After weeks of our 9th annual battle’s preliminary rounds in early 2020, twelve of sixteen bands had been eliminated. That March, the semi-finals had just determined which four would go head-to-head, live, for the prize of $1,000 and gracing the cover of BandWagon Magazine. We all know what happened next. Yet somehow, all four bands carried on. They made their own recordings, found new players, harnessed the power of positive thinking and the internet. Some even grew big-ass beards – after all, it’s been a whole year! And so, the long-awaited conclusion to the 2020 BandWagon Battle of the Bands finally goes down Friday, March 12, 2021 at The Union Colony Civic in Greeley.
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For nearly two years, Graham Good & the Painters had a stash of songs ready for their first full-length album and they knew exactly which one they would release as the first single.
The song’s title, “Slumber,” belies the tune, as it’s a Roadrunner-quick romper.
“That’s one of our most high-energy songs ever,” Good tells BandWagon. “In our worst year we’ve all ever seen, we thought, ‘Let’s get people out and bouncing around’.”
Yes, COVID-19 hit his band about as hard as it did everyone else. Before the coronavirus, they were planning a big Midwest tour, had played the well-known rock venue Summit Music Hall (the biggest place they’d ever performed) and were coming off a gig at the prestigious Bluebird Theater in Denver.
“We were riding a high,” Good said. “We were feeling hot and not afraid to keep moving at a fast pace.”
That Bluebird gig was the last the band played before the outbreak. The pandemic was a bummer for individual members of the band and the group as a whole. Daniel Thompson, for instance, had just been hired as a pianist by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Instead, he had to move back in with his parents.
But Good is relentlessly upbeat. Not only is that really his last name, it’s his nature, and it’s the band’s aesthetic. Even the band’s website greets you with “I believe good things are coming.” He wants people to be happy.
So naturally, Good tried to approach the pandemic optimistically. He admits they could have done more marketing or released more videos, but he’s proud of keeping the band together through Zoom meetings, idea sessions where bandmates could bounce musical ideas off each other. He calls the band his family, and so sometimes, those Zoom meetings turned into bitch-sessions about how crappy it was to be at home while a deadly virus swept through the world. As a part of the continued bonding, the band even played a July 4 gig in Thompson’s parents’ backyard to pick up everyone’s spirits.
“The brotherhood helped keep some heads above water,” Good said. “It was really good to have that.”
Good’s optimism allowed for pandemic opportunity as well. He took a class on how to record music at home.
“It was divine timing in a way,” Good said. “We have all this time to write music now. Thank God we were able to do that. I would have been going crazy if I didn’t know how to make these demos.” The result is the band’s first full-length album Graham Good & The Painters.
Good had many of the songs worked out as late as 2019, though he did make adjustments after recently adding Lance Ruby as lead guitarist. He recorded piece-by-piece, flying to Minnesota for drum parts and relying on his home studio for others. He’s proud of the music the last year produced and is shopping the album around to different labels. He’s had a couple offers so far, and he is, of course, optimistic about its chances.
In gearing up for BandWagon’s Battle of the Bands at the Moxi, Good admits having mixed feelings playing indoor gigs — almost all of the band’s infrequent gigs were outdoors over the past 10 months — but he also said things are feeling a little better with the release of the vaccine.
“We definitely want to play by the rules,” Good said. “But you know, music lifts people up. I am hopeful. It’ll just be good to play again.”