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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Happy Birthday to The Colorado Sound

Everything Can Be Art, Fort Collins Music

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Benji McPhail, Program Director at The Colorado Sound

The Colorado Sound is the fastest growing non-commercial radio station in the nation. This week they turn one year old. To celebrate they are hosting a premiere party at Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins that features a lineup of Colorado bands including Dragondeer, Paper Bird, Rob Drabkin, and Brent Cowles.  The celebration will be recorded by a diverse team of videographers and broadcasted on a later date.

THE COLORADO SOUND 1ST BIRTHDAY PARTY with Dragondeer, Rob Drabkin, Brent Cowles, Paper Bird

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Neil Best, GM of KUNC

 

Benji McPhail is the Program Director at The Colorado Sound. He started at KUNC as the Music Director in 2012. His strategic planning collaborated with eTown radio program, the University of Colorado, and the University of Denver, to record performances in audio and video for re-broadcast on KUNC. This expanded the reach of the station and grew the audience. Benji tripled the evening ratings. It was clear that people were craving a new AAA station.That is how The Colorado Sound was born.

KUNC now is a total news outlet, and The Colorado Sound is the music broadcast affiliate. In radio, the measure of success is to increase Arbitron ratings, and The Colorado Sound has mastered that rather quickly.

 

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Benji’s office is decorated with new music cd’s and music memorabilia

Benji wants to do more than just play the hits to get ratings. McPhail is a musicophile with years of experience in programming spanning from KCUV Radio Music Director to programming director at KKPL Radio. His style of broadcasting is a blend of musicology and stellar music taste. His approach is to play the music that resonates with his listeners. He holds a monthly listening party where the audience can vote on the songs they want to hear in a rotation.

The Colorado Sound highlights Colorado music. The station is advocators and curators for the scene. There is no shortage of music coming from the state, and the Sound aims to be the leader in bringing the best of it to your ears.

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Host Ron in his office at the Colorado Sound

 

Colorado’s music industry is the largest in the Rocky Mountain West. The state has 16,300 music based jobs the next highest employment totals in the region are Nevada’s 8500 and Utah’s 79001. Colorado’s music industry generates $1.8 billion in annual revenue, compared to $309 million in Idaho and $556 million in New Mexico. Nevada is again second in the region at $1.3 billion.

 Hosts include veterans in the radio industry: Benji, MargotRon, and Marc. The Colorado Sound has been a dream of Benji’s for a long time. He is a Colorado native. He spent some time in California radio, but his heart-strings were pulled back home. He felt he could showcase his Colorado music roots and help others gain an appreciation for the sound.

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This station goes beyond what you hear on other stations and delivers quality music that excites your senses. The hosts are passionate about music. Each of them is a true innovator of the craft and is shaping the type of music being delivered to you over the airwaves. Overall, The Colorado Sound just plays really good music, all day long.

To support this movement in Colorado music you can become a Colorado Sound member.

Stay tuned because big things are on the horizon for the Colorado Sound.


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Wood Belly is the New-Grass Quintet in Town

Everything Can Be Art

Wood Belly resonates the soul by combining traditional bluegrass with modern new grass styles. They were born in bluegrass heaven, Rocky Grass 2015, and tour around the Front Range.

Wood Belly describes their music as,

“boundless song-focused repertoire is sure to get boots on the floor and make any true bluegrass fan feel right at home.”

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Wood Belly plays at Mobb Mountain Distillers in Fort Collins photo by Argento Studios

 This is a five-piece string band combining talented musicians:

  • Craig Patterson (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Chris Weist (Mandolin/Vocals)
  • Chris Zink (Dobro/Vocals)
  • Aaron McCloskey (Banjo/Vocals)
  • Taylor Shuck (Bass/Vocals)

They plan to start the year touring and building a loyal fan base. This new band is nothing short of charismatic and robust with fingers full of lightning. There is no shortage of innovation from this group.

 

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Fingers Full of lightning, fast playing bluegrass. Photo by Argento Studios

 

In the fall, they have hopes to record a studio album. Until then you can catch them playing:

There is an eclectic mix of backgrounds.  The member’s lives seem to intertwine even before meeting. It seems this band would have happened no matter the circumstance. Although the band is new, they have roots in the Rocky Mountain Bluegrass community. Aaron McCloskey teaches at Swallow Hill. Taylor Shuck is the former bassist of Von Stomper, he also plays in another band, Mustard Licks, with Chris Weist.

You can check out their website, visit them on social media, or just see an upcoming performance. Special thanks to Mobb Mountain Distillers for hosting Wood Belly for this interview.

 

If you want to know more about how they met, listen to the SoundCloud podcast:

 

What Lies on the Horizon for Bluegrass Guitarist David Jensen’s Solo Career

Everything Can Be Art

Beloved  Fort Collins bluegrass guitarist  David Jensen is venturing out into a solo career after spending the last few years with National Touring band Blue Grama. What lies on the horizon for his solo career is fun and light hearted, a new group called DJ Meow Mix & the Grabbers.

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David playing tunes in the Attic of the Music District in Fort Collins, Co Photo credit: Argento Studios

David has had a long time love affair with the guitar. It started when he was 13 and has flourished into more than just a passion over the past 17 years. He traveled down the path of garage bands with friends to a formal education at Mary Washington University where he studied Jazz Guitar. Jazz methodology is like bluegrass in a way that a repertoire of songs is rehearsed solo, then groups gather together for freeform playing and jamming. Like bluegrass, the real magic happens in the jam sessions.

David met a very influential person while at the University, Jim Burton, who nurtured his bluegrass guitar playing. Jim was an avid activist who promoted Folk and bluegrass guitar music to the younger generation. He took David under his wing and introduced him to a circle of musicians that acted as a support network for David. It gave David the opportunity to hone his craft, excel in his passion, and become the experienced player he is today.

Dave speaks about Jim,  “He was ‘instrumental in recruiting Bluegrass bands to the D.C. Area. that would be influential to the younger generation.’ He was not much of a live performer himself.”

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Hank, David’s guitar, gifted from his mentor and long time friend Jim. Photo credit: Argento Studios

David set out on his way to the Wild West. At that point, Jim gave him the guitar he still plays today. Hank is the name of Dave’s trusty guitar. You can see on the body all of the years of pickin’.

David has his debut show on January 20 at Oskar Blues Longmont with his new project DJ Meow Mix and the Grabbers.

This band is “a pop bluegrass band playing tunes like Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” (think the best of the 80s & 90s – Madonna, Blondie, etc.) with a bluegrassy flair.”

Dave’s extensive background blends styles from across genres. This band is something fresh, modern, and progressive.

David also does in home lessons for bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and drums. Visit his Facebook page to learn more.

Listen to the whole interview on Soundcloud:

Derek Blake playing Folk Music

Fort Collins Musician Derek Blake: Live Acoustic Session

Everything Can Be Art

 

Derek Blake is a singer-songwriter in Fort Collins, Co. He has a new album, Pop hits released July 20, 2016. Pop hits were created to be easy listening. The songs average about 2:00 each and follow the “made for radio” style.

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The album was recorded by local Fort Collins band, Tallgrass, at GPM studios.

Musicians on the LP are:

  • guitars and vocals- Derek Blake
  • bass-Austin Morford
  • vocal harmonies-Matthew Skinner and Austin Morford
  • drums-Adam Morford
  • Engineers- Matthew Skinner and Austin Morford
  • Mastering-Tyler Lindgren

Derek has deep Americana roots felt in every chord he plays. He grew up in Steamboat Springs with a family of musicians who enjoyed gathering together to play and celebrate life. Derek writes a lot about family and the stories made in that Steamboat Springs home.

Derek is currently touring in Northern Colorado, playing the tunes from his new album. He is ambitious, however, already planning his next mixtape. Recording with Tallgrass again is his goal. The synergy that was created in the studio on Pop Hits is something rare. The next album will be different but still full of the magic that his freshman album had.

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Derek plays an acoustic session at the Music District in Fort Collins

Derek has upcoming shows in Fort Collins:

Derek also has a new web show airing called Fishin’ and Pickin’ that focuses on catchin’ fish and playing tunes. This will air on FC public Access as well as on the web.

Derek’s style is unique. Sometimes it is Folk, often it is Honkytonk or Western Swing. He can play fingerstyle bluegrass and tell a story that makes you cry. His music is moving and very heartfelt. Download or stream the album Pop Hits from Bandcamp.

Listen to the acoustic session on soundcloud: