Just Wanna Have Funds: Did the Colorado Arts Relief Grant Support the Organizations it Intended?

April 5, 2021

Over 63 days, Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), created a set of criteria, launched an application, administered the selection process and allocated just under $6 million to organizations and businesses state-wide including music venues.

“We were given the charge to distribute the funding as quickly as possible,” a CCI spokesperson told BandWagon.

This hasty allocation of public funds was met with cynical speculation from independent venue owners who were not awarded money. 

Until now, the controversy over the grant has remained purely speculative. No one has pointed to specific evidence of nepotism or neglect on CCI’s part. But, thanks to the Colorado Open Records Act, BandWagon was able to obtain a copy of the scoring rubric used to evaluate grant applicants.

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Tom Amend: Ditching the Band Scene for an Improvised Life

April 3, 2021

Tom Amend has been in a band since he was 6 years old, playing piano for his dad’s yacht rock cover band (when his hands were just big enough to reach a few chords) up until 2019 when he stepped down as the Burroughs’ keyboardist of many years. Now at 26, he’s making his mark in the Denver jazz scene as one of Colorado’s best pianists, playing one-off shows every other night with a constantly rotating collection of musicians.

“It’s the freedom of everything – the spaces, the sound, the tunes… [jazz] is a free form of music. It’s cliche, but it’s truly why I love it,” Amend tells BandWagon.

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Kolby Cooper’s Best, Worst Year

March 2, 2021

Kolby Cooper returned through single-digit temperatures and deep snow to his East Texas home on January 17 to find the hallways full of water.

That just sounds like a country song, doesn’t it? Well, here’s how Cooper referred to it in an interview with BandWagon: “Whatever man, it’s nothing. Yada yada yada. We were lucky, man. It was a horrible year, and a great year,” Cooper said.

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Battle Profile: Nelsen

February 16, 2021

“The momentum was really good,” Nick Nelsen said. “We were doing four gigs in a one month span.”

On the first day of February last year, Nelsen (the band) beat out Hot Tub Wrestler, Ethan More or Less and the Able Dogs in round one of BandWagon’s 2020 Battle of the Bands. The success was three years in the making. Nelsen had also competed in 2018 and 2019, never to make it past the first round.

Now, armed with tearjerkers new and old, Nelsen is poised and ready to make the audience “feel” when the Battle of the Bands returns on March 12.

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Battle Profile: Lady Denim

February 15, 2021

“We were starting to get the ball rolling, you know, the snowball effect,” recalls Lundeen, Lady Denim’s lead vocalist, of the band’s momentum heading into March 2020, “and then it all got paused.”

Lundeen looks back on the band’s last headliner at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, where the band walked out to a crowd of 450. At a show a month later on March 13, just as news of COVID-19 began to flare up, the band walked out to a crowd of less than 50. 

“The silver lining of it all was that we were able to set aside time and record,” Lundeen reflects. Trading rehearsals for recording sessions not only brought the band closer, but also yielded the seeds for what Lundeen said will be their next release.

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The Thin Black Line: Venues Fight To Survive

December 3, 2020

“It’s nowhere near the money I need to sustain, but I was lucky,” says Travis Ragan.

Ragan was a partner in the Roxy Theater in Denver and the Mesa Theater in Grand Junction, booking shows in 15 different markets. Now he hauls equipment for his brother, a construction manager out of Colorado Springs.

“I know venues are closing down, and yet, we have no leadership backing us and supporting us. We have no one telling us what we should do as opposed to what we shouldn’t do,” Ragan says.

“The place is not made to be at a 250 person capacity,” Renee Jelenik says of The Lincoln Theater in Cheyenne, “and even then, it’s not like we sold out those shows. People just aren’t coming out.”

“We’ve been asked to shut down, or told to shut down, for months now,” says Ely Corliss of The Moxi Theater in Greeley. “We’ve done that, and where are we now?”

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Video Premiere: Oliver Mueller – “I Wanna Play At The Moxi”

July 20, 2020

The music video for Oliver Mueller’s new single “I Wanna Play At the Moxi” premieres via BandWagon today. Under his solo-project pseudonym oliverrr, the track is a love-letter to his favorite NoCo music venue, as performers and concert go-ers alike bemoan the absence of live music. Mueller brings the same dreamy alternative style he displays in his band Slow Caves, but combines it with punk flare and humor.

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The Fate Of Festival Future

June 5, 2020

Even right after she was the sickest she’d been in her life, Alison Hamling still cried after she essentially canceled Friday Fest in Downtown Greeley. Live music “pales in comparison” to the need to avoid a second wave, Hamling said, even as she hated her decision.

Concert producer Colin Bricker says “I find it hard to imagine pulling off any live music this summer. There’s just no way to do that.”

But WAIT! If you don’t mind sitting by your computer, part of Greeley’s summer festival season may in fact, still be on.

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