Oko Tygra Is Proud to Represent Denver at CMJ in New York This Week

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Luca Venter
Oko Tygra
Oko Tygra is one of the Denver bands representing the Mile High City at this year's CMJ in New York City. The group is slated to play at Niagra on Wednesday, October 22. For a group that started in March 2014, getting selected for CMJ is certainly an achievement. For songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Joshua Novak, it's also a bit of a way for him to break with his past and establish a new musical identity as well. Recruiting a couple of old friends, bassist Tyler Rima and drummer Neil Robertson, as well as a gem of a Craigslist find in guitarist Russell Ault, Novak was able to realize a vision for starting the kind of band that had bright, hazy atmospheres and finely textured melodies.

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Naoko Yamano of Shonen Knife on Why Shows Start Earlier in Japan

Categories: Interviews

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Courtesy of Good Charamel Records
In the late 1980s, it was nearly unheard of for Japanese underground rock bands to play in the United States. But Shonen Knife, appearing at the Oriental Theater this Thursday, October 16, played a show in Los Angeles in 1989.

By then, the band's music had already spent several years circulating in the U.S., thanks to a 1983 visit to Japan by Beat Happening frontman and K Records founder Calvin Johnson. While overseas, Johnson found Shonen Knife's second album, Burning Farm, on cassette; he reissued the album the following year on his label. The group's original take on punk rock, and its surreal, straight-faced send-up of pop culture, struck a chord with artists in the English-speaking world, including Sonic Youth, Red Kross and, famously, Kurt Cobain, who invited Shonen Knife to open for Nirvana on the U.K. leg of its tour for Nevermind.

See also: Why DIY Venues Are Vital Are Vital to the Health of the Entire Music Scene

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For Josh Ritter, Literature Is a Bigger Influence on His Songwriting Than Music

Categories: Interviews

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Laura Wilson
Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter (due Saturday, October 11, at the Paramount Theater as part of Swallow Hill's 35th Anniversary) is a gifted songwriter who has earned a bit of an international following for his imaginatively literate lyrics and simple yet sophisticated observational wisdom. In 2001, Ritter got a big break when he met Glen Hansard of the Irish band the Frames while playing an open mike down the street from where Hansard had a gig. Subsequently, Ritter was invited to play a month of shows in Ireland, where, instead of one or two songs at open mikes, he was playing half-hour sets every night. This helped him hone his craft as both a songwriter and a performer. Several albums and EPs later, Ritter has become one of today's most beloved and respected songwriters.

See also: Josh Ritter, Brett Dennen and More Will Play Swallow Hill's 35th Anniversary Show

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James Felice of the Felice Brothers: "We Work For a Living"

Categories: Interviews

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You wouldn't know, listening to the Felice Brothers' latest LP, Favorite Waitress, that the record marks the first time they've recorded in a proper studio, abandoning the chicken coops and high-school auditoriums of their previous albums. Characteristically unhinged and scruffy without ever feeling unprofessional, the record has the warmth and approachability that scores of other "roots rockers" struggle to project. When Ian Felice's voice breaks into the slightest laugh as he sings, "In this violent world that spins, I've been so afraid to live by the lights of comets," there's something unfakeable that elevates the song beyond the efforts of his peers.

By Derek Askey

See also: I Made Friends With Everyone at the Jason Isbell Show

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New Pornographers' A.C. Newman on Making the Band's Best Album and Wikipedia Lies

Categories: Interviews

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Photo by Chris Buck
A.C. Newman, foreground, and the rest of the New Pornographers. More photos and videos below.
Not many veteran bands make their best album more than a decade down the line. But the New Pornographers, who'll appear Saturday, October 11, at the Gothic Theatre, have beaten the odds with the driving, melodic, pop-tastic Brill Bruisers despite an extremely high degree of difficulty. After all, the band's members, including singer-songwriter Neko Case and Destroyer's Dan Bejar, aren't exactly wanting for other things to do.

How'd they do it? Frontman A.C. Newman, who also has an active solo career (and just penned the soundtrack to the Daniel Radcliffe rom-com What If), explains in a wide-ranging conversation that goes into detail about a slew of specific tunes, new and old, as well as the challenges of getting what's become a supergroup together and his memorable Funny or Die clip, on view below. And that's not to mention his hilarious beef with Wikipedia, which thinks it knows the New Pornographers better than he does....

See also: Sharon Van Etten on Confidence, Ghosts and Being the Worst (or Maybe Best) Stoner Ever

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Calling Denver Rappers of All Stripes to the Third Rap-A-Thon

Categories: Interviews

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Welcome to the D.O.P.E. Game
Creators Lizzy Brodie and Ru Johnson are ready to see all the MCs rock.
Tonight, the Savoy Events Center will once again be filled wall-to-wall with people from all walks of life who came for one reason: Rocking the mic. MCs from across Colorado will come together for the second Rap-A-Thon, which will feature art, fashion and hours of rhyming.

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

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Mark Turner: "The World Is Magical and There's No Reason to Ever Be Bored"

Categories: Interviews

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Paolo Soriani
Mark Turner is a dynamic and lucid jazz tenor saxophonist who's been part of Billy Hart's Quartet for a decade. He's also been a member of Fly, the collaborative trio with the skilled bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. But Turner, who will be at Dazzle on Saturday, September 27, also considers himself a fairly avid science fiction reader, with Ursula K. Le Guin being one of his favorite authors, and Turner's brand new ECM album, Lathe of Heaven, borrows its name from her 1971 novel.

See also: The Ten Best Jazz Drummers

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DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist Bring Afrika Bambaataa's Record Collection to Denver

Categories: Interviews

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Westword photo.
DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist
While the current connotation of the term DJ involves neon-clad teens, lasers and confetti cannons, artists like DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist rely on the hip-hop tradition of the genre. On past tours, Shadow and Cut toured with only a collection of hand-picked 45s (the Hard Sell Tour, from 2007 to 2009), and this time around, the DJs are touring with Afrika Bambaataa's personal collection of records.

The duo is currently midway through that Renegades of Rhythm tour, and we spoke with each of them about Bambaataa's influence, the task of building a 90-minute set from thousands of hours of music and what advice they got from Bamabaataa himself on how to chronicle his influence.

See also: The Queen of the Ravers

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Mike Watt on Touring: "I Guess You Pick Where You Want to Gruel"

Categories: Interviews

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Hiyori Minato
Mike Watt, Stefano Pilia and Andrea Belfi are Il Sogno del Marinaio.
The night before Minutemen played in Denver for the first time in 1984, at the now-defunct Rainbow Music Hall with Black Flag, the punk progenitors made up of singer and guitarist D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley endured what Watt called a "seventeen-hour hell ride" right after a gig in Minneapolis. Watt says ten of them crammed into a van, and he was on the top shelf with drummer Bill Stevenson, who played with Black Flag at the time, and roadie Steve "Mugger" Corbin.

"You couldn't lift your arms up to read the books so you're just laying there, awake," Watt says.

See also: On Mike Watt & the Missingmen's 2011 Show at Larimer Lounge

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Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler on Fighting the Profit Motive

Categories: Interviews

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Patrick O'Brien
Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces
Shabazz Palaces is the adventurous hip-hop outlet of former Digable Planets MC Ishmael Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Mariare.

Based in Seattle, the group is signed to the historically rock-centric Sub Pop label. We talked to Butler before Shabazz Palaces' show tonight at the Fox Theatre about consumerism, the innate power of music and the goals he has for the newly released Lese Majesty.

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