Cary Morin – Sing It Louder

carymorin.com

A well-traveled, world-renowned artist with multiple projects and groups, Cary Morin strips it down for his most recent solo release, Sing It Louder. Although he has help from percussionist Peter Knudson, Morin and his acoustic guitar are the driving force on this bluesy ballad/storyteller-style album. The smoothness and relative calm of Sing It Louder convey the vibe of a man and artist at ease with life and its many trials. The acoustic guitar is the main character on this album, and Morin does an excellent job of coaxing the stories from it, working organically and never pushing too hard. Knudson’s percussion skills are just enough to lend Sing It Louder a bit more of a meat-and-potatoes foundation, giving the album a well-rounded feel.

– Charlie Englar

Halden Wofford & The Hi*Beams – Live! At Hodi’s

hibeams.com

The taste and feel of live music is second to none. When a super-group like Halden Wofford & The Hi*Beams produce a live album, it’s impossible to not take notice. Recorded in January 2011 at Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins, Live! At Hodi’s displays all the rollicking, honky-tonk, whiskey-soaked goodness for which Wofford and the Hi*Beams are known. Wofford’s distinctly twangy, barbed-wire vocals conjure up images of Hank Williams onstage at the Grand Ole Opry. A mixture of originals and well-known classic covers allow Live! At Hodi’s to be an appealing album to many. Swinging to that whinnying steel guitar never felt so good, especially when the musicianship and onstage character are top-notch and the energy is of the highest degree.

–Charlie Englar

Community Funded: A New Avenue for Local Collaboration and Project Funding

By Charlie Englar

Local business man McCabe Callahan, who currently owns the pair of Mugs Coffee Lounge restaurants in Fort Collins, is in the process of putting together a very unique and one-of-a-kind website. The goal of said website? Generating funding for any type of project one may come up with.

Callahan, A CSU graduate, is teaming up with other CSU graduates and local business owners to launch CommunityFunded.com. The direct idea of the site is to connect individuals, business, non-profits and the like with the community and its resources. A project or idea may be posted on CommunityFunded.com, and then anyone and everyone is free to donate or pledge money to as many or few as they please, for as little or as much as they would like.

This form of connection and platform use is a remarkably new and fresh idea, and it will have its roots right here in Fort Collins.

A screenshot of CommunityFunded.com

As co-founder, Callahan says there are some ambitious goals for the site within its first year of launch.

Callahan and the other founders would love to see the site be responsible for one billion dollars raised in the first year. Although this may seem like a gaudy number, when broken down, it looks a bit more reasonable. According to Callahan, if a person pledges ten dollars, and then tells two other people to do the same, and they in turn tell two more people to pledge and so forth, in 27 days 100,000,000 people will have pledged one billion dollars.

Callahan does admit that this type of exponential growth has never been seen by any site, but, no-matter. Along with this never before reached goal, McCabe has applied to the Guinness Book Of World Records for the “Fastest Billion Dollars Raised for Community Projects.”

Another aspect that makes CommunityFunded.com so robust and true to its own form is the complete lack of capitalization for the founders. It is a site truly dedicated to the “idea > community/funding” equation. All the founders, including Callahan, continue to work diligently at running their businesses and doing their day jobs, while also putting in the hours to get the site up and running.

The idea of this mass community participation is something that Callahan hopes will really resonate with people, who will in turn help to build and create a beautiful thing. A thing that, someday, may be able to run and breathe on its own solely because of the multi-headed participation from the community.

As of press time, CommunityFunded.com is in pre-launch/sneak-peek status, with more additions to the site on the way. Visit communityfunded.com for more.

Tyler T. – A World to Wander

By Charlie Englar

myspace.com/tylertmusic

The free-spiritedness and lofty, cloud-like energy radiating from Tyler T.’s album, A World To Wonder, is something both magnetic and captivating. The solo artist is a self-described “one-man band,” and he brings to mind a combination of Keller Williams and Xavier Rudd. Looping techniques and the didgeridoo are at the center of Tyler’s being, with a slew of other instruments finding their way onto A World To Wander. A banjo, triangle, synthesizer, trumpet, fiddle, electric and acoustic guitar and organ are a few of the toys unleashed by the multi-talented Tyler T. and his studio friends. The raspy voice of the 23-year-old Texan is an interestingly smooth accent to this organic, funky and free trip.

Tucker Mountain Band – Tucker Mountain Band

By Charlie Englar

reverbnation.com/tuckermountain-band

Old-school, Appalachia-style, structured and straightforward: Just the way the forefathers of bluegrass would have it. On Tucker Mountain Band, TMB uses a majority of bouncy, banjo-driven tunes, highlighted with group harmonies and sing-songy lyrics. It’s quite remarkable that all except one of the lifetime musicians in TMB had never played bluegrass before the group was formed in 2007. The music created on Tucker Mountain Band is solid considering the group’s relatively short time making bluegrass together. As a whole, this album will either appeal to you or repel you – there is no middle ground with this musical style. It’s good music made by talented musicians, but stripped-down, nuts and bolts bluegrass can be hit or miss.

Jon Dakota – Big Magic

By Charlie Englar

jondakota.com

Words with wisdom carry a lot of weight, especially when a lifetime of ups and downs is described via the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar and harmonica. Jon Dakota lets this fused puzzle of delivery fly on Big Magic: A troubadour-style tell-all set in the Americana tradition of “I’ve been down this road before, and let me tell ya about it.” Dakota’s wearied and withered voice becomes easier to listen to the more one takes it in, much like the poignant and open-hearted themes on Big Magic resonate and sink in deeper each time around. Political and social commentary mix with love and life as Dakota and his band drive the harmonica-driven locomotive around each bend and up each hill, always happy to coast when the going is good.

Touch Monkeys Return to FoCo Music Scene After 20 Years

By Charlie Englar

First impressions are always a funny and fickle thing, but local musician Ray Tait knows how to knock one out of the park. Meeting at the Steakout Saloon in Fort Collins on a cold and snowy Friday night, Mr. Tait broke the ice by offering a certain journalist a shot of Jägermeister. The vibe of the interview was solidified right then and there.

Formed by Tait, the Touch Monkeys had their best success in the mid to late ’80s, when they were playing gigs all over the Western U.S. and enjoying multi-day residencies at the various mountain resorts of Colorado. A consistently revolving cast of members within the band was probably both a gift and a curse, but eventually, due to the various vigor of band life, the Touch Monkeys broke up and its members went on to other outlets.

Ray Tait loves to write. He loves the idea of connecting with people through his music and his writing. He also loves the Beatles. A few years back, perhaps to seek a kick-start for some lagging inspiration, Tait decided to move to Liverpool, England. Living in the same air as his musical idols once did, Tait spent the better part of a year putting together a remarkably insightful, funny and lyrically potent rock n’ roll album with one of his other bands, Babakuul. The end result, Liverpool Stories, is a great example of the artistic blend that is alive in Tait, and will no doubt be carried over to this: the second incarnation of the Touch Monkeys.

Although the Touch Monkeys have never formally put out an album, Tait says the possibility is always there for the group to put an album together. Tait did allow that he has a few songs he’s written sitting in his back pocket, along with the notion that the group has been working on some covers and other material. It is a “wait and see” mentality.

The group as it stands now consists of Ray Tait (keys), Timmy Zann (guitar), Jay Clear (guitar), Tim Gauthier (bass), and Steve Sutherland (drums).With a few shows sprinkled about over the next couple months, the group is hoping to ramp up gigs once the summer rolls around and the members are freer to devote more time to the project.

Starting over is never easy, but the Touch Monkeys are in it for the pure joy of making music, and that’s a great place to start.

Scene will be sponsoring a show featuring the Touch Monkeys at the East Coast Bar (238 Linden St.) on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Find out more at thetouchmonkeys.com, or by “liking” The Touch Monkeys on Facebook.

Synergy: Local Youth Strive to Bring Punk Rock Back

Photo by Emily Clingman

By Charlie Englar

The youth movement in the Colorado punk scene is in full gear, with the driver’s seat occupied by an insightful and energetic trio from Arvada.

Synergy is Josh Rock on guitar (15 years old), Ryan Teater on bass (15 years old) and Jay Rock on drums (18 years old). And yes: Rock is their real last name, Josh and Jay are brothers and they can play.

When Scene held its 20th annual Battle of the Bands on November 13, 2011 at Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins, many in attendance that Sunday evening were unaware of the pop-punk group Synergy, let alone the formidable musical chops they possessed.

As Scene’s own Dusty Ray remarked about the band’s second place performance in his review of the Battle of the Bands showcase; “Synergy…wowed the audience with their musical talents, energy, onstage chemistry and humorous lyrics.”

Ray went on to acknowledge that the band did a superb job of “tearing through driving, epically fast pop-punk rifts with ease,” also stating that “Synergy set the crowd up for a treat.”

It was a taste of success for a band that has been honing their craft for years.

While one wouldn’t think there to be much of a band history with individuals of such young stature, the history is indeed there.

Meeting on a bus ride to school on the first day of 4th grade, Teater offered Josh Rock some Purell Hand Sanitizer as an olive branch, and their friendship grew from there (the group has recently penned a tune aptly titled “Thank You Purell”).

The group was officially formed roughly a year later, in 2007, when the eldest Rock, Jay, picked up drums.

When it came time to decide on a name for the band, Synergy displayed an almost sage-like deliverance in the decision. According to the group, the artistically designed S, which appears at the beginning of Synergy on their CDs and in the “official” display of the name, was conceived on its own. The group then went looking for “S” words, settling on Synergy, which was noticed on a popular hockey stick made by Easton (all the boys are also avid organized-league hockey players).

Unsatisfied with the initial superficial finding/meaning of the word, the group searched out the definition of Synergy before deciding on it as the official band name.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Synergy as “the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” Upon finding the definition, the boys knew they had their name.

Being the age they are, one would also have a fairly sensible question in “Have they, or do they, make original music on a consistent basis?” The answer would be a resounding “yes.”

According to the father of the two/manager of all, Larry Rock, “They have 21 original songs now. Five on their 2010 demo CD, Band Time, thirteen on their full CD, Enough Said, and more.”

Within the band’s growing repertoire of original music, it is guitar player Josh who does the majority of the writing for the group. Channeling from the experiences of a fairly typical 15-year-old, Josh touches on subjects like girls, school, break-ups and the like. The difference here, however, is Josh creates such intuitive lyrics and rhythm, highlighted by wonderful wittiness and humor, that it leaves the listener wondering how a boy of such an age has the mind frame to materialize such a smooth sound and delivery.

Josh will then typically bring his topic for a song and a guitar melody to the other two members, who will work out their bass and drum parts respectively. The senior of the group, drummer Jay, writes much of the musical structure for Synergy.

Love of music is key here, and all members acknowledge their admiration for pop-punk band Blink 182, with each of the boys listing their respective instrumental counterparts of Blink as their favorite musicians. They do, however, express their not-so-hidden disdain for Blink’s newest album, Neighborhoods, noting an affinity for the band’s “earlier stuff.” It is partly with this in mind that Synergy fully established the band’s official motto; “Bring Punk Rock Back.”

All of Synergy’s music can be found on a variety of online musical outlets, including iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and Spotify. Visit youtube.com/synergybandcolorado for videos and more information about the band.

SHEL – When The Dragon Comes Down EP

By Charlie Englar

Classical training and profound emotional and musical intelligence burst from the seams on the newest release from the Fort Collins-based sisterhood quartet that is SHEL.

When The Dragon Comes Down, an EP, displays all the beautiful and bountiful musical blossoming that is happening for the Holbrook sisters. Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza (SHEL) blend mesmerizing harmonies with what can best be described as Irish folk music.

Gentle and soothing mandolin from Eva sweeps in and out of Sarah’s steady basslines, all backed by luxurious violin virtuosity.

When The Dragon Comes Down is also sprinkled with its share of subtle nuances and touches.

“Ruby Slippers” opens with the sounds of a music box being wound up, before leading into sunny, snappy harmonization by the sisters.

“Please Come Home,” besides being a torment of a pleading call to a loved one to return home in both the figurative and literal sense; “I feel my dusty heart ache / As I try to sleep but just lay awake / Wondering where you are / What will it take?” also finds some nice percussion work settled in the comfort zone between faint and forefront.

There are many moments of serenity and calmness to be found on When The Dragon Comes Down, and at a time when SHEL is really gaining steam on the national level, this EP is a strong reminder of the musical chops these four sisters carry, both individually and as a unit. Recognizing talent trumps any preference towards musical style, and one must acknowledge and give credit when it’s deserved.

shelmusic.com

Papa Juke – Out Of The Blues

By Charlie Englar

The combination of rock, blues, R&B, funk and jukebox jive is quite a conglomeration of musical sounds for a single group to produce.

Papa Juke creates just this type of flavorful foundation of musical goodness on their newest studio release, Out Of The Blues.

The Colorado-based quartet presents seasoned musicians who seem aptly fit to run through the musical carousel found on the album.

Mad Dog Friedman’s ghostly and weathered voice is a perfect match of the been-down-this-road-too-many-times-before blues slices found on numbers like the opening track of “Never Lost Love.”

“Never Lost Love” also finds Dave “Doc” Dougherty’s guitar riff splitting the heavens like some Jimmy Page studio outtake. Friedman’s haunting harmonica also makes itself know on this sturdy opening track.

“Sizzle” seems to lack something. While bassist Christine Webb’s vocals are an excellent match to the juke and jive music produced by the band, the lyrics don’t gain traction and the overall feel of the song doesn’t seem to fully flow with the rest of the albums’ vibe.

“Blues And Confused” opens with Friedman’s harmonica and soft shakes from Dan Crecco’s drums. Webb is powerful in her delivery of the bluesy soundscape, with Friedman using his harmonica skills to dance around Webb’s emotions. More Zepplin-like guitar work is present on this number, and Daugherty has no problem joining in the sexy dance with the rest of the group.

Papa Juke is at its best, and Out Of Blues sounds its best, when the band is locked into their bluesy, funky mind frame.

papajuke.com