DeVotchKa with the Boulder Philharmonic (Boulder Weekly 5/4/23)

by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 5/4/23
with additional reporting by Jezy Gray

With a career-long embrace of unlikely instruments like the theremin, sousaphone and bouzouki, Colorado folk outfit DeVotchKa has never been the sort of rock band that fits neatly into a single box. Boulder Philharmonic Executive Director Sara Parkinson says that’s part of what makes their upcoming musical collaboration such an exciting partnership. 

“We’re trying to get new people into the hall and appeal to a broader audience,” says Parkinson, who will conduct the orchestra during the upcoming May 6 concert and has performed with members of DeVotchKa in various chamber settings. “We like to amplify local voices and local talent, and putting [DeVotchKa] on the stage for the first time at Macky Auditorium is another special part of this collaboration. It’s about time, right?”

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Wonderbound Ballet’s “The Sandman” (Boulder Weekly 4/27/2023)

by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 4/27/2023

Before dedicating his life to dance, Garrett Ammon was first drawn to choir and theater as a kid in his native Arizona. There was just one problem.

“I would get too nervous,” says the current creative director and choreographer of the Denver-based Wonderbound Ballet. “My throat would lock up. I would be great in class, but the moment I got up on stage in front of people, I’d suddenly freeze — just blank. But that didn’t happen with dancing.”

After ninth grade, Ammon enrolled in a ballet school in Mesa — on a scholarship, as his parents bounced from job to job — and started transforming his obsession with MTV music-video choreography into a career. After attending a summer dance program in Virginia, his love for hip-hop and jazz movement drew him to San Diego in high school to audition for major dance schools. 

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Comedian Joshua Danger Emerson (Boulder Weekly 4/20/2023)

by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 4/20/2023

When Joshua Emerson’s mom died in the winter of 2019, he felt like a crucial part of himself had been severed. The Denver-based comedian, writer and actor was raised partly on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, and his mother’s passing sparked a difficult reckoning with his Native heritage. 

“There’s a sense that I lost a little of my Indigenousness when she died, because she was the one that was Navajo, and was from the reservation, and she spoke Navajo,” says Emerson, whose dad is white. “I don’t speak Navajo. There’s a sense that I have to learn how to come back to that as an adult … I feel orphaned culturally, and because of that, it’s made me want to do Native projects and be around Native people.”

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Leftover Salmon’s Andy Thorn (Boulder Weekly 4/20/2023)

by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 4/20/2023

Andy Thorn has always walked a fine line between tradition and experimentation. Even as a kid in bluegrass-obsessed North Carolina, watching banjo greats chop it up at traditional showcases like Doc Watson’s legendary MerleFest, the future Leftover Salmon musician knew he was a little different.

“My banjo playing is always gonna go back to the roots, but I’m fairly progressive,” Thorn says. “Even back then, people in North Carolina thought I played too much ‘hoolyhoo.’ This great banjo player said, ‘Man, you like that hoolyhoo.’”

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Rachel Sliker Finds a Home In the River Arkansas (Boulder Weekly 4/13/2023)

by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 4/13/2023

Violinist Rachel Sliker grew up in Colorado Springs but has spent the last two decades in Boulder, where she branched out from the classical music of her youth and found a community.

That’s where Sliker met local musician Tyler Ludwick of the band Princess Music, which she joined in 2004. “I was just starved for non-classical stuff at the time,” she remembers. 

From there, Sliker quickly blossomed in the Colorado indie-rock scene — thanks in no small part to her buoyant musicianship and joyful stage presence. In addition to her work with Princess Music, she also played with Clouds and Mountains, helmed by Front Range fixture Macon Terry, before joining Terry in the indie-Americana band The River Arkansas in 2015.


Hazel Miller Is Home (Boulder Weekly 3/2/23)

by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 3/2/23

Hazel Miller got into music as a kid, while doing chores.

“My mother had a rule: Saturdays were for cleaning the house,” she says. “My brother would put on a record and by the end of the day we would’ve played everything from Motown to Sly and the Family Stone.”

Miller was the fifth of seven children from a Roman Catholic family raised in “the projects” of Louisville, Kentucky. At Catholic school, a nun in the first grade told Miller, “Sing louder; they’ll follow you,” and a few years later it was clear that was true.

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Plasma Canvas Drops New Album (Boulder Weekly 2/17/23)

Revenge Therapy
by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 2/17/2023

The latest offering from Plasma Canvas kicks off with a slow burn. “Hymn,” the opening track on the Fort Collins quartet’s new album DUSK, is a quiet introduction to what turns out to be a very loud record. “I feel like I’m inside a dream, alone with your memory,” vocalist and guitarist Adrienne Rae Ash sings in the opening shot of what she calls the band’s “revenge album.”

Revenge albums are typically about former partners, or even parents, but DUSK is about the pain of having your dreams — specifically the momentum of a young buzz band’s career — crushed, or at least halted, by a global pandemic.

“There’s a lot of those themes [on DUSK] about catastrophe and just the worst parts of being a person, and how you just have to carry on,” Ash says. “You might not be stronger. I don’t necessarily believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes it just gives you trauma, and makes you weird at parties. You have to deal with it, and this record is kind of about that.”

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Adrian Belew Embraces Talking Heads Era (Westword 2/14/23)

by Adam Perry for Westword 2/14/2023

Legendary guitarist Adrian Belew first heard Talking Heads in concert at the tiny Exit/In in Nashville. And likely the first time Talking Heads members heard Belew was in 1978, when he was playing lead guitar with David Bowie at Madison Square Garden in New York City. “They were in the front row,” Belew recalls, “and I think that’s how they first heard me.”

But Belew’s relationship with Talking Heads really took off when the band went on tour in support of Fear of Music, its Grammy-winning dive into psychedelic new-wave music with producer Brian Eno.

“At that time, I lived in Illinois. They played three shows in Illinois. I went to all three of them, and naturally they brought me backstage and wanted to talk to me and stuff,” Belew says. “On the third show — which was in Macomb, Illinois — they asked me to come out and play their encore, which was ‘Psycho Killer.’ I said, ‘Of course, I know the song, but I don’t know the chords or anything. They said, ‘That’s okay; just freak out at the end like you do.’”

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The Lumineers’ Stelth Ulvang Finds Balance (Boulder Weekly 2/9/23)

Sweet Spot
by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 2/9/23

Fort Collins native Stelth Ulvang captured lightning in a bottle when he co-founded the now-legendary Colorado band Dovekins in 2009. Merging sea shanties with the quirkiness of Paul Simon’s Graceland and the energy of early Arcade Fire shows, the quintet soon carved a name for itself on the Front Range and beyond. 

It’s hard to hold on to lightning, though, and by 2012 Dovekins was defunct and Ulvang was a full-time member of a fledgling indie-folk band called The Lumineers. He moved from bass to piano, and accordion, and now joyfully describes himself as not only The Lumineers’ pianist but also its “hype man.”

“Look, NWA has members that are known very well for their lyrics and members that are known for just a good fucking voice,” Ulvang says. “It’s good to be a hype man and I think I’m starting to feel more pride about that being a talent as opposed to an insecurity … which has taken 10 years.”

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John Hendrickson’s “Life on Delay” (Boulder Weekly 1/20/23)

Words of Comfort
John Hendrickson Discusses His New Book
by Adam Perry for Boulder Weekly 1/20/23

John Hendrickson lives in New York City, but the Front Range is where his life first began to take shape. Currently a senior editor at the Atlantic, the 34-year-old journalist cut his teeth as a cub music reporter at the Denver Post, spending his fresh-out-of-college days living in the vibrant Baker neighborhood, making “great friends at the paper and great friends in the music scene.”

One of Hendrickson’s first big moments at the Atlantic came in 2019, when he interviewed then-presidential-candidate Joe Biden about his experience with stuttering. The resulting article expressed some disappointment, or at least confusion, over Biden’s refusal to admit he still stutters, despite what experts say are coping mechanisms easily seen in Biden’s public appearances. “What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say,” as the powerful piece was titled, also represented a life-changing moment for Hendrickson, who discussed his own stutter in the article.

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