Tag Archives: Dave Schutz

Local Artist Daniel Ibanez Goes Back to the Future

Local Artist Daniel Ibanez Goes Back to the Future

Daniel Ibanez with one of his works

By Dave Schutz

Fort Collins artist Daniel Ibanez explains his recent work with an excitement bordering on nervousness as he riffs on topics ranging from The Fifth Element; Cormac McCarthy; science fiction as a tool to address touchy cultural issues; and how we use the past and the future to understand the present.

All of this relates to a crop of sci-fi themed digital pieces Ibanez has been producing. One example is a series of pieces depicting a dogfight between a red World War I-style biplane and some TIE Fighters from Star Wars. In one image, the biplane is being pursued; in the next, it has the upper hand. Both feature the big, red biplane front and center.

“So on one level, it’s just total populist imagery with bright red, Star Wars. It’s easy,” Ibanez explains. “But on the other hand, there’s this more complex element where it was derived from, which was sort of looking at this inevitability of institutional military activity.”

This melding of the past and the future, the real and fantasized, is central to much of this recent work. Ibanez tackles modern themes ranging from war to the mundane and situates them in a hypothesized future that is modeled after 1950s-style science fiction.

“It helps us nest ourselves in the way that we see ourselves today, sort of like stellar parallax, where you measure the distance of something by looking at it from two particular vantage points,” Ibanez explains. “What I’m trying to do is look at contemporary society through the lens of some idealized, hypothesized past or idealized future. I’m just kind of using that as a critique to look at where we are today.”

The turn toward sci-fi and digital work is a relatively recent development for Ibanez. The 33-year-old artist was groomed as a traditional oil painter under the wing of renowned Taos artist Ray Vinella, who was friends with Ibanez’s grandmother and who taught him the craft during summer visits to Ibanez’s childhood home in Colorado Springs. By 16, Ibanez had his first show and his first sale, and by 19, his work was in the same gallery as Vinella’s.

“It was astounding,” Ibanez says. “I felt like an imposter.”

He was on any artist’s dream trajectory until he went and did the rational thing; he got an art education degree from CSU and fell in love with teaching at Rocky Mountain High School, where he’s been for about seven years.

“But I think it was a good break because, as a kid, I understood art through the lens of my teacher,” Ibanez says. “And having that break from it allowed me to reimagine the whole craft of painting in my own eyes. I think when something gets impressed upon you at such a young age, at least for me, I had to sort of walk away from it a little bit and get a new outlook. And that’s what the last couple years were really for.”

Ibanez’s new direction coincides with a shift in priorities, of sorts. Though he is still a full-time teacher, he’s scaled back his participation in coaching and school clubs and the like to focus more on being a full-time artist as well.

“The battle in my heart for the last three years or four years is, how do you reconcile two loves, basically,” Ibanez says. “But in the long term, when I start thinking about the next phase of life, I think mostly about being an artist.”

The shift in Ibanez’s style is remarkable. To check out the “Traditional Work” section of his website (danielibanez.net), one is indeed met with some very traditional still life and landscape pieces. The vibrant, broad strokes of those paintings carry over to a degree into his digital work, but here, the edges are softer and the subjects less impressionistic. The style is consistent, but the newer work is decidedly more modern.

Such a shift in style and approach might naturally lead one to worry about the opinion of traditionalists like, for instance, one’s mentor. Ibanez recounts a recent visit he had with his own mentor, Vinella, in which Ibanez had to confess that he’d started painting digitally.

“I bit my tongue and I was just, ‘I’ve got to tell him,’” Ibanez says. “I kind of told him all about it and he stopped for a second, and he just goes, ‘That’s great! If I was your age, that’s what I’d be doing right now.’ He was so excited and it was sort of like the blessing from the father. So at that point, I was like, full steam ahead.”

Check out Ibanez’s work at danielibanez.net, or, if you’re a Google Plus user, you can follow his near-daily posts of new works.

Greeley Artist Goes Big with Mural Projects

Greeley Artist Goes Big with Mural Projects

Armando Silva with one of his works

By Dave Schutz

Taking 8th Avenue into downtown Greeley from the north isn’t any prettier than it’s been for a long time. First comes the stench of the meat packing plant, then a string of auto shops, the long-empty State Armory, and the nondescript Greeley Tribune building. But a detour over to 9th Avenue across from the public library leads to a stunning, wildly colorful mural of Albert Einstein. Suddenly, Greeley starts to feel like a different city.

A closer look reveals that a lot of the empty or antiquated storefronts that have hampered the vitality of Greeley’s central business district in recent years have given way to several new restaurants and other businesses, including Café Panache, a French-style crêperie where I met with the mural’s creator, 24-year-old Armando Silva.

Since graduating with an art degree from the University of Northern Colorado just over a year ago, Silva has propelled himself to the forefront of a growing Greeley art scene through a progression of increasingly high-profile mural projects.

Although undeniably talented, Silva’s greatest asset may be his seemingly boundless energy. He’s keeping food on the table largely through commission work, but his real passion lies in his murals and a bevy of community-focused projects. He is helping to start a cooperative art space similar to Fort Collins’ Art Lab; he’s an executive staff member of the Colorado Dance Collective; and he recently taught a mural painting class through the UNC Community Arts program, whose students are working downtown on a piece slated to be finished in August.

That mural is part of Greeley’s Paint The Town program, a partnership between the city and local artists to support more public murals. The program started when Silva and some UNC classmates approached the city about funding a collaborative mural on the outer wall of The Kitchen at 9th Avenue and 16th Street.

The City of Greeley isn’t the only entity taking notice. Because Silva already has some projects on the burner through Paint The Town, when he thought up the Einstein mural, the city was reluctant to take on the project. That’s when the Greeley Downtown Development Authority stepped in to pick up the tab.

It’s a good thing for all of us that Silva chose to be an artist rather than, say, a commercial airline pilot or backcountry guide. His methodology for the Einstein mural was downright reckless. Once he got the go-ahead from the DDA, he set to work with a black and white photo of Einstein and a sketch of his idea. Unsatisfied with the results he was getting from a paintbrush on the brick wall, he switched to spray paint, a medium he’d never used before. After a little bit of research on techniques, he dove right in with little practice and cranked out the mural – which is about 35 feet high and over twice as wide – over the course of just three days.

“I love graffiti art. I love street art. And I love the color that they use. I’m inspired by it,” Silva says. “As an urban feel, I love it, but I’m not a graffiti artist.”
And while the piece obviously draws from graffiti art in both the choice of medium and the pace of work, the finished product is sharper and more impressionistic than most work done with spray paint. It’s also less hyperbolic than some of his other work. The piece is based on one of the more stoic photos of Einstein, and it’s almost as if Silva challenged himself to inject life into relatively ordinary base material (compared, say to the famous photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out.)

It’s been a busy year for Silva and it’s not slowing down. In addition to the community mural and proposed cooperative art space, he’s branching out for shows at designHaus Denver and in Nashua, N.H. in August.

But don’t expect Silva to stay away from home for long. Where other artists of his age and caliber often hanker to move on to a bigger pond, Silva is intent upon staying in Greeley. Born in Mexico and having spent part of his childhood in Milliken, he’s lived in Greeley since he was about 12 years old.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of things to look up to or look forward to here in Greeley,” Silva says. “So if I can set a platform for that and even have people outdo me by tomorrow, so be it. But I want to be able to open up that door – or to just show people the door, because the door’s open.”

Silva would prefer to build the Greeley scene rather than try to compete in a bigger one and risk compromising his creativity.

“[I’m] not saying that this is the safe route, but this is much more of an open route,” he says. “You have no limitations here.”

Find out more about Armando Silva and his work at aisgarts.com.

Strength in Numbers: Cohere Helps Independent Workers Escape Solitude of the Home Office

Strength in Numbers: Cohere Helps Independent Workers Escape Solitude of the Home Office

A section of the Cohere Coworking space

By Dave Schutz

Lots of us know the feeling: you’re trying to get work done on the computer at home, but procrastination sets in. You do some laundry, put away the dishes, and the next thing you know, it’s dinnertime. Or maybe you’re like local freelance marketing and advertising writer Julie Sutter. When she was working from home, she was constantly preoccupied with her job. Like many who don’t work in a conventional office, Sutter needed to separate her work life from her home life.

That’s when she discovered the Cohere Coworking Community. More than just a desk for rent, the increasingly popular coworking concept is designed to help freelancers and telecommuters to be more productive, to share knowledge with each other and to foster important social connections – all things that tend to get lost when people work exclusively from home or the coffee shop.
With an explosion in tech-related jobs in fields like IT, software development and graphic design came liberation from the conventional office, allowing more people the opportunity to work as freelancers or to telecommute.

But as Cohere founder and “Madame” Angel Kwiatkowski points out, the newfound liberty came at a price. People were thrust unprepared into this new context without strategies to deal with working alone. Many become desperate for human contact during the workday, including Sutter, who jokes about waiting for the FedEx guy to come so she could chat him up.

“It was sad,” she laughs.

The atmosphere at Cohere is quite the opposite, as I found out spending a day at the space working on this very story (so meta, I know). The main room in Cohere’s airy, open second floor space on Jefferson Street is designed for interaction, with several long work tables that can accommodate a couple of people each. The vibe alternates between library-like silence as a few work determinedly, to lively socializing as a group of members, all of whom telecommute for the software development firm Canonical, spill out of the conference room into the main area after a meeting.

Cohere also has a lounge area with a couch, a kitchen, and the “treehouse” – a lofted workspace that offers a little more privacy. In atmosphere and principle, Cohere has all of the perks of the modern office space while aiming to eschew the pitfalls of the corporate work environment – Namely, the counterproductive politics and competition that often get in the way of effective teamwork.

Kwiatkowski explains the shift that happens in the coworking context.

“When you take all those brilliant people and you remove the organizational layer, what you get is a bunch of people who can innovate when they want to and choose the teams they want to work on. Nobody’s competing for resources; nobody’s competing for a promotion.”

“I think one of the big things is, it’s a smaller community. It’s more personable, more affable,” says Al Stone, one of the members who works for Canonical. “A lot of the normal stuff that occurs at a large company doesn’t occur.”

For freelancers who don’t work for companies, the benefits are more wide-ranging, from the ability to gain expertise on nuts and bolts like contracts and technological resources, to connections to potential clients, to the simple motivation of being surrounded by other people who are working.

“Being around really talented, intelligent, creative people who are also freelancers makes you bring your A-game” Sutter says.

The coworking phenomenon, which arose about a decade ago, has grown into a worldwide community of spaces and workers. After a couple of stalled career starts, Kwiatkowski happened upon the concept while volunteering with Rocky Mountain Innosphere and decided that opening a coworking space would be a perfect match for her skill set.

Since Cohere opened early last year, Kwiatkowski has helped several other coworking spaces in Colorado get off the ground and has published two books on the subject with fellow Cohere member Beth Buczynski.

Locally, the demand has been such that there is currently a waitlist for membership at Cohere. Kwiatkowski says they’ll expand next year to accommodate more members.
“I didn’t foresee how devastated I would be to have to say no to someone,” she says.

For this reason, she is intent on offering some of the benefits of Cohere to those on the waitlist and to other non-members. Recently, she began giving people on the list the chance to come in when there is extra work space on a given day, and the many professional development and social networking opportunities put on by Cohere are available to members and nonmembers alike.
In addition, Cohere is addressing the space squeeze with a Distributed Coworking program, in which Cohere members will be stationed at places like cafés and breweries where people on the waitlist and other interested parties may be invited to cowork.

There are several membership levels at Cohere, from one day a week to full, 24/7 access and a permanent workspace. Although membership is mostly full, Kwiat-kowski says there is availability at the “Night Owl” level (Wednesdays after 4pm).

Find out more about Cohere and coworking at coherecommunity.com.

Oh, The Irony – True Aristocrats a Study of Contrasts

Oh, The Irony – True Aristocrats a Study of Contrasts

True Aristocrats (photo by Cody Shane)

By Dave Schutz

A lot of people would kill for teleportation technology, not least among them the average touring musician. Ironically, just as the Internet is shrinking the globe in terms of the ability to get music in the hands of potential fans, rising gas prices and a crappy economy have made it harder for small bands to actually get to those fans in person and to make money doing it.

Therein lies one paradox for Fort Collins’ True Aristocrats. The (mostly) instrumental duo – comprised of Will Wayland (guitar) and Tyler Lindgren (drums) – has used free distribution of their music on the Internet and word of mouth to plant seeds in some cities among fans of the kind of loud, spastic, experimental rock that True Aristocrats deal in. But with gas over four bucks a gallon in many places, heading out on the road to cultivate a fanbase is a difficult proposition.

“We’re at a stage right now where we’re just trying to get who we are out and then find the people who like us. And if there are people who like us and they’re in a concentration, maybe we’ll go there and play shows,” Lindgren says. “It’s just a matter of finding another receptive audience for the kind of thing that we’re trying to do.”

The thing about that “thing” they’re trying to do is that it’s not accessible enough to gain a wide audience in a town as small as Fort Collins, but those who dig it really dig it. It’s been the case for experimental rock artists from Frank Zappa to Mr. Bungle. Hence the term “cult following” attached to the fans of these kinds of groups: marginal and seriously dedicated.

“It’s really tricky being in a band these days without a vocalist just because that’s how people kind of digest a lot of music” Wayland says.

It’s a good point. The Mars Volta enjoy a lot of success, but they have the benefit of Cedric Bixler high-kicking and hip-shaking across the stage. For True Aristocrats, the challenge and the goal is to take out the vocalist as translator (and/or eye candy) and get the audience to directly engage with and understand what the music is trying to communicate.

Even the band’s name, which Lindgren says was born out of a joke among friends, has a dual meaning.

Wayland says, “On one hand, you have the aristocracy, which is not the ruling class but just the class that’s refined and trying to always define something that’s above and beyond itself. But then you have the modern tendentious joke at the same time, so it’s like the Aristocrats joke where everything’s on the table.”

The essence of True Aristocrats lies somewhere between the intricate, complex precision of Mars Volta and the minimalist chaos of Lightning Bolt. (During the interview, we all make fun of “sounds like this and this” descriptions of bands, but a guy has to do his job, right?) There are less contemporary influences, from avant classical and jazz, as well as non-musical ones such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s bizarre 1973 film The Holy Mountain.

The duo has been nothing if not prolific in the year-and-a-half since they started playing, making three albums available for download. Of these, 2010’s Zikkurat Thaumaturge is an EP-length, one-take improvisation.

By contrast, True Aristocrats spent the last year writing the new full-length Susurrus. Another irony – “susurrus” is a word signifying the sound of whispering or leaves rustling. While the album’s low-key intro and ending may fit that bill, the bulk of the album is anything but subdued.

The improvisational element is retained in some spots, but Susurrus is clearly a different animal than Zikkurat Thaumaturge. The album follows a pattern of alternating highs and lows, based on the duo’s penchant for speeding up and building intensity until the whole thing collapses under its own weight, and then starts again. Wayland and Lindgren worked hard to balance their preference for the rawness of live takes and improvisational sections with the desire to create something thematically cohesive.

“We wanted to preserve the raw intensity of being a duo, and I think the best way to do that is, we recorded as much as we could just the two of us in a room, playing really hard. But we also wanted to kind of create a narrative of the entire album too” Wayland says. “I kind of look at it as an Orphean journey through hell. The whole things starts off pretty peaceful, descends into utter madness, and then at the end, there’s repose.”

The new True Aristocrats album, Susurrus, is available as a pay-what-you-want download at truearistocrats.bandcamp.com.

Expanding Consciousness – The Holler! Bridges the Gap Between Folk and Psychedelia

Expanding Consciousness – The Holler! Bridges the Gap Between Folk and Psychedelia

The Holler! (Photo by Marc Leverette Photography)

By Dave Schutz

“So I was thinking, for this article, the headline should say, ‘San Pedro is the only hallucinogen sanctioned by the Catholic Church,’” laughs Michael Kirkpatrick, guitarist, vocalist and founding member of The Holler!, referring to the potted cactus next to his couch.

The joke stems from a discussion about journalists using a band profile as a guise from which to run with their own ideas, and Kirkpatrick is suggesting – in jest – that I parlay this profile into a tract on drugs and society.

The point of the joke being that the band – also including Brad Poto (bass/vocals), Josh Vogeler (drums/vocals) and Brian Adams (guitar/vocals) – wants to make sure the use of the word “folkadelic” to describe themselves is understood properly.

“There are a lot of connotations that go along with that,” Kirkpatrick says. “A psychedelic state can be induced by anything. It has nothing to do with drugs.”

“I think what we’re trying to say with the name ‘folkadelic’ is that it’s folk music without boundaries,” Kirkpatrick says. “To me, psychedelic music isn’t like your San Francisco Bay Area ‘60s band, per se. It can mean anything. It means a lot. It means everything and nothing at the same time” he laughs.

“Nothing” in the sense that words are only what we make them to mean, but “everything” in the sense that the word folkadelic, as the band sees it, goes beyond just the style of music. The folk and psychedelic aspects are both key to all facets of the band, from songwriting, to live shows, to the celebrations organized by the band.  Kirkpatrick has put together eight iterations of “Holler!ween,” an “archaic revival” that falls annually the week before Halloween.

The May 7 release show for their new album Gratitude coincides with their annual Beltane masquerade party (Beltane is a pagan holiday commemorating the mid-point between the spring equinox and summer solstice). These festivals are an important part of the band’s ethos.
“I believe that the way a community celebrates plays a huge role in defining that community” Kirkpatrick says. “Obviously, when you’re celebrating, I think that there’s a heightened vibration that borders on the edge of a spiritual experience. And when you start to feel that spiritual experience and everyone around you – at least by the looks on their face – might be going through the same thing, it makes the celebration more powerful.”

For The Holler!, that means inclusiveness in the form of dance troupes that have joined that party at previous events, as well as the participation of the audience.

“When I play music, I’m chasing something, and it’s the exchange of energy with the fellow musicians, because that’s really special” says Poto. “It becomes spiritual in a way. But then that energy, and especially with the crowd – you pass it to them, they amplify it and send it back. It becomes regenerative after a while.”

“Last night was one of those nights when the crowd was just giving it back to us. And you could just feel that exchange of energy” says Adams of the band’s FoCoMX gig at Bar SS.

Gratitude will be the first album as The Holler!, though Kirkpatrick has been operating under variations of the moniker for several years, releasing albums as Wildwood Holler! and HandPicked Holler! and changing the name as new members joined. The addition of Poto on bass, following the departure of previous bassist Josh Beard, spurred the new, shorter name.

The album was recorded in Kirkpatrick’s basement and mixed and mastered by Kris Smith at his Haus of Kraus studio. It’s a low-budget affair, but lacks none of the depth and richness of previous efforts. Though traditional Appalachian bluegrass structures and melodies play a role in The Holler!’s music, the band is hesitant to limit themselves with a “-grass” tag. True to the “folk music without boundaries” ethos, they incorporate a variety of elements, from Celtic and rock to a bit of reggae.

And while improvisatory nature of the live show occasionally goes into “jam” territory, the band holds to the folk ideal of keeping the lyrics central. Kirkpatrick characterizes The Holler! as “minstrels,” writing about contemporary issues, even politics, but in a way that leaves the door open to multiple interpretations.

Kirkpatrick cites “Bluejay” from Gratitude, summing the confluence of folk and psychedelic aspects embodied by the band.

“From the outsider’s perspective, you could look at this song and listen to the words and think, ‘Oh, this is a song about blowing up dams.’ But, you know, there are all sorts of dams out there. There are dams in your consciousness; in your own mode of operation that prevent you from experiencing things.”

The Holler! will celebrate the release of Gratitude – as well as Beltane – at The Mishawaka on May 7 with Constitution. Be sure to bring a mask and plenty of energy, and check out themishawaka.com for ticket information. To find out more about the band, go to thehollermusic.com.

Scene Speaks with Fort Collins  Indie-Rockers Post Paradise

Scene Speaks with Fort Collins Indie-Rockers Post Paradise

Post Paradise

By Dave Schutz

Since hitting the scene in 2009, Post Paradise hasn’t wasted any time getting out in front of people, gracing stages from Bohemian Nights to the Greeley Stampede. The band’s success shouldn’t be a surprise – the combination of big hooks with Amy Morgan’s prominent, melodic cello playing is accessible and often compelling. The band is following up on their From Here to Anywhere EP with a new album in May. Scene caught up with vocalist/guitarist Nick Starr Duarte following the band’s FoCoMX performance.

Scene: How was the FoCoMX gig?
Duarte: FoCoMX was fun. It’s always a busy weekend, but it’s nice to be able to run around and talk to all of our friends that we may not see on a regular basis. I do wish the green room would stay open a little longer though – I’m not sure that we got to partake as we were trying to make it to as many shows and panels as possible. Oh, and the silent disco was awesome!

Scene: What was the impetus for including cello in the rock band context?
Duarte: Why not? (laughs) You hear so many bands that just use cello on their acoustic tracks or you’ll see a cellist in an acoustic band. I thought, why not take it to another level with louder rock music? I’ve always loved the cello and I was so excited when someone responded to my message looking for a cellist. Then I realized I’d have to chart out all these ideas that I’d had for cello lines because Amy [Amy Morgan, cello] had only ever worked in that context! She’s a trooper though. She stayed really positive while reading through my charts even though I hadn’t transcribed anything in years.

Scene: Post Paradise is among a few Colorado bands that make use of cello, but in your case it’s a lot riffier and cuts through the mix more than most bands. Is it difficult for the cello to compete with the guitars and drums?
Duarte: You know, it’s been a constant struggle. I don’t want to say that our guitars are all that loud, but we are a rock band. We have dynamics for sure, but a lot of the time there are two distorted guitars playing chords at the same time the cello is doing a lead line and it needs to cut through the mix. A lot of the sound guys in town know us now, so we don’t really have to tell them that the cello is a featured instrument in the mix and not just a background sound. That said, we’re heading out on tour for three weeks in June, so we’ll be dealing with new sound guys every night. We’ve built a pedal board with all of Amy’s effects and preamps and in-ear monitors and stuff so that we can control a lot of what gets to the soundboard and what people hear and she can still hear herself onstage. That’s crucial. The next step for us would be to hire our own sound guy, which is an option, so if anyone out there is reading this and is interested I’m sure you can find our contact info.

Scene: For a lot of bands, the old model of getting signed to a label and making money off of recordings is changing, giving way to greater reliance on touring to pay the bills and using recordings to promote that end of it. I’m curious if Post Paradise has professional aspirations and if so, what your strategy is to make the band sustainable.
Duarte: Professional aspirations? Absolutely. Getting signed? Eh… There is one kind of artist that writes one kind of song that gets signed these days and that’s so that money can be made off of radio play, etc. I don’t think we’re necessarily that kind of band. We’re musicians that don’t want to have to cater the music we write for any one specific purpose. That’s not to say that already established bands aren’t still doing alright with that model, but for new bands, it’s a lot tougher since there’s no development in the record industry anymore. I’d love to find a little indie label that would support us as we make our way on the road and hook us up with other bands to tour with, etc. It’s all stuff that we do anyway, but that kind of thing just gets you a network and ‘fast tracks’ the process a bit. Another thing we’re doing to cut costs is purchasing a diesel van that’s converted to run on vegetable oil. I’m currently working on a system that will allow us to filter the waste veggie oil and fill up while on the road. I don’t know any other way we could afford to get across the country with gas prices how they are right now.

Find out more about Post Paradise at postparadiserock.com and check them out at their live show on May 28 at Road 34 (1213 West Elizabeth Street).

Crops For Health – Eat Good Food to Lower Disease Risk

Crops For Health – Eat Good Food to Lower Disease Risk

Dr. Henry Thompson

By Dave Schutz

For people fed up with restrictive diets that require cutting certain foods to lower risk of chronic disease such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, CSU Horticulture professor Dr. Henry Thompson has some welcome news: Disease prevention may be all about the food.

Thompson helped to create Crops For Health (CFH), a CSU working group uniting six departments across the university focused on analyzing and selecting for chronic disease-fighting traits in existing food crop varieties.

“Crops for Health is based completely on what Mother Nature has made and looking at what already exists,” Thompson says. “We’re not talking about genetic engineering at all.”

This idea is what brought Dr. Henry Thompson to CSU’s Department of Horticulture about eight years ago, even if he wasn’t quite sure what that meant at the time.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” he recalls thinking, “but we’re going to do something special related to the biomedical sciences and agriculture.”

Trained in nutrition, Thompson has worked for decades on cancer research, and previously focused on the role of fruits and vegetables in cancer prevention. Thompson and his colleagues shifted their strategy after finding that these foods were not having the positive effects they expected.

Thompson says, “We rethought things and said, ‘What foods do people eat every day in large quantities and are affordable and available throughout the world?’”

The answer is staple crops, such as wheat, corn and especially dried beans, also known as pulses.

Subsequent research by Thompson and others indicates a great deal of promise in this direction. For instance, a 2009 study by Thompson and colleagues substantiated previous speculation that dry bean consumption (such as kidney beans and black beans) has an inhibitive effect on breast cancer. The reasons for this are still not well understood. In a nutshell, the idea is that numerous compounds that exist in plants to confer some sort of advantage – for instance, to ward off predators – may also be responsible for preventing disease in humans. Some of these compounds, such as antioxidants and flavonoids, are already familiar to many people, but the types of these may number in the thousands in a particular plant.

On one hand, complicating dietary advice with even more elements may make some people recoil in fear. Isn’t it hard enough already to manage the proper proportion of fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy diet? It’s enough to make consumers already overwhelmed by a flood of complicated dietary guidelines want to run their shopping carts off a cliff.

On the other hand, as Thompson explains, the message is deceivingly simple, and in fact, fun.

“What more fun way to reduce chronic disease risk than come up with delicious, nutritious, affordable natural foods that have health benefits,” Thompson says.
Rather than trying to convince people to give up foods, CFH is working from the premise that chronic disease risk can be lowered with foods that people already enjoy eating. There is no need to give up bread or potatoes as so many recent fad diets would have us do.

Though the primary focus of CFH is on disease prevention, there may be important environmental implications. Thompson argues that current worldwide bean consumption is a lot lower than it should be, and because beans contribute nitrogen back to soils, promoting bean production will reduce the need for fertilizers. Also, the water requirements for producing protein from animal sources – especially beef – far exceed those for beans.

According to Thompson, that doesn’t mean swearing off meat entirely, but rather bringing the consumption of animal and plant products back into balance in a world where meat consumption is on the rise.

“Those are key global challenges, and we’re addressing them,” Thompson says.

The promotion of plant-based diets to mitigate resource use is nothing new, but in a world food system that is increasingly consolidating and relying more on genetically modified varieties, the CFH model also works toward maintaining the broad and diverse stock of available food crop varieties.

“I think that certainly does point toward bringing more genetic diversity into the food system” says Dr. Pat Byrne, CSU Soil and Crop Sciences professor and member of the CFH team.

People can take action by increasing dietary diversity, especially in terms of their intake of foods from different botanical families. Meanwhile, Thompson and CFH researchers are doing the difficult work of untangling the science behind the potential health benefits contained within the diversity of the world’s food crops. It’s a task about which Thompson is enthusiastic.

“It’s going to be a fascinating story,” he says. “It’ll knock peoples socks off.”

For more information and a helpful diagram of the food families, visit the CFH website at www.cropsforhealth.colostate.edu.

The Knew: A Good Time, All the Time

The Knew: A Good Time, All the Time

By Dave Schutz

Denver quartet The Knew had a prolific year, releasing their first full-length record Pulpería and subsequent Before It Ends EP, and landing spots in commercials and TV shows. They once elicited comparisons to Kings Of Leon, but as that band has morphed into a glossy arena rock act, The Knew has refined its minimalist sound in a more nuanced way. The band will play at Hodi’s Half Note on March 12 with Common Anomaly. Scene recently caught up with guitarist Tyler Breuer and drummer Pat Bowden.

Scene: I hear you spent a long time on Pulpería and popped out the Before It Ends EP in just a few days. Tell me about the impetus for doing that – what are the differences in the two approaches?

The Knew: In an effort to not record the same material over and over, we’re always looking for new methods and recording mediums. After spending the better part of five months on Pulpería, we thought it would make for a nice contrast to strip things down, get a little more raw, and record three tracks over a weekend, immediately after Pulpería. It just provides for a different feel, and you have to make sure the scenery is always changing, in every aspect of life really. We love how both records turned out, but you’ve got to mix up approaches every now and then or it will all sound the same. This is true for a lot of bands. Not U2 though – they always change up how they make albums and they are always dumb sounding.

Scene: How did the Victory Motorcycles commercial come about? Are you guys actively pursuing licensing for TV and the like as part of your strategy for getting your music out?

The Knew: We’ve never actively sought out much commercial success, including any licensing. It just has kind of happened a few times. For the motorcycles, we were approached by the ad agency making that commercial, simply because an employee on the campaign knew a guy who knew [guitarist/singer] Jacob Hansen…it’s amazing how often “who you know” actually makes a difference. We’re really excited about it, and it’s fun to hear our music on TV and show it to our families back home. Obviously Kings of Leon can still make millions by putting out albums, but for little guys like us this is our best chance to get people to hear our music and get paid.

Scene: What’s coming up in the future for you guys? Are you looking forward to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in March?

The Knew: We are really looking forward to SXSW. Excited for some sun, beer, and music. Not excited for sunburns, hangovers and not getting into venues to see good music, though. We went last year and realized that anybody that goes down to Austin that week trying to “network” or whatever is bound to have a disastrous trip – it’s a zoo. Other than that, we are doing a Midwest tour this summer and will be releasing music throughout the year. We are going to have a good time all the time.

Springdale Quartet Brings the Noise

Springdale Quartet Brings the Noise

By Dave Schutz

Boulder’s Springdale Quartet plan to release their first album, Noise Factory, on April 18 – four years to the day since they played their first show.

The process that led to Noise Factory started not long after that performance, with the band beginning work in 2008 with engineer Brad Smalling – owner of Evergroove Studios – and culminating with a marathon three-day session last November to lay the album’s basic tracks.

“We’re really excited to have this studio effort. [This is] something that we’ve put in, gosh, going on two or three years now” says guitarist Ben Waligoske, who hadn’t even joined the band yet at the beginning of the process.

The album spans material across the breadth of the Springdale Quartet’s existence.

“We just thought it would be nice to have some of the new stuff, some of the old stuff, and a little bit of everybody’s contribution.”

The title Noise Factory (after the name of the band’s home studio where the album was recorded) may be a bit misleading, given the results. From the teasers the band has posted on YouTube, it’s clear that Noise Factory is not a mass of chaotic, obnoxious, well, noise, but rather a well-polished and expertly performed collection of feel-good jazz and funk inspired jams. The songs are dense with melody and movement. Waligoske and the rhythm section – Greg Russell on drums and Jordan Roos on bass – run on all cylinders a good part of the time, but the machine is powered primarily by keyboardist Chase Terzian’s driving Hammond organ.

“Chase is the main songwriter,” Waligoske says. “He’s just got a phenomenal ear for structure and harmony.”

Most of the band’s output so far has been live recordings they’ve posted on archive.org, so the goal with Noise Factory was to create a more polished, studio-style affair without losing the band’s live energy.

“Right before Thanksgiving, we set aside about 72 hours and just knocked it out,” Waligoske says. “If somebody flubbed a note, we started over. Everything was live. All the solos on the album are live. All the improv sections are live.”

That doesn’t mean that Noise Factory was in the can and ready to hit the press after that session, however. Springdale Quartet spent the intervening weeks adding more layers and going beyond the raw live vibe to create something more polished: When I talked to Waligoske in early February, they were just getting ready to start mixing. The process runs parallel to some of the ways that Waligoske says the band’s songwriting has evolved over the years.

“If anything, it’s just a refinement. There’s more structure, more harmony being added and [more] thought being put into it. It’s not as much, ‘Oh, let’s just get up there and rip.’ There’s more to it,” he says. “It’s something that we’ve learned as a group over the last couple years of playing live – just how important dynamics, especially in instrumental music, can really be.”