Denver Punk Band SPELLS on Bigfoot and Mexican Slang

Categories: Playlist

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Crystal Allen
SPELLS will release a seven-inch and cassette this weekend.
The members of good-times punk band SPELLS will happily share their opinions on any number of things. Mythical creatures, for example: "I think Bigfoot is just John Lithgow in a costume," says Peter "P" Bohner. "That's where he vacations. Some people go to Vail or Aspen..."A band that isn't short on either humor or serious material, SPELLS is releasing both a new seven-inch and a new cassette this Friday at the hi-dive. And if you go to the release show and pay eight dollars instead of the standard six-dollar cover, you'll get a copy of each.

See also: Denver's Ten Best Small Venues


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Chella Negro on How Her Standup Experience Helps Make Her a Better Band Leader

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Glenn Ross
Chella & The Charm
Chella & The Charm is releasing its self-titled, full-length album at the hi-dive on Friday, December 12. The folky Americana project is the latest incarnation of a band fronted by primary singer and songwriters Michelle Caponigro. Performing as Chella Negro for the last several years, Caponigro has established herself as one of the most engaging live performers in Denver, whether playing solo or with a band. Her background in theater has given Caponigro an uncommon poise and confidence on stage, and her lyrics are rich with vivid storytelling, unblinking but compassionate self-examination and pointed observations.

See also: Bright Channel Was Denver's Last Great Shoegaze Band

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How the Samples Went From Nursing Homes to the Fillmore

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Tom Murphy
The Samples' Sean Kelly
The Samples are among the most successful bands ever to come out of Colorado. But primary songwriter and singer Sean Kelly got his start far away from the mountains, playing for unlikely audiences.As a young man, Kelly and his fledgling band, the Last Straw, couldn't get the time of day from venues in their home town of Burlington, Vermont, so they played at area convalescent homes for recovering seniors.

"They would show us their photo albums and books and stuff like that," says Kelly. "Our song 'Did You Ever Look So Nice' is all about old folks. They see people come and go all day, and who knows what their conditions are and where they are mentally?

See also: 50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet

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Legendary Denver Pianist Joe Bonner Has Passed Away

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Courtesy of Cherry Sound Studios. Photo by Joanne Kappel.
Joe Bonner was one of Denver's best pianists.
Joe Bonner was a brilliant jazz pianist who collaborated with some of the genre's legends and developed a worldwide reputation for his moving style. He passed away in his sleep on November 20 from heart disease. Bonner moved to Colorado in 1976, when he was 28 years old. By then, he'd been playing professionally for a decade; his résumé included performances alongside Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes's Hip Ensemble and a three-year stint touring and recording with legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. He quickly established himself in Denver, playing weekly stints at the Mercury Cafe and a run of sets at the Bay Wolf between European tours.

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We Need Rage Against the Machine Now More Than Ever

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Hands up.
By Gabriel San Roman

It was no coincidence that Rage Against the Machine released The Battle of Los Angeles in 1999 on what is traditionally observed as Election Day in the United States. The 2000 election season was already in gear, with Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore setting up to spar -- but Rage struck first.

See also: 50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet

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The Nine Most Unsettling Cover Songs Ever

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Brandon Marshall. Full slideshow here.
Kid Rock feels like makin' love.
Whenever an artist covers a song they take a risk, particularly if the song they are covering is a classic or at least already burned into everyone's minds a certain way. Some covers don't feel right because it's a classic is getting mangled, other times it's uncomfortable because a song about love is getting morphed into something less meaningful. Here are nine cover songs we found funny, strange, and unexpected. Some of them aren't necessarily bad, just kind of uncomfortable.

See also: The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock



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Why Every Tinyamp Tape Is Truly One of a Kind

Categories: Playlist

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Courtesy of Tinyamp Records
Hunter Dragon and Madeline Johnston started Tinyamp Records in late 2011.
House venues are unofficial by nature. There are no real rules at a house show other than to respect each other and the space. There are no tickets, only donations. There's no promotion, no bar, no third-party marketing team. What is created right then and there at each show is a one-of-a-kind experience. Local limited-run cassette-tape imprint Tinyamp Records, not coincidentally, has a similar approach. The label, run by musicians Hunter Dragon and Madeline Johnston, was the direct result of the two crossing paths at house shows. "I had seen Maddie play around the same time I had played a show at her house; we just agreed right off the bat that we should start a band together," says Dragon. Johnston -- who at the time had been playing around Denver under the name Mariposa -- agreed, and the two created a musical project, Year of the Dragonfly. They released their first record, Pupil, in late 2011 on Tinyamp, which they started at the same time.

See also: 50 Ways to Support Your DIY Music Community

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Kazoo Buskers of the 16th Street Mall Are Welcome in Coyote Poets of the Universe

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Tom Murphy
Coyote Poets of the Universe is Denver's most serious band.
Coyote Poets of the Universe has cultivated a unique songwriting style over the years in order to accommodate the disparate voices of its nine-piece membership -- the results will be on display during a show this Saturday at the Oriental Theater. But the band did not have ambitious beginnings; in fact, the Poets started out as the soundtrack to a radio show in 1998."The original premise was that we had this radio show called Jazz Tales on KUVO," says bassist Andy O'Leary, also known by his radio handle of Andy O. "We had a group of slam poets who started their own band. I was the musician and the engineer."

See also: The Ten Best Unexpected Places to See Live Music in Denver

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Award-Winning Video Game Composer Austin Wintory Returns to Conduct the CSO

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Courtesy of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Austin Wintory will return to Denver from Los Angeles to conduct the CSO this week.
On November 15, Austin Wintory will return home to conduct the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in a program devoted to "Comic-Con"-themed music, including his own compositions for the universe of video-games, where he's found his greatest success.

At 30, Wintory is already an accomplished veteran and trailblazing composer. He received the first Grammy nomination for a video-game score (Journey) in a category historically populated with film music by the likes of Hans Zimmer and John Williams -- and he was nominated for a BAFTA for his very first game score, for the acclaimed PlayStation 3 title flOw.

See also: Best Musical Mix Denver 2014 - Colorado Symphony Orchestra

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Banshee Tree Is Willing to Give Up Running Water to Play Music

Categories: Playlist

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Briana May
As Banshee Tree, Kalyn Pembridge and Thomas LaFond make a surprisingly original and enticing mix of gypsy jazz, folk pop and swing. They moved to Colorado from upstate New York four years ago, and can be seen seemingly every night of the week along the Front Range, playing a mix of standards like "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and mellifluously joyful originals. And after they play, they drive into the mountains west of Boulder to the 100-year-old mining cabin they have called home for the past several months. The tiny house is divided in half; there's a greenhouse on one side and a single room on the other. It has no running water, and the only electricity comes from a solar-powered generator. There's a wood stove and a sink that drains into a bucket. "We don't have enough power for our coffee grinder," says LaFond, "but we have enough to record our music."

See also: Telluride Bluegrass Festival's Longtime MC Reflects on Colorado's Most Storied Music Fest


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