coming that will include an audio and visual component that will be really involved. It's cool to think about set design, and be able to use lots of equipment and not necessarily have to stress about the mobility aspect as the stream is coming from my home studio. Collaboration on the electronic music front hasn't changed too much as when I collaborate with people, I hardly do it in person. Most of the time for electronic music, files are sent back and forth between artists and we're never in the same room anyway.
Band Website: NastyNachos.com
Get Social: Instagram, Twitch
Latest Release: "Undercover" (Single), Self-Release, April 3, 2020
About: “Retro-pop artist Nightlove will transport you back to the golden age of the dancefloor over sparkling synths and passionate vocals. Awash in pink and purple light and more often than not, donning your father’s favorite sports coat, the band effortlessly brings 1983 to 2018. Considering the band only began playing shows in November, UMS will undoubtedly be a launching ground for the bigger things in Nightlove’s future. If the music is any indication, the band’s throwback sound will only propel them to future fame.” - 303 Magazine
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: I guess it all depends on your day job. I lost mine, but now I can finally say I'm a full-time musician and not many people get to say that! I want to say I have been more productive than most, but that's not all true. We all struggle in this community with mental health so dealing with all of this has been tiring. Artist or not we all have good days and bad days. I'm just trying to draw inspiration from both.
Get Social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Hometown: Castle Rock, Colo.
About: Poor Moxi creates energetic and theatrical alternative rock; combining influences of surf rock, indie, and punk. The band blends tight, riff-driven instrumentals with feel-good melodies. Simply put, Poor Moxi makes music to get people moving.
Latest Release: "Same Kind of Vain" EP, Self-Release, April 20, 2020
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: As with most everybody, we've found both growth and struggle as a result of COVID-19's effect. One of the most difficult instances for us is the inability to play live shows. Each one of us misses being on stage and dancing with our fans! However, this time has allowed us to begin a more creative writing phase. We love to experiment with new sound and using all the different tools at our disposal. The band may not be able to meet up and jam right now, but we are able to make new sounds on our own.
Band Website: www.poormoxi.band
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube
Hometown: Littleton, Colo.
Formed: September 2019
Latest Release: "All For Show," Hard to Work With, May 1, 2020
About: Vinyl Courier started in the fall of 2019 with four music students from Littleton who had a passion for performing. After performing together at School of Rock Littleton, the desire to perform original music brought the band together. Inspired by early 2000s rock such as The Killers and The Strokes, the outfit brings a hard-hitting, danceable indie rock sound to any stage.
Vocalist/guitarist Cassie Collins, guitarist Cal Fowler, bassist V Van Nostern Walsh, and drummer Zach Marks combine their individual musical backgrounds to create music that is as energetic as it is memorable. The band's single and first release "Tell Me" received a praising review from Westword Magazine and positive response from their audience.
Since then, the band's debut EP "All For Show" has been released on all platforms. Vinyl Courier’s authentic spirit shines through with their crowd-engaging live performances and infectious, dynamic sound.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: It’s definitely a struggle to be a musician during COVID-19. The inability to play live shows has definitely taken a hit on us. Thankfully, we’ve been able to spend a lot of time writing. All of this time spent at home has allowed us to be able to spend a lot of energy writing and creating new music. We’ve been lucky to be healthy and able to keep making new music amidst the current state of the world.
Band Website: vinylcourier.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colo.
Formed: August 2019
Latest Release: "The Warped Glimmer," Self-Released, May 19, 2020
About: Sometimes, songs are true stories translated to the abstract medium of sound. To listen to the Warped Glimmer, the inaugural full length album by Colorado dream-pop duo Vivian, is to witness its members, Alana Rolfe and Tim Massa, falling in love.
Massa’s life underwent a complete metamorphosis: first, a breakup; then, a new living situation, and finally, leaving a job. From that transformative space, Massa sketched out the electronic background of the sonic landscape that would become Vivian. Rolfe heard the songs on Soundcloud and offered to add her lyrics and vocals to the mix. The two were used to working together--in the virtuosic gypsy rock band Stella Luce, and in their music industry day jobs--but for once, they volleyed ideas back and forth virtually, adding their own layers to each song. This project was a grand departure from Stella Luce. Their former band’s fiery rock romanticism, earthy and primitive and often staccatoed with exotic stringed instruments, was replaced with ethereal electronic chill: dreamy washes of synths, full body bass vibrations, and echoing electric guitar. Just as Warped Glimmer’s sparkle began to materialize, the two musicians fell in love. Vivian was born.
Rolfe, slated to move to Wyoming and quit music, left her former relationship to stay making music with Massa. They moved in together and began their most prolific creative project to date shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In quarantine, their new love and creative collaboration only heated up. “The songs are just tumbling out of us,” says Rolfe.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: We count ourselves very lucky that we moved in together on Feb. 1. It is terribly disappointing that we are unable to be out making connections and performing these songs for love audiences, but we are trying to stay hopeful and productive, having roughly demoed our next album in quarantine.
Band Website: https://vivianmusicco.com/
Get Social: Facebook, Instagram, Spotify
Latest Release: "End of the Rope" EP, Self-Released, June 15, 2020
About: Whole Milk is southwestern surf folk duo from Denver. On the road full-time since March 2018, the group has toured extensively, having played 300+ shows on 18 back-to-back tours across 28 states, plus Mexico and Canada. With two voices, guitar and bass, Alec Reid and Mariah George create an intimate soundscape influenced by 1960’s surf, bossa nova & spaghetti western. Their most recent releases include original Whole Milk drummer, Nate Ball, and Hunter Lee on guitar.
What's it like being a musician during Coronavirus: As full time touring musicians, it has meant putting life as we knew it on hold. We are adjusting to a more sedentary lifestyle for now, living in a house with running water (rather than a van) for the first consistent time in three years. It has its perks, but we're road dogs at heart. We are looking forward to evolving with the industry in this time of transition.
Band Website: www.wholemilkmusic.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
You made it!
You love learning about new music and the Denver music scene. We have a weekly newsletter for you -- Inside Track. Sign up here to stay in the know about the hottest Colorado concerts and how you can score tickets!