Chimney Choir, Princess Music, Two-Tone Wolf Pack
Chella Negro, Sawmill Joe, Caribou Mountain Collective
Originally from La Crosse, Wisconsin, folk singer-songwriter, Chella Negro, relocated to Colorado in August of 2000. Though spending the majority of the past decade living in Denver has certainly informed her songs with a spirit that can only be lifted from the ubiquitous concrete and glass of the city, the soul of a life spent growing up in a midwestern town remains the heartbeat of the music. The seemingly mutually exclusive elements of country heart and urban savvy fuse seamlessly into a collection of songs that is at once unique and comfortingly familiar. Reflected in her singing simultaneously are the pain of heartbreak, the joy and wonder of life, and the wisdom gained from experiencing both. Chella faithfully carries the torch of singer-songwriter folk music past and current. The addition of Dave Pinto on Pedal Steel, Melanie Karnopp on Drums and Joey Coloroso on Bass fill out the instrumentation and bring a decidedly Americana sound to the songs.
Denver’s Chimney Choir is a collaboration of three seasoned and distinctive voices in Colorado music. Multi-instrumentalists Kevin Larkin (mandolin, harmonica, accordion, sampling), David Rynhart (Guitar, flute, piano) and Kris Drickey (banjo, guitar, percussion) combine dynamic vocal harmonies, epic arrangements and imaginative lyrics into their songwriting. An impromptu tour of the South in the fall of 2010 formed an instant musical synergy, leading Larkin to relocate to Denver soon after. The trio has been refining their sound in performances throughout the Southwest.
Joe “Sawmill Joe” Cheves is the stuff of country-blues legend. When not recording music and playing in dive bars, Cheves works at Olde Tyme Lumber, six miles south of Boulder, where he lost a finger earlier this month. Originally from Frederick, Maryland, before moving out to Minnesota to get a job in the iron mines (as mentioned at the beginning of “The Trade”), Sawmill Joe has lived in Colorado for about five years now. With the release of this new album, he may have found a home for good. This debut sounds like a humble beginning for a man with obvious talents.
Sawmill Joe’s story isn’t the only thing that sounds like it came straight out of the Mississippi Delta—the songs on his self-titled album sound like they could have been recorded by Alan Lomax himself. They’re simple, heartfelt, and at times angry or sorrowful. This is the stuff that comes from the roots of the roots; it’s not imitation and it’s not affectation. Vocally, Joe can go from gravelly growl to cracking high-pitch country twang in one song. When most the songs consist of a simple blues guitar line and vocals, the feeling and passion in Joe’s voice comes through clearly, and it’s one of the highlights of the music.
“American Dream” is a love song that takes aim at money and religion, with the chorus, “If love don’t count for somethin’ won’t you please tell me what does?” On a song like “Destitute Blues,” you can easily peg some of Joe’s influences, like Mississippi John Hurt or Blind Lemon Jefferson. But where some artists would go over the top and just record a cover song, Sawmill Joe remains original. Listening to Joe’s songs, it’s hard to believe music like this is still being made in the 21st century. These songs about struggle and love are a soundtrack to one man’s life, but they are relatable and memorable regardless of where you come from.
Not all the songs here are desolate solo efforts. Denver musician Lief Sjostrom brings cello to a few tracks, including the unrequited love song “Be Your Man.” The cello isn’t overpowering, and it adds another dimension to some of the songs that’s refreshing and makes you wonder what kind of power Joe would have with a full band behind him.
-Matt Pusatory A.V. Club
Two Tone Wolf Pack is early 20th century imagery and idealism manifested
in a trashcan-americana quartet, lending a rowdy voice to the working
class, to the back woods, to the dark and hidden.
The songs are at once anthemic and strange. They sing of being beaten down, and of surviving. Two Tone Wolf Pack reestablishes the spirit of chain gangs as the brooding spirit of hopes and fears. Through steady heavy beats you hear the railway’s pounding in your heart, and through gritty vocals; haunting, luring melodies in your ears.
In June 2011, Two Tone Wolf Pack released their first EP, For Your Health. The EP was recorded on homemade microphoness, styled after 1920’s tin can models. They have toured locally and nationally, including having played festivals such as Austin's SXSW and Denver's UMS in 2012. TTWP is currently working on a new recording.
PRINCESS MUSIC is a five piece, all-star cast of classically- trained players, with backgrounds in a spectrum of musical stylings from chamber music to math metal. They rip through tightly orchestrated complexities and upbeat harmonies with a mixture of expertise and mirth. The music is built for the heart and the head, with the poignant narratives and spiritually evocative content found within classically influenced rock structures.
Princess Music arrangements simultaneously project intelligence and embody subtle pop sensibilities that allow casual music listeners to embrace it in all its glory. The band is fronted by Tyler Ludwick, a crooner harking to the likes of David Byrne, David Longstreth, and Zach Condon, who takes his classical guitar training to an electric guitar, his composition skills to cello and violin textures, and his drumming background to the overall poly rhythmic and irregular meters of the music. Ludwick is a playfully serious singer, who wears a deep emotional connection to his music on his sleeve.
PERFORMED WITH: The Lumineers, Punch Brothers, State Radio, Paper Bird, Dark Dark Dark, Haunted Windchimes, March Forth Marching Band, The Centennial, Fierce Bad Rabbit, Sunshine House, Pee Pee, Shenandoah Davis, You Me and Apollo, M and the Gems, Fort Wilson Riot, Patrick Dethlefs, Eye & The Arrow, Clouds and Mountains
PERFORMED AT: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Belly Up Aspen, Fox Theater, Ogden Theater, Meadowlark, Hi Dive, The Gothic Theater, Coco 66, Lost Lake