In celebration of Women's History Month, we are spotlighting some of the female artists, that are shaking up the Colorado music scene. This month features local mainstays like Jen Korte's newest project Lady Gang, musician Bevin Luna, and Kal Cahoone who has been recording with Elin Palmer as Kal and Elin.
Who else is on the lineup for this month? Well, local soulpop songstress YaSi returns to the Local 303 and we also welcome uplifting R&B vibes from Povi and electro-pop artist Bunny Blake. A Denver native growing up in the Montbello neighborhood, hip-hop favorite Jelie will have her latest single featured this month too.
In addition, indie front women of bands Stop Motion and Specific Ocean bring rock influences and beautiful harmonies in their respective groups. Interestingly both artists met their core bandmate while honing their music skills. Stop Motion's Faith Allen met her guitarist Evan Lei as kids at a music summer camp and Camilla Vaitaitis of Specific Ocean met her music partner Alec Wenzel as jazz students in college.
Ellsworth is the new solo outlet from Megan Ellsworth of former Local 303 featured band Sister Neapolitan. And we round out the month with a few other solo artists to have on your radar, Isadora Eden and University of Colorado student, Kiley Kimble.
Meet some of the musicians (virtually)! We will live stream our Local 303 Meetup on Mar. 29 at 4 p.m. MT on our homepage or watch from YouTube.
Meet March's picks:
Hometown: Memphis, TN and now in Fort Collins, CO
Latest Release: Buchanan, Self-Release, Jan. 16, 2021
About: Based out of Fort Collins with roots in Memphis and the Dominican Republic, Bevin Luna’s guitar and gut driven songs package sly intelligence inside a rough & rugged sound. She flavors every show, solo or band, with a broad mix of styles. Her albums pack short punches of grunge-influenced rock. Her songs sound like a mashup of the Pretenders and the Runaways being performed by the Heartless Bastards and Mudhoney. Her live shows might include at least as much country, folk or soul as roots rock. The diversity of sounds reflects the diversity in her background.
Musicians That Inspire: Chuck Berry, Concrete Blonde, PJ Harvey, IDLES, Pelican, Carla Thomas, Oblivions, The Lost Sounds, Irma Thomas, Little Richard, Cat Power, Nirvana, Kitty Wells, She Keeps Bees, Bo Diddley, Bass Drum of Death, Brittany Howard, Jane’s Addiction, and more.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: It absolutely shaped me as a musician. It pushed me to take risks with home recording and collaboration skills. Before 2020, I would book shows, schedule rehearsals, play shows, and repeat. The year 2020 gave me space to embrace my creativity in ways that I had never imagined. I had the time to reflect and prioritize what is important to me and that is song-writing, recording, collaboration, and music curation. I absolutely miss the energy of live shows! I also really enjoyed returning to the roots of what has shaped me as a musician. Last year proved to me that no matter what obstacles arise, music heals our communities and connects us in our humanity.
Get Social: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: "Freak of the Show," Self-Release, Oct. 6, 2020
About: Bunny Blake is a public figure. Most people know her as a singer; but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Ask her when she started singing and she'll tell you, "since before I can remember." Bunny grew up surrounded by music. With a guitar player for a father and opera singer for an aunt, it's not surprising that Bunny Blake would carry on the family legacy. Bunny was 12 when she started writing her own music. Since then, she's been on a journey to discover her unique style. Taking her momentum in stride, Bunny Blake plans to release more singles and an EP by the end of 2021 featuring pop music with an edge that is uniquely hers.
Musicians That Inspire: One article published by 303 Magazine stated it best: "[Bunny] wanted to be a singer after listening to Destiny’s Child, to be a guitar player after listening to James Taylor and to be a rocker after listening to Tool". I've always had an eclectic taste in music, especially styles that differ from my own. Listening to someone do something I would never think of really reminds me of how magical music is. It goes beyond anything I could describe.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: I feel privileged to be entrusted with a gift of music - especially as a person who's live shows once accounted for 100% of my income. 2020 has been a tough transition, but it's also helped me connect to why I do this in the first place. I've been able to start a Patreon, and my patrons have allowed me to create in new and different ways. Words really can't describe how blessed I feel because of the support of my fans in this time. It makes everything worth it.
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Patreon
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: ELLSWORTH, Rosethorn Records, Jan. 29, 2021
About: It was just another day in the small town of Camp Sherman, Oregon when 8-year-old Megan Rose Ellsworth picked up her dad’s guitar. She stretched her pudgy, kid fingers across the neck, and gleefully plucked the strings. Her father noticed her love of music and taught her a few chords, unknowingly spurring within Megan a yearning that would fuel the trajectory of her life. She soon surpassed her father’s ability to teach and began writing and performing whenever she got the chance. Now a graduate from two of the University of Colorado Denver’s award-winning programs, Music Business and Songwriting, she is living her passion as a touring folk singer-songwriter under her last name, ELLSWORTH.
ELLSWORTH is a lyrical storyteller and an infectious performer. Her melancholic slant to the folk genre has been compared to likes of anti-folk greats such as Regina Spektor and Angus & Julia Stone. Her self-titled debut album ELLSWORTH is a chilling combination of raw lyrical storytelling skilled musical composition and mastering. Each song feels like a breath of fresh air amidst the chaos, and her songs “Growing Pains” and “Fight or Flight” release the feelings of fear, pain or unease that often accompany us through life’s unpredictable trek.
"With a stunningly pure voice, boundless enthusiasm and a way with words that hugs deep into our hearts, she is a singer-songwriter that is finding her feet and it feels like she will only get better and better through time. Having talent is one thing but being sincere, putting in the hard work and going for your dreams through undoubted trial and error, is how you become truly great at what you set your mind to." -AnR Factory, London, UK
Musicians That Inspire: Joni Mitchell (particularly the Blue album), Tom Petty (his later albums in the 90s are *chefs kiss*), Brandi Carlile (I aspire to be as cool as her one day), Nathaniel Rateliff (Specifically the “Falling Faster Than You Can Run” album, hot damn!), Paul McCartney and the Beatles (need I say more? lol!)
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: 2020 has deeply shaped the musician I am today. It has taught me the true meaning of grit and determination as well as having really sunk the phrase “you reap what you sow” even deeper into my conscious life.
You get out what you put in, and sometimes you just don’t have a lot to put in and that is OKAY. You wake up, accomplish getting out of bed and feeling alright and if that is all you accomplished then that is a job well done.
Music will always be there for me even when I can’t be there for myself in a sense, it is like my little imaginary friend and this past year has reinstated that for me.
The creativity always finds a way back to me and for that I am immensely grateful.
I am feeling incredibly lucky to be able to play a few socially distanced live shows again because it was rough not being able to do that, feeling scared to get together with my bands and just feeling scared overall, but we all persevered and hopefully we are coming out of the darkness. I want to thank you, Indie 102.3 for continuing to support local music because it is people like you that helped so many of us stay afloat.
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, YouTube
Hometown: Originally from Essex MA, currently Denver
Formed: With current lineup 2019, but first released music in 2017
Latest Release: All Night EP, Self-Release, Feb. 5, 2021
About: Isadora Eden (she/her) is a musician originally from MA, who has lived and played in Brooklyn, New Orleans, and currently Denver (named one of 19 Denver musicians to watch in 2021 by 303 Magazine). Her music is a mix of indie rock, shoegaze and folk — it has drawn comparisons to artists like Soccer Mommy, Slowdive, and Snail Mail.
The newest EP, All Night, is out now and marks a shift to a more full sound – music co-written with band-member Sumner Erhard, and production/mixing/mastering by Corey Coffman.
Musicians That Inspire: Frightened Rabbit, Daughter, Soccer Mommy, Fenne Lily, Laura Gibson, Mothers, Elliott Smith, Snail Mail, Slowdive, Gleemer, Beach House
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: In some ways I've grown a lot as a musician this year - we're writing a lot, we recorded our new EP, and I've explored some stuff I might not have otherwise (like learning drums, writing without live-testing). I'm a lot more clear on what I want to sound like and what kind of music I want to make than I was a year ago.
Get Social: Instagram, Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube
Hometown: Denver, CO
Formed: I've been rapping since I was 8, so about 15 years ago.
Latest Release: Miss Me, Self-Released, Nov. 11, 2020
About: Jelie. I got my name from my mother and father's last names. I took the J from Jones, and combined it with Elie, with the result of Jelie, pronounced 'Jel-eye'. Denver Montbello native, my mission is to touch as many people as possible through music and spoken word.
Aside from my own music, I'm currently designing and developing sounds, in addition to templates and tutorials for the heavily overlooked 'Propellerhead Reason', via avenues represented by my self-owned business, Kickback Couture.
[Fighting temptations and evading peer influence, Jelie presents the story of the lost, and the vision of raw truth.]
Musicians That Inspire: I'm influenced by producers mostly, so Southside, Metro Boomin, Timbaland and 9th Wonder come to mind first.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: 2020 has provided opportunities that I'm entirely grateful for. Although I was back and forth between being a full-time musician and working a side job, I now don't have to consider a side job to fund being an artist. My art funds my art.
Get Social: Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, Instagram
Hometown: Denver, Sweden, L.A.
Latest Release: Kal and Elin - The Things of This World, Self-Release, May 1, 2020
About: Kal Cahoone's presence in the Colorado music scene dates back to the late-1990's and she is known for acclaimed bands over the last two decades Tarantella, Kal Cahoone and the Dirty Pretty, and most recently as Kal and Elin.
She began composing music and lyrics in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Christian Basso whom she met while traveling there in 1997. Once Cahoone returned to Denver in 1999, she approached friend John Rumley with a cassette tape of some of her recent music she was creating in South America and asked him to form a band. Shortly thereafter they started up Tarantella and quickly became a beloved Denver act with their vibrant performances and are said to be part of the "Denver Sound" with their gothic Americana influences which Rumley helped bring to the act.
Rumley is a long-time local multi-talented artist in Denver who has been performing since the 1970s. He is a multi-instrumentalist/marionettist/luthier/film-maker/musician. He is known for performing in bands like Slim Cessna's Auto Club and The Buckingham Squares; as well as creating the show Late Night Denver. After years of playing live, Tarantella released their debut, Esqueletos, in 2005.
Returning to and playing around Denver also led Cahoone to meet up with
multi-instrumentalist and composer/singer Elin Palmer (Laux) of Elin
Palmer and Light Racket, Munly, The Czars, The Fray, and DeVotchKa. They had met years earlier when Palmer went on tour with local friends
16 Horsepower. Ever since then they have collaborated on multiple
projects including Kal Cahoone and the Dirty Pretty, and the newly
released EP under the name Kal and Elin.
Other players: Christopher Nelsen (Avifauna, Rabbit is a Sphere, Women and Men) joined them on drums in 2006 and newer member Leon Gonzalez joined on bass after he met Cahoone while buying a friends guitar (David Edwards) at a neighborhood yard sale. Multi-instrumentalist and composer John Rumley was also recently re-recruited with the band for the Kal and Elin EP. The Things of this World was released in 2020 and is a 5-song EP that was kindly and professionally recorded by Ron Gordon and his students at Warren Tech and produced by Randall Frazier.
Musicians That Inspire:
Kal Cahoone's picks- Mazzy Star. Joy Division. Hungarian Gypsy Music. Tango/Folklore. Leonard Cohen. Manu Chau. Nina Simone and Cesaria Evora. George Michael. The 80’s. The 80’s. The 80’s! Some local influences as well in the 90’s.
Elin Palmer's picks- Folk Och Rackare, The Queers, Redbone
The rest of the band- definitely different stuff.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how:
Kal- “I feel like 2020 was confusing, in that I actually made many new
songs, yet never left the house. Recording alone at home alone was
something completely new to me, but it was truly inspiring to be in such
silence in the beginning of the quarantine, it was kind of magical and songs
(melodies and lyrics) were coming up like crazy. All of a sudden I was
recording with Joshua Trinidad, connecting with friends from the past in
Argentina and creating new lyrics/melodies with the project C.C.C.P.
(Composiciones Colectivas en Cuarentena Popular) Participated with Rezza
Sol in Argentina on a very interesting “Soundscape”, and also recorded some songs/poems by friend Edgar Lujan of Mexico City.” 2020 was a time of intensely deep loneliness and profound and renewed connections. Elin Palmer sings beautifully on a record released during the pandemic with
local musician magician Tom Hagerman of Devotchka called “Post Truth
Serum.” Kal and Elin and the band were also were able to film a music video during the past summer of quarantine on her mother’s land near Conifer--it was the best day ever! They truly enjoy each other’s company and John Rumley’s talent with the camera.
Websites From Bandmates: Elin's website, John Rumley's work as luthier, John Rumley's Late Night Denver,
Get Social With Kal And Bandmates: Kal and Elin Bandcamp, Kal and Elin Spotify, Kal's Bandcamp, Kal's Facebook, Tarantella's Bandcamp, Elin's side-project Post-Truth Serum Bandcamp, George Cessna's Bandcamp, C.C.C.P. Bandcamp
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Latest Release: "Burn" (Single), Self-Release, Oct. 2, 2020
Bio: Kiley Kimble is a 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Boulder, CO. She grew up singing and playing piano, and taught herself how to play guitar in college. Like many other artists, her music is a way for her to process and channel the experiences in her life. She produces all of her music on her own in her bedroom.
Her song "Burn" was written late in the summer of 2020 during the weeks of unrelenting smoke from the Colorado and California forest fires and was recorded using a cell phone. She will be releasing several new songs around the end of March. She will be graduating from CU-Boulder in May with a degree in Economics and hopes to help shift incentives toward sustainability and corporate responsibility.
Musicians That Inspire: Joni Mitchell and Sara Barielles
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: I don't feel like 2020 particularly shaped me as a musician. I'm still a full-time student, so I spent most of the year knocking out college credits. I didn't have as much free time as many people, and I haven't experienced the stress of depending on my music as a source of income. I do think that 2020 shaped me as a person, so in that sense, I'm sure that will find a way to emerge in my music.
Get Social: Instagram, Soundcloud
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: Full Throttle, Self-Release, Feb. 26, 2021
About: The Lady Gang inception was no ordinary birth. It’s what happens when a once lonely loop pedal, an electric guitar, a beat machine, and a set of pipes that have dominated the Denver music scene for 14 years, collide. Lady Gang is Jen Korte as she artfully steps outside of the familiar and moves toward the discomfort of a good idea. The artist’s risk takes listeners for a ride that demands our attention.
Lady Gang defies not only what we think we know about our favorite local artist but also what we thought we knew about musical technology. Jen Korte is known to us as both a solo artist as well as a champion collaborator, is well versed in all genres of music, and played every venue you’ve heard of from Denver to Caribbean.
A career rooted in both indie rock and hip-hop seems to be the only backdrop that could help make sense of Lady Gang’s calculated execution of sound that drips with originality and soul. Having opened for national acts like The Pharcyde, Mac Lethal and Wax, and Nappy Roots, along with being nominated for ‘Best Singer-Songwriter” by Denver Westword in 2018, and taking the title in 2019, fans are taking note.
Musicians That Inspire: I am really inspired by such a mix of musicians. My biggest influence most recently has been Brittany Howard both on the production level and performance level. I wore out "Sound and Color" and went to see Alabama Shakes in Taos in 2018, I think? Maybe even longer than that but it was in my top 3 shows ever. I listen to a lot of her interviews and when she talks about her process, I just feel kindred to her. Like yeah, we could make a record together. She also plays so many different instruments on her albums and I just really appreciate that. Its fun to know how to work the pieces of the puzzle. I love Jack White's guitar tones, Q Tip's brilliant ear, Tom York's brain, Ani DiFranco's Storytelling, Hector Lavoe's voice, Willie Colons Trombone, and Billie Holidays passion.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: I think it has shaped me as an artist as a whole vs just musically. I feel like in a lot of ways "2020" or the idea of 2020 isn't over yet... but I am creating more than ever. Not gigging full time kind of freed up some space in my brain to allow me create in new mediums- one primarily being video. I took a job cleaning AirBnbs so my evenings and afternoons are spent just figuring out how to spend my time vs going from one thing to the next to the next to the next. I didn't realize how exhausted I was. Ideas weren't getting the full attention they deserved and i just had no idea. I am also taking a 9 week class on sync licensing with The Music District's program, The Workout. I am very fortunate to not only be involved with such an amazing program but I am also fortunate I have the time to do it. I wouldn't have been able to do that if I was still gigging full time and in 4 bands. I've written more in 2020 and now 2021 than I have in years. I feel like I am just now figuring out how to use all of the tools and skills I have been working on for 20 years to find my voice. Now I just want to make sure I am using it to say something worthwhile and to use it in ways that benefits the unheard. I could go on and on, yall.
Website: www.LadyGangMusic.com, www.JKandtheloss.com
Get Social: Lady Gang Instagram, Jen Korte Instagram, Lady Gang Facebook, Lady Gang YouTube
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: "Who Better" (Single), Self-Release, Nov. 12, 2020
About: Povi, a singer / songwriter from Denver, Colorado released her first song Tiny Bombs, which got her recognition from Red Bull Sound Select program who shortly after signed Povi & released two new singles: Park hill ft Makonnen & 4 A.M produced by Christian Rich. Povi then took her first RBSS tour with artist's SZA and LIZZO. Now living in Los Angeles, CA Povi gave us “Lilac” at the high point of quarantine, marches for justice and political outrage. “Lets go tonight, lets hit the road, lets never look back, or let go” offered refuge from an all too real dystopian reality.
Her newest song, "Who Better" is a rich and electric tune about an unexpected, unintended love story. The hook is simple and to the point, “Who better, for me better, than you” She takes a dive head first into self love and discovery “keeping space for my, vase that I, fill with devotion” and when you least expect it love comes in for the taking “Cause I wasn’t looking for love” Povi’s velvety voice calms the storm and takes you to a grounded place.
Musicians That Inspire: From 2018-2020 I have been heavily influenced by guitarist, singer songwriters and poets. My step-dad and grandpa are two huge influences on my writing, they both write incredible poetry. I have been obsessing over Snoh Aalegra for her analog mature and soulful voice, and lyrics to match. For my own personal writing style I've been reading lots of books. Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owens and All About Love by Bell Hooks have inspired me to write multiple songs in 2020.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how:
ABSOLUTELY!! 2020 solidified who I am as a musician, writer, speaker, human. This has been the hardest, best, worst year of my life. In March 2020 I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles literally days before the first major lockdown. I was in a brand new, not to mention huge city with only a few friends none of which I was living with so I felt very alone. It's given me the chance to get to know myself on a deeper level and level up on guitar playing, song writing, mental health, physical health and had the chances to read so many books which ultimately helps with writing. The first thing I ever wanted to do as a little girl was act, during quarantine I decided to get back into it and have been auditioning again. Overall, 2020 let me know that I'm on the right track, when I slow down and revel in the process.
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: "Unity Effect" (Single), Self-Release, Feb. 20, 2021
About: The members of Specific Ocean met as jazz students at the University of Denver in 2013. Hoping to explore other musical areas besides jazz, they formed Specific Ocean in late 2014. Their personnel has shifted extensively through the years, but core members Alec Wenzel, Clayton Vye, and Camilla Vaitaitis remained active throughout. Recently, Clayton made a move outside of Colorado, so the band is now run by Camilla and Alec with new drummer Nikki Saiz and bassist Donovan Armijo. Specific Ocean writes and performs original indie music that is reflective of their diverse musical backgrounds. Jazz, alternative, hip-hop, and funk are all notable components of their sound. Specific Ocean is known for energetic live shows that allow for a lot of improvisation and spontaneity. Their newest single, Unity Effect came out on Feb. 20, 2021.
Musicians That Inspire: Crumb is the band we get compared to the most and certainly an inspiration for us. Other inspiring artists include St. Vincent and Stereolab.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: 2020 was the biggest year of growth I’ve ever had, both as a musician and as a person. I finished my Master’s degree in jazz composition from DU in June of 2020. Once school was over, combined with the loss of all my usual gigs - I found myself with so much extra time. Music during the time of isolation became a source of comfort and exploration, where before it had been greatly a source of stress in my life. I started making music for myself, not feeling confined to genre or deadlines or what I thought people wanted to hear. For a period of time, I challenged myself to write a tune per day - “Quarantunes” is what I called them. Some of those songs became Specific Ocean tunes, some found their way to my jazz trio, and I play many of them in both settings because now I know that I don’t have to have expectations for my music and my music can evolve and adapt as I do. 2020 was the year I fell back in love with music.
Hometown: Portland, OR, now based in Denver
Latest Release: “Mandy” (Single), Self-Release, Mar. 5, 2021
About: Stop Motion is a dog in a bandana — sincere without taking life too seriously. With their combination of sultry R&B, catchy pop hooks, and rock n’ roll drama, the band gives listeners permission to be themselves. Whether that’s yelling at the government or singing a sappy love song, Stop Motion’s your soundtrack.
Evan Lei [guitar] and Faith Allen [vocals] met at a music summer camp when they were kids. The band was formed when the pair moved to Denver and met Luke Maxson [synth/keys], José Gutiérrez [bass], and K.R. Azad [drums] who vibe on the same wavelength. Since hitting the Denver music scene, StopMotion has played venues such as Larimer Lounge and The Bluebird Theater. With two EPs and a single under their belt, the band has more to come in 2021.
Musicians That Inspire: Hi, it’s Faith here! I’m immensely inspired by so many female musicians. I will forever and always be rooting for my ladies.
Esperanza Spalding for representing my hometown and knowing her craft forward and back. Rachel Price of Lake Street Dive for her voice and authenticity. Charlotte Day Wilson for being one of the few independent, self-produced, queer, female songwriters. And Ella Fitzgerald for teaching me vibrato in 7th grade.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: When the work stopped in 2020, I was lost. I had forgotten how to create for creating’s sake. Since realizing this, I’ve been dedicating time to nurturing the artist in me. I want to feel the way I did at 14 sitting on my bedroom floor writing songs til my eyes grew heavy. The progress is non-linear, but every day is a new chance to be creative and free.
Hometown: Denver, CO
Latest Release: "guilty" (Single), Royal Rhythm Recordings, Feb. 18, 2021 and "world is burning" (Single), Royal Rhythm Recordings, Mar. 18, 2021
About: In art, as in life, YaSi is caught between worlds. The first-generation American daughter of Persian immigrants creates songs that toe the line between Eastern and Western influences, between ebullience and sultriness, between optimism and realism.
YaSi has toured with Raja Kumari & iyla and has opened for the likes of Teyana Taylor, K.Flay, Zara Larsson, and Lolo Zouaï. Her music has been on Spotify's Fresh Finds along with publications and blogs like NPR, Earmilk, and Indie Shuffle.
Her anticipated EP - Coexist With Chaos - is slated to be released at the beginning of April.
Musicians That Inspire: I like to think I'm the confused love-child of Kid Cudi, Radiohead, 90s pop, Frank Ocean, Lorde, Whitney Houston and Lauryn Hill.
Do you feel like 2020 has shaped you as a musician? If so, how: Oh 100%. As a musician who was constantly playing shows/touring from 2016 to early 2020, I really had to reconnect with my artistry. Luckily I have fallen back in love with the studio process and writing music has been so therapeutic...but I would love to tour again...one day.
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, Spotify