Style of music in 10 words or less: "How-to-get-through-the-day music"
Three artists he admires: Robert Cray, Lobo Loggins, Vicky Loggins
First live performances: 2000
Recordings: Have a Nice Day
Although he first started playing around town in his mid-teens, it took Jake Loggins another decade to put out his debut album. Have a Nice Day, which Loggins released on his own label earlier this summer, not only showcases the blues-rock prodigy's guitar skills, it also foregrounds a songwriting talent that was mostly hidden up until now.
"I guess I had to live enough life, you know, to finish the songs that I was trying to write," says the musician, "because none of them had endings."
So what happened to suddenly change all that? "Um, to be honest, I got really sad," he says with a somewhat mirthless laugh. "Back in January, stuff wasn't going right, and I sat down and I wrote 16 songs in a week and a half. And that's not any bullshit, man. I've never had anything happen like that in my career. I had some very, very deep personal stuff go down that affected me on the deepest level I've been affected in all my life. And I guess [songwriting is] all I had left that I could do, and it really was a creative outlet."
In the nine months since, Loggins says, his life has done a complete turnaround. "I have a brand new baby nephew Levi, who came into the world last week. I have a child on the way, and I'm engaged to the woman of my dreams." Loggins also cites his Indy Music Award win as well as the recent resurrection of the Navajo Hogan, where he hosts a weekly blues jam.
"I'm stoked that the Hogan is back. That's the place where I cut my teeth and learned how to do what I do now. It's one of the early places where I just learned how to do this, and saw all my favorite people play."
Not surprisingly, the Sunday sessions are mostly geared toward old blues classics, even though Loggins has a lot more original material to draw on these days.
"I have a hard time listening to the album now," he confesses. "I love the album, but it makes me very emotional, because I had to live that stuff. And it's beautiful, because everything in my life is so different now.
"But if I was ever to get back to that place again, you know, I'd have an album to listen to."
Mango Fan Django
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Gypsy jazz with a modern twist ... and more"
Band members: Archtop Eddy (solo guitar, vocals), Stefan Doucette (rhythm guitar), Brian Hofflander (upright bass)
Three artists they admire: Django Reinhardt, Bireli Lagrene, Fapy Lafertin
Year of origin: 1998
Recordings: Virtual Tourist (1999), (Virtually) Live at Rico's (2007), SWAY! (2007), Chile, Coffee & Roadshows (2008), Collage (2008), Soñando Rojo (2010)
"At first, it seemed like a pretty foreboding style of guitar," says Archtop Eddy in regard to Django Reinhardt's gypsy jazz innovations. "But once you get started with it, then it gets pretty obsessive."
So obsessive, in fact, that Eddy and his group Mango fan Django have been at it for more than a decade. The guitarist, who'd previously played more in the style of early electric guitarists like Charlie Christian, Slim Gaillard and Tiny Grimes, is now dedicated to keeping Reinhardt's music alive, as are other gypsy jazz combos all over the world.
But as specialized as the genre may be, Eddy says most contemporary bands continue to push the parameters of its sound. "Gypsy jazz has gone through a lot of changes since the Hot Club of France," he says, referring to Reinhardt's legendary outfit with musicians like Stephane Grappelli back in the 1930s. "Contemporary gypsy jazz players include various Latin feels, and the swing is a more modern style than what the Hot Club made famous. We do a lot of winking and nodding toward American genres like jump swing music. And I used to play in a reggae band, so we do reggae periodically as well. You know, we have a little fun with it."
In addition to Django's songs and a selection of their own original material, the musicians introduce their audiences to the work of other gypsy jazz artists. They also do a whole lot of improvising, and the bandleader is quick to emphasize how important it's been for him to work with his talented bandmates.
"To me, it's like the old rock power trios," says Eddy, "in that it gives you far more ability to be flexible, in terms of just taking it in new directions with essentially no planning. Like Cream or Hendrix or Grand Funk Railroad or any of those guys back in the day, they were real jam bands. A trio works really well for that, but once it gets bigger, then it's almost like someone's gonna get lost."
Edith Makes a Paper Chain
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Quixotic, melancholy, fiction-inspired, circus folk-pop, with occasional gypsy and Latin proclivities"
Band members: Matt Chmielarczyk (ukulele, lead guitar, mandolin), Sarah Hope (vocals, guitar), Hilary Studebaker (vocals, viola), Jeremy Van Hoy (brass), Mike Kimlicko (bass, guitar), Aimee Spillane (drums)
Three artists they admire: The Be Good Tanyas, Pink Martini, Radiohead
Year of origin: 2007
Recordings: Tunes for Tripping Down Stairs (2009), Beau and Arrow (2010)
Edith Makes a Paper Chain's original namesake — the one founding members Sarah Hope, Hilary Studebaker and Melissa Joy adopted for a rapidly approaching first gig — was lifted from the pages of an old library book on crafts.
"She had gray hair in a beehive and she was making paper chains," recalls Hope. "But there are lots of Ediths now. It's like she's taken on all kinds of personas — personae, I suppose — and there's hundreds of spinoffs of who Edith might really be."
Like, for instance, Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick, or French chanteuse Edith Piaf, or even, Hope says, "Edith from Grey Gardens, that documentary about those crazy ladies who lived in the Hamptons — there's a Rufus Wainwright song about it."
In retrospect, any or all of them might have been appropriate inspirations for a band that's never suffered a shortage of musical or lyrical imagination. "A lot of our songs are based on fiction," says Hope. "Something we made up, or Grimm's fairy tales, or something I read about in a newspaper and just tried to imagine what happened next."
Although Hope came of age musically among '90s Minneapolis bands who were all enamored with Sonic Youth and Bikini Kill — "it was pretty trendy to be in an all-girl indie-rock band, which I did" — her Colorado Springs outfit has a more "handcrafted" sound, with plenty of acoustic instruments and quirky repertoire like "Pearly Bones," a reggae-polka song about a sea witch.
And while a number of similarly eclectic bands like the Decemberists or even Arcade Fire have made inroads into the commercial music world, Edith Makes a Paper Chain's ambitions are less grand, though no less worthy. "We're really kind of like a crocheted, hand-made kind of band, I guess," says Hope. "There have been times when we've talked about touring or trying to be more successful or something like that. But it never really works, because we're really just kind of ... ourselves."
40 oz. Freedom Fighters
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Sweet rock-cover shenanigans"
Band members: Nicolas Caballero (vocals), Tim Mako (guitar), Daryl Grant (bass), Phil Purstell (keyboards), Anthony Welch (drums)
Three artists they admire: Dimebag Darrell, Les Claypool, Mos Eisley Cantina Band
First live performances: 2006
40 oz. Freedom Fighters' claim that Star Wars' Mos Eisley Cantina Band is one of their favorite acts is clearly meant as a joke — we think — since their selection of material is pretty rock-centric. But within that framework, frontman Nic Caballero says their repertoire is intended to cover as many bases as possible, ranging from Sublime to Billy Idol to Metallica.
"We try to be super-diverse," says Caballero, whose band grew out of an open jam that he and guitarist Tim Mako used to host at the Hatch Cover. "So that it doesn't matter what kind of music you like. Eventually you're gonna hear something you like."
Unless, say, your taste is restricted to a genre like country, which Caballero says band members have nothing against; they just haven't found a song they'd all be interested in playing.
"I think disco is probably the only music that we wouldn't really want to play. That and pop stuff like Christina Aguilera, since we don't have a female singer. But you know, if we could find a way to rock out on a Lady Gaga song, we would probably pull it off."
The band, which currently play venues like Gasoline Alley, Thunder & Buttons II, Meadow Muffins and the Holy Cow Pub and Grill, will celebrate its five-year anniversary next month. During all that time, they've yet to come up with a good explanation for their name. "Like most bands," says Caballero, "we were just sitting around trying to think of something clever, and 40 oz. Freedom Fighters just sounded like a good name."
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Hip-hop, rap, soul, with a twist of comedy and vulgarity"
Three artists he admires: Jay-Z, Immortal Technique, Sean Price
First live performances: 1996
Recordings: Black Pegasus (2003), Knuckle Up (2005), F**K YO RADIO (2006), The Black Mexican (2008), Black By Popular Demand (2010), The Brass Knuckle King (2011)
When it came time to record "Corporate Kill" for the latest Black P album, Rob "Black Pegasus" Houston recruited a guest emcee who could not have been better suited for the task. Peruvian-born, Harlem-raised hip-hop hero Immortal Technique fuels the track's anti-sellout sentiments with lines like "I ransom the Internet / Put the YouTube star in his place / Reppin Malcolm's legacy / While you shuck n' jive in disgrace."
"It's almost like taking it back to the battle-rap roots of hip-hop," says Houston of the Brass Knuckle King track. "So it's real punchline-heavy, really metaphorical. It's kinda the opposite of the corporate rap — the hook is just scratching from a deejay, instead of something all catchy."
But while Houston isn't fond of artists who craft calculated odes to making money, he does recognize the need for a certain degree of entrepreneurial spirit in order to survive as a recording artist today. So when not making albums or touring around the Southwest, he's got his own production company, Brass Knuckle Entertainment, that works with up-and-coming local hip-hop crews like SpaceShip Klick and Untam3d Family.
"We kind of mentor artists," says Houston, who's been promoting package shows in Colorado Springs and Denver, with plans to expand to Greeley, Grand Junction and Fort Collins. "Local artists will be able to tour across our region with our help, using the formulas we've put together to make the events popular."
The artist is also making plans to launch a television show. "We're working on a deal with Channel 12 in Denver right now," he says. "It'll start out Colorado-based with music videos, a model spotlight, rap battles and deejay battles. Eventually we're going to expand the demographic, but the hip-hop scene is our starting point, because that's where we're experts."
El Toro de la Muerte
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Indie/alternative rock"
Band members: Mike Nipp (bass), Jay Schwan (drums), Jeff Fuller (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Ryan Spradlin (vocals/guitar/keyboards)
Three artists they admire: Neutral Milk Hotel, The Smiths, Mogwai
Year of origin: 2005
Recordings: Atop the Belle Isle (2007), Dancer These Days (due October 2011)
While they seem like nice enough guys, the members of El Toro de la Muerte have something of a contrarian attitude when it comes to music.
"Everything now, and for the last three or four years, has been kind of trending toward Americana and more blues-folk stuff," says El Toro co-founder Ryan Spradlin. "And when we started six or seven years ago, that's what we were trying to do a lot of. And now I think we're trying to do a lot more, I don't know, it's kind of weird, it's kind of like '90s Pixies, Nirvana, alternative-type stuff. Not necessarily because it's our favorite thing to do — we pretty much enjoy everything — but I think we're always trying to do something that's a little different than what people are into at the time."
Of course, there was a time when Spradlin was trying to make music that hardly anyone could enjoy. Spradlin and drummer Jay Schwan have been in bands since high school that, in retrospect, he figures were a bit "overly original."
"We were into that whole thing where, you know, everything has to be trying to push the frontier," the musician recalls, noting that El Toro's more motivated these days by melody, songcraft and just playing music that's fun. "People always want to play to their ability, but the best songs in the world aren't written that way. The stuff me and Jay were doing was all kind of Fugazi math-rock type stuff, but now that I look back on a lot of what we were playing, for the average person, it was probably sort of unlistenable."
So is Spradlin aware that there's a new album from math-rock duo Hella out this week? "I know, I love listening to that stuff," he says. "But my mother doesn't."
Style of music in 10 words or, in this case, more: "'80s/'90s punk rock, not that sissy pop shit kids are passing off as punk rock today"
Band members: JJ Nobody (bass, vocals), Randy the Kid (guitar, vocals), Justin Disease (drums, vocals)
Three artists they admire: The Ramones, Willie Nelson, AC/DC
First live performances: 1993
For those who haven't been in town that long, JJ Nobody may be best known as the owner of the Triple Nickel Tavern ("I like that place, I get a lot of drinks for free") or maybe as the bassist in the Americana-inclined Drag the River.
But that's not the case for longtime fans in the Colorado Springs punk scene, which assembled en masse this past June to catch the Nobodys' benefit show for JJ's brother, who came down with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant.
"The place was packed to the gills," says JJ of the group's most recent Triple Nickel show. "People were so crammed in that they'd have to go outside and you'd see steam coming off them. Then they'd sit on the curb for like 10 minutes, drink some water, and cruise back in. It felt like it did 15 years ago."
Well, yes and no. The town's most revered punk band was also, in some politically correct circles, its most reviled. "We had a big backlash for a while," says the musician, whose band would eventually tour internationally and release a 52-track collection of 90-second anthems called Greatasstits. "I was 20 years old and this girl came up to me and said, 'Would you call your mama a bitch?' And I remember looking at her and going, "Well, yeah, if she was acting like a bitch.' I'm like, what is this? We're not in church here."
Still, the trio managed to outlive the complaints and live the punk-rock dream. "We'd just get in a van and take off for two months, you know, sleep on people's floors and play for 10 people. And the next time we'd go, there'd be 20 people."
Plus, as it turned out, Colorado Springs wasn't a bad place to come home to. "I would always hear that we have to move to L.A. to get signed or whatever," says JJ. "But it's like, that's the worst thing to do, because there's nothing but bands there, you know?"
Friends since high school — Randy and Justin actually go back to the first grade together — the individual Nobodys juggle a variety of commitments these days. Justin, for instance, spends a lot of time drumming with the Queers, who are just now taking off for a European tour.
But even when they're not playing around, the Nobodys' collective presence here is still felt. "Any time you go in the Nickel, you look at this certain spot, Randy's sitting there," says JJ. "He's always there with his pitcher of beer and his buddies, you know, playing the jukebox. We're all good friends."
And despite the responsibilities that come with being a punk-rock family man, JJ promises the Nobodys will never really go away. "Every six to eight months, we'll find a reason to get together and play," he says. "In some form or another, we're always still there."
DJ Brandon Lee
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Party-rocking dance music"
Three artists he admires: DJ AM, DJ Greg J, DJ Kue
Year started: 1996
Recordings: From My Side of the Tracks (2008), Flippin' Fridays (2008), American Boy (2009), Thursday Night Takeover (2009), Hoodstar Hellafied (2009), 78 Minutes of Fresh (2010), Fundamonium (2010), Indie Jonesin' (2011)
Some traditionalists may dismiss the notion of deejays as musicians, but for others, that crossover can be traced all the way back to 1972, when Kool Herc first innovated breakbeat deejaying at Bronx street parties. Since then, there have been nearly as many styles of deejaying as there have been musical genres to mix.
But while advances in technology have enabled today's club deejays to cut and paste with the collagist abandon of a latter-day William Burroughs, DJ Brandon Lee keeps it simpler with what he describes as "a little bit of turntablism and a lot of great music."
"The big turntablist deejays weren't really doing the club deejay stuff, but you could really learn a lot from what they were doing technically," says Lee, whose weekly stints at the Mansion, the Thirsty Parrot and Rhino's Sports Bar find him moving back and forth between electronic dance music, rock and pop. "I use the original turntables — Technics 1200s — pretty exclusively, and I combined them with the Scratch Live software program, which allows you to fly through the music really quickly and organize the songs you want to play and how you want to play them.
"You can do loops and a bunch of tricks, whereas traditionally you can only play two songs, and then you've got that one song playing while you flip the record and put a new one on. So it's like the software enables you to have a third or fourth hand."
In addition to having recorded a bunch of mixtapes, which are available for free download on his website, Lee got some national attention with a remix of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," which he did in collaboration with San Francisco's Greg J. "We added drums and redid some of the horns, and then we added a bunch of hype acapaellas," says Lee. "We also quantized the original to make it 4/4 time, so that it would be mixable for other deejays."
And while Lee has gone through hip-hop and rock phases — "there's probably just a handful of good rock 'n roll deejays in the nation, and I was kind of capitalizing on that market for a while" — these days he's more likely to be found mixing Top 10 and house music into what he calls a more "girl-friendly dance format."
"Bars are concerned that if you play too much hip-hop, they feel like you're attracting more guys than you are girls. So that means you're not playing rap or really hard-edged techno, you're doing things that are melodic with vocals. Because girls like to sing the lyrics when they're dancing. It's like, 'Will the girls sing this song? OK, I'm playing it!'"
The Haunted Windchimes
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Vintage folk gypsy soul"
Band members: Inaiah Lujan (vocals, guitar), Desirae Garcia (vocals, ukulele), Chela Lujan (vocals, banjo), Sean Fanning (upright bass), Mike Clark (mandolin, guitar, harmonica, fiddle, squeezebox)
Three artists they admire: Tom Waits, Leadbelly, the Beatles
Year of origin: 2006
Recordings: Ballad of the Winds (2006), An Evening With (2007), Verse Visa / Funeral Pop [split with the Mexican] (2008), Honey Moonshine (2010), Live at the Western Jubilee (2011)
Since they first appeared on our cover three years ago, the Haunted Windchimes have gone through a few changes.
Co-founded by Pueblo siblings Inaiah and Chela Lujan and Colorado Springs ex-pat Desirae Garcia, the group has gone on to expand its sound and lineup with the addition of like-minded musicians Mike Clark and Sean Fanning.
The extra-musical landscape has also shifted. The Windchimes are now repped by Scott O'Malley & Associates, at whose Western Jubilee Warehouse they recent recorded their live album. At the same time, their homegrown Blank-Tape Records label has opened up an office in the Springs and expanded its roster to include local artists like Joe Johnson, the Ghost of Michael Clark, and the Changing Colors.
Yet through it all, the Haunted Windchimes have stayed true to the artistic sensibility that made the core trio's tradition-steeped music so attractive in the first place. As Inaiah tells it, the band's growth is due more to organic process than conscious decision.
Sean Fanning, for instance, came up to the Windchimes after a gig and asked if he could jam with them sometime.
"The thought had never really occurred to me: What would we sound like with a bass player?" says Inaiah, who ended up going over to the bassist's house and showing him a few songs. "Sean and I had a pretty immediate chemistry with the Windchimes songs, so bringing him into the trio was pretty natural. He just kinda fell right into place, and we've worked really well together ever since."
The addition of a fifth musician was similarly uncalculated. Clark's band, the Jack Trades, were regularly sharing bills with the Windchimes, and the musicians all became fast friends. "Mike started coming to more Windchimes gigs," recalls Inaiah, "and naturally we're like, 'Let's get Mike Clark up here to sit in on a few songs.' And pretty soon, he was sitting in on all the songs."
As for the expanded business plans, Inaiah sees it as a means of getting the music out, and has been careful to keep business concerns from moving the band in unwanted directions.
"I do my best to keep the two separate, but there's always a little bleed-over," says Inaiah, who laughs when he catches himself using words like "the market."
"I feel like in a lot of ways, you are selling yourself, you know, all the time. You're selling a personality; you're taking all your nuances and attributes, and kind of amplifying them. That's the nature of being a performer."
The key, he says, is to make sure that the core of what's being amplified is "something real and true."
"I have to constantly remind myself: Well, why am I doing this? And I just step back and say, I'm doing this because I love playing music and I love for other people to appreciate that music. But if my aim is to get paid and take over the world — which isn't far from the truth for most people — then maybe I've lost touch a little bit. So reality checks are important."
From Slaves to Kings
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Rock"
Band members: Jason Coahran (vocals), Luke Moore (guitar), Patrick Madsen (drums), Parker Moore (lead guitar), Trent Parsons (bass)
Three artists they admire: Metallica, Alice in Chains, Avenged Sevenfold
Year of origin: 2011
Recordings: From Slaves to Kings (2011)
In an era of great expectations and limited attention spans, From Slaves to Kings knows the value of making a good first impression. The band had been together less than six months when it earned enough votes to take first place in the People's Choice write-in category.
"I think that we have a very unique, what I would call an audio fingerprint," says vocalist Jason Coahran, whose previous bands include TrickLife and the Dark. "You know, we just have one of those sounds. It's kind of like when you hear Avenged Sevenfold or 10 Years or Slipknot, you know automatically, 'Oh, that's Slipknot,' because you recognize the voice, or you recognize the guitar-playing. And I think we have that, big-time."
If more evidence of From Slaves to Kings' self-confidence were needed, there's the fact that the band's already selling copies of its debut CD at shows. The group has also gotten some airplay on "Colorado's Pure Rock" station, KILO-FM 94.3, which recently flew a pair of listeners to Hollywood for the band's debut at the Whisky A Go Go.
"We did 'Krank-it or Kram-it,' says Coahran, referring to the station's call-in competition, "and we got 71 percent, which is one of the biggest responses in the history of the station. We don't get tons of radio play, but we get just enough. It's starting to come, we're starting to get more and more. And people are actually calling without us telling them to call! So it's working out."
Grass It Up
Style of music in 10 words or less: “Bluegrass, newgrass, indie-grass, country, rock, blues, acoustic, roots, jazz, ragtime”
Band members: David Jeffrey (mandolin, guitar), Shannon Carr (guitar, banjo), Jon Bross (upright bass), Danny Karpel (keyboards, melodica), Ben “Blackbeard” Lewis (fiddle), Jim Marsh (banjo, concertina)
Three artists they admire: Doc Watson, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Bush
Year of origin: 2004
Recordings: Goin’ to Colorado (2005), Shoot the Moon (2007), Day After Yesterday (2010), Live (2011)
While it may have additional connotations, the "grass" in genres like jamgrass, newgrass and indie-grass is definitely derived from bluegrass, the fast-moving country subgenre that requires more instrumental dexterity than just about any American music this side of jazz. And as suggested by homages to AC/DC (the band Hayseed Dixie) and Pink Floyd (the album Dark Side of the Moonshine), bluegrass can cover a whole lot of ground. The hard part is finding players good enough to pull it all off.
Over the course of seven years, Grass It Up has met that challenge, not so much with quirky covers — although the group does a mean version of Prince's "When Doves Cry" — as with vintage classics and spirited originals that extend and expand upon the tradition.
"I always loved mountain music and acoustic music," says Grass It Up co-founder Jon Bross, "but I'd previously been playing guitar in a disco revue called Gyration, and in various blues bands around town."
That all changed after Bross hooked up with Southern transplant (and Indy employee) David Jeffrey, then started playing bars as a guitar duo. Not long afterward, Shannon Carr, who'd played with Jeffrey in Alabama for more than a decade, relocated to Colorado Springs, and then there were three.
"We were two hicks and a Yank," says Bross, himself a Wisconsin native. "I picked up bass, Dave picked up mandolin, and Shannon stayed on guitar, and we started playing as a bluegrass trio."
More recently, the band has doubled in size, thanks to the addition of keyboardist Danny Karpel, violinist Ben "Blackbeard" Lewis, and banjo/concertina player Jim Marsh, who together effectively halved the original trio's take-home pay. ("Yes, yes," confirms Bross, "more mouths to feed!") But they also brought the band to a new level of ensemble playing, as evidenced by the live album recorded at the Western Jubilee Warehouse and released earlier this year.
And while the bandmembers continue to fly to gigs and festivals around the country, their home state is still their primary stomping ground. "We're kind of at a point where, if we wanted to hit the road, we could probably do better," says Bross. "But we've been playing very consistently across the state for the whole six years. We love living here in Colorado Springs and playing around Colorado. I think there's plenty of opportunity here."
Style of music in 10 words or less: "Crushing thrash/death metal delivered with razor-sharp execution."
Band members: Chris Forsythe (vocals), Jon Saultz (guitar), Brian Voorhies (bass), Todd Morrison (drums)
Three artists they admire: Machine Head, Acid Bath, Fear Factory
Year of origin: 2004
Recordings: Chasing Demons (2004), Funerals (2006), Monday (2011)
Having played in bands for close to two decades, Chris Forsythe has seen metal-core, rap-metal and a bunch of other metal alloys come and go. And the same goes for any number of local venues.
"Over the years, I've seen it at the highest peaks and I've seen it at its lowest lows," says the burly Malakai vocalist, who also works as soundman at the Black Sheep. "There was a point in this town where there were no venues to play. Like, literally. We were grown men throwing shows in an arcade, because there was nowhere else to play! We had to bring in our own PA and our own lights and set up in the back. And in between songs, all you'd hear is Street Fighter."
That won't happen again — in part, because the arcade in question is now an Indian restaurant — but also because Malakai has established itself as the undisputed heavyweight on the local scene.
"People know exactly what they're gonna get from us," says Forsythe of the seven-year-old band, whose most recent album Monday came out on a Tuesday last April. "We're like the AC/DC of local metal."
Except, maybe, for the schoolboy uniforms. "I don't think they make them big enough for me," says the formidable frontman.
And while things aren't nearly as bad as they were during those arcade days, they're still not back to the mid-'90s boom when, Forsythe says, "a local band could literally play every single night of the week at a different club and get paid."
Malakai's current venues of choice tend to be the Black Sheep and Triple Nickel. Forsythe says he's also impressed by Zodiac, the downtown club that opened on the site of the former Rocket Room, although he hasn't yet played there.
But those kinds of venues, he notes, are still in short supply. "The main thing in this town I've noticed is there's more support for bar bands and cover bands than there is for original music. And that's probably the same anywhere you go, I don't know. I mean, the Black Sheep's been amazing, they really picked it back up. But there's still a lot of work to do, you know?"
Best Album and Musician winners
Onstage or in the studio, music is, more often than not, a collaborative process.
So when Jason Bennett put together Positively Pikes Peak, the Dylan covers album that won our first Best Album award, he assembled more than a dozen guests, including Lindsay Weidmann, Ted Shinn, Andrew de Naray, Jeff Moats, Randy Ruebsamen, Rick Stahl, Steele Diamond Louis & Hall, Jeremy Hodges, Heather Gunn, Barry Beard, Bill W., and Ryan Kulp.
On a similar note, it should come as no surprise that this year's individual musician award winners — vocalist Jason Coahran (From Slaves to Kings, profiled on p. 23), guitarist James Porter (Arach Attack, FLAG-It), keyboardist Collin Estes (Lo-Fi Cowboys, Head Full of Zombies), bassist Nolan Campbell (Inelements) and drummer Stu Pray (Wrestle With Jimmy, Head Full of Zombies) — are all currently playing in popular local bands.
"Being in a band is rough but rewarding," says Campbell. "I've had people tell me, 'You guys are my favorite band,'" and 'I love the way you fit in this band.' It means a lot. It keeps you motivated to write more and put yourself out there again. I've met great people, signed an autograph in blood, and toured across most of the U.S. in a two-week shot. It's a hobby that's turned into more than I ever thought it would."
Recording and playing live, says Estes, can be "one of the most satisfying feelings you can experience." The downside? "No cost-of-living pay increases, frequent indifference to original music, and the bacchanalia known as Tejon Street on the weekends."
"There is so much talent in this town to learn from and appreciate," says Pray, who makes most of his income giving drum lessons and playing in cover bands. And while he wishes there were more outlets for original music, he still maintains a positive outlook. "Sure, it's hard sometimes, but what isn't? I do what I love and make a decent living from it. Not many people can say that these days."
"Colorado Springs is a small town," says Porter, "and it's easy to make friends as well as enemies. The best part is that you have passion, empathy and the ability to find people everywhere that have music in common with you."