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.

The Colorado Sound – MONDAY AUG 17 2015

Monday morning … usually my weekly playlist update etc.  Today is the day AFTER the biggest weekend of the summer for me, and what really is the culmination of my “year.”  There are no more festival events for me this year, as there has been in years past.

There was bittersweet news that came out of this year’s event. The Aggie was sold, and long time Aggie sound engineer Dean Curtis wound up in the hospital dealing with unannounced medical issues.

In a FB post Friday night, Adam Stroul  posted: “It’s a historic day for Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, my partners and I can finally announce to the public that we have purchased the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins. A ton of respect goes out to my good friend Scoo Leary who kept the Fort Collins music scene alive for years and years, from the Starlight to the Aggie, and has now passed the torch on to us. Fort Collins, we’re going to bring more of that Cervantes flavor to this great city than ever before.”  

Reviews on the street from musicians I spoke with were mixed, as with any major change.  I’ve known Scoo for as long as I can recall now … his history in the FoCo music scene goes back at least to the late 80s.  He’s always been an ardent supporter of our scene, and whatever he moves onto, I wish him well.  Sources close to the deal say that there’s new sound equipment moving in, and an interior upgrade.  That’ll be very good as the house p.a. currently in play is pretty well worn out and out of date.

What’s not known today is the direction that Adam and Scott and the team will move Fort Collins, and if they’ll continue the high level of support for Fort Collins bands that we’ve enjoyed the past 13 years.

Also on Friday night the 14th, I received word that Dubskin would not be able to perform this year because their bass player, Dean Curtis, had been hospitalized.  Dubskin posted “We regretfully announce that due to an unforeseen medical emergency we will be canceling our next 2 shows at New West Fest on Sunday Aug 16th & at Hideaway Park in Winter Park on Thursday Aug 20th. Send prayers up for a speedy recovery to bassist Dean Curtis while he deals with a private medical condition and DubSkin will see you soon. Respectfully- DubSkin”   Dean is very well known around Fort Collins.  I most recently saw him when he did monitors for our show at the Mishawaka last week.  Nothin’ but love from goat and the family.

News broke on Monday that Megan Burtt signed with Sweetwine who also reps Euforquestra and Trout Steak Revival among other Colorado and non-Colorado acts …


Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene turned in a blistering set — literally — on the Mountain Ave stage at Bohemian Nights this weekend.  It had to have hit 105 on the stage under a typically intense blast of late afternoon sun since the stage faces west.  Looking forward to doing a show with them in Fort Collins at Avogadro’s Number September 13.










The Colorado Sound Live365
ADDED AUG 15 2015

(M) – mornings
(P) – afternoons
(N) – nights

Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi BandMissing – Born To Love the Blues (M,P)
Finders and YoungbergShe Wants to Eat the Moon – Eat the Moon (M)
Ian CookeEpilogue – Antiquasauria (M,P)
Instant Empire Balloons – Lamplight Lost (N)
Instant EmpireZoo Lions – Lamplight Lost (N)
Kid AstronautElevate – single (P, N)
Megan BurttFast As I Go – The Bargain (M,P)
Megan BurttIn A Minute – The Bargain (M,P)
Megan BurttThe Bargain – The Bargain (M,P)
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night SweatsI Need Never Get Old – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (M,P)
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night SweatsS.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (M,P,N)
Red Fox Run I Am A Fox (radio edit) – Red Fox Run (N)
Red Fox RunRoller Coaster – Red Fox Run (N)
Shaley ScottStyle – Rescue Me (M,P)
SymbolsAlone – Smile (M,P)
The Burroughs – Anna – Sweaty Greeley Soul (M,P)
The BurroughsMy Shining Star – Sweaty Greeley Soul (M,P)
Young AncientsGoing Back to Tulsa (Tulsa) – Fishstory (M,P)
Young Ancients – Nobody Loves You (the Way I Do) – Fishstory (M,P)

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