The "Controversy" 32-Bar Challenge Is Igniting Denver's Hip-Hop Scene

Flickr user Larry Johnson
Denver feels more and more like a city on the brink of something big, musically.

Denver rapper Demario "Lil Bad" Gentry has been busy recently, releasing The Colfax District, Bad News and Shark Syndrome 2.0. He's also played shows all over the country, from Los Angeles to Miami, and he hasn't always found support for his home town during his travels. "This is my home, and I love Denver," he says. "And when I go to these other cities, the way they perceive us is disappointing, as far as the music goes," says Gentry.

So he decided to instigate a show of Denver's hip-hop strength, releasing a song called "Controversy." It's a bold statement, two and a half minutes of lines like "I'm the king 'round here." It ends with a message to his peers: "I challenge you. You have 24 hours to give me 32 bars. Okay? Okay. Controversy!"

See also: Rubedo Is the Voice of the Music Culture of Today

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What Swallow Hill Music Is Looking For in its New CEO

Categories: Music News

Courtesy of Swallow Hill
Tom Scharf spent seven years at the head of Swallow Hill.
Earlier this month. Swallow Hill Music announced that CEO and Executive Director Tom Scharf was resigning after seven years of running the Denver-based nonprofit organization that runs music education programs and organizes many concerts in the area. Scharf last day is September 30, and the organization is hoping to have someone else lined up before the end of the year.

See also: Swallow Hill CEO and Executive Director Tom Scharf Resigns

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Itchy-O Plots World Domination With Jello Biafra

Gary Isaacs
It is impossible to ignore Itchy-O. At full capacity, the band comprises 32 members, all dressed in matching costumes, all masked, delivering truly alien vocals and playing marching-band instruments along with guitars, basses, taiko drums and electronics attached to portable amplifiers. There is also a Chinese lion named Larry.

"I was pretty overwhelmed and blown away," recalls Jello Biafra of his first time seeing Itchy-O, at warehouse venue Glob in January 2013. "They entered from several different parts of the building. It was almost pitch dark, so all you could see was whatever lighting they had attached to their bodies. I hadn't been in the middle of anything like that since Crash Worship, and they have some of that same tribal hypnosis going on, but [with] more melody. It's a wider palette of music they're using here."

See also: Jello Biafra on the Time He Dressed up in His Dad's Clothes and Visited Focus on the Family

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Real Cosby Launched His Music Career by Settling Down With a Family

Categories: Playlist

Courtesy of Real Cosby
Paul Banker, aka electronic-music producer Real Cosby, is a homeowner. Not because his occasional live show and handful of EPs have made him any real money, but because he has a full-time job and a family and all the responsibilities associated with those things. While that same litany has been the downfall of so many emerging musicians, it's made Banker love music even more.

"I used to worry about shows a lot.... Now I have real problems, and shows are just fun," he says.

See also: The Denver Public Library Is Now One of the Best Places to Find Local Music

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Allout Helter on the Value of Riot Fest to the Local Scene

Categories: Interviews

Jesus Verduzco
Allout Helter began in 2008 as a melodic hardcore band with some metal chops. In 2010, the group put an ad on Craigslist for a lead vocalist and attracted the attention of Ross Hostage. Hostage had spent the previous decade playing in Action Friend and Suburban Hostage. He brought a confrontational energy to the band, and his often incisive political lyrics are substantive and thought-provoking as well as topical. The group's 2013 full-length, Sinking We Regress, is a bracing example of the guys in high form. Helter is one of a few local acts slated to perform at Riot Fest this weekend.

See also: The Five Best Reunited Bands Playing Riot Fest

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The Gondola Sessions Will Make You Long for Winter in Colorado

Categories: VIDEO

From Nathaniel Rateliff's Gondola Session.
Filming live music outdoors can present all kinds of problems, from moving clouds obstructing your light to changes in the wind messing with your sound. But if it all works out, you have the opportunity to give the music a remarkable backdrop. With The Gondola Sessions, filmmaker John Austin set out to use Colorado's majestic Rocky Mountains as the setting for intimate acoustic sets from artists like Nathaniel Rateliff, G.Love and Keller Williams -- each performing within a moving gondola.

See also: OpenAir Live & Local Is a New TV Show Featuring Some of Colorado's Best Music

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Eleven Famous Musicians Who Recently Moved to Colorado

Wikimedia user Casliber
Gordan Gano of the Violent Femmes: Now a Coloradan.
With the legalization of cannabis for recreational use starting January 1, 2014, Colorado has become a destination for touring bands. However, a steady stream of artists have been moving to the state for years. Some seem to use it purely as a base of operations, but some have engaged with the local community in at least semi-regular local performances and collaborations. Here are a few of the big names who now call Colorado home.

See also: Holy Crap, Great White was incredible at the Buffalo Rose this weekend

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How to Turn a Concert Into a Celebration, With Dry Ice, Crystals and Rubedo

Categories: Last Night

From the Rubedo show poster.
The poster and fliers for Rubedo's show over the weekend at the hi-dive featured the trio as comic-strip space explorers, holding laser guns. The fliers came with bags of crystals, and the Facebook page for the event encouraged people to bring the crystals to the show.

They were both part of the theme of the evening, which band manager Annie Geimer described as "'70s retro space-apocalyptic. We're launching off."

See also: Rubedo Is the Voice of the Music Culture of Today

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Railroad Earth, John Mellencamp, Lucinda Williams Announce Denver Shows

Categories: Mile Highlights

Michael Wilson
New Jersey-based newgrass act Railroad Earth, who has played the Ogden Theatre many times, return to the venue for a three-night stand from Thursday, January 22 through Saturday January 24. Tickets ($34.50) go on sale on Friday, September 19 at 10 a.m.

John Mellencamp brings his Plain Spoken tour to the Ellie Cauklins Opera House on Friday, July 31, and Carlene Carter opens the show. Tickets ($42.50-$129.50) go on sale on Friday, September 19 at 10 a.m.

Lucinda Williams Williams headlines the Ogden Theatre on Sunday, November 2 in support of her forthcoming album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, which is slated for release on September 30. Tickets ($35/$40) go on sale on Friday, September 19 at 10 a.m.

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The Eight Best Concerts in Denver This Week

Categories: Best Concerts

Erik Hess for City Pages. More here.
Brother Ali will play two shows in Colorado this week.
We're winding down the summer concert series, but there are still a few chances to get to Red Rocks this season -- this week, Jason Aldean will play there twice. Elsewhere Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali makes a couple Denver stops and Shakey Graves is scheduled for an eTown taping. The rest of our picks follow.

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