Tag Archives: Emily Clingman-Johnson

Post Paradise: Enjoying the Here & Now

Post Paradise: Enjoying the Here & Now

By Emily Clingman

Since 2009, Post Paradise, a five-piece indie rock band, has evolved from an experimental group to an official representative of Fort Collins culture. The band was recently chosen to participate in SpokesBUZZ’s 2012 tour to Austin, Texas for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival with nine other local bands. (SpokesBUZZ is an organization that handpicks local musical talent to nurture, promote, and to be a symbol of Fort Collins at national events.)

They deserve it. Post Paradise has worked hard to get to this point. Nick Duarte, guitarist and frontman for the band, attributes the group’s success to its self-sufficiency.

“We do all of our work in-house,” Duarte said. “We design our own shirts, book our own tours, program our light shows, and do pretty much everything exactly how we want to do it, which seems to be the best aspect of this new music business that we’re living in right now.”

Duarte also produces all of the band’s music, which can be described as cello-driven alternative rock. His voice is passionate and raw. Amy Morgan strings her cello around the vocals, and the other band members take the listener through melodramatic interludes and hard-rocking guitar and drum jams. Craig Babineau plays drums; Erik Babineau is on guitar, piano, and back-up vocals, with Phil Spencer on bass.

The group just released their first full-length album, The New Normal, in September. They have a lot of camaraderie and inspiration to draw from since forming, as they have been playing gigs like NewWestFest, The Fort Collins Music Experiment, The Greeley Stampede, and The Denver People’s Fair, as well as shows at Hodi’s Half Note and The Aggie Theater.

“It seems like it’s been longer than three years,” Duarte said.

As a categorized rock band, it’s not always easy to gather a following or bring in big crowds to shows.

“Different genres have very different expectations,” Duarte said. “Being a rock band is tough. A reggae or a funk band can draw big crowds. People will go even if they don’t know who the band is, because they know they can dance and it will be a good time. Those bands have a built-in following.”

Erik Babineau agreed.

“It’s harder to get into a rock show right away,” he said. “You either need to know our music or really like our genre to get that same feeling.”

Duarte continued, “You can’t go into a show feeling entitled,” he said. “We can’t be like ‘Hey, we’re playing music so you should like us.’ There is a lot of good music out there, and it’s all about getting people to listen to you. We always try to be innovative and we create everything ourselves. We try new things.”

“A lot of it is word of mouth, too,” Babineau added.

Post Paradise doesn’t have a problem drawing fans to their shows anymore.Recent shows have brought in around 200 people, and the band’s fan base keeps growing.

“We’re ‘lifers’ with music,” Duarte said. “We have more songs to write, more stories to tell. It’s like were getting sucked into a snowball that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

The band enjoys living in the moment for now, though they all love to travel and can see a possible European tour in their future.

“You don’t have to have a van to get to Europe,” said drummer, Craig Babineau, referring to a botched tour out East last summer. Just a few days into the trip, their band van broke down and they lost almost 15 gigs that they spent four months booking. Having to eventually abandon the van in Kansas, they were able to borrow a temporary rig from the Babineaus’ father, who is also a musician, and finish out the tour. In the downtime, though, they lost a lot of money, time and valuable exposure.

“Everything went wrong that could on that trip,” said cellist, Amy Morgan. “I even drew a picture about it with a van leaking gas and tears and money, and little gremlins stealing away all its parts.”
“I think I might be okay laughing about it now,” Duarte said. “Maybe.”

Erik Babineau joked that next summer they will go west instead and just drift over the Continental Divide to the coast.

The group definitely thrives off each other’s sense of humor. Duarte joked with Morgan about some of her goofy answers to interview questions.

“She’s three beers into this evening; you’ll have to bear with her,” he laughed.

Bassist, Phil Spencer – who has hair that resembles a cross between James Dean and Lyle Lovett – chimed in with a hilarious story about where his musical influences came from.

“My mom bought me Whitney Houston and Phil Collins albums when I was like eight or nine,” Spencer said. “Apparently the impact was profound. I danced around my room in my underwear…and look where I am now!”

Everyone laughed. The energy among them was contagious. Balancing out the grittier experiences with times of great success, Post Paradise has been enjoying the ride. They’re ready to show the world what they are made of.

Post Paradise’s next live show will be on January 7 at Road 34 (1213 W. Elizabeth St.). Learn more about the band by visiting postparadiserock.com.

New Gallery Aims to Ignite Community Interest in Alternative Art Scene

New Gallery Aims to Ignite Community Interest in Alternative Art Scene

By Emily Clingman

A few years ago, it was rare to find alternatives to traditional Western-style art galleries. Edgy artists from off the beaten path lacked public venues to feature their work. Now, a burst of new galleries is popping up around Old Town. And they aren’t displaying images of horses and Aspen trees.

One such gallery will make its debut on December 2, which would not have been possible without an outpouring of support from the community. Opiate Gallery, the brainchild of popular photographer Darren Mahuron, will feature out-of-the-ordinary talent from local and national artists in a sophisticated, ground level gallery on Linden Street.

Funding the endeavor was expensive and mostly came out of Mahuron’s pockets, but he did find a way to offset some of the outlay. Using the website kickstarter.com, a funding platform for creative projects, Mahuron set a goal to raise $5,550 for the project. He made a quirky, informative short movie about his idea and turned it loose online. Within a week, dozens of donations poured in from people in the community who wanted to see Opiate Gallery happen. Within 30 days, more than 130 people donated nearly $7,500.

“People want this gallery to be here,” Mahuron said. “They want art in their town. This was a way for art lovers to pitch in and support the scene in whatever way they could.”

It’s likely that sustainment for Mahuron’s new idea stemmed from his prior involvement in the local art scene. Most known for the eccentric and often bizarre photo portraits he creates through his business, Summit Studios, Mahuron has brought alternative art into the mainstream. To further his passion for promoting artistic diversity in Fort Collins, he opened Gallery Underground (GU); a co-op of sorts for artists that gained quick popularity, especially on First Friday nights.

Unfortunately, that project dissolved earlier this year because the event outgrew its capacity limits and GU was forced to shut down.  After many months of contemplation and a bit of traveling, Mahuron returned to Fort Collins rejuvenated and ready to try something new.

“The closing of [GU] was really hard for me,” Mahuron said. “I was discouraged and thought about moving away, but I came back here with some fervor. I realized that this is where I really wanted to be. I love to visit other places, but the sense of community here is remarkable.”

Mahuron likes the centralized, bustling art scene in Fort Collins.

“In big cities, the art scene is spread out,” he said. “Here, there is a deeper sense of appreciation for art. There’s lots of opportunity for discussions and collaborations.”

While there was a deep sense of loss when GU shut down, Mahuron is excited about the new galleries in town that have spawned from that incident, such as Rendition Gallery, GNU Gallery, Art Lab and Luscious Nectar – all of which also feature alternative artists.

Mahuron considers Opiate Gallery a progressive move in his career.

“I’ve learned a few things,” he said. “I want this to be a nicer place. I want it to have a larger city feel.”

Aside from the complete renovation of his new space, the grand opening will feature art by 13 local and national artists, which Mahuron said he is very proud of and is excited to show off. The gallery will be open to the public four days a week and will feature special events on Friday evenings, including drawing classes and community other arts programs. Artists can rent wall space for as low as $50 a month and exhibits will rotate regularly.

Mahuron hopes that Opiate Gallery will reignite the First Friday Gallery Walk. Attendance has slowed down a little lately.

“I want to get people in the mindset that First Friday is a scene,” he said. “A destination to be part of something.”

One of Mahuron’s favorite quotes is by Karl Marx: “Religion is an opiate to the masses.” He’s not necessarily a Marx fan, or very religious, but the quote resonates with him.

“People tend to seek out something of substance to grasp onto that reaches their soul,” he said. “I believe art can do that. I want people to come out and immerse themselves in the world of art for a while.”

Opiate Gallery is located at 237 Linden St. in Fort Collins. It is open Wednesday-Saturday from 12-6pm. Find out more at opiategallery.com.

A Note From Darren Mahuron: “Thanks to these wonderful folks for your hard labor! Without you we couldn’t have completed the Opiate Gallery on schedule.”

Nathan And Shyla Myrick (The Forge Publick House); Patrick McGaughran (The Rio Grande; El Monte); Bryan Simpson (New Belgium); Steve and Greg (Greyrock Concrete Design); Jamie Kruger (Alpha Plumbing); Jeff Bowers; Joe Mahuron; Rachael Yovanoff; Jocelyn Mahuron; Sierra Mahuron; Ryan Guiliame; Keith Van Eron; Katie McClelland; Joel Decatur; Steve Hix; Roberta Casnellie; Julie Sutter; Darin Steege; Polly Todd; Zach Yendra; Robert Yovanoff; Karen Yovanoff; Beau Kahler; Erika Napoletano; Kathy Bauer; Maggie Kunze; Tomas Hererra; Susanna Dominguez; Adam Wolf; Michael Guiliume; Ian Cochrane; Megan Noel


Crafty Chicks Turning Hobbies into Businesses

Crafty Chicks Turning Hobbies into Businesses

Courtney Meiu

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

When you hear “arts and crafts,” scissors, crayons and glue might come to mind, or church bazaars that sell quirky hand-painted yard ornaments and perfumed sachets with initials on them.

There’s a new wave of crafters emerging, however, that use their hands and creative ideas to produce unique, high-end goods that you won’t find at a holiday craft fair in a gymnasium. These contemporary artisans with fashionable ideas are giving the craft business an up-to-date makeover. Two local women are turning textiles into trends here in Fort Collins.

Not Your Grandma’s Afghan
Though Courtney Meiu remembers doing crafty things with her mom a lot when she was little, she’s never had any formal arts and crafts training. So, when her musician boyfriend (who travels a lot) suggested she pick up a hobby to occupy her spare time, crocheting wasn’t the first thing that came to mind.
“I have no idea what prompted me to pick up crochet hooks,” Meiu said. “I was just at the store one day and bought some hooks and some red, gold, and green yarn.”

When Meiu got home, she decided to make a scarf. It was awkward at first. The hardest part, she recalled, was figuring out how to hold the needle. But, she made her first scarf – red, gold and green – for her boyfriend, who’s in a reggae band. Meiu laughed about how it’s sort of “off” on one side.

“I realized about halfway through that I should have been counting the stitches in each row.”

That didn’t discourage her, though. Meiu said it took her about a month to become fluid with the needles and the stitching. She moved on from scarves to hats and bags. Once she started wearing her own creations around town, people asked her if they could pay her to make them things.

“That part of it never occurred to me,” Meiu said.

Two years later, she has created hundreds of crocheted scarves, hats, bags, baby items and more. Her stitches are perfect and she can whip out popular items, like her signature $25 Colorado flag beanie, in record time.

Meiu sells her “wears” in some boutiques and stores around Colorado as well as on popular online craft stores like Etsy and Artfire. She still has a day job, but hopes to make Crocheted Creations her full-time business eventually.

Meiu claims to be mildly obsessed at this point.

“I literally have crocheting on my mind all the time,” she said. “If I’m not doing it, I’m thinking of new ideas to try.”

Meiu’s creations can be purchased through artfire.com/users/CourtneysCrochetedCreations. She also takes emails about custom project ideas at crochet-edftc@gmail.com.

Lifetime Crafter Finds Meaning in Talent and Community Pride
Self-taught fiber artist Chelsea Pearson has been crafting for years. After learning batik (fabric art using wax and dyes) in a high school art class, Pearson developed a love for the unlimited potential of textile design.

As a young adult, Pearson went on the road for a few years, selling her Batik artwork. Along the way, she learned from other crafters around the country how to sew, macramé, make jewelry, and even how to elaborately braid hair.

Ten years later, Pearson was interested in trying something new and discovered Nuno felting – a Japanese technique of felting wet wool into loosely woven fibers, like silk chiffon. She hand dyes the silk and weaves stunning color combinations of wool into the scarves. She names each scarf’s color scheme appropriately after elements of nature and fantasy. “Mermaid,” for example is a combination of deep emerald, greens and blues. “Tiger’s Eye” is mixture of rich tones of brown and yellow.

“I’ve always loved color and working with my hands,” Pearson said. “I was also raised to nurture my creative side. I’ve just naturally evolved.”

Pearson likes the idea of wearable art.

“It’s nice to be able to create something that will travel around for people to see instead of it staying on my wall,” she said.

It can take up to fifteen hours to finish a Nuno-felted scarf, though Pearson works on several at a time, in steps, to be more efficient. Exquisitely handcrafted, Pearson prices them appropriately, from $34 to $128. She’s not looking to get rich, however.

“I’m proud to be known as a local artisan who cares about the sustainability of our community,” she said.

Pearson, who has named her business Silk Worm Studios, sets up “shop” during the summer at renaissance fairs. She also sells her scarves in local boutiques and online at silkwormstudios.net.

Peace Officer Hitting the Road as Agents of Social Change

Peace Officer Hitting the Road as Agents of Social Change

Peace Officer (photo by Emily Clingman-Johnson)

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

When Peace Officer hit the stage, there were maybe 30 people in the crowd.

“All the free beer ran out by the time we played, so we figured our show would be a flop,” Andy Kromarek said about the band’s appearance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas earlier this year.

“But after people in the street heard a few songs, they started coming in from outside,” he said. “And suddenly, there were like, hundreds of people.”

That’s just the kind of energy Kromarek and the band thrives on. Peace Officer has a message and long-term professional goals, but the ultimate aim for each show, in Kromarek’s opinion, is for people to come away saying, “That was f***ing awesome!”

“It’s hard sometimes at loud shows to hear what rappers are saying,” Kromarek said, “So for me I want to put on a kickass show in general, so that fans will buy the music and then contemplate it as they listen to it in their own lives.”

Peace Officer is eight years in the making. The six-man ensemble started out as a local reggae band but has evolved into more of a hip-hop act, backed by reggae beats and some electronica.

“We like to call it dub-hop,” said vocalist Nick Lawton.

Dub-hop is not to be confused with another emerging style: dubstep.

“We have electronic moments, but we like to keep it organic and avoid those screeching basslines,” said Lawton.

Lawton’s enthusiasm for using the mic to draw predominantly young fans to the band’s shows is clearly important to him.

“We get to talk about social issues,” he said. “In a lot of cases the young kids really relate with our lyrics and messages because they are being pulled in so many directions these days. They understand social conflict.”

Lawton’s love for hip-hop has been inspired by legends such as Tupac and Bob Marley.

“Tupac addressed minority rights and corruption. Bob Marley sang about social change, consciousness and living on a higher level,” he said.

“If it were up to me, I would just stand up and talk to people about issues, but music engages them, and it’s a tool to present some ideas that we have,” Lawton continued. “I hope they are coming away with positive ideas to improve the community.”

Though only Lawton (Wiled Wombat) and Kromarek (A.K.) were interviewed for this story, they spoke for the entire band – bassist Brian Zeiger (The Brain), drummer Loren Jones (Senoj Nerol), M.C. Shane Cooper (Shaneye) and keyboardist Jared Scherger (Jahred) – regarding their passion for music, social change and solid friendships.

“You have to be good friends to spend so much time together,” laughed Kromarek.

Armed with fervor, talent and a unique performance style, Peace Officer is working on a third album, mostly testing out new songs on the road before recording them. Already this year, they have been to Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, New Hampshire, Utah and have played at various Colorado venues. They are getting ready to head out again on a regional tour that will include new states, like Montana. The ultimate goal: the West Coast.

“Places like Seattle, Portland and Eugene are hot spots for hip-hop,” Kromarek said.

Wherever the band plays, fans can expect a high-energy performance.

“We’re different from other hip-hop bands because we’re an actual band,” Kromarek said. “A lot of hip-hop shows are just DJs and turntables. With us, everything is live and we can feed off the crowd.”

“Our cross-genre style attracts a lot of different fans,” said Kromarek. “The reggae kids love what we’re doing, and so do the electronic kids. It’s a big goal of ours to remove the ‘cliqueiness’ and bring everyone together for a good live show.”

Peace Officer is hoping to get some airplay on independent and college radio stations as they tour.

“College towns, cities in the middle of nowhere – that’s where people are hungry for new music and entertainment,” Kromarek said. “Laramie is really fun because 300 people will show up.”

“And they come on time,” Lawton said with a sheepish grin.

Eventually the band would like to be self sufficient, meaning that they can quit their day jobs. They envision being picked up by a strong independent label and “touring hard.”

“Europe,” Lawton summed up.

Success doesn’t come easy, however, and Kromarek offered a few words of advice for other aspiring musicians.

“Take your promotion into your own hands,” he said. “Don’t just wait for the right person to hear you play and then make you famous.  Make yourself (or your band) famous. Get out there wherever and whenever you can.”

For a limited time, Peace Officer is offering all of their music for free online at peaceofficermusic.com. You can also catch them live at 320 South in Breckenridge on November 4, The Shack in Boulder on November 17, and the Hideout in Fort Collins on December 9.

More than a Rendition: Underground Artists Move to Aboveground Gallery

More than a Rendition: Underground Artists Move to Aboveground Gallery

Bryan Collins, Owner of Rendition Gallery

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

Fort Collins is ripe with local talent. From music to paintings, everywhere you look there are artsy treats for the senses. What’s especially tasty is the subversive scene of alternative art making its way out of basements and into Old Town storefronts.

Bryan Collins is paving the way.

Formerly housed at the Gallery Underground (GU) – a community gallery in Old Town that is now closed – Collins opened Rendition Gallery last month at 251 Jefferson Street, in Old Town Fort Collins. It’s fresh, crisp and airy with natural light streaming in from every corner. It’s professional and classy. Most importantly, it features neobrow artwork.

Neobrow is a progressive reference to the term “lowbrow” – a word that amateur artists coined for themselves when art snobs would lower their brows in a patronizing way at their work. Traditionally trained artists felt that this underground style lacked technical skill and talent, thereby rendering it illegitimate and not worthy for general public consumption.
“This attitude alienated lowbrow artists from museum curators and art schools,” explained Collins.

Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor, is sarcastic, kind of creepy, or simply kind of “out there.” It’s not a traditional painting of your grandma’s fruit bowl. And it’s not just paintings either. There are sculptures, toys and digital art that fall into this category as well.

These lowbrow artists have created a movement of sorts – a campaign to show the world that their style is just as legitimate as the classically trained painters.

“Call it progressive, pop-surreal, neobrow, whatever,” Collins said. “Basically, the old formula is thrown out the window and the result is expressive and thought-provoking.”
Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, Collins is such a huge supporter of alternative art that what he’s done with Rendition Gallery makes perfect sense, especially with the knowledge that once GU was shut down, local neobrows would       be looking to fill that   void. He also has many contacts around the country and the world that want to be represented in the Fort Collins art market. Collins knows that there’s a lot of local chatter about making Fort Collins an arts and culture destination. He figured, why not create a space to go on the map?

Rendition Gallery has three floors. There’s an entrance gallery in the front, which will feature themed exhibits each month. These shows are open to all artists worldwide. Here are some upcoming exhibits:

• Oct 7-Nov 2: “It’s ALIVE” – A Halloween-inspired exhibit
• Nov 4-Nov 30: “Chugga Chugga” – An exhibit themed around trains
• Dec 2-Jan 4: “Caffeine” – Art inspired by coffee and tea

Continuing onto the main floor, there is another room that hosts local art on the walls. It also has a stage for live Friday night performances, or a venue for sketching classes. There is space for an upstairs exhibit as well, and a handful of resident artists –including Jeff Herndon and Rolfe Bautista – have set up shop in the basement-level studio area.

Rendition is also on the national radar. Disney artist Scott Tolleson will be submitting his work for the Caffeine show, and The Food Network may be filming at Rendition in the near future.

“These are the kinds of things that are going to elevate Fort Collins to ‘destination’ status,” Collins said. “I feel the momentum. I feel the energy.”

That’s probably because he’s the force behind it. Collins is passionate about his new adventure and wants the public to jump on board with him.

“You don’t have to have a lot of money to enjoy and support these artists. You can come in with five bucks and leave with something cool,” he said. “We’re trying to encourage a mentality to support local artists.”

“You don’t have to go to Denver or Santa Fe for awesome art and limited edition art toys. We’ve got it all here!”

Rendition Gallery is located at 251 Jefferson Street, near the corner of Linden and Jefferson Streets. Rendition is open on Mondays-Thursdays from12pm-5pm and on Fridays from 2-10pm. The gallery will feature live music every 2nd and 4th Friday night and a free group sketch night (using clothed models) every 3rd Friday of the month from 5-10pm. Find out more at renditiongallery.com.

Outdoor Cinema Provides Unique Opportunity for Outdoor Fun

Outdoor Cinema Provides Unique Opportunity for Outdoor Fun

The Holiday Twin

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

When I pulled up to the rows of parked cars in the dirt-covered parking lot, I saw Frisbees in the air. Music was blaring from cars. People were mingling in groups, laughing, sitting on lawn chairs, and putting on glowsticks. The sun was setting over the mountains and the evening’s excitement waxed with the rising moon.

No, I wasn’t at Red Rocks for this summer’s Panic show. I wasn’t at a concert at all: I was at the drive-in move theater in Fort Collins on a Thursday night.
Outdoor movies are fun, and lucky for us, Fort Collins has two places to catch a flick under the stars.

One place is The Holiday Twin, a two-screen drive-in theater at the foothills close to where Drake Road intersects Overland Trail. Open seven nights a week, moviegoers can catch a double feature for six bucks. It’s kind of a big deal, as there are less than ten drive-in theaters left in Colorado, which had 61 open from the 1950’s through the ‘70s.

Wesley Webb, owner of the Holiday Twin since 1979, has seen the theater’s ups and downs, with slow business or frequent management turnovers. Last year, however, his wife, Stephanie, said she wanted to keep the business running “forever.” So Webb decided to give it an overhaul with new paint and a new snack bar. He also took over the management himself.

“I’ve never had a better year of business,” Webb said.

He’s had offers on the 43-acre piece of property the theater sits on, and Webb claims he could live quite comfortably for several years if he sold the theater. He hasn’t budged, however.

It’s a family affair. His son runs the projectors. His wife runs the snack bar. It’s just too much fun, according to Webb. And, it’s been voted the best attraction in Fort Collins by TripAdvisor, a popular online travel site.

On some nights, there are as many as 800 cars parked in front of the theater screens. The Twin’s Facebook page has more than 9,000 fans. Two fans in particular have been going to the Holiday Twin once a week for at least four years.

“We work a lot,” said Stephen Curtis, a local cook, “It’s our date night.”

Curtis and his wife, Melissa, a waitress, were married just this summer. They bring lots of blankets, open up their hatchback to the Subaru and get cozy together. For the newlyweds, it’s easy romance.

One local man, Bryan Simpson, rode his bike past the Holiday Twin several years ago while movies were playing.

“I thought it was way cool,” he remembered. “Except for the cars.”

Right around the same time, Simpson, the Media Relations Director at New Belgium Brewing Company, was approached by Open Air Cinema about a movie project idea in Boulder. That partnership didn’t pan out, but it gave Simpson an idea: The New Belgium Bike-In Cinema.

Eight years later, outdoor movies at the brewery have become a popular late-summer event in the Fort.

“We’re so proud of its popularity,” said Simpson. “It just can’t happen without the people.”

Starting August 18, New Belgium will host six free, weekly outdoor movies. With the portable movie screen cleverly located in its parking lot, you have to ride your bike there. Anywhere between 200 and 1,000 people show up each week, parking their bicycles along the perimeter of the brewery. They bring lawn chairs or blankets and relax to a movie and a New Belgium beer.

“It’s so much fun sitting outside at night,” Simpson said. “It’s even more cool after the show to see hundreds of bike lights ride off with their bells ringing.”

Simpson explained the reasoning behind starting the Bike-In Cinema later in the summer.

“We like the townie feel when the students are gone,” he said, “But we also like them to come out for a few movies when they get back.”

So, if you haven’t done so already, grab your bike or grab your keys, call some friends and watch an outdoor movie this summer!

New Belgium’s Bike-In Cinema runs every Thursday from August 18-September 22. The movies are free of charge, but proceeds from beer sales benefit Wolverine Farm Publishing and Bike Fort Collins, so sip some brews while you’re there. It’s located at 500 Linden Street. For a schedule and more information go to newbelgium.com/events/bike-in-cinema.

The Holiday Twin shows two double features seven nights a week. The Box Office opens at 6:30pm Friday-Saturday and 7:30pm Sunday-Thursday. Shows start at dusk. It’s located at 2206 South Overland Trail. For a movie schedule and full snack bar menu, visit holidaytwindrivein.com.

Elway versus Elway: Local Punks Taking Rock to New Level

Elway versus Elway: Local Punks Taking Rock to New Level


By Emily Clingman-Johnson

Sitting on milk crates in the middle of a salvage yard, I chatted with half of Elway, a local non-apologetic punk band whose fame is gaining steam all over the country, even in the sports world.

Lead singer and guitarist Tim Browne and drummer Garrett Carr talked about their new album and the other news that’s been circulating big outlets like CNN and ESPN.

For those not tuned into the underground punk scene or network sports channels, it turns out former Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway is a sore loser when it comes to sharing his name. In short, Elway the band recently received a cease and desist letter from Elway the quarterback. The poor sport doesn’t want the community to be confused or misled when Elway, the band, uses his name in public.

They came up with the new name one night after a gig in Denver. Wouldn’t it be awesome, Garrett recalled, if they named the band Elway but never made any reference to John Elway, his steakhouse, or his car dealership?

And that’s how Elway, the band, was born…and is here to stay. Browne didn’t elaborate on how the issue has been resolved, but he says that they are keeping the name.

The band hasn’t talked to the quarterback personally, but Browne said he’d like John Elway’s address so he can send him an “Edible Arrangement” to congratulate him for helping the band with all the press.

Garrett loves the irony in the situation.

“The name doesn’t matter,” he said. “And neither does John Elway.”

New Label, New Album
The bigger news for the band is being signed to a label and releasing a new album. Chicago-based punk rock label Red Scare Industries picked up Elway and helped the band put out Delusions, produced by Matt Allen (Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, Smoke or Fire) at Atlas Studios in Chicago.

The music is pop punk with a bit more gruffness and a lot less whining. It’s hard, but still catchy, and it gets your toes tapping. The songs have all of the elements that make good rock song gritty and emotional, including lyrics about the girl that’s gone, drinking away sorrow, wrestling with the past and taking on the world. Their lyrics are clever and hit you deep in the soul.

“Shadows creep faster and further my son, when you let this world find you afraid.”

“You can’t win against the world so why pretend?”

“Nothing gets you down when you’re too drunk to think.”

Onstage madness
When asked what the band is like onstage, Carr sheepishly replied, “What are we like, or what do we like onstage?”

“I like a vodka ginger ale with a lime onstage,” Browne said.

Carr likes a cold, cheap beer.

“Really though,” Browne said, “If you just sit down with our new lyrics, you’d kind of get bummed out. Existential bullshit and semi-poetic dread does not necessarily play into that vibe we want onstage. So, when we perform, we go to the greatest lengths to have fun and fuck around.”

Browne continued, “If you got onstage and were 100 percent serious and really trying to channel emotion through song, people are going to think you’re an asshole.”

“And you probably are an asshole,” Carr added.

“Mission number one when you are playing live is to have fun,” Browne said. “Because if you’re not having fun it sucks like any other job.”

Elway’s future
Elway has played to diverse crowds of people, from four to 294. Their average audience is thirty and they like it that way.

“You’ll usually find us in a creepy, dark basement or a dingy bar,” Garrett said. “Thirty seems huge when the walls are caving in.”

And what does the future held for a band that plays serious music but doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously?

“We want to go to Europe next year,” Carr said.

“I want to play in front of as many groups of thirty as possible. I want to play for thirty people in Tajikistan. I want to play for thirty people in Djibouti,” added Browne.

“Yeah. Go Broncos,” Carr said…facetiously.

Elway is made up of Tim Browne (guitar/vocals), Joe Henderer (bass), Garrett Carr (drums) and Brian Van Proyen (guitar). Find them online at myspace.com/elway. Their new album, Delusions, can be purchased online on iTunes or at amazon.com or redscare.net.

Local Clothing Line Caters to Hip Outdoor Sports Crowd

Local Clothing Line Caters to Hip Outdoor Sports Crowd

Suzanne Akin inks a new shirt

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

Suzanne Akin has found her wings.

Stirred by a picture several years ago, Akin had an idea.

“The picture was of a wakeboarder doing a trick,” Akin explained. “It looked like she was flying.”

She developed a motto: Find your wings.

“Find something that motivates you and gets you going,” she said. “Just jump! Go for it. You’ll figure it out on your way down.”

Akin, a fashion designer, has incorporated that motto into her latest line of clothing and accessories: AKINZ, geared toward the snow/skate/surf/bike crowd.

Most of her items – acid wash hoodies, paint splashed tank tops, and original screen-printed t-shirts – sport her signature wing logo on them.

“I design all of my clothes. I make all the jewelry and beanies by hand,” Akin said. “I recently got my own printing press so I can do everything myself.”

In mid-May, Akin debuted a new workshop and showroom for her designs. It’s a far cry from her original life plan. After graduating with a double major in fashion design and French from the University of Texas in 2003, Akin planned on moving to France to be a fashion designer.

“Well,” Akin laughed, “That didn’t happen.”

She decided to stay in Austin, but there weren’t a lot of fashion design jobs so she jumped into retail management, then restaurant management. In her spare time, she did a lot of wakeboarding. Then she realized that there was an opportunity to design clothes in the outdoor sports industry.

“People get that here in Colorado,” she said, “But it took me a bit to catch on to that in Texas.”

Akin gradually moved away from designing cocktail dresses and toward more casual, sporty designs. She also accompanied some friends on a snowboarding trip to Colorado and fell in love.
“My parents hate cold weather,” she said, “so all of our vacations were to the beach.”

Things started coming together for Akin in a way she hadn’t planned. Upon returning to Texas after her snowboarding experience, her employer went out of business and the lease on her apartment was about to expire. She thought, “Why not?” and moved out here to explore some new territory.

While working and playing in Steamboat for a while, she had one t-shirt printed up. It became popular, so she made more.

It wasn’t until she moved to Fort Collins that she decided to expand into a professional space.

“I had been operating out of a spare bedroom in my condo,” she said. “It just wasn’t working anymore.”

AKINZ garb can mainly be found online, but some local shops are carrying a few items, including The Wright Life, White Balcony and Killer Rabbit. Akin recently landed a deal with Copper Mountain to provide clothing for summer camp kids.

“That’s super exciting because these kids come from all over the country and will be taking my logo back with them,” Akin said.

Also, be on the lookout for original AKINZ Bike-To-Work Day shirts, which were released June 22. They can be ordered online and delivered via bicycle to your door by an AKINZ representative. How cool is that?

To view the AKINZ clothing line, go to akinz.com, or visit the showroom, located at 432 South Link Lane, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-6pm.

Akin in her workspace

Dogs & Music Come Together for Second Annual Fundraising Festival

Dogs & Music Come Together for Second Annual Fundraising Festival

Tony Furtado

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

When Jeff Reichert wondered how he could help struggling animal shelters, he had no idea he would eventually be the founder of a one-of-a-kind event known only to Northern Colorado.
As publisher of the Colorado Paw Pages, a directory and information guide for animal enthusiasts, Reichert regularly heard stories of animal shelters and non-profit organizations in the region lacking the funds they need to keep up with the demand for their services. Reichert, a fervent dog lover and music junkie, came up with a fundraising idea – The Bark and Bluegrass Festival.
He pitched the idea of an outdoor music fest where dogs were allowed to attend to the community, and not only was the idea well received, it came to fruition and wound up being one of the coolest gigs in Fort Collins last summer.

Held in Civic Center Park last July, Bark and Bluegrass shattered every expectation Reichert had for the event. 1,500 people and 600 dogs came out for a day of music, food, beer, dancing, kiddie pools, hula-hoops, Frisbees and all kinds of fun.

“It was super chill,” Reichert recalled. “Totally different from other music festivals where people rush to the front. People were laying on blankets in the shade and just truly enjoying the music and the vibe.”

Not that it didn’t get more exciting as the day progressed – one highlight during Drew Emmit’s (lead singer of jam band Leftover Salmon) performance was getting all the canine attendees to howl at the same time.

“I loved that so many communities came together as one for a day,” Reichert said. “We had the business community, the non-profits, animal lovers, animals, music lovers, families…it was awesome”

So awesome that Bark and Bluegrass is scheduled for two days this year, with a stellar line-up of local bands and some nationally known acts as well, including The Everyone Orchestra (EO) – an improvisational musical project that features a constantly revolving roster of musicians. Conducted by Matt Butler (of Hot Buttered Rum), EO creates different music at each performance.
“These are totally accomplished, proficient artists,” Butler said. “It’s fresh and exciting to bring them together.”

EO’s line-up at this year’s Bark and Bluegrass will feature Michael Kang of String Cheese Incident, Erik Yates & Nat Keefe of Hot Buttered Rum, Matt Loewen & Joe Lessard of Head For The Hills and Dave Watts of The Motet.
Butler considers himself a traffic director of sorts. He leads each show with body gestures and words he writes on white boards. He often includes the audience participation.

“It’s really unique,” he said. “Especially when the audiences gets in on it. Imagine getting three hundred to ten thousand people singing the same note.”

Other musical performers at this year’s event include Hot Buttered Rum, Musketeer Gripweed, Tony Furtado, Good Gravy, Oakhurst, SHEL, The Holler! and many more.

An event like this doesn’t come together by itself, of course. Jeff Reichert has a background in marketing, not event planning.

“The biggest event I’ve ever planned was my wedding,” laughed Reichert.

As he pulled together his festival team last year, one woman became invaluable to Reichert. Cindy Lee, President of the Wags and Menace Foundation in Denver, offered loads of advice and assistance to Reichert. She was so helpful that her foundation has been named as this year’s presenting sponsor for Bark and Bluegrass.

“Bark & Bluegrass is a tremendous compliment to community tolerance and appreciation for animals,” Lee said. “Not even in Oregon or California, where dogs commonly accompany their owners into stores and events, is there anything like this festival.”

Lee likes the synergy the festival creates among animals and humans.

“It’s grassroots,” she said.

For twelve years, Lee has been an animal activist. Her foundation specializes in medical care for sick animals in Colorado and also offers educational programming to the community.
“If you commit to an animal, you commit to your family and your community,” Lee said.

All in all, Bark and Bluegrass is a “win-win” event on many levels. It’s fun, educational and gratifying for all involved. The beneficiaries of this fundraiser win the most, however: Money raised by the event will be donated to the Larimer Humane Society and Animal House Rescue.

Marcie Willms, community relations manager at the Humane Society, said that an event like this is amazing.

“As a non-profit organization, we are very dependent on financial support from the community,” she said. “We are so thankful for all of the help [we’ve received].”

The Larimer Humane Society serves nearly 12,000 injured, homeless, ill and orphaned animals, wild and domestic. Animal House Rescue saves animals slated for euthanasia.

Reichert is excited for this year’s second annual festival and wants everyone to come.

“It’s like Woodstock,” he said. “You just won’t know how cool it is unless you experience it.”

The Second Annual Bark & Bluegrass Festival will take place at Civic Center Park on July 23 & 24. Tickets purchased in advance are $20, and will rise to $25 the day of the event. Admission includes entry for two friendly, fully vaccinated dogs per person.

Visit coloradopawpages.com for more information.

Local Computer Software Training Company Launches Classes in Digital Photography

Local Computer Software Training Company Launches Classes in Digital Photography

Stu Crair assists a student

By Emily Clingman-Johnson

Digital cameras have revolutionized modern photography. Their afforda-bility and the emergence of photo editing software programs like Adobe Photoshop© makes it possible for just about anyone to turn an ordinary photo into something artistic and professional. That is, if you know how to use them.

“There has never been a better time to start photography,” says Josh Hardin, owner of Viewfinder Media. “Digital allows us to get immediate feedback on our photos. No more waiting in a lab to see if your photos ‘came out.’”

Hardin says people like to document their life experiences and share them with others. That’s why we’re seeing such an explosion of images on the Internet appearing on sites like Facebook or Flickr. This wouldn’t be possible without the availability of affordable digital cameras. The problem is that many people, though they may have highly technical cameras, aren’t necessarily getting the “good” shots they set out to capture.

Hardin says some photography is all about being in the right place at the right time, but he adds that you certainly have to know what to do with your camera once you find yourself at the right place at the right time or you’re still not going to get the shot.

The Fort Collins Digital Workshop, which teaches an array of software training courses familiarizing students with Adobe and Microsoft programs (to name a few), recently introduced a series of classes to aspiring photographers. The classes are designed for those who want to feel more comfortable with their camera’s settings and also want to learn how digital editing software programs can artistically enhance their pictures.

“Interest in digital photography is peaking,” says Stu Crair, owner and lead trainer of The Fort Collins Digital Workshop. “People have these great new cameras, but [they often] have no idea what they’re doing.”

Crair’s background is in information systems and business. He’s been teaching computer training classes at local colleges, corporations and The Workshop for years. Adding classes at The Workshop related to digital photography made sense to Crair but it’s one area he’s not an expert in – so he collaborated with local professionals to create an in-depth training series for others who aren’t experts either.

Josh Hardin is one of the class instructors.

“I think [the classes] are perfect for those who are just starting out in digital photography or for those who learn best in a relaxed atmosphere alongside like-minded adult learners,” he says. “We’re going to have a lot of fun in our courses. These courses are going to be places where photographers of any skill level can meet new friends, ask questions about their cameras and gain a wealth of knowledge about a wide variety of photography topics, quickly.”

The classes are geared for beginners but can be beneficial to those with experience as well, as they are set up for individual attention to students, with no more than eight people per class. All of the classes are designed for students to receive affordable, detailed instruction in a certain technological area, including computer and camera use and software programs.

Harden also advises to those who have dabbled in film photography before not be afraid to try digital. The basics of how to create a photograph – exposure settings, composition guidelines, recognizing different types of light, etc. – haven’t changed at all. The few changes where digital techniques differ from film really aren’t as scary as they may seem, says Harden, since those with previous photography knowledge can apply everything they already know.

“I would encourage anyone who has made an investment of hundreds or thousands of dollars in camera equipment to at least make a modest investment in increasing their photography knowled-ge too,” Hardin says. “I guarantee it will be money well spent.”

Some of the courses offered this month:

• 06/14 – Introduction to Portrait Photography – Instructor: Josh Hardin
• 06/16 – Introduction to HDR Techniques using Photoshop© – Instructor: Darren Mahuron, Owner, Summit Studios
• 06/18 – Portrait Enhancement using Photoshop© – Instructor: Darren Mahuron, 2-5pm
• 06/21 – Capturing Scenic / Nature Photography – Instructor: Josh Hardin
• 06/22 – Getting Started with Adobe Camera RAW© – Instructor: Bill Guy
• 06/29 – Telling A Story with Photography – Instructor: Josh Hardin

Every class is 6-9pm (unless otherwise noted). Prices range from $69-$79.
For more information, to sign up and to see a full list of classes available at the Fort Collins Digital Workshop, go to: fcdigitalworkshop.com or call (970) 980-8091.