Whether you think of them as collectives, co-ops or cliques, the Colorado Springs music community has definitely given birth to a wealth of closely aligned musicians who pool resources, share stages, and faithfully turn out for each other's gigs.
The phenomenon goes back at least five years to when Inaiah Lujan started Blank Tape Records in order to release the music of the fledgling Haunted Windchimes, who at a time were still a trio. But as the Windchimes lineup expanded, so did the Blank Tape roster, with Changing Colors, Mike Clark, Katey Sleeveless and Joe Johnson all coming on board.
The latest addition to the Blank Tape crew is Grant Sabin, who'll be joined by the Windchimes at Stargazers on Dec. 14 to celebrate the release of his Anthromusicology CD.
Grant is also affiliated with Kings of Space, a collective of early-20-something indie musicians that includes the Flumps, Briffaut and token teens We Are Not a Glum Lot. Members of all three groups play on Anthromusicology. Plus, they all collaborate on really odd videos.
Over in the realm of soul, jazz and funk, Sunday Night Soul Sessions at Zodiac kicked off back in October. The monthly event features special guests backed by a house band that includes Charlie Milo and Kopesetic Soul's Lyrick. In addition to fronting the Charlie Milo Trio, Colorado Springs' most prolific bassist has also begun gigging with emcee Stoney Bertz, electronicist Animus Invidious and Mad Trees' Earsiq Radke under the name Flodignatic.
Meanwhile, on the underground hip-hop front, there's the Sound Powered Engine crew, which includes the four emcees in Bullhead*ded and their component duos Too Tone Taurus and Made-Up Minds. SPE's first CD release was last year's Sleeping While You're Awake by Che Bong.
And if all of the above weren't enough, this week marks the local debut of A Black Day, a well-pedigreed hip-hop collective featuring emcees Milogic (also part of the SPE crew), Jayoin (the other half of Mad Trees), Hott (from Audible) and Fidel RedStar frontman Ahmad Mitchell (who was also half of Accumen alongside the ReMINDers' Samir Zamundu).
The four emcees will perform an opening set for Mac Lethal — who's interviewed here — Saturday at the Black Sheep. Only together since last month, A Black Day already has seven tracks in the can and aims to have an album out early next year.
I managed to snag one track, "Letter to the Non-Believer," which finds the group collaborating with Boonie Mayfield, the Springs-based producer and award-winning turntablist whose videos have garnered more than 5 million views. From the first listen, it's obvious that the group is helping set the local hip-hop bar high.
"We all had talked about doing something together at one time or another," says Ahmad. "So with beats by Boonie Mayfield, and some late-night and early-morning texts, we hit the lab and the chemistry was there." A Black Day will also be the featured act at the next installment of the aforementioned Soul Sessions, which takes place at Zodiac on Dec. 23.
Fidel RedStar has also been getting busy, performing at last Friday's Sophie Valdez benefit and the following night on a Denver bill with political hip-hop innovators the Coup.
"It was an honor to open for them," says Ahmad, who also got to meet up backstage with Coup frontman Boots Riley. "I think I tripped him out because, back in the day when I first arrived in Colorado, the first tat I got here was the Coup logo on my forearm. He got a kick out of that and took a couple of pictures."
Meanwhile, the "Rock for Sophie" campaign forges onward with a benefit concert this coming Friday at the Black Sheep. Indy Music Award winners Malakai and Inelements will be performing, along with Vital Malice, Cull the Herd and Bridges.
And to bring things around full circle: Lastleaf Printing's Mathias Valdez, whose 3-year-old daughter is undergoing treatments for childhood leukemia, tells me there's another Sophie benefit being lined up that will feature the Haunted Windchimes at Pueblo's Union Depot. That event will most likely be the week before Christmas — a firm date is still being set — so tune in next week for more details.