Colorado Blues PT 2 – 21st Century Award Winners and Future Legends

In my last post, Blues in Colorado – A Primer, I suggested that most of the blues bands that we see today are of the local garden variety – good enough to please the upper end of suburban GenZ and Boomers with their small kids and grandkids at parks and summer events, and local neighborhood bar and grills.

But that doesn’t really tell the whole story about the state of blues in the 21st century in Colorado and the award winners and future legends who have emerged, regardless of mainstream popularity.

The 21st century opens with Erica Brown emerging in the scene as the First Lady of Blues (Colorado Blues Society) and Denver’s Queen of the Blues (Altitude Network).

Between 1998 and 2008, the Erica Brown Band earned numerous awards, including; Best Blues Band (Westword Magazine) Best Underground Blues Band multiple times (Denver Post) and The Rocky Mountain News’ Best Of (Blues Category).

Among the many projects she appears on, Erica is featured on Big Head Blues ClubWay Down Inside: The Songs of Willie Dixon” (2016). She began appearing with Dan Treanor in 2008.

A Blues Foundation: Keeping the Blues Alive Award recipient, Dan Treanor is a Colorado original. Born and raised in Pueblo, Dan entered the blues world when he was sixteen, playing in the Steel City Blues Band.

In 2004, he got signed to the well respected independent blues label Northern Blues Music. Dan Treanor & Frankie Lee – African Wind (2004) was nominated Blues Album of the Year by the Independent Music Awards.  Dan has received three Independent Music Award nominations.

In 2013, Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band featuring Erica Brown took home 3rd Place Honors in the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis. In 2015 they released Born to Love the Blues, which also features Erica’s daughter MJ.

Lionel Young first appears on the scene in the early to mid 90s and is featured on Otis Taylor‘s 1997 debut When Negroes Walked the Earth.

It wouldn’t be until the 21st century, however, that the classically trained violinist comes to the attention of the blues world by making history at the International Blues Challenge (IBC), as the only artist to ever win twice, in the 2008 solo-duo competition and the 2011 band competition.

Cary Morin first showed up on stages in Fort Collins in the 1980s with his band the Atoll.

Now recognized as one of the nation’s leading acoustic blues artists, Cary has performed at renowned venues and festivals around the globe including the Kennedy Center, the Paris Jazz Festival and the Copenhagen Blues Festival to name a few.

Cary’s career in Colorado ranks among the most awarded. He’s been honored with the Fort Collins Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2014) and is a Telluride Blues and Brews Blues Champion (2019).

Cary has also earned Indigenous Music Awards for Best Blues CD for Cradle to the Grave (2017) and for When I Rise (2019) and an Independent Music Award for Best Blues CD for When I Rise.

Colorado Springs artist John-Alex Mason passed away at the age of 35, in October 2011, but not without leaving a lasting legacy as one of the state’s most celebrated bluesmen. In 2001 he won the Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition. He released five albums between 2000 and 2011.

The Informants / Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene – Fronted by Kerry Pastine, the Informants fans voted the band as the winner of the Westword Music Award for Best Blues (2008-2010). Their album Crime Scene Queen won the International Blues Competition for Best Self-Produced CD of 2010.

Kerry and her husband Paul (guitar) spun off from the Informants to create the Crime Scene. They earned the 2019 Colorado Blues Society Members Choice Award for Band of the Year, Best Recording for City of Love, Best Female Vocalist, Best Songwriter and Best Live Moment for the City of Love CD release party.

With six albums to their credit since 2004, the modern electric blues inspired Mojomama has been a semi-finalist at the International Blues Challenge Memphis (2018, 2019) and won several awards from the Colorado Blues Society, including Best Self Produced CD and Favorite Female Vocalist (2015, 2018) and the Members Choice Awards for Best Band in 2019.

The acts I mentioned above represent only a handful of the many blues acts that have crossed the stages of Colorado, from the smallest pubs to the biggest festivals. Upcoming festivals include the Trinidaddio Blues Fest (Aug 22), and the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival (Sept 16-18).

Touring artists like Cary Morin and Lionel Young act as ambassadors of Colorado blues around the United States, and in other countries.

Erica Brown continues to play a major role in our blues scene today, as does Lionel Young who Erica has teamed up with in a new project called Blues Circus – that also features Erica’s daughter MJ along with John Magnie and Steve Amadee from Del Shamen that Erica participated in.

Time will tell when, where and how far the next group of blues artists in Colorado music history will rise up to claim their place – in Colorado Blues PT3 – Rising Stars and Future Promise.

To learn more about the blues in Colorado visit the Colorado Blues Society and Mile High Blues Society.

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 S15 EP01 2021

Jan 04 2021 – HAPPY 2021!  Welcome to Season #15! WOW.  I hope we can celebrate together this April, which is the official birthdate of the show in 2006.  Of course, COVID will have a say in whether that event takes place or not.

A big welcome to new fans of the show listening in at KRZA Alamosa and KFFR Winter Park.  That brings the Colorado Playlist to 27 FM frequencies a week and 60 total hours of programming.

Due to the 27 frequency reach the CP has, it factors heavily into the weekly and monthly charts I publisher here, as well as the Colorado singles and album charts at RootsMusicReport.com.

I am very surprised to see the wonderful new album from Ron Miles hitting TOP 5 again this month, without any spins at all from two of our leading stations.  This is the 2nd time Rainbow Sign has pushed its way onto the weekly chart.

NEW POLL FORMAT – Instead of voting 1-5 for new tracks for the show, you can simply say you like it, don’t like it or say MEH-It’s OK.  Let’s see how that works.

As you may know, I founded Rocky Mountain Music Relief to help out in times just like now.  The Stay Home Silent Disco will put a nice chunk of change in our account.

Are you a working professional member of the Colorado music community?  I am also.  I know how hard things are.  Mortgage, utilities, transportation and food are just a few of the things that need attending to.  If you truly are in need, please reach out.  www.rockymountainmusicrelief.org

Middle Class Rock Star is a podcast hosted by  Andy Sydow.  Every week or so I feature a 7 to 8 minute segment featuring  a conversation Andy has with some of our scene’s top music makers and industry personalities.  This week’s guest is Jeremy Lawton (Big Head Todd & the Monsters)

TOP FIVE WEEK ENDING JAN 02 2021

Spinitron  Designed to benefit non-commercial public and college radio stations, record promoters and artists are among those most likely to benefit from the detailed search function. Currently 11 Colorado radio stations utilize Spinitron.

  1. NATHANIEL RATELIFFAnd It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
  2. GASOLINE LOLLIPOPSAll the Misery Money Can Buy LP (Sep-20)
  3. CARY MORINDockside Saints LP (Jul-20)
  4. RON MILESRainbow Sign LP (Oct-20)
  5. BISON BONEFind Your Way Out LP (Jul-20)

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

The Mishawakais a legendary music venue, restaurant and bar located 13.7 miles up the Poudre Canyon Highway (CO 14) in the stunning Poudre Canyon in Bellvue, CO.

A REMINDER:  Please listen to ALL of the songs and rate them.  Thanks🙂

(D) = debut LP/EP or single
(N) = new track from previously debuted LP/EP
(P) = Colorado Playlist premier / not available online

HOUR 1

The Electric Prunes – Finders Keepers, Loser Weepers – Good Old Rock and Roll (1969)
Big Bird & The Steam ShovelWhat’s Happening (At The Psychiatrist Club) (1968)
(D) Pandas and PeopleBad Honey (2021)

Dafna – Let U Go – I Love You (2020)
OneRepublic – Future Looks Good – Oh My My (2016)
Del Shamen – Right Now – Del Shamen (2021)
Musketeer Gripweed – Rich Man’s Child – More Than Ever (2021)
piKziL – Can’t Get Started – Songs From My 3rd Life (2016)
The Samples – Warm & Sunny – Black & White (2004)

(D) Cass ClaytonMake Believing (2021) – Cass Clayton is a very good personal friend of mine. She serves on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Music Relief, a Colorado non-profit we started in 2017 to help artists struggling financially due to natural catastrophes. She’s also been directly involved with helping serve food-insecure members of our music community via Bread & Jam at Dazzle @ Bau’rs (Denver). AND she’s maintained a busy studio schedule along with all the other things she can think of to keep the music going. 

Kyle Emerson – Are You Lonely – Only Coming Down (2020)
Scott Martin – Pam – Alone at Sunset (2018)

HOUR 2

Eighth Penny MatterRain (1968)

(D) Ramakhandra – Kujira – Ramakhandra (2020) – Ramakhandra snuck up on me this past month when 303 Magazine named their S/T debut as Album of the Year for 2020. Up to that point, I’m sorry to say, I hadn’t heard of them. Recently, 303 music editor Kori Hazel and I noted between us that they are (unofficially) a band to watch for in 2021 and beyond.  

SHELRainbow (2020)
Slow Caves – Glares – Desert Minded EP (2017)
Andy Eppler – Nothin’ but the Rain – Broke Down Deluxe (2021)
The Railbenders – Hard Road – The Medicine Show (2018)
Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Hey Delila – Black Beehive (2014)
MojomamaPoint Of View Blues (2020)
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Pine Box – Always Say Please And Thank You (2000)
Jason Klobnak – Through Her Eyes – Friends and Family (2018)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

The Colorado Playlist is provided to member stations at no cost.  Your support is deeply appreciated.  Your support will help to keep the program on the air as we enter its 15th season in 2021.

CP S14 EP32 2020

Monday AUG 17 2020 – Down Time finally got bounced out of the TOP 5 this week, replaced by the resurgence of Whippoorwill and the rise of the latest Kayla Rae EP Pressure.  This week’s MMMM = the latest from King Cardinal, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Bison Bone.

In the mood for live music?  There seems to be more and more of it taking places as we figure out the best way to do things.  Of course that does mean wearing masks when in public places and maintaining social distancing. Festivals are off the table, but the Fort Collins Musicians Association (FOCOMA) has figured out a way to celebrate over a decade of FOCOMX and NOCO music events.  I’m happy to support this  year’s FOCOMX – A Digital Retrospective.

DULCETTERRA, AN ONLINE INTERACTIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL, CONFERENCE AND SONGWRITING CAMP. Watch live on Monday, September 21st, 2020, from 12PM until 12AM Mountain Standard Time.

TOP 5 WK ENDING AUGUST 15

Spinitron  Designed to benefit non-commercial public and college radio stations, record promoters are among those most likely to benefit from the detailed search function. Currently 12 Colorado radio stations use Spinitron.

COLORADO RADIO (14 stations / 135 titles tracked)

1. CARY MORIN – Dockside Saints LP (Jul-20)
2. GASOLINE LOLLIPOPS – All the Misery Money Can Buy SINGLE (Aug-20)
3. NATHANIEL RATELIFFAnd It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
4. KAYLA RAEPressure EP (Aug-20)
5. WHIPPOORWILLThe Nature of Storms LP (Nov-19)

ROOTS MUSIC REPORT (includes international, national and Internet radio stations regardless of date / year of release)

1. REVEREND FREAKCHILD – The Bodhisattva Blues LP (Mar-20)
2. CARY MORIN – Dockside Saints LP (Jul-20)
3. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – And It’s Still Alright LP (Feb-20)
4. THE LUMINEERS  III LP (Sept-19)
5. MOJOMAMA – Red White and Blues LP (May-18)

The Mishawaka is a legendary music venue, restaurant and bar located 13.7 miles up the Poudre Canyon Highway (CO 14) in the stunning Poudre Canyon in Bellvue, CO. NOW OPEN for food, music and movies.

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

Every week I share some or all of the new music played on the show with you, here in the MMMM.  Your rating gets factored into my decision in what to maintain in the show’s “for airplay” library.

A REMINDER:  Please listen to ALL of the songs and rate them.  Thanks 🙂

(D) = debut LP/EP or single
(N) = new track from previously debuted LP/EP
(P) = Colorado Playlist premier / not available online

HOUR 1

Michael Martin Murphey – Cherokee Fiddle – Flowing Free Forever (1976) **Caribou Ranch Collection**
(D) King CardinalBluebird Day (single) (2020)  

Anthony Ruptak – Good Morning – A Place That Never Changes (2019)
Bud Bronson & The Good Timers – End Of Our Lives – Between the Outfield and Outer Space (2018)
Kyle Emerson – Better – Only Coming Down (2020)
The Wood Brothers – Little Bit Sweet – Kingdom in My Mind (2020)
Dianne Reeves – Old Souls – Art & Survival (1994)
Andy Monley – All Hail – Triplight (2006)
(D) Big Head Todd & the MonstersIt Ain’t Serious (single) (2020)

Wendy Woo – The Weather – The Immigrant (2019)
Petals of Spain – Good Life – Daydream (2016)
Peter Sommer – The Fruit – Crossroads (2008)

HOUR 2

Badfinger – Meanwhile Back at the Ranch / Should I Smoke – Wish You Were Here (1974) **Caribou Ranch Collection**
(D) Bison Bone – Pack It Up – Find Your Way Out (2020)

The Still Tide – Change of Address – Between Skies (2019)
Mojomama – The Big Easy – Red White and Blues (2018)
Boot Gun – Still Life – Take What You Got (2020)
Reverend Freakchild – I know You Rider – The Bodhisattva Blues (2020)
Born In The Flood – If this thing should spill – If this thing should spill (2007)
Achille Lauro – Low Cha Cha – Flight or Flight (2012)
(P) Kayla Rae – Real – Pressure EP (2020)
Lettuce – Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Elevate (2019)
The Hustle Kings – For What It’s Worth – Stand Up (2016)
Wayne Wilkinson Trio – Chophouse Blues – Proceed to Route (2019)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

 

 

CP S14 EP18 2020

Monday May 11, 2020 – I wake up every Monday morning and sit at the kitchen table to write this post.  I look out at a trio of unfinished homes from my window. I haven’t seen a single crew for weeks. And I wonder when those houses will be finished, when they’ll be sold and when I’ll see families coming in and out of them.  More than that, I wonder when I’ll be face to face with you in person from a stage.

On this particular Monday morning I grieve for one of Denver’s most loved venue owners, Sandra Holman Watts  – owner of Live at Jacks – who tearfully announced via video that she has had to close her venue permanently.

In the meantime, some local venues and rehearsal studios have figured out ways to produce live streaming events with full production.  And of course musicians are still sending out good vibes from their homes.

Colorado legacy artist Hazel Miller is hosting a House Party For Hope on the Big Head Todd & the Monsters Facebook page on May 17th. Hazel’s live show from home will benefit the Inner City Health Center and Hunger Free Colorado.

One bit of good news – besides producing this show for you weekly from my home studio, I am also an on air host at 105.5 The Colorado Sound KJAC Greeley.  I host Saturday 8AM to 12PM and Sunday 5PM-8PM.  I haven’t been on since early March.  I will return to my Saturday morning shift next Saturday, May 16.

TOP 5 Colorado Albums This Week

  • Reverend FreakchildThe Bodhisattva Blues
  • Nathaniel Rateliff And It’s Still Alright
  • Lee Sims – A Few More Miles to Go
  • MojomamaRed, White and Blues
  • The LumineersIII

VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK

Sweaty Greeley Soul – that’s how the Burrough’s are known.  Their spirited shows are infectious dance parties.  Their messages are socially conscious and focused on love and unity.

The Colorado Playlist may be the largest collection of curated video playlists on YouTube!  Check it out and please subscribe.

At Bohemian Foundation, our focus is on building community …by coming together to create and enjoy music.

MONDAY MORNING MUSIC MEETING (MMMM)

You make a big difference in what gets played on the show.  Every week I share some or all of the new music played on the show with you, here in the MMMM.  Your rating gets factored into my decision in what to maintain in the show’s “for airplay” library.

A REMINDER:  Please listen to ALL of the songs and rate them.  Thanks 🙂

(D) = debut LP/EP or single
(N) = new track from previously debuted LP/EP
(P) = Colorado Playlist premier / not available online

The Samples – Close To The Fires – The Samples (1989)
(D) David Ladon – Plastic Angel – Mother Market (2020)

The Haunted Windchimes – Spring Cleaning – Sleepy Baby (2019)
Cary Morin – Lay Baby Lay – When I Rise (2018)
Blue Mesa – Straight Thru Me (2020)
John Common – You Ain’t Broken – The Low Wines, Vol. 1 EP (2020)
Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Runaway Train – Riviera (2002)
The String Cheese Incident – Sing A New Song – Outside Inside (2001)
(D) Hard Pressed – Red Rocking Chair – Magic Dime (2020)
Whitacre – Seaons – Seasons (2019)
King Cardinal – Metronome – Great Lakes (2017)
Keith Oxman – The Splashers – Caught Between the Lion and the Twins (2008)

HOUR 2

Rare Silk – Red Clay – New Weave (1983)
(D) The Lovely And Talented – Roll with the Changes – Election Day (2020)

Lucy Daydream – Awake & Dreaming – Awake & Dreaming (2019)
Moors & McCumber – La Da Da – Acrobats (2018)
Finn O’Sullivan – When The Power Comes Back On – When The Power Comes Back On (2020)
YaSi – Dreams – Unavailable (2019)
Devotchka – Along The Way – A Mad & Faithful Telling (2008)
Jack Hadley – Deeper & Deeper – Deeper (2008)
(N) Andy Frasco – I’ve Got a Long Way to Go – Keep On Keepin On (2020)

Richard Dean – Eileen – Vignettes (2017)
Mark Oblinger – Living Imitation – High Water Line (2019)
The Motet – Nachez – Breathe (1999)

THIS WEEK ON YOUTUBE

Rocky Mountain Music Relief Inc – a Colorado 501C3 non-profit with a mission to provide financial and in-kind support to those individuals, groups and organizations within our Colorado music industry that have been impacted physically, financially and/or emotionally due to the occurrence of natural disasters or unforeseen tragedies within their communities.

The Colorado Playlist is fully dependent on financial support from its sponsors as well as donations from listeners.   If you’re a small local business, I am currently offering special COVID-19 rates during the duration of this crisis.  Email me at coloradoplaylist@gmail.com

%d bloggers like this: