Beth Bombara sits outside the Magic Rat in Fort Collins, Co embarking the start of her national tour for the new release, Map & No Direction.

Coming Out of the Darkness with a Map & No Direction

Touring Bands

Beth Bombara sits outside the Magic Rat in Fort Collins, CO continuing her national tour for the release, Map & No Direction. Her tone is full of anticipation and reflection on the journey she took to compose this piece of work. Map & No Direction is an evolution for Beth. It represents a change, a growth in her creativity, and her struggle with depression.

BETH BOMBARA on the patio at the Downtown Artery.

BETH BOMBARA on the patio at the Downtown Artery.

“You know, a lot of artists have ups and downs, and I was at a pretty low point. I wasn’t inspired to write music. I didn’t want to play the guitar, and I did not even want to get out of bed. So writing this album was like a slow climb out of that. I wrote my way out of that very low point. The title song Map & No Direction was the first song that I wrote. It was beginning of the process, like climbing out of the darkness.”

BETH BOMBARA on the patio at the Downtown Artery.

BETH BOMBARA on the patio at the Downtown Artery.

The interesting thing about the album Map & No Direction is that Beth has people tell her often that those songs or that song, in particular, has helped them go through a healing process. “The song was an amazing gift to me, and it is even more amazing that it can help others in the same way. Music is a healing process. When I was writing Map & No Direction, I didn’t know what it was about until it was finished. Writing can be like self-realization for me, a kind of meditation.” Indeed Beth is in touch with a place of vulnerability that opens the door for others to seek solace and healing through her melodies.

“I didn’t know it would help other people in that way. People have sent me messages about how my music has helped them get through hard times, including life threatening illnesses, and the loss of loved ones, and say my music has helped them get through that hard time.”

Creativity is not always such an easy career path, and it isn’t straightforward.

Beth says, “I think the ups and downs of being a creative is a struggle. When the work comes it rushes, and when it doesn’t it doesn’t, and there are so many doubts that go with it. That’s what I was doing a lot in my darkest place, doubting my abilities, and that can turn into a horrible cycle. To constantly doubt yourself.”

This tour is different from past projects for Beth, “So Kit and I have done a lot of Duo stuff together, and he had an upright bass that kind of fit the songs that I was writing at the time. Then when I released my most recent album, I reached a point where I realized this Duo that we had done wouldn’t be able to get across the newer songs that I had written. And so at that point, I put together a full band.”

Beth has been a solo artist, and she has been in a duo with her husband Kit. He is front and center in her group and her musical career. She met Kit at an artist community program in 2001 and they are now married.  Beth says it is definitely an enriching relationship in both love and music. “Life is never dull, I found that we work well together because we’re so different but because different things are hard to navigate, but we’ve been able to figure that out.  He does a lot of producing and Engineering/Recording, and so having that mind of someone who can see the big picture and the vision to make whatever the best version of a song is great. So I come up with basic ideas, and then he helps me hone them in.”

BETH BOMBARA on the patio at the Downtown Artery.

BETH BOMBARA on the patio at the Downtown Artery.

Her approach to songwriting is always through a creative vein, and she lets the music come to her, and that is why her sound is so unique. It comes from a place deep within and is not forced or groomed until she processes what erupts emotionally when she lets it flow. “Generally, the music and the Melody comes to me first. Occasionally, and in this is only happened to me once,  but it is the most amazing magical thing: I sat down and wrote a song, The music, the lyrics, the melody, everything completely rushed into the session, and like one hour just sitting down. That’s never happened to me before, but that’s like a magical experience in songwriting for me. The song is Long Dark Hallelujah.”

What is next for Beth? She is taking this new band experiment and writing while on tour.

“I’m working on writing a new album while touring with the band. When we were passing through Denver we stayed at a friend’s house, and we brought our gear into her basement, and we worked out a couple of songs.”

She wants to write together each night to explore this new energy and track the songs live when they record.

“I’ve never done that on the road before with the band. So, it is a fresh first experience. I think the goal with this next album I wanted to take the song ideas to the band, and we’ll work them out together and then I’m hoping we can go and track those songs live in the studio.  We did it that way with my self-titled album which and I never tracked a record that way before. The process was a cool way to do it because you do like five takes of one song and then everybody’s like, okay, which takes did you like the best and then that’s it, and then I go in and do vocals. That is the process.”

Find Beth traveling on the road and listen to the new album Map & No Direction. Perhaps it can help you with your own struggle.

 

 

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Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

The Songwriter Behind the Performer

Touring Bands

Glen Phillips, the principal writer for Toad the Wet Sprocket and his solo projects, takes the stage in Fort Collins at The Armory on April 25, 2018, at 7 p.m. With over 30 years experience as a musician, Glen expresses the growth and struggles that produced the latest album, Swallowed by the New:

“I think I am a writer first and a musician and other things second, probably. This album is less of a stick it to you break up album and more about transitions as a whole. This album is about changing and accepting those massive changes. I think it is a similar set of skills whether it’s having your kids grow up, or having death, which comes to everybody in different forms at different times, illness, aging, any of those major life changes. It is looking at the toolkit I have to deal with that. Where is it functioning and where is it not functioning. Some of the songs are maybe relationship specific, but there is a lot of emphasis on just acceptance. How do I deal with change? How do I not fight that force and that movement?”

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Press photo provided by Glen Phillips

Glen originally released the album on his own, but Compass Records just re-released it. Phillips is touring to promote the songs and share his stories with audiences across the United States.

There is one particularly gripping, vulnerable song on Swallowed by the New, Go. Glen talks about his process of writing the song and what it meant to him,

“Go is a co-write with Chris out of Portland. He had the basic melody which was the verse and just the line, “you know where to go.” I had been listening to a podcast about lighthouses having this particular model of love. Where most things say, “I love you, please come closer, let me hold you.” Lighthouses say, “I love you, go over there. I want the best for you. Don’t come here. It is rocky.”  When that song was written, I had seen both sides of love. There are so many songs about “how could you do this to me?” I feel like life works more in the strange thing that we get to play all the characters.It constructs itself in this way that we get to be the one who leaves, and we get to be the one who is left. If we are paying attention, we get to learn what it is like from each perspective. I have been both the person to go away and the person telling someone else to go away. With a song like Go, a lot of what I am trying to achieve is to write it from the point of view that it is not about necessarily grievance or narrative but a phenomenon as a whole. Trying to look at the emotional truth of it and the pain of it without casting dispersion. There is a particular pain to breaking up with someone. It is agonizing. I thought being broken up with was hard but breaking up with someone else is terrible. They are both tough, and there is an acute sense of grief in either position if there was love in the relationship.”

 

Now that Glen has signed a new deal with Compass his take on the music industry has shifted.

He has a new appreciation for his artistry and his audience,

 

“It has been interesting to hook up with Compass Records. I haven’t had a record company in a while. Compass is a record company based on selling a few records to adults, and that is a new business model. The major music world always ends young and always ends broad, and it is not about making a living. It is about trying to have a smash hit and make a killing. Working with people who know that their bread and butter is not paying attention to that world is a really nice thing. It is sending back the message to me as an artist that I am actually doing the right thing already. I had an experience recently with a friend coming to see my show. She looked around the room in Santa Barbara and said, “you have a lot of elders here” I looked around, and there were a lot of people 50, 60, and 70. I was thinking all my life I wanted to be one of the cool kids. I wanted to be more of a punk. I wanted the cool kids to like me, and they didn’t, and now, it is a group of people coming to see me, that know some things. They are not trying to be cool anymore, and I am saying something about life that resonates with people who have lived. It was the first time I realized it, and I thought “now, that’s cool!” It was this recognition that people who had wisdom cared about what I have to say. And that made me really excited. Feeling like I actually have been writing the songs I wanted to write, and I was reaching the people I wanted to reach.”

 

Glen has taken on a new project in his community and is dancing for the first time since he was a child.  His heart has had a revitalization of joy,

 

“I have been doing a lot of community song leading which is kind of instant choirs. It gets people together. The songs are short. You can teach them fairly quick. Mostly things we sing I have not written. They are spiritual and uplifting and beautiful. Within five minutes you can have a group of 30 people signing a song with three parts. For people who don’t sing a lot, it is challenging, and it is so amazing to hear the sound that people can make. It is kind of like church without the sermon or a dogma. There is no religion involved, but it has that feeling of creating something beautiful together, aiming towards something bigger. That kind of experience has been a driving force in my life. I am feeling more and more drawn to that. In my shows what I offer is a vulnerability and a safe place to feel the feels and look at the stuff, people spend a lot of time avoiding which means it is a smaller crowd. It is people who want to face those emotions head on and find the joy that comes out of vulnerability. Our culture certainly emphasizes skipping to the fun parts but you kind of miss the depth when that happens.”

 

This community singing where the sermon is the music has struck a chord in his heart and maybe influenced his future album,

 

“The difference that is starting to happen to me is from doing the community singing work. I am curious what my next record will be. I have been filling out a lot of concepts for group songs and lyrics. I started dancing again after being shamed out of it as a child. I also have been singing joyful songs. They take me to the place I want to be. I recently discovered I like singing songs about the way I want to feel and they end up making me feel that way. So the next album might be a little more joyful.”

 

Glen travels and sings and writes. Sometimes he is solo; sometimes he is a leader, sometimes he is a frontman for a rock n roll band. Glen’s songwriting is introspective and vulnerable with an ease an openness that gives the feeling that loss is a part of life and it is ok to talk about it, and process it, but not to hold on to it. His music reminds the audience to find the joy in every day, in each moment, in the pain, and even in the outcome.

 

Check out his latest release, Swallowed by the New. See him on tour or catch his community choir. He is a man who loves music in so many different ways.

A 31 Year Celebration for Big Head Todd

Fort Collins Music, Touring Bands

 

Big Head Todd originated in the great state of Colorado. They got their feet wet in the Poudre in the early years. Big Head Todd will play a sold-out show sponsored by the Colorado Sound at the Aggie theatre on Dec.21 for their hometown crowd. The band went to Columbine High School together. Lead vocal and guitarist Todd Mohr spread his wings to Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Drummer/vocalist Brian Neven and Bass/vocal Rob Squires attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. The trio has toured extensively along the Front Range as Big Head Todd and the Monsters since 1987.

Todd talks about coming back to the Fort:

“The band grew up in Colorado and I went to school at CSU for a spell.  Fort Collins was one of the early adopters for our band and it feels terrific to come home!”

They have a new Album, New World Arisin’ that sticks to their roots but exemplifies a maturity and synchronicity only a band who grew up together can produce.

After so many years of playing music together there comes an evolution of sorts. Morh says, “This tour represents success for us as a band in many ways.  Firstly we have been together for over 31 years, and we still love what we do.  Secondly and more significantly, we still have fans that want to hear the music we are creating currently.  It’s one thing to survive but its quite another to be putting out great new material. I don’t know that our music has evolved, but I would hope that we’ve gotten better as a band.  I know I’ve gotten to be a better musician because I am really starting to enjoy learning!”

His favorite thing to do when visiting Fort Collins is to fish Poudre Canyon.

As for the music ecosystem in Colorado, Todd is grateful to be one of the significant successes. He says: “Colorado is a great place as a home for any band because there are so many music lovers and it seems concerts are a way of life.  There are also incredible venues – Red Rocks for one.”

For any band wanting to grow and thrive in the Front Range, Todd offers his expertise:

 

“My advice to young bands is to develop a great relationship with your audience.  Also I suggest focusing on songs and songwriting.  Probably one of the main things most new bands neglect.”

Big Head Todd and the Monsters paved the road for the Colorado Music Scene. To see them live on Dec. 21st visit the Aggie theatre for tickets.

 

Q&A with Noah Gundersen

Touring Bands

 

Noah Gundersen can’t pin point the exact moment he fell in love with music, but it has always been a part of him. On the release of his sixth album, White Noise, the evolution of his sound is quite prominent. Noah plays the Armory in Fort Collins presented by the Colorado Sound. Saturday October 7, 2017 Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Noah shares that, “Music has always been around. My dad made music. I would sit on the piano bench with him and hammer out little melodies, or I would watch him record on his 8-track in the garage. It’s hard to pin point a beginning for a thing that has felt so eternal and intrinsic to my existence.”

The echoes of his passions reveal through the melodies. There is an airy yet complete notation within the songs. Noah explains the process of writing a song, “Often it starts with space. Giving myself space, staring off into space. Sometimes it comes in a flash, and I’m just trying to keep up. Other times it’s like dragging a mule through the mud.”

 

portrait

Promotional photo from Red Light Management

 

Past albums had a true singer-songwriter feel with acoustic rhythms focused on faith, death, and past relationships, success, failed relationships, religion, and sexuality. The state of affiars in the world today have more pressing ideals. The new release, White Noise, devels into the current issues. Noah talks about the release, “It seems all that’s left is politics. And anxiety. And the confusion of living in a digital world. What’s real anymore? How do we even hear ourselves think over all the noise?”
Even at the present times, it is hard to write about the past or lingering feelings. Noah talks about where the songs come from, “I can only speak from the place where I am now. Even memories or past thoughts are filtered through my present experience. So everything I wrote came from where I was when I wrote it.”

Devoted fans are discussing the new sound, on the albums first two released songs. It is not a new sound, per say, just a new level in his musical progression and growth. Noah devotedly spoke about this,”I only have roots in music. I’m doing my best to stay true to those.”

 

As for the album, it was produced in his home town,“We made the record in Seattle, mostly at our loft space in Ballard called The Baitshop. It took almost a year.”

 

Noah has a  love for many cities, “I think favorites are reductive. I love New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago, Toronto, Austin. Wherever there is good food and wherever my friends are.”

 

Check him out in a city nearby.

Blind Pilot in Residence at the Music District

Fort Collins Music, Touring Bands

Video: Pick it up Again Blind Pilot and Danielle Ate the Sandwich Colorado Stations CO – Colorado

A musician’s home is on the road traveling from town to town occupying every moment with the soundscapes of the highway. The vigor of the performance can overtake the space needed to create. The Music District offers a “home stop” on the road for touring musicians.  Blind Pilot nourished their artistic side with a stay at the District for a few days while traveling through Colorado.

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Creative Collaboration: Artists in Residence – Blind Pilot deliver a workshop on creative collaboration and songwriting, including a live performance. Photo Credit Argento Studios

Two members of Blind Pilot, Israel Nebeker vocals and guitar and Ryan Dobrowski drummer and percussion, utilized the practice rooms for writing. They did a session of singing bowls and took some of the classes offered on the campus. They lived in the Airbnb apartment and rented bikes from the bike share.

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Ryan Dobrowski drummer and percussions for Blind Pilot plays at the Music District. Photo Credit Argento Studios

They wrote songs, played new instruments, and lived like locals for just a moment while touring. They ended the week with a songwriting workshop, which was their community contribution for staying.

They collaborated with local artist Danielle Ate The Sandwich to write a song in sixty seconds. This can be found on the VuHaus website. Local media group, EvrGlo Media, filmed and edited the video.

Pick it up Again

Blind Pilot and Danielle Ate the Sandwich  Colorado Stations CO – Colorado

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Israel Nebeker vocals and guitar plays with Ryan Dobrowski drummer and percussion both of Blind Pilot. Photo Credit Argento Studios

Israel Nebeker  said in the workshop:

“Art is this amazing vehicle and it captures so much more than what we put into it.”

This week he put a great deal into his art.

The two band members expressed how there is no place in the country like the Music District. Israel and Ryan were blown away with the experience and felt it was something every musician must have the opportunity to do.

Touring musicians come through the District Weekly. For a list of upcoming events, visit the calendar. Free to the public and all are encouraged to come.