2016 has been the year for many, many things. Some surreal, others dumbfounding, but in the entertainment world, live streaming content has seen positive growth and evolution far beyond what it was last year. Major TV networks have been launching technology and consumer-based business innovation that’s already been at play in the music industry for some time.
Charles Raggio, Sr. Director, Artist Partnerships and Branded Content at TuneIn, has been busy cultivating deals and plans to further capitalize and grow what he and his team have already put in place, extending the streaming radio platform into the festival and concert space.
Watching members of Augustines, Billy McCarthy, Eric Sanderson, and Rob Allen, playing and singing their hearts out a capella in the middle of the crowd at Larimer Lounge in Denver with lots of smiles from the faces surrounding them, these musicians live and breath their connection with these people huddled in this small rock club. Having seen them a few years ago at the Bluebird, my friend Jen and I enjoyed the after-show banter with the band members; the sumptuous dessert after a luscious meal of songs from the band's repertoire.
The guys cherish these moments to talk to the people that listen and drink in their personal tales of triumph and woe. As the double edge sword of popularity, relishing in the embrace of their fan base and growth, moments likes these are not always possible and may be even less so in the future, if all continues to grow and blossom.
As the paying-your-dues story goes, Augustines have the road rash and badges to show for it, including dealing with legal issues in regards to the use of their name and even personal and tragic loss of loved ones. Having reclaimed their identity and arrived at this point in their journey, the overall feeling and embrace of the aptly named self-titled album is one of rebirth, where a level of self knowledge and a more worldly perspective has been taken even deeper than before. Billy responds, “It’s always funny with anything like art, painting, photography, poetry, whatever, you’re, ‘I feel this way. I wonder if it will come out in the work.' We all really feel that way, and we’re constantly reinventing ourselves.”
While Augustines’ musical legacy and catalogue is strung together with silk threads of deeply personal stories put to song, the tracks on the new album move into the realm of thriving and not just surviving, about getting out of your mind, literally, as on “Nothing to Lose But Your Head,” set to triumphant percussion and choruses, catapulting your soul past loss and ache. To get rid of the human penchant of living in the past and bringing yourself into the present, turn to “Don’t You Look Back.”
“Well, we talk a lot, we think a lot, we reflect a lot on life,” Eric adds. “I think it’s only natural that it comes across in our music. We’ve talked about the ideas behind the record a lot now, and the truth is, we didn’t sit down and come up with a theme and then carry it out. We just carried on doing what we do; being present, being conscious, and trying to express what’s going on in our thoughts and our lives.”
According to Eric, this songwriting process involved a lot of soul searching, and “coming to terms with who you are, and coming to terms with the fact that you don’t know who you are. At the same time it was a really fascinating time not entirely knowing who we are. We had the opportunity to reflect on our lives and not be held back by unbelievable struggle. We had the opportunity to sit in some degree of comfort and look at ourselves and say, ‘Who are we?’”
At this point Billy looks at his bandmate with an expression of recognition of those moments, half laughing in a way of relief of those accomplishment emotional resolutions. Eric continues, “When you’re a struggling artist your entire life, you don’t have that luxury. All you have is this identity you form as the struggling artist…trying to prove that you’re worth something. Then you finally get to the place that you always wanted to be, you have to ask yourself, ‘Where are you going to go from there?’ because that identity of a struggling artist no longer exists.”
While Augustines may not have the opportunity to huddle in the middle of the crowd at every show to perform in the way they did in Denver, Billy vows they will retain their sense of closeness to the people who take their music to heart.
“We’ve always liked the word ‘community’ rather than ‘fans.’ because these are people who have homes, and lives, and jobs, and they’re coming here to be with us,” he said, delving into the other side of popularity in the form of sold out shows and radio airplay, of their music being picked up by the mass populous. “It’s a little threatening. We had to work through a lot of those thoughts. What happens when the crowds are so much bigger and we don’t get to get out there?”
Already Billy admits that in some cities it turns out to be a circus if they all go out into the crowd after the show, like the sold out turning point for Augustines at Shepard’s Bush Empire.
Connecting back to that time, the anthemic “Now You Are Free,” feels of sorts, as a love letter to London, and the making of its video brought the two countries of America and Britain together, representing the cross-country roots of Augstines’ members. In fact, Rob’s father is in the video driving the taxi. “That kind of integrates a lot of our community, family ethos.”
The beauty about music is it can lead anyone anywhere, figuratively or literally, as a listener or as a songwriter. For Griff Snyder, it took him from the snowy mountains of Colorado to the shores of California and back; from the days of folk music parties featuring his band Dovekins to the solo explorations of electronic music and the birth of Inner Oceans.
What may or may not be an 'official band photo' of Portland's Grandhorse is no doubt an apt representation of their persona: floating carefree in the water, jovial, and bonding with cold beverages.
After chatting with Harry Koisser, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for Birmingham's PEACE, I realized that the band wasn't on a stretch for this current U.S. tour. He, along with Samuel Koisser on bass, Douglas Castle on guitar, and Dominic Boyce on drums had been going solid since I'd seen them on the last day of SXSW 2013, playing a blow-out set at the British Music Embassy showcase.
It was one year ago when I spoke with Brennen Bryarly about his idea: to top into 100 personally chosen tastemakers in Denver to be a part of a monthly community event that brought renowned dance music to the people. That first night on November 19, 2011 at Beauty Bar featured Damon Allen, along with Brennan, otherwise known as Option4, locals Mike D. and Peter Black.
On a warm summer night, a number of us from Denver’s music community gathered at Lannie’s Clock Tower in the heart of the city’s downtown bustle to be the first to hear tracks from the Epilogues’ long-awaited album, Cinematics. Virgil Dickerson, purveyor of Suburban Home Records, poured refreshing Moscow Mules from a sitting position while his leg mended, and Pete Turner, the owner of Illegal Pete’s and founder of the Greater Than Collective, asked us to raise a glass for this momentous occasion.
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Mancub quickly became a electro pop favorite in Denver, setting the stage with a ‘dancing in the streets’ set at the Underground Music Showcase in 2011 and the group’s release of 8-Bit Crush, a bevy of summer grooves and vivacious dance tracks. In 2012, members Alex Anderson and Danny Stillman are down to just one, and Alex preservers in an unbridled fashion, as is evidenced in his latest release, Business Dogs, which debuts to the live audience on Friday, May 25 at Larimer Lounge with DJ Babyshoe and Swim Club.
Life has a way of coming full circle. For Blair Shehan of L.A.’s The Jealous Sound, it’s brought him back to his SoCal town and to the creative space to write, record and release A Gentle Reminder, the band’s first album since the pinnacle 2003 Kill Them With Kindness. Chatting with me as he got ready for their nationwide tour, Blair reflected on his personal past, present and the future of The Jealous Sound.