FoCoMX Strikes Again: Local Talent Takes the Stage

By Allison LeCain

Coming up on its fourth year running, the Fort Collins Music eXperiment (FoCoMX) will be the ultimate two-day music festival of the year. Dubbed “The Biggest Little Festival in America,” the set list is complete with 320 bands from Northern Colorado featured in more than 30 locations around downtown Fort Collins, making it easy to get your local music fix for only 20 dollars.

The music starts at 3:30pm on Friday, April 13 and continues into the night until 12:30am. It picks back up on Saturday, April 14 at 1:30pm and comes to a close at 12:30am. Some of the venues are 21 and up, but many are all ages, including the Aggie Theatre, Avogadro’s Number, Equinox Brewing and Cranknstein.

FoCoMX is put on by Fort Collins Musicians Association (FoCoMA), which is a non-profit organization that promotes the education, support and networking of local musicians.

President and co-founder of FoCoMX, Greta Cornett, started the festival four years ago with some friends. They began by calling up bands to ask if they wanted to be featured in the festival.

“We were just looking for a way to get some recognition of the Fort Collins music scene and celebrate what’s going on up here,” Cornett said.
This year they received more than 600 new band submissions in addition to the bands that have played previous years, making a stage spot in the festival quite the competition.

“We were kind of overwhelmed, but happily surprised,” Cornett said.

Over the years, not only have the number of bands grown from 107 to 320, but the number of audience members has also increased. This year FoCoMX is expected to have around 6,000 guests, according to Bryony Fuller, chair of the festival’s promotions committee.

This festival is home to more than just local musician performances. FoCoMX will also include musicians’ education panels, childrens’ workshops, a silent disco and silent films with live music, making it different than other festivals.

Cornett said FoCoMX is a unique experience that all music lovers will enjoy because of the wide variety of music types that will be featured. Fuller explained that there will be everything from DJs to punk rock to folk music.

“You’re also not committed to just one venue,” Cornett said. “You have the option to bounce around and see as much music as possible.”

As one of the only purely Colorado-based music festivals, the goal is to appeal to as many people as possible. The reasonably priced tickets help to fund FoCoMA and future local musicians.

“It’s really dedicated to the amazing talent that is right here in Northern Colorado,” Fuller said.

Upon payment, audience members will receive a wristband that will grant them access to any venue for both days of the festival. These can be purchased online at focomx.org or in Old Town Square on the day of the festival.

FoCoMX is almost entirely run by volunteers, who do everything from running the ticket booths to emceeing the stages. The group is still accepting help, and anyone who volunteers for four or more hours will receive a free wristband to the festival.

By attending the event, you can also try the limited edition FoCoMX beer. The group has partnered with Equinox Brewing to create an amber ale especially for audience members. It will be made in a small batch and served exclusively at FoCoMX venues for the duration of the festival.

The festival is called ‘the experiment’ for a reason and will truly be an amazing weekend for all music lovers.

“We’re open to new ideas and we’re not terribly afraid to try things,” Cornett said. “We take the lessons we learn and make each year better.”

To purchase a wristband, view the schedule or sign up to volunteer, visit focomx.org.

Rolfe Duane Bautista: Bringing the Whimsical into Being

By Allison LeCain

Inspiration can be tricky. Some artists are inspired by reading a beautiful poem; others by taking a walk in the park. Inspiration strikes Rolfe Duane Bautista at odd times, such as when he’s brushing his teeth or falling asleep.

“Funny enough, a lot of good ideas happen when I’m doing really mundane things,” Bautista said. “I get artist’s block when I’m sitting in my chair [at my studio].”

Though this process may be unique, it works for him. Not only has Bautista created many pieces displayed in Rendition Gallery (251 Jefferson St.), he has painted two electrical boxes for the city. He also creates ‘daily drawings’ and posts them on his blog.

“The daily drawings come from the one weird thing that sticks to me every day, or an important thing that my mind just can’t get over,” Bautista said.
Bautista practices concept art, which means his artwork is idea-based, rather than focused on the final product. While he mainly draws, paints and creates graphic designs, he is currently experimenting with a plaster project.

“I don’t like to limit myself with materials – whatever it takes to get the job done, that’s how I go about things,” Bautista said.

While many people define art as how it is received by an audience, Bautista said his art is also self-serving, but he creates a quality product that viewers appreciate.

“I make my drawings a bit cryptic and ambiguous so that the meanings stay very personal and the audience is allowed to explore to make their own conclusions,” Bautista said.

After graduating from high school in 2004, Bautista started displaying art in coffee shops and entering into local art exhibits. Now he is well known by appearing in First Friday Art Walks, showing his colorful, whimsical, surreal and sometimes tongue-in-cheek art at Rendition Gallery.

Recently, Bautista became one of the new owners of Rendition Gallery, along with Daniel Ibanez and Ivan Andrade.

Reopening on March 2, the new owners hope to raise the quality of the artwork displayed in Rendition Gallery.

“We really want this to be a point between the East Coast and the West Coast that people would consider an important place for artwork,” Bautista said.

To see Bautista’s artwork, including his daily drawings, visit rolfebautista.blogspot.com or visit his permanent display in the lower level of Rendition Gallery.

Monthly Poetry Slam Sparks Creativity & Empowerment

Larry Holgerson, a.k.a. "Booger"

By Allison LeCain

On the first Friday of every month, The Bean Cycle, located at 144 N. College Ave., is packed with people. Every seat is filled with eager listeners waiting for the emcee of the Poetry Slam to step up to the microphone.

Larry Holgerson, better known in the poetry community as ‘Booger,’ struts up wearing his traditional tie-dye shirt and sparkling silver cowboy boots. It’s 8 o’clock and the Poetry Slam begins.

These poetry slams are not only a unique Fort Collins experience for budding poets and listeners alike, but are a contest which includes twelve performers, three rounds (with half of the poets being eliminated each round) and five judges. Anyone who wants to perform can sign up a half hour before the show starts, and any audience member can volunteer to be a judge. Each judge scores the poet out of ten possible points. In the end, there is one winner and the prize is the money from the tip jar that is passed around the room.

Holgerson has been running the poetry slam for five years with few rules, because having rules is not what poetry is about.

“The whole idea behind poetry slams is that it no longer belongs to the academies or professors,” Holgerson says. “It’s not about putting things in books to die on a shelf – it’s about keeping alive the actual writer’s passion and performance.”

He explains that poetry is about telling your truths and spitting out the poison of daily life. For Holgerson and many others, poetry is a mental and emotional release – there is no holding back.

Poetry Slam performer Joshua Jackson, a.k.a. JJ, has won twice, including his first time participating in June and again this November. He began writing poetry in the third grade and was first published in a children’s poetry book a year later.

Jackson says he finds inspiration from everything in his life, but his goal is to write poetry that others can relate to by entertaining them and evoking their emotions at the same time.

“I love bringing people together and feeding off their energy,” Jackson says. “That is a really powerful environment.”

The poetry slam at The Bean Cycle offers the perfect atmosphere for self-expression. It allows people to speak out about social issues or anything else they want in a place where everyone is just listening and not making comments. Holgerson has a theory that he calls the ‘zombie apocalypse’ – meaning that many people are in such a hurry to get where they’re going that they don’t stop and listen to others.

“It’s so easy nowadays to just do nothing,” Holgerson says. “I lot of people that seem like they are strong and powerful are hiding behind that powerful face. They just need to be heard. Sometimes there is power in being validated.”

Some of the poets, including Jackson, have undergone hardships in their life that they are able to work through and recover from through poetry.

“For me, it’s a necessity. Through all the stuff that I’ve been through, all the stuff I have taken in and had done to me, poetry is the only way I can let that out and express it. If I were to keep it in I would go crazy,” Jackson says. “So basically it’s my passion – it’s a survival mechanism.”

Before Jackson participated in poetry slams, he would share his poetry with his grandfather. His grandfather has passed away, but Jackson sometimes writes about him in his poems.

“I never had parents and my foster family abandoned me, so he was basically the only person that I had in my life to turn to,” Jackson said. “I would express that pain and he was there to listen.”
As many young people are using The Bean Cycle’s poetry slam to release their emotions, Holgerson is earnest in his role of maintaining an open-minded ambiance. He will be there to protect the poets and make everyone feel safe.

As a child, Holgerson’s father worked for a rodeo. This is where he found his heroes, and he compares himself to the clowns in the arena.

“My heroes were not those dumb cowboys riding on a bull, but the clowns who step in the middle. The clown gets in with grace and can redirect the dangerous force away from them,” Holgerson said. “These kids have the guts to stand up and say what they feel – their hearts are pounding. Anybody that gets up there is protected by me, the clown.”

The poetry slam competitors that ‘Booger’ protects are free to speak their minds. As they release their words and emotions, everyone sitting on the couches and chairs in The Bean Cycle can feel the energy. While sipping a hot latte, these are some of the words an audience may hear:

“This system we live in is a psychological prison/ So I’m driven to deliver philosophical wisdom/ society’s brainwashed/ we believe we’re equal/ black males pack jails/ my father’s one of those people/ you tell me whose evil/ those who live illegal?/or puppet politicians hiding lies behind the American eagle?” (JJ Jackson, November 4, 2011.)
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The Bean Cycle poetry slam is held every first Friday of the month at 144 N. College Ave. Sign-up is at 7:30pm and the slam begins at 8pm. Participating poets should show up early; there are only 12 spots available. Bring your best three poems, or just come to watch! Find out more at wolverinefarmpublishing.com/events/poetry-slam.html or the beancycle.com.