COLORADO BLUES – A PRIMER.

Let me start by saying that my girlfriend is a blues junkie and it is because of her that I’m writing about blues in Colorado. We recently went out to catch some local blues bands. I started writing a critique about what I saw on stage. She disapproved. I started over.

Blues is well over a hundred years old. Today, it’s like that old dog-eared novel that you pull out for comfort. You no longer really read it for the detail; instead you put it on for the feels, like a throw blanket on the coach that should have been discarded years ago but is too comfortable to let go.

And, artists keep chasing it – the feels – the groove – the “blues.”

Most of what passes for blues bands in Colorado today are backyard concert party bands playing in small bar and grills and, well, backyard parties and suburban centers and events attended by aging boomers and GenX parents, grandparents and pre-tween kids swingin’ on the grass.

Despite that outlook, there are some stellar blues players capable of capturing broader attention given the right set of circumstances: Some of whom are award winners playing to national and international audiences.

When it comes to blues in Colorado music history, some notable names and organizations come to mind.

Judy Roderick – A University of Colorado student, Judy signed with Columbia and Vanguard Records and released two albums; Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues (1964) and Woman Blue (1965). She also founded and fronted 60,000,000 Buffalo, a Denver based funky blues-rock band that broke up after one album, Nevada Jukebox, in 1973.

Candy Givens emerged with the band Zephyr in 1969. Powered by the hard rock blues guitar of Tommy Bolin, Zephyr put out two well received blues-rock albums before pivoting stylistically in subsequent albums. Tommy Bolin and Zephyr were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2019.

Although not strictly speaking a blues artist at the time, award winning finger style guitarist Mary Flower moved to Colorado in 1972 and became an instrumental part of Swallow Hill Music and the Blues Foundation’s Blues In the Schools program.

Mary moved to Oregon in 2004, and was the Blues Music Award nominee for Acoustic Artist of The Year in 2008.

Filling the void left by the demise of Zephyr in the early 80s, Big Head Todd and the Monsters embraced blues-rock beginning in the mid-80s. The band would go all in on the blues for two albums as Big Head Blues Club, “100 Years of Robert Johnson” (2011), and “Way Down Inside, the Songs of Willie Dixon” (2016).

Their version of John Lee Hooker‘s classic Boom Boom (Beautiful World, 1997) remains a staple of the band’s live shows today.

The most heavily awarded blues artist in the Colorado blues pantheon is multi-award winner and Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee Otis Taylor.

In the seventies Otis performed alongside Candy Givens in Zephyr and in the Legendary 4Nikators, another popular Boulder band. Otis left music in 1977 and wouldn’t return until 1997 when he self-released the stunning blues-trance debut When Negroes Walked the Earth.

Otis’ 2008 album Recapturing the Banjo is remarkable, as much for who appears on it as how he reintroduces the banjo as an historical blues instrument.

Other than Otis Taylor, no other significant blues band or artist emerged during the 1990s. Recording was still too expensive for most locally based bands. Exceptions included the late Creighton Holley, Dan Treanor’s band Arclight, David Booker’s Alleygators and Boa and the Constrictors.

Baby boomers now in their mid-thirties to mid-fifties, who grew up on the blues-rock of the 1960s and wanted to escape the deluge of 80s hair-metal bands and 90s grunge, flocked to area bars to catch acts like the Creighton Holley Band, JD & the Love Bandits featuring the late trombonist JD Kelly, the Alleygators, Arclight and Boa and the Constrictors to name a few.

In 1995, under the leadership of David McIntyre, the Colorado Blues Society was formed and opened the door for national and regional blues bands at the growing list of blues specific venues and festivals.

However, it wouldn’t be until the beginning of the 21st century that the next group of blues artists would truly begin to emerge.

To learn more about blues in Colorado, there are two organizations that serve to preserve not only the legacy of blues in Colorado, but also advance it via educational programs: The Colorado Blues Society and the Mile High Blues Society. Please visit and support.

I’ll be back soon for The Blues in Colorado – Part II – the 21st Century

CP S16 EP11 2022

Antero Reservoir. CO – Looking SE towards Colorado Springs at about 4AM in subzero temps right around March 01, 2022. Photo courtesy of Claire Mannato.

Monday MARCH 14, 2022 – Sixty-nine Colorado current year releases (March 2021 to March 2022) got some airtime on at least fifteen (there are a handful I don’t track) Colorado community and college radio stations this past week. That’s sixty-nine out of the two hundred that are currently on my tracking sheet. So, is that good or bad?

As things go, it’s pretty good. One station, where I’m proud to call home on Saturday mornings the past six years – 105.5 The Colorado Sound – typically spins thirty to thirty-two current Colorado titles a week at least once; NOT including what I play on the Colorado Playlist on Saturday (6AM) and Sunday (6PM).

Next is 88.9 KRFC Fort Collins, where djs there picked twenty-three titles to share this past week. Indie 102.3 typically features up to a dozen Colorado artists each month. About twenty or so current year Colorado titles were aired this past week at other stations around the state – including this week’s featured station, KSJD.

The Colorado Playlist relies on donations. Please donate at the bottom of the page.

FEATURED STATION OF THE WEEK

KSJD is a community/public radio station based in Cortez, Colorado that serves the Four Corners region of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, including the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and portions of the Navajo Nation.  The CP is aired Saturdays at 2PM

TOP 5 WEEKLY COLORADO SPINS

Spin data pulled from the Colorado Playlist105.5 The Colorado SoundIndie 102.3 and eleven stations that use playlist generator Spinitron, designed to benefit non-commercial community/public and college radio stations and offering advanced search functions for artists and agents.

Each title came out between March 2021 and March 2022. Links go to their respective YouTube page if available.

  1. THE LUMINEERS – Brightside LP
  2. NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHTSWEATS – The Future LP
  3. BLUEBOOK Optimistic Voices LP
  4. THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS – Toward the Fray LP
  5. FAST EDDYTake A Look LP

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

HOUR 1

Rare Silk New York Afternoon – New Weave (1983)
Lannie GarrettA Slick Chick on The Mellow Side – Slick Chick On The Mello Side Live (2000)
(D) A-Mac & The HeightSmile – Season of Learning (2022)

Jon Snodgrass Bad New Lands – Tace (2020)
Jeff AustinFiddling Around – The Simple Truth (2015)
Amanda Juline Anchor (2022)
Megan Burtt & Joel Ansett Good Dream (2022)
DeVotchKa Curse Your Little Heart – Curse Your Little Heart (2006)
John Oates Stone Cold Love – Good Road to Follow (2014)
Finn O’SullivanWhen The Power Comes Back On – When The Power Comes Back On (2020)
(D) Ryan Dart These Days – Edge of the Wild (2022)
Angie Stevens & The Beautiful WreckHeaven Knows (Revisited) – Beautiful & True (2016)
The 89s Apple Of My Eye – Wash Away (2020)
Gerald AlbrightTaking Control – G (2016)

HOUR 2

Ron MilesBinder – Rainbow Sign (2020)
(D) Jyemo ClubIssa Ting (f. the Reminders) (2022)

Neoma Young – Real (2020)
Elephant RevivalPeace Tonight – Petals (2016)
Dango RoseSingularity – The Forgotten Years EP VOL. Two (2022)
N3ptune, Rusty Steve Black Horse – Renaissance (2022)
Yo, Flaco!Rent (Featuring Ron Miles) – The Skinny (2005) *feat. Ron Miles
Otis TaylorHuckleberry Blues – My World Is Gone (2013) *feat. Ron Miles
(D) Keith MurdockGonna Wanna See Her Again – Keith Murdock (2022)

The Wood BrothersHappiness Jones – One Drop of Truth (2018)
YaSi Guilty (2021)
Ron Miles, Bill Frisell & Brian BladeRudy-Go-Round – Quiver (2012)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

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CP S16 EP02 2022

Photo courtesy of Claire Mannato

Monday JAN 10, 2022 – Happy Monday morning. Due to a computer glitch this past weekend, the Colorado Playlist did not air correctly at KJAC 105.5 The Colorado Sound. New programming software can have some bugs ya know? It did and will, however, air correctly at the other stations this week.

The MMMM (Monday Morning Music Meeting) is a bit interesting this week. I showcased a couple of songs this week on the show that came out from late 2020 (2 Gentlemen) to early 2021 (Carolyn Shulman).

2 Gentlemen features Denver bassist Windall Armour who many may recall from his days in Opie Gone Bad. He and long time friend Kenny James (currently in Atlantic City) bring the funk hard on It’s All About the Views, a song that “…talks about where we are with social media and our fixation on collecting views as well as status in the social world.”

Carolyn Shulman was a pleasant find a couple of weeks ago. The Denver by way of Houston lawyer and singer-songwriter has earned considerable praise and folk radio airplay for her Americana country-folk, inspired by Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Patty Griffin.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats not only held on to the #1 spot in the TOP 5 this week and at Roots Music Report.com, but appears to be increasing in the number of spins reported statewide. Remember, RMR.com also represents airplay of Colorado releases outside of Colorado – including internationally and on Internet radio stations that report.

I do expect to see the new album from Yonder Mountain String Band make a strong impression statewide, since debuting at #8 at RootsMusicReport.com. I do not expect to see it rise to TOP 5 status in my reporting due to lack of play on the top two stations spinning Colorado music in our state. The same is true for the new album by Colorado native Corey Harris, whose album The Insurrection Blues is currently #2 at Roots Music Report but doesn’t show up at the stations I survey weekly.

STATION OF THE WEEK

THE VOICE OF OUR COMMUNITY IN THE GRAND VALLEY

Community radio exists because of the support from listeners like you! Please help keep public radio on the air by becoming a sustaining member. See your local community radio station website for more information.

105.5 THE COLORADO SOUND & THE COLORADO PLAYLIST PRESENT

The Drunken Hearts – Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO FRI FEB 4, 2022

“Locally Grown” 20/20 EyeVision offers a full range of services and they accept Medicaid at the Orchard Center in Westminster.

TOP 5 COLORADO SPINS WEEK ENDING JAN 08 2022

TOP 5 and TOP 30 charts are pulled from published spins of current releases (twelve months old) at 13 Colorado non-profit community/public and college radio stations. Eleven Colorado radio stations currently utilize Spinitron.

Designed to benefit non-commercial public and college radio stations and offering advanced search functions for artists and agents at http://www.spinitron.com

  1. NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHTSWEATS – The Future LP (Nov-21)
  2. THE LUMINEERS – Brightside LP (Sep-21)
  3. LEFTOVER SALMON– Brand New Good Old Days LP LP (Mar-21)
  4. A.J. FULLERTON – The Forgiver and the Runaway LP (Mar-21)
  5. CHRIS DANIELS & HAZEL MILLER – What We Did! LP (Jul-21)

MONDY MORNING MUSIC MEETING

Serving Cedaredge CO over 20 years.

Dianne Reeves32 Flavors – Beautiful Life (2013)
(D) Carolyn Shulman Matter of Time – Grenadine & Kerosene (2021)

Wellington BullingsBecause I Want To (2020)
Jeff Austin15 Steps – The Simple Truth (2015)
Dirty Shrines Every Mile – Digital Ego (2021)
Dechen HawkLady Devine (2021)
Bobby Walker Detroit Boogie – Bobby Walker (2008)
Drew Emmitt Gypsy In My Soul – Long Road (2008)
(D) Drunken HeartsBeat Up, Beat Down, and Broken – Wildflower Sessions

Whiskey Blanket Pound Boom – No Object (2010)
Wildermiss Supermagical (2020)
Gabriel MervineSunlight – Say Somethin’ (2021)

HOUR 2

Earth Wind & FireDevotion – Open Our Eyes (1974)
(D) 2 Gentlemen All About the Views (2021)

Kyle HollingsworthWe Were the Young (2020)
Edison Open Road – Familiar Spirit (2016)
Carolyn Hunter Felt Like Love – Lovelight (2022)
Guy Margalit4YOU (feat. Dafna) (2021)
Leftover SalmonDance On Your Head – The Nashville Sessions (1999)
The String Cheese IncidentStay Through – Song In My Head (2014)
(D) Yonder Mountain String BandInto the Fire – Get Yourself Outside (2022)

Taylor Scott BandCuriosity – All We Have (2019)
Heavy Diamond RingAlready Gone – The Brightest Light EP (2021)
Jason Klobnak Through Her Eyes – Friends and Family (2018)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

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