Denver, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Denver, Colorado, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Latin Pop




"Flobots: Musicianship with a message"

Songbird Cellars has been hosting great music for a while and the urban-winery's new space is no exception as Thursday night held a sold-out crowd to see Denver's own Flobots. The energetic crowd was a diverse cross section of Pueblo's music lovers. The show was particularly amazing as the group's members had chosen Pueblo as the first stop of their new tour.

Opening act 2MX2, also from Colorado by way of Zacatecas, Mexico, after being waylaid by technical difficulties, got the crowd going with their Ozomatli-like mix of bilingual rap and catchy beats. Their positive lyrics were delivered at impressive speed, and they set the tone for the evening with a message of unity and tolerance.

Qbala, the second act, was a bit harder with unapologetic lyrics discussing her observations as a young black lesbian from Fort Collins. Her intelligent raps delivered with impeccable timing were accompanied by electric guitar riffs and synth beats that had the crowd energized and ready for the main event.

Promoting their brand new album, No Enemies, the six-piece band opened their high energy set with, "Cowboy," a showcase for their signature vocals, haunting and melodic violin, and innovative twist on alt-folk-rap rock. Flobots show an impressive range of musicality and emotion, from serious to soulful to intense and heavy beats -- all stops were pulled to achieve an outstanding level of socially aware music without being preachy.

In "May Nothing Disturb You," a song written more than a year ago, they discuss events that are, perhaps, even more relevant to today's sociopolitical climate. The biting commentary of "Mayday," mixed with a hard hitting violin hook and the unique sound of the clavinet, shows that the Flobots are still heading in the right direction for promoting their message of kindness. It's not just a front either -- the entire group was on hand after the show to take pictures, talk about music, touring and Colorado, and just be awesome people.

In what turned out to be a four-song encore, the crowd was reminded of this message and its relation to the notion of freedom. Paraphrasing the band: freedom isn't free, you have to work for it by practicing peace and kindness, it takes work. And yes, to the delight of the crowd, they played the 2008 hit "Handlebars."

If you missed this amazing show you still can catch them June 10 at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs. You don't want to miss it. - DEREK TOWNLEY THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

"Open Music Session: Lolita Fuses Cultures and Genres at Open Media Foundation"

Open Music Session: Lolita Fuses Cultures and Genres at Open Media Foundation
BRETT CALLWOOD | MAY 4, 2017 | 4:30AM
Print Article
On Friday, May 5, the Open Media Foundation hosts its next monthly free Open Music Session event, which will spotlight music from Los Lunaticos, while comedy will come courtesy of Jose Macall. The April Open Music Session welcomed Lolita Castañeda, a local singer, MC, artist and activist, alongside hip-hop duo 2MX2. The two acts work together perfectly, as both favor inspiring lyrics and a style that blends contemporary rap and soul with Latin music.

"Stardust" is a great example — a song that features both English and Spanish lyrics, Castañeda's smooth vocals elegantly complementing the harder rap. - Westword

"Flobots workshop gets Sterling Middle School students singing"

STERLING — Students at Sterling Middle School celebrated music Friday. Flobots, a Denver-based alternative hip-hop group, visited the school to talk to students about the importance of music and sharing songs.

The band, which will close out the Pedal The Plains entertainment in Sterling today, is in town thanks to a new pilot program launched by Colorado Creative Industries. A new piece to the CCI music strategy, Detour "creates a model of music touring as a community-based sustainable and creatively rewarding practice," according to a CCI release. "Detour will develop a sustainable touring model for musicians that connect communities through song-sharing and engagement."

Sterling Middle School students have fun singing a song during a workshop put on by the Flobots.
Sterling Middle School students have fun singing a song during a workshop put on by the Flobots. (Callie Jones / Sterling Journal-Advocate)
Sterling is one of 15 communities taking part in the inaugural Detour, which kicked off Sept. 2 in Pueblo. Flobots is participating in a series of workshops, concerts, festivals and community jams in appearances across the state, culminating with the PTP concert tonight.

At SMS, band members Jamie "Jonny 5" Laurie, emcee and vocals, and Stephen "Brer Rabbit" Brackett, emcee and vocals, spoke about how curiosity led them to become friends and led their band to go on Detour, and encouraged the students to have their own curiosity.

"If we're curious there's a lot we can learn," Laurie said.


The Flobots band members were joined by another group, 2MX2, a Latin, alternative hip-hop band. Both worked with groups of students, asking them to think about songs that have been important to them in their life and helping them learn songs that they could share with the rest of their classmates.

Laurie spoke to the students about the importance of speaking up and expressing themselves, telling them that if they only speak up or express themselves when no one else is around, "it means we're not really expressing ourselves; we're not really creating a community."

Jamie "Jonny 5" Laurie, of the Flobots, teaches students how to "make it rain" during a workshop at Sterling Middle School.
Jamie "Jonny 5" Laurie, of the Flobots, teaches students how to "make it rain" during a workshop at Sterling Middle School. (Callie Jones / Sterling Journal-Advocate)
He talked about how important it is to create community and celebrate community: "groups of friends, groups of new friends, people who don't know each other yet being curious enough to say, 'hey, what's your name? What are you interested in?'"

The band discussed different ways to use singing: in a group, on a road trip, on camping trips, in class, as a form of prayer.

"The reason we wanted you guys to find some songs that you could sing together is because we think it's an important skill. We think it's important that we find times and ways to sing together and we hope you will do it more, because it can be very powerful when we sing together," Laurie said.

Students were encouraged to share songs they know, that others might not, with others at their school.

During a question and answer period, the band talked about why they decided to do the Detour, because regular tours got kind of boring, because they would do their shows and that was it.

"When we get to the Detour we get to do shows and we get to come and see you all," Brackett said, noting that they get to go to a lot of different places that they wouldn't normally go. "So, even as we are being the band, we are learning how to do even more when we're touring."

Female band members answered a question about being in a band with mostly men.

They told the students it doesn't matter if they're a woman or a man; everyone in the group is a musician and everyone is singing the same song. Students were encouraged not to let the fact they are female or male hold them back from doing something.

Laurie also talked about how both the Flobots and 2MX2 believe in making the world a better place and encouraged the students to believe that to.

"We hope that you believe in that too, that every day the actions that you're taking, that you can actually make the world better around you," he said.

Flobots will be giving another workshop today from noon to 1:30 p.m., at Northeastern Junior College, in the basement of Hays Student Center. It is free and open to the public and rumor has it some of the musicians/singers that show up will get to join the band on stage during their free concert, 7 to 9 p.m., on the Pedal The Plains stage, located on Third Avenue between Main and Ash streets. - Journal Advocate

"Flobots and 2mx2, Indie Rock Bands, kick off the Concerts on the Corner series."

“When has a song changed your life?” queried Flobots lead singer, Jamie Laurie, at a Detour music workshop. Lead singer of rock band 2mx2, Hugo Rodriguez (Juice El Tio Hugo), passionately raised his hand. “This morning at the Senior Center when we all sang “Amazing Grace.”

Learning about each other through songs and stories was the focus of two workshops and a culminating open air concert on a rainy, late afternoon in Cimino Park. - corazondetrinidad

"Featured artist"

20:12 is the top Latin Hip Hop group in the Mile High City Denver, Co. Focusing their efforts on a higher dream than your typical hip hop emcee, J Swiss & Role Pl-A aka 20:12 have been known for their political call to action on current issues as well a reminder of the past struggles of a people.

"Stand up for those who cannot, and live life as if the world ends tomorrow" says the group, creating the more upbeat side of them with party rocking music. Just this year 2011, the group took first place in the annual La Raza's Got Talent competition and have tour across the country with big names such as Akwid, MC Magic, Jae P, Crooked Stilo, Los Super Reyes, Don Omar, DJ Flex, Kid Frost and many more.

Their music is both English and Spanish integrating various genres with hip hop. From your melodic mainstream influences to your lyrical underground style, 20:12 has no hesitation when mixing in a hint of techno, dubstep, or even northern regional mexican music and reggeton. The bilingual group was quickly recognized for their energetic show filled with choreography and theatrics, as well as their passion and devotion for Latino Culture and their love to party. - Latin Rapper .com

"Westword Showcase recap"

2MX2 was the highlight of the day: With a live drum set, guitar and DJ R Squared, they put on an exceptional set. Jumping out the gate with a hard-core rendition of their song, "The Beast Is Out," the crew drew a thick crowd. Joined by Spellbinder and Spoke In Wordz, 2MX2 rocked a cumbia-style joint that excited the crowd before going into "Por Aqui, Por Alla" and then "Si, Se Puede," a track that features a collab with NY's Rebel Diaz. The group definitely upped the energy for the day with its live instrumentation and energy. - Westword

"Exclusive: 2MX2 Interview With Immortal Technique"

Listen to audio interview on the link: http://www.djchonz.com/djchonzwp/2013/08/31/exclusive-2mx2-interview-with-immortal-technique/ - DJChonz.com

"Fresh Pressed: Leonard Jackson, 2MX2, SP Double, Ibe Hustles and more"

2MX2 just dropped another visual gem for “Si, Se Puede” off their last album Case Study:2012. Yet again Vince Lance flexes his artistic vision in this Western-style narrative. According to Role Pley, filming the project was as much of an adventure in real life as it appears on screen. From traipsing all over the New Mexico’s rural landscape to wrangling real horses (provided by “La Familia Rodriguez”), these vaqueros experienced the cowboy life, if only for a day or two.
In other news, this track was licensed to an AfterDark film, ”El Gringo” featuring Scott Adkins and Christian Slater directed by Eduardo Rodriguez and is used in two influential scenes. - Hip Hop Roll Call

"Fresh Colorado hip-hop from Young Tenner, Killa Keezy, 2MX2 and Panama Soweto"

2MX2 - "Escandalo," feat Smoke G and Laura Retana
The Spanish guitar intro and the beat, which features other Latin percussion samples, will instantly appeal to fans of Latin hip-hop -- as will the catchy song itself, which is in Spanish and focuses on certain women and their scandalous behavior. Juice and Role Pley each take turns addressing the issue, while the refrain, "Scandal is a scandal," rings out on the chorus. - Westword

"dead prez at The Oriental Theatre, 1/18/13"

It got better and more heightened when they switched to Spanish. The rapping had that kind of rapid high and low style resonant with early dead prez. - Tom Murphy - Westword - Westword

"2MX2 Case Study 20:12"

Case Study, the new album from the outfit formerly known as 20:12, finds the act experimenting with different types of hip-hop to see what resonates. From traditional boom bap to elements of dubstep to rock, the material is all over the place. As varied as the record's rhythm is, however, Role Pley and Juice El Tio Hugo keep it together, displaying an impressive range that we haven't heard from the duo previously. While it may take a few listens to absorb, Case Study is a rewarding project, and it will be interesting to see if 2012 indeed turns out to be 2MX2's year. - Westword

"20:12 changes name to 2MX2 and prepares to drop new album and video tomorrow night"

?Tomorrow night at the Gothic Theatre, 20:12 -- or 2MX2, as the group is now known -- is set to release its new album, Case Study 20:12, and premier its new video for track "The Beast is Out," directed by Emergency Room. We recently caught up with Role Pley and Juice El Tio Hugo to get the scoop on the name changes and to talk about their ambitious goals for the rest of the year.

Westword: You guys changed up your group name a bit, as well as altering your personal names, what prompted this change?

Role Pley: Three reasons: search engine visibility, trademark purposes and for easier pronunciation. We are now officially known as 2MX2, which is a cool way of spelling 20:12. Have you ever tried searching for 20:12? When you search for us, you get millions of results, and deep within 10k pages of results you might find us. Then the other problem was trademarking. Thanks to the lovely movie by Paramount, 2012, we don't want to risk a likelihood of confusion in brands and be sued by them when we break, so we were advised by our label to change our name.

They were adamant about changing our name, and so we compromised to 2MX2, which I actually really like -- plus it also stands for two Mexicans. As for the spelling of my name, I finally found one that I am sticking with. When I used to spell it Role Pl-A, my Spanish speaking audience would call me Role Playa, which is how its read in Spanish. So, I figured to sound it out with the spelling for them. Role Pley is easier to pronounce, and at the same time makes it easier to find me online

Juice El Tio Hugo: I altered my name from the Juice aka El Tio Hugo The Devoted Disciple to shorten it and make easier to remember. I now go by Juice El Tio Hugo or Juice E T Hugo.

You are dropping Case Study 20:12 on Saturday, tell us about the new album.

RP: The new album is pretty conceptual. The name kind of says it all. It's a study on our listeners to see what they enjoy best. The concept of the album is that we are literally in the lab searching for the perfect combination of the drug for our patients. Our graphic designer Joel Villareal of Empire GFX did a good job on giving you the visual for this on the album artwork.

Throughout the album, we have narrations of the doctor on his recorder talking about the different effects the drugs have on the patients. Following the narrations are songs that bring those feelings to life. This is why almost every song is almost completely different than the last one. We had a lot of fun on this album because we got to try things we hadn't tried before. We have a ton of features, such as Debajo Del Agua and Rebel Diaz, all the way to features from D Loc from Tech N9nes' Worldwide Choppers.

JETH: We have always taken pride in being versatile with our lyrics and our music. This album is no exception. Alongside our producer DMD, we wanted to put something together that shows what we can do. The album, Case Study 20:12, embodies our unique style of hip-hop combined with different genres of music, such as techno, dubstep and rock, in an effort to discover what we think the perfect blend of music is.

How do you think your audience will receive this album?

JETH: This album is definitely different from our previous work. We have both grown as artists, as well as personally and business wise. You will hear the growth in this new album as we touch on experiences and topics we have gone through over the last couple years. This album has something for everyone, from your ravers and techno fans to rock/pop listeners. So far, the feedback has been great for the singles that have already been released, and we look to have further success once the album releases this Saturday.

RP: They will definitely be shocked. It's not as much Spanish as in our previous stuff. So I think they'll trip out on what we have created. Ultimately, I'm sure they'll enjoy the new stuff and let us know what they like. At the same time, I know we'll gain new fans - Westword

"KS 107.5's DJ Chonz Wall - 20:12 New Music Video."

I have to give props where props is due! I seen these dudes slowly get better and better each month, each day. I was happy to be apart and witness their release party for "Por Aqui Por All" music video. I arrived to the venue at 10pm and it was already packed. This is so impressive for a local Hip Hop group. I only see good things in the future for 20:12 and Spoke In Wordz. For anyone one out there trying to make it in music game. I would definitely build with these dudes. Seems like they may have the blue print. - ks1075.com

"20:12 video release party at Casselman's offers slightly different hip-hop experience"

Maybe it was the free vodka. Or maybe it was the hundreds of ladies dressed to the nines. Or perhaps it was the unmistakable family vibe. Hard to say. Whatever it was, though, 20:12's release party at Casselman's on Friday night came off as something different all together. For starters, you couldn't help but notice how the numbers swayed noticeably in favor of the fairer sex; there were far more ladies on hand than at most local hip-hop shows.

The crowd was already generous by 9 p.m., and Casselman's intimate ambiance, with its dark tables romantically lit by candlelight, set the vibe for the evening. As each act did their thing on stage, they were accompanied by an entourage of hypeman and, to balance that out, plenty of scantily clad ladies.

The show started with King Devious -- though it was hard to tell the King from his court, as he was joined on stage by an abundance of other MCs and/or hypemen. Despite the fact that the mikes squealed incessantly throughout the set, the group managed to keep the crowd's attention with autotuned hooks and plenty of energy. And the lovely ladies dancing erotically in the background did their part to make sure all eyes remained forward.

D A Dubb took the stage next, and again, there were so many bodies on stage, it was hard to know who was who. Everybody danced in sync with one another as though they were following a choreographed routine. Like some sort of hip-hop pied pipers, the group had all the ladies dancing in a trance-like fashion. A highlight of this set was Mike D. Chill's performance. Get Some Entertainment's provided a segue into the next act, but their set was unorganized and delivered in a mostly mixtape style over "borrowed" beats.

Hypnautic and King Tef, who were up next, clearly know how to work a crowd. During their set, all heads were facing forward and asses were shaking, as the two weaved through their familiar tracks. The lyrics were cloaked in Top 40 beats and hooks that inspired chants from the crowd. Whatever the duo lack in lyrical creativity, they more than make up for with their ability to connect with a crowd.

Spoke In Wordz followed and started things off smooth with acoustic accompaniment from singer/guitarist Arkhightek. Spoke seamlessly transitioned from clear and soothing flow over an acoustic to a hard, Eminem-esque style delivery. Plagued with turntable issues, DJ Chonz Psycho worked feverishly to fix whatever problems he encountered, as Spoke and DJ R² beatboxed their way out of a bind, making for a very entertaining interlude.

And if the night couldn't break any more out of the typical hip-hop show mold, Fatal Attraction warmed up for 20:12 with four beautiful young ladies gracing the stage with a choreographed routine. Though not entirely in sync, the girls regained the attention of the wandering crowd, and brought everyone back to the stage for the premiere of 20:12's video for "Por Aqui y Por Alla".

Director Eric Heights outdid himself on this one. Some of his obvious style can be seen in the color flashes and barren horizon silhouette scenes, and 20:12 and Spoke are equally as dazzling on the cut. The single is one of the most catchy and meaningful songs, and this video makes it that much more appealing.

After screening the clip, 20:12 wasting no time and jumped right into its set. Role Pl-A and Juice have an energy and charismatic appeal that makes it hard to take your eyes off them as they perform. Role Pl-A's deep and smooth voice complements Juice's higher and quicker flow, and most of their songs have a mix of lyrics that are in English and Spanish, which the group seamlessly intermingles.

DJ Psycho and DJ R² shared table duties for the set, and the act closed out its set with crowd favorite "Asi Asi," inviting anyone and everyone on stage. As 20:12 rejoined the crowd, Soulciety finished out the night with their Colorado style of R & B, making for a memorable night overall.

Personal Bias: I hate when rappers perform their tracks over pre-recorded vocals. Although I get what they're going for, it just strikes me as amateur.
By the Way: Casselman's plays the stage music outside, so you don't miss a second of the show while you're getting a nicotine fix.
Random Detail: Juice and Role Pl-A are very professional and easy going dudes. - Westword

"Enslaving hooks: Latino music group 20:12 releases new mixtape"

Emerging with a sexy brand of hip-hop, intent on dispelling any lingering stereotypes about what Latino music is supposed to be, the members of 20:12 (The Juice, Role Pl-A and DJ R 2) first earned their stripes in the twelve-person act Devoted Union. The three eventually parted ways with the group when they realized they were heading in different directions.
20:12 Mixtape release party and video premiere, with Hypnautic, King Tee, Spoke In Wordz and more, 8 p.m. Friday, July 30, Casselman's Bar and Venue, 2620 Walnut Street, $5-$10, 303-717-8852.

With a polished stage show, enslaving hooks and vocal skills to match, 20:12 is expanding its reach with the help of Latenite Entertainment. The outfit's latest effort, a mixtape with DJ Psycho called The Party of Revolución, is due out this week at a dual release show for the Eric Heights-directed video Por Aquí Por Allà, featuring Spoke In Wordz. We caught up with Role Pl-A and asked about the group and the new mixtape.

Westword: Tell us a little about 20:12.

Role Pl-A: 20:12 is a movement. It's a symbol to change life into something you want it to be, something that everyone can benefit from. We don't necessarily believe the Mayan calendar to mean it's the end of the world, just a powerful change and the end of a lifestyle. 20:12 also represents our heritage; "The Mexicans" was already taken. [Laughs]

How would you define the kind of music 20:12 makes?

I would define the music we make as very focused and fresh. I feel we have an original style of being lyrical in both English and Spanish. Every song we make, we make with a purpose. We compose them to make the listener act or feel a certain way. We have the song that'll make you want to overthrow the government, some to make you move to the beat, and others to make you forget your problems.

So what's up with your new mixtape and the release party on the 30th?

The mixtape release is going to be huge for 20:12: We debut our first music video ever, which I think fans will really enjoy, and of course for the launch of The Party of Revolución mixtape mixed by DJ Psycho. We've worked hard to bring together what we consider the complete Colorado music-scene experience. We have some very talented artists throwing down, and we're excited to perform with such honors.

How do you feel you fit into the Colorado music community?

I feel like we're in uncharted territory. Originality is something that Colorado deserves; when we reach out to other states, we love to put it down in a way that the audience has never seen before. They flip when they hear we're out of the CO. Let's not forget, there's a big music scene within the Mexican community here, with bandas, mariachis, and a plethora of other genres in the Spanish-speaking market that we don't believe anyone's tapped into.

The Latino community accounts for nearly half of Colorado's entire population, and we definitely believe we're breaking down barriers to other ethnicities. Though we are growing more successful in Colorado, we gotta hand it back as well, because without all the support Colorado showed us, we wouldn't have become what we are today. We're just trying to give back all we can to the people who make us 20:12.

There have been haters along the road, mostly because of misunderstandings, but nonetheless we love the Colorado music scene. We write for the Latinos, but we believe we can coexist with one another. When we say La Raza, we don't just mean Latinos — we mean the people.
- Westword

"A sneak peek at 20:12 and Spoke In Wordz' "Por Aqui Por Alla""

Oh and speaking of local hip-hop videos: We just got a sneak peek of the new 20:12/Spoke In Wordz video for "Por Aqui, Por Alla." Premiering tonight at Casselman's, the clip is directed by esteemed director Eric Heights, from a track from 20:12's self-titled album, which carries a timely message of social justice and unity.

The current controversy surrounding Arizona's new immigration law makes the associated video particularly timely, and the unity part is rooted in "the need for Latinos to rise above the oppression we face in this country," says Spoke.

"The video was shot in various locations," he goes on to explain, "a horse ranch in Thornton, downtown Denver by the Ritz Carlton and yes La Raza park. The concept of the video is pretty much supposed to show different scenarios that we as Latinos participate in, such as working in the ranch, how we unite to protest, our traditions with lowriders; the cage scene represents how society sometimes makes us feel caged as criminals."

For his part in the clip (teaser posted below), Spoke is shown as an immigrant riding in the back of a truck, as well as a business man in a suit, portraying both ends of the spectrum. The full video will be premiered at Cassleman's tonight, Friday, July 30. The act's new mixtape featuring DJ Psycho also drops tonight. Sharing the bill with Spoke and 20:12 are DJs Chonz, Psycho and R Squared, as well as D A Dubb, King Devious, Get Some Entertainment, Soulceity, Hypnautic and King Tef. - Westword

"Rap-Up: Spoke-In-Wordz can freak it in Spanish too"

Spoke-In-Wordz will always be lauded for his rapid-fire flow but does he get the same props when he spits fire in Spanish? Spoke connected with the group 20/12 to record a song for the soundtrack of the film Platinum Illusions, which features cameos from folks like Chino XL, Mr. Capone-E, RBX, Lil Rob and Crooked I. IMDB lists the movie as having came out in 2006, but according to the movie's MySpace page and website, it's "coming soon." Regardless, the song recorded by 20/12, featuring Spoke-In-Wordz, is called "Por Aqui, Por Alla," produced by Akwid. Take a listen after the jump. -- Quibian Salazar-Moreno

- Denver Westword

"ZIZEK TOUR & 20:12 ::: MARQUIS THEATER ::: 04.10.09"

Soda Jerk presented Zizek Club featuring Fauna, Douster, El G of ZZK Records with 20:12 at the Marquis Theater, Friday, April 10, 2009. Opening for Zizek Club was 20:12, the Colorado hip-hop group that have been gaining acceptance for the last four years. Their representation of Latin dance, hip hop and Mexican rap is empowering and seductive. The Denver based translation group thrilled this tight location and sweated out tunes by The Juice and Roleplay of Late Night Inc. Their flow had the ladies and The Juice’s own little 12 year old brother, Jamie singing the lyrics. Jamie commented that his big brothers message was all about a positive vibe with family first. It was a very Mexican grassroots spell of beats that borderline 1991 NWA flow only in Spanish and English empowering rights for the people. The group is now trying to bring the message to the mainstream by proposing to get one of their popular songs (Por Aqui Por Alla feat. SpokeInWord) on a major motion picture. The Juice and Roleplay put the microphones to the audience, “I say viva, you say La Raza.” A great vibe felt throughout in welcoming the feature event of the evening, Zizek Club. With the stage cornered to the left and a full bar shoving out cocktails to the few over 21 the next act was taking the stage.

http://causeequalstime.com/2009/04/zizek-tour-2012-marquis-theater-041009/ - causeequalstime.com

"2MX2 review on GMO: Genetically Modified Oppression"

Seamlessly crossing language barriers mid-flow and writing pointed political lyrics about race and food, 2MX2 carves out an identity that is authentic and compelling on its newest project, GMO (Genetically Modified Oppression). The possible drawback to the album's uncompromising positivism is that it can feel like being struck repeatedly in the head with A People's History of the United States, but 2MX2's Role Pley and Juice E.T. seem to realize the importance of mixing levity with gravity, and they pepper in some fun tracks and skits in the middle without losing track of the important message. 2MX2 operates with purpose and humility, and for fans interested in modern anti-corporate enlightenment, Genetically Modified Oppression is a success — and a reminder that hip-hop can be as broad as you make it. - Westword

"Flobots and 2MX2 Open July 4 Weekend With Revolutionary Revival"

Perhaps it was a blessing that the weather gods obliterated the Flobots concert in early June at Levitt Pavilion.

The opening act of that show, busking-heroes-turned-protest-marching-band Brothers of Brass, made it through most of its set, and the group got to pay homage to Krishnaswami Ramachandran Azad, a member who died earlier this year. The sky cried, lightning raged, and the crowd and musicians chanted "Black Lives Matter" — but then the venue shut down for the night.

Flobots fans wandered back to their cars, playing the classic “Handlebars” on iPhone speakers.

A few weeks later, Flobots returned and opened Fourth of July weekend with a powerful take on what the United States has been at its worst and could be at its best. The timing of this July 2 show couldn’t have been better; it should become an annual tradition at Levitt.
Bars None: Flobots Rise Together on a Trio of Powerful New Releases
Nine People to Watch in Denver's Culture Scene in 2021
Andy "Rok" Guerrero Rejoins Flobots, Which Is Re-Releasing Its Debut EP

So many Independence Day celebrations are jingoistic displays of grotesque nationalism, paying tribute to the ghosts of long-dead slave owners without a blink. These festivities ignore centuries of brutality and struggles for justice. Orchestras blast militaristic music, drowning out the dream of a good life for all, one not built on the backs and graves of the oppressed. The powerful bulldoze the powerless out of the narrative, distracting us with sparklers, hot dogs and a case of beer. Fireworks splatter the sky. Happy Fourth of July, kids. Isn't America grand?

But on July 2, Flobots fans heard something radically different, something that people across the country should be able to get behind, regardless of identity. Work toward joy, witness each other, and care for those who suffer. Rise up and grasp our collective power. Embrace each other’s humanity — imperfections and all. Fight injustice with tools. Wrestle with hard ideas and complexity through the power of art. Lift up the power of the people. And be happy together — as the band, joined by a few members of Brothers of Brass, sang in its finale, a remix of the Turtles classic “Happy Together."

Happy together? Why not? We were happy together all night long; maybe the country could work that way, too — if we learned to share and show enough humility to listen to each other.
click to enlarge 2MX2 at Levitt Pavilion. - KYLE HARRIS
2MX2 at Levitt Pavilion. Kyle Harris
The evening started with Denver’s revolutionary hip-hop act 2MX2, accompanied by the powerful singing of Jon Shockness, aka Kid Astronaut, and Flobots masterful monster of a drummer, Kenny O, delivering danceable messages of solidarity, anti-capitalist resistance and eco-justice — in English and Spanish. Lolita sang her banger, “Toda Mi Gente,” an anti-fascist anthem written during the Trump years. Then, to beats produced by DMD, she and fellow rappers Owen Trujillo and Juice E.T. Hugo pumped up the crowd, teased Flobots’ set, garnered cheers and reminded us all why it’s great to be alive and struggling — even when things are bleak.

The rising band took a break, and Kid Astronaut sang a riveting single from his soon-to-drop album. Once again, he showed himself to be one of the city’s most talented artists, an under-recognized voice capable of tapping deeply into our existential angst and the struggles we have to connect.
Kid Astronaut at Levitt Pavilion. - KYLE HARRIS
Kid Astronaut at Levitt Pavilion. Kyle Harris
Then the members of 2MX2 returned, and with loose choreography and wide grins, they led us toward liberation through dance.

Flobots were gonna follow that? Good luck, I thought.

But from the moment that Kenny O, backing singers and sisters Larae Edwards and Chrissy Grant of the gospel group Spirit of Grace, violinist and violist Sarah Hubbard, trumpeter Joe Ferrone and bassist Sean Blanchard took the stage, Flobots turned Levitt into a space of ecstasy, a place to embrace our power, rise up and make this world just.

Stephen Brackett, aka Brer Rabbit, opened the set with all the fire of an old-time preacher, reciting the opening lines on the first track of the band’s album Fight With Tools, “There’s a War on Your Mind,” and ensuring that nobody in the crowd thought they were at some concert where they could sit back and groove to the music. Flobots was on stage to challenge us, to upend our entire worldview, to push us to see where we are flawed and wounded, to forgive and engage ourselves and others about those flaws. And then to "stop the apocalypse," as the members chanted.
Jamie Laurie, aka Jonny 5, of Flobots. - KYLE HARRIS
Jamie Laurie, aka Jonny 5, of Flobots. Kyle Harris
When Jamie Laurie, aka Jonny 5, came on stage and began rapping, “Stand up, we shall not be moved. Except by a child with no socks and shoes,” the crowd went into a frenzy that burned through the night and lingered even as we walked to our cars after the show. And with good reason. Yes, Brackett and Laurie are rigorous thinkers, emotionally engaged and committed to change, and they demand — and inspire — the same from fans. But the revolutionary musicianship of the band, the magnetism of the backing singers, and even the venue’s mastery of lighting and sound brought all the power of the holy spirit to Levitt, moving the crowd to wake up, to feel, to connect with each other, to witness others and be witnessed themselves.

“America is a beautiful contradiction,” preached Bracket. “It is a dream...it is a curse.” Changing anything for the better is impossible, as he explained it, if we can’t embrace that contradiction. We are on stolen land, he continued, noting that some in the crowd were descendants of people who were enslaved. Meanwhile, most of the largely white crowd could have come from ancestors who owned or even fought for slavery. All were welcome to examine themselves, unite and struggle together.
Stephen Brackett, aka Brer Rabbit, of Flobots. - KYLE HARRIS
Stephen Brackett, aka Brer Rabbit, of Flobots. Kyle Harris
Clashing over ideological differences on Facebook is a waste of time, Brackett added. Flobots has discovered a better way: through song and art made in community. While Brackett acknowledged that Flobots is not a band that generally covers other people’s music, he used this sermon about embracing contradiction to introduce a medley of songs, many of which are often misinterpreted as patriotic jingoism.

There was the radical anti-fascist Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” Juanita Dominguez’s Chicano movement anthem “Yo Soy Chicano,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” The mix also included the labor classic “Which Side Are You On,” in which Laurie rapped about the struggles of Amazon workers, U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name,” Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up,” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” The covers put Flobots’ own work in the tradition of political musicians of the past, all pointing toward tomorrow.
The crowd rages to Flobots at Levitt Pavilion. - KYLE HARRIS
The crowd rages to Flobots at Levitt Pavilion. Kyle Harris
Hubbard, Flobots’ charismatic string-player, bowed a wizardly attack on “The Star-Spangled Banner” that nodded to all the complexity and fury Jimi Hendrix brought to the song when he performed it at Woodstock, but also hinted at Appalachian music and Eastern European stylizations. Few on earth have mastered their instruments as well as Hubbard, grabbing a crowd with their sound and whirling it around with frenetic musical twists that turn into euphoria.

Yet in Flobots, she's far from alone. No performer held back. They all put every ounce of sweat and energy and love and rage onto the stage, sharing it with us. Ferrone’s magnificent trumpet drew us in, embellishing on the poetics of Brackett and Laurie, providing all of the gravity words fail to capture. And through Guerrero’s guitar, O’s drums, Blanchard’s bass and the backing vocals of Edwards and Grant, this Flobots show became epic, bridging anthem rock, spoken-word, hip-hop, gospel, mountain music, revolutionary jazz, punk and more.

There are plenty of bands out there that talk about spanning genres; very few do so within one bar of the same song. But Flobots did. With an explosive and endless clash of cultural ideas, musical styles and contradictions within political discourse, the band created an anarchic dialectic, a fireworks of the political imagination, revealing a possible future for this country that is at once inclusive of difference, willing to wrangle with hard ideas and personal failure, and unwilling to push out people because they — no, we — are flawed.

Flobots created a big-tent revival with a big-tent vision of a United States in which Christianity and patriotism are dedicated toward neither colonization nor persecution, but harnessed to take us toward a much more noble cause.

Love. - Westword

"Meet the Main-Stage Denver Bands Playing Westword Music Showcase"

This year's Westword Music Showcase promises to be the biggest and best yet. At the ticketed all-day event, on September 18, we will be spotlighting internationally renowned headliners Young the Giant, Thundercat, Matoma and Hippo Campus on three Mission Outdoors main stages, with support from more than a dozen local bands. Later in the evening, Kaytranada and Duke Dumont will perform inside the Mission Ballroom for festival-goers who purchase a Weekender Pass.

The beating heart of the Westword Music Showcase has always been the lineup of Colorado bands playing some of the city's top independent venues, and on Friday, September 17, you'll have the chance to enjoy dozens of those artists — some familiar names and others who are on the brink of exploding — playing multiple bars, clubs and other businesses throughout the RiNO Art District, all for free. That lineup will be shared soon.

In the meantime, we're announcing the bands we've tapped to play the three stages at the Mission Outdoors on Saturday, September 18, alongside the international headliners. These genre-spanning artists have proven to be some of the region's most promising talent, packing houses and spreading their music online. They inspire us and make us love Denver's music scene more and more each day, and we can't wait to share their performances with you.

Before we drop the lineup, one note: In the mix is a super-secret act that will be announced just before the festival, a fierce band that has proven itself on the international touring circuit and at home. These hard-hitting young musicians have one of the most anticipated albums of 2021, and from what we've heard, it deserves the hype. What's the band? We really wanna tell you...but mum's the word.
Room for All at the Westword Music Showcase Free Friday Night Kickoff
Bigger and Better: Westword Music Showcase Expands in 2021
AEG Will Launch Mission Outdoors With Westword Music Showcase

Here are the rest of the local main-stage acts playing the 2021 edition of the Westword Music Showcase on Saturday, September 18:
We've loved 2MX2 for as long as the band has been around. But when we caught this crew of musicians opening for Flobots at Levitt Pavilion earlier this summer, we were blown away by their songs of liberation and joy, their charming choreography and ability to lure in the crowd. They are as committed to making the world a better place as they are to making us dance — and dance you will when you hear them deliver a mix of hip-hop, Latin sounds and soul. "Sí, se puede!" - Westword

"Denver's 2MX2 Is Better at Metaphors Than You"

Food & Drink
Arts & Culture
Things To Do
Best of Denver
Denver's 2MX2 Is Better at Metaphors Than You
2MX2 wanted a banger.
By John Bear
August 30, 2022
2mx2 plays Westword Music Showcase on Friday, September 9.
2mx2 plays Westword Music Showcase on Friday, September 9. Courtesy 2mx2
Share this:
Considered one of Denver's best Latin-infused groups, the five-piece hip-hop crew 2MX2 created a banger with its latest single, “Panadero."

“We were just coming up with something we could perform,” explains Owen Trujillo, who performs as 01. "DMD had this sample that he’d sampled himself, basically this loop, and we started making the song to it."

The group — which includes 01, Juice ET Hugo, Lolita, Kenny O and producer DMD — is a don't-miss local act at the upcoming Westword Music Showcase, performing at 10 p.m. Friday, September 9, at Bierstadt Lagerhaus.

2MX2 doesn't consider itself purely a hip-hop group, as it fuses traditional Latin rhythms with hip-hop and other genres for an addicting, danceable blend of music. DMD likens the group to Bruce Lee, who mixed different kinds of martial arts into a new style.
All That Jazz: KUVO's Carlos Lando on Fifty Years of Making It in Radio
These Local Acts Are Playing Westword Music Showcase
Put Them on Your Playlist: Denver's Best Latin-Infused Bands

“We identify with hip-hop,” he says, “but we also identify with rock, cumbia and heavy metal. We just feel like we make music.”

There is often a political bent to the group's songs, which incorporate lyrics about immigration, education reform and health care. But “Panadero" takes a classic hip-hop trope – making money – and runs with it.

“My cousin Juice, one of the members, started writing about panadero, making money like a panadero,” Trujillo says.

"Panadero" translates to “baker” in English, but Trujillo says he finds the word to have a bit more cultural significance in Mexico. He was born in Zacatecas, a state in the central part of the country, before moving to the United States as a child.
Christmas Songs and Covers by Colorado Musicians to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Lolita adds that panaderias, or bakeries, are ubiquitous in Mexico and sell a variety of breads, sweet breads (not offal, white people, but pan dulce, actual sweet-flavored bread) and other items. Her father is a panadero, so the song has a bit of extra meaning for her. He brings home the bread, she says, allowing her to be a musician.

“In Mexico and in our culture, you can just walk up in there and get bread; they’re just making it right there for you,” Lolita says. “I don’t know if that’s true out here.”

Trujillo says that the song, one of several singles released in June, is a bit of an outlier for the group, which wouldn’t usually celebrate stacking cash.

“It’s usually a lot more political,” he says. “This time we just wanted to have fun. We were overdue. We needed a vacation.”
New Frontiers: How the Jamgrass Genre Originated in Colorado

Regardless of the linguistic or cultural differences, a banger is a banger in any language — and “Panadero” fits that description to a T. The group hopes to release five or so more singles before the end of the year. (Trujillo wanted to do ten, but tempered his expectations to be more reasonable.)

The 2MX2 crew has grown over the years, and “Panadero” marks the recording debut of drummer Kenny O, who also plays in the Denver hip-hop group Flobots, with whom the members of 2MX2 have long associated.

The addition of the drums lends a "live" feel to the band’s recorded output, says Trujillo: “You're finally able to get a little bit of what you get live on the song. That’s what’s changing with our music.”

The band’s live shows continue to evolve, says Lolita, and its members spend a lot of time rehearsing in order to deliver the best performance. “One thing we have started talking about was adding more movement,” she explains. “We are definitely going to start getting into rehearsal and working more on dancing, being in the moment, bringing more energy into our performances.”
Bulwark of the Blues: David Booker's Remarkable Career

The musicians have also begun to think about what the average 2MX2 fan looks like, as they are seeing more return customers, Trujillo says. He offers a metaphor about the band being pregnant, then says, “Scratch that, bad analogy.” This prompts a chuckle from the others, who joke that Trujillo learned English listening to rap music — Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, in particular — so it makes perfect sense that he often speaks in metaphors.

He takes another shot at it.

“We like to call our music our babies all the time,” he says. “It’s something we all make together. You create it, and then you don’t know what the baby is going to look like.”

Lolita chimes in: “We're starting to recognize who our fans are, what our identity is through this consistent creation of music. We're starting to see the fruits of our labor. We see fans consistently come through. We’ve seen our music develop into a particular sound.”
RIP: Robbie Robertson, Legendary Leader of The Band

The group struggled through COVID like every other band, but Trujillo home-engineered an excellent sound system through which music could be livestreamed, and 2MX2 worked on its live sets even when it couldn’t play venues.

DMD, not to be outdone in the kicking of metaphors, says of the time: “It was like in Independence Day when Jeff Goldblum figures out what the code is and shit. Man, he cracked the code.”

The Westword Music Showcase returns to RiNo on Friday, September 9, with free performances by dozens of local bands at nine venues in the area; 2MX2 plays at 10 p.m. September 9, at Bierstadt Lagerhaus, 2875 Blake Street. On Saturday, September 10, more local bands will join Westword Music Showcase national headliners the Flaming Lips, Saint Motel, Cannons and the Main Squeeze at three stages at the Mission Ballroom Outdoors; tickets are $55-$85. Get more Showcase information at westwordshowcase.com; for more music from 2MX2, visit 2MX2.com. - Denver Westword

"The best Local 303 acts of 2022!"

The best Local 303 acts of 2022!

By Alisha Sweeney
· Jan. 30, 2023, 8:30 pm
We asked you to vote for your favorite Colorado artists featured on the Local 303 in 2022, and the results are in!

Here's your Top 15 Colorado acts of 2022:

15. Wheelchair Sports Camp

14. OKO Tygra

13. Barbara

12. The Still Tide

11. Cous

10. Old Man Saxon

9. 2MX2

8. The Elegant Plums

7. Destino

6. The Mañanas

5. Gasoline Lollipops

4. hellocentral

3. Blankslate

2. Neon the Bishop

1. N3ptune

Mark your calendar for 303 Day (March 3rd) to see some of the top groups perform at our 303 Day Party at Number Thirty Eight. (Free admission and all ages.)

Thanks for voting in our listener poll. You make our Local 303 possible. - NPR radio station Indie 102.3 FM

"Colorado Sound Music Awards: meet the 2023 nominees"

Colorado Sound Music Awards: meet the 2023 nominees
The Colorado Sound
August 1, 2023

Meet the nominees of the 2023 Colorado Sound Music Awards, brought you by Georgia Boys BBQ and Initial Capacity!
We’re thrilled to announce the 2nd annual Colorado Sound Music Awards! Spend some time getting to know each of this year’s nominees.

Related: get tickets now for the 2023 Colorado Sound Music Awards ceremony

Below are profiles of each nominee, all of whom are active Colorado musicians, bands, or institutions. All profiles are written by Adam Perry.

on the rise 2023 nominees colorado sound music awards
Clockwise from top middle: Kiltro, Volores, 2MX2, Addie Tonic, Pink Fuzz
On the Rise
This category showcases Colorado bands and musicians who are getting noticed, gaining traction, and actively growing their audience.

2MX2 self-styles as an “alterNATIVE pop hip-hop band,” but it’s more complicated than that. The reggaeton you hear blasting out of every window in the Caribbean is made accessible through a Colorado filter by 2MX2, but the beloved young Denver band also mixes in traditional Mexican influences, intoxicating pop, and a passion for activism and youth education. Though it has no full-length album yet, 2MX2 and its bilingual hip-hop have exhilarated Colorado crowds for a few years now, empowering listeners to be active in politics and social issues, and leap out of their seats with inspirational songs like “I Ain’t Changing.”

Addie Tonic
Meghann5k fronts Addie Tonic, on the surface a straight-ahead bubblegum/garage-rock band in the vein of the Donnas. The high-energy group features shredding guitar, though, and a much bigger sound for a trio than you’d expect. Meghann5k’s lyrics and vocals cut through that huge sound with sarcasm, wit, and anger; “Captive” puts a bow on that combo with the kind of house-party rock ‘n’ roll bands like Thee Headcoatees pioneered in the ‘90s. With no full-length album yet, Addie Tonic is sadly on a hiatus from live performances while Meghann5k receives breast-cancer treatment, but a highly anticipated EP is expected to drop this summer.

There is something magical about Kiltro’s juxtaposition of dreamy Latin string work and gentle, heartfelt vocals – like mystical Los Lobos side project Latin Playboys jamming with Iron and Wine. However, Kiltro can also groove – “Guanaco,” from the group’s new album, Underbelly, beeps and boops like a Broken Social Scene creation, with a fascinating Latin underbelly (no pun intended) that represents Kiltro’s unique, and exciting, contribution to Colorado music. With its intoxicating percussion, curious vocals, and layered instrumentation, this is a band whose growth is something to keep your eyes and ears on.

Pink Fuzz
Featuring the illustrious and hard-rocking guitarist and bassist John and LuLu DeMitro, Pink Fuzz began as Branded Bandits while the siblings were growing up in Boulder, obsessing over classic rock and listening to local groups like the Yawpers from outside bars they were too young to enter. The group’s most recent release, 2021’s searing Live at Silo Sound, showcases how far the DeMitros, along with sought-after young drummer Forrest Raup, have come since blazing a heavy trail as Boulder teenagers. All three are awe-inspiring masters of their instruments, and the DeMitros alternate as lead singers, representing one of the few renowned young heavy bands making a name for itself in Colorado, where bluegrass and jam bands abound.

The silky rock ‘n’ roll of Volores has a subtle Western tinge that would be perfect for a Once Upon a Time In the West remake set in modern Colorado. Drums rollick, bass provides a heartbeat, electric guitar jangles, and Shelby Maxwell delivers romantic poetry with a velvet voice. Bassist Nathen Maxwell is “also” in the worldwide Irish-punk phenomenon Flogging Molly, and finds time to record and perform with Volores between Flogging Molly tours. Shelby, who is married to Nathen, is a force on stage and on Volores’ passionate and driving debut album, Ages, which dropped earlier this year.

colorado spirit 2023 nominees colorado sound music awards
Clockwise from top middle: Cary Morin, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, eTown Hall, the Mishawaka Amphitheatre, Hazel Miller
Colorado Spirit
Artists in this category are uniquely part of the fabric of our extraordinary state, gracing stages around the world with the spirit and soul of Colorado.

Cary Morin
Montana native Cary Morin has been in Colorado since just after high school, and he’s become an essential, integral, and unique part of its musical and cultural landscape, blending indigenous wisdom and spirit with folk, blues, and authentically Western Americana. He’s performed at just about every venue in the state and is preparing to release his ninth album, Innocent Allies, this fall. The Fort Collins icon, who is a Crow tribal member with Assiniboine Sioux and Black heritage, sets an example for young Front Range musicians that the road is as important as the studio and the land is just as important, and has as much to say, as the people on it.

The music performance and interview show eTown was once just a metaphorically important part of the northern Colorado landscape, but since the institution – featuring Nick and Helen Forster – moved into a permanent, independent home in downtown Boulder, it’s been a literal part of the landscape, too. Since 1991, the nationally syndicated radio show has been recorded in front of live audiences, who get to enjoy Forster’s eye-opening interviews with some of the world’s most talented musicians and songwriters and also see them perform, often with Forster (formerly of the heralded bluegrass band Hot Rize) sitting in. eTown honors great musicians as well as individuals who make a great difference in the fights for the sustainability of our planet, something that’s also the focus of eTown Hall, the show’s all-in-one music venue, recording studio, and community center.

Hazel Miller
Recently elected to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, Hazel Miller is a Kentucky native who has been singing blues and jazz since she was a little girl in Louisville. Forty years ago, she packed up and drove herself and her children across the country with her sights set on becoming a star in Los Angeles. She made it as far as Denver and never left – and music lovers in the Centennial State are fortunate to be able to enjoy Miller’s big, loveable voice and sweet, generous personality year after year. Known mostly as a home-run-hitting live performer – with her own band and in collaboration with everyone from Al Green to Big Head Todd – Miller is underrated as a recording artist, but her stunning 2020 version of “Hard Times Come Again No More” shows this local treasure can knock it out of the park, audience or no audience.

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
Country-punk icon Slim Cessna, a fourth-generation Coloradoan, got into punk rock and goth music in Boulder after obsessing – as the son of a preacher – over Johnny Cash and other country legends with one foot in the church and one in the rowdy life of a touring musician. His first songs, with Blood Flower and then the influential Denver Gentlemen (with David Eugene Edwards), naturally were laden with Christian imagery, and when Cessna finally founded his own project (Slim Cessna’s Auto Club) and eventually recruited songwriting darkhorse Munly J Munly, one of the most iconic and inimitable bands in Colorado history blossomed. The Auto Club and its numerous side projects sometimes seem more beloved, and successful in Europe than the United States, but along the Front Range, Slim and his crew are a household name.

The Mishawaka
Founded by musician and motorcycle enthusiast Walter Thompson in the 1910s – and originally a dance hall, charming resort, and the Thompson family home – Mishawaka Amphitheatre is now a world-renowned riverside venue that attracts not only heavyweight Colorado bands but some of the best national acts, from Band of Horses to Murder By Death. Since Fort Collins music luminary Dani Grant took over the Mish in 2010, the 1,000-capacity venue’s increasingly gleaming character has come to match its historic charm, offering wonderful food and drinks along with an incredible soundsystem.

outstanding stage presence 2023 nominees colorado sound music awards
Clockwise from top middle: iZCALLi, the Reminders, INTHEWHALE, N3ptune and Rusty Steve, Alysia Kraft
Outstanding Stage Presence
These bands and artists have incredible presence, captivating audiences every time they perform live.

Alysia Kraft
Alysia Kraft’s rocking new single, “Electric Blooms,” may surprise fans of Whippoorwill, her alt-folk band, or her dreamy 2022 solo release First Light. However, Kraft has been jumping all over Colorado stages like a super hero, and fronting Front Range rock ‘n’ roll staple the Patti Fiasco, for so long it’s hard to remember when energetic northern Colorado music existed without her. Electric Blooms, her new album, brings Kraft’s well-known high-energy stage presence to life on wax by mixing ‘90s alt-rock with unique Western flavor, and we’re excited to see this incredible live performer make the tunes from Electric Blooms come alive at local venues.

Renowned duo INTHEWHALE is typically classified as an alternative-rock band, but the truth is heavy – and unique. What started as a solo endeavor for singer-guitarist Nathan Valdez while studying educational psychology at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley quickly transformed into a blast furnace of noise and heartfelt lyrical content, almost miraculously created by just two passionate musicians – Valdez and drummer Eric Riley, both products of right-wing religious families. Owing as much to the chugging early-‘90s metal of Helmet as the creativity of Deftones, INTHEWHALE has represented Colorado mightily with explosive sets everywhere from Lollapalooza to South by Southwest, and opening for acts like the Darkness and Toadies. Covering subject matter as heavy as their brutal guitar and drums, Valdez and Riley have left unforgettable marks on audiences all over the country.

Siblings Miguel and Brenda Aviña were born in Mexico, raised by a rock n’ roller father, but have long called Denver home. Their wildly energetic and awe-inspiring band, iZCALLi, blends Latin influences with alternative rock and metal, resulting in unforgettable live performances that have left indelible marks on Colorado audiences everywhere from bars to festivals to the Gothic Theater and even Coors Field. Talented drummer Luiggy Ramirez rounds out the core iZCALLi three, and the genre-defying group is augmented by heralded local musicians of many kinds at its shows. Alternating vocals in Spanish and English, the Aviñas write, record, and perform original music that carries as much activist-minded energy as it does pure rock bombast.

N3ptune & Rusty Steve
Hip-hop, R&B, gospel, alternative – it’s hard to describe not only the power but the diversity of Renaissance, the 2021 album by N3ptune & Rusty Steve. The duo and their collaborators impressively match the power of Renaissance at their live performances, combining the album’s drama and almost violent emotion with fashion, dance, and light elements apropos of both a Beyonce and a Marilyn Manson show. N3ptune, for his part, isn’t afraid to set high expectations for the group’s live performances, telling fans and journalists to be ready to get mesmerized and inspired. This kind of music – especially with this kind of subject material, including childhood trauma, religion, and much more – is not normally associated with queer, Black men, but N3ptune & Rusty Steve are all about breaking boundaries, especially on stage.

The Reminders
Aja Black and Big Samir of the Reminders are emcees; children raised by globe-trotting military families; songwriters; cultural ambassadors and activists; producers; and parents. They’re also a happily married couple, and put on badass live performances far and wide – including a rousing recent set at Ball Arena in Denver opening for Erykah Badu. Based in Colorado Springs but constantly spreading their message on the road, Aja and Samir build a huge, inspiring sound as the Reminders – which could be described as a world-music hip-hop group – but, with their combination of live music and progressive workshops, they also build community.

outstanding secret ingredient 2023 nominees colorado sound music awards
Clockwise from top middle: Color Red Records, Taylor Sims, Sonic Guild, the Blasting Room, Greta Cornett
Outstanding ‘Secret Ingredient’
Not every player in a band is out front. This category celebrates some of Colorado’s ‘secret ingredients,’ from exceptional instrumentalists, to people behind the scenes or helping artists create their best work.

The Blasting Room
Did you grow up listening to world-changing breakthrough punk rock by the likes of Black Flag and the Descendents? Did it make you start playing music, or even start a band? Well, since 1994 you can make your own record with essential Descendents and Black Flag veteran Bill Stevenson, drummer and producer, right in Fort Collins at the Blasting Room, whose co-owner is also an accomplished drummer, producer, and engineer. Grammy-nominated Andrew Berlin, visionary producer for everyone from Gregory Alan Isakov to Gasoline Lollipops, rounds out the Blasting Room’s big three, but the studio’s dedicated and acclaimed team is substantial and highly acclaimed. The Blasting Room has been the secret ingredient behind countless crucial Northern Colorado albums, most recently DUSK by Plasma Canvas.

Color Red Records
Founded by Wales native and Leeds College of Music alum Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds, Denver-based Color Red set out to be a label with a sound as well as a vision. That sound is ambitious, pleasing musicians, music geeks, and jubilant live-music aficionados by embracing experiments like Electric Beethoven’s Hear No Evil – a jammy, genre-traversing ode to ‘ol Wolfang Von – to the soulful, accessible jazz-funk of Object Heavy’s new album, Love & Gravity. Last year Color Red even put out a long-awaited Telmo Fernandez album, El Madecido, adding the Spanish guitarist’s work to a long run of Color Red releases that always find their home with the New Mastersounds, who ironically recorded last year’s grooving and psychedelic The Deplar Effect very far from home, on a farm in Iceland. An integral part of the Colorado music scene, Color Red France and Color Red Japan are also leaving meaningful footprints for the ambitious label abroad.

Greta Cornett
Greta Cornett, Marketing Manager and Talent Coordinator for the Bohemian Foundation, somehow keeps herself together every spring during FoCoMX, while the rest of Fort Collins is spinning and rocking. The Columbine High School and Colorado State University alum volunteers each year to be the brains and boldness behind FoCoMX, which she cofounded over a decade ago and has regularly played as a talented trumpeter. Hundreds of bands play Fort Collins venues large and small every year in part because of Cornett’s hard work, but not nearly enough of them know the incredible energy and expertise she’s put in over the years, starting with the very first FoCoMX, which she put on out of her living room. As the Fort Collins Music Association board president (and board member since 2007), Cornett is a keystone of the Northern Colorado music scene.

Sonic Guild
In its own words, Sonic Guild “builds communities to support the creation and performance of extraordinary new music,” but how does Sonic Guild do that? The answer is philanthropy, both financial and intellectual. Unless you’re a Silver Spoon, it’s tough in the United States to create and sustain a band, chiefly because paying for the expenses of touring and making albums is unsustainable while, you know, also paying for the expenses of having a home, food, clothing, and utilities. Creating and sustaining a band is particularly tough, however, in Colorado – where the nearest major cities to play in are at least a day’s drive away, while East Coast, West Coast, and even Texas bands can hit numerous markets easily. Sonic Guild offers grants and advice to burgeoning musical artists, and its Colorado chapter has supported an astounding number of fantastic local artists, from Big Richard to Bevin Luna.

Taylor Sims
A Texas native, guitarist, and singer, Taylor Sims initially moved to Colorado to help lead the now-defunct bluegrass sensation Spring Creek. Eventually he joined his wife, Bonnie, as an integral member of Bonnie and the Clydes, which played just about every venue in Colorado until dissolving a few years ago as the couple branched out to score an international hit with “I See Red” under the moniker Everybody Loves an Outlaw. That project is still doing exciting things, while the husband-and-wife team also perform widely (and just released the new single “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”) as Bonnie & Taylor Sims. This summer, Bonnie is on the road with skyrocketing bluegrass band Big Richard, while Taylor is enjoying life as a hired gun for Montana singer-songwriter Madeline Hawthorne and also keeps busy with solo shows, a side project called Gingerbomb, and sit-ins with local favorites like Clay Rose of Gasoline Lollipops. A coveted lead guitarist, Sims is also a gifted singer and frontman – a Swiss Army knife of country, Americana, and rock ‘n’ roll unparalleled on the Front Range.

2023 write-in category colorado sound music awards
Colorado Artist You’d Drive 105.5 Miles to See
Who is your all-time favorite Colorado band or musician? Who would you drive many miles to see play live?

This is a write-in category, so the field is wide open. The artist or band must be based in Colorado and be actively working right now. One vote per person, please.

lifetime achievement 2023 nominees colorado sound music awards
Lifetime Achievement Award
Introducing our first-ever Colorado Sound Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrating a person or group who has contributed immensely to the Colorado music community.

Chris K.
Known to literally thousands of Colorado musicians as “Goat,” Chris Kresge, otherwise known as “Chris K,” has been a beloved part of our music scene for decades. Born in Los Angeles and raised everywhere from Alaska to Pennsylvania, Kresge has lived in Colorado off and on since 1976 – although the veteran’s Colorado journey began in 1973, when he was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base. Kresge studied acting and voice in high school and college, and eventually transformed his hobby of DJ’ing parties into playing records for airmen in the service and then radio stations, most recently The Colorado Sound. Kresge, also a well-known country singer-songwriter and guitarist, loves music so much that he married his late wife, Pattie, on stage at Oskar Blues in Lyons. Booking, promoting, performing, and spinning Colorado music has turned into a life’s work for the “grumpy old goat.” Retirement has arrived for Kresge, but – good news for all of us – he will continue to produce his long-running Colorado Playlist for at least a few more years. - The Colorado Sound

"The Live List by NIVA 2023"

What Is The Live List?
The Live List was compiled from the suggestions of more than 1,000 National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) member venues and promoters that each contributed to the names of as many as ten favorite up-and-coming live touring artists. Entirely curated by popular vote of the NIVA community, The Live List capitalizes on the expertise of entertainment professionals who dedicate hundreds of nights a year to seeing live shows and building artists’ careers.

This is not a “best of” list.
It’s a “most liked” list and artist development initiative from the folks who live for live. - National Independent Venue Association


Singles out:

Arribay Y Abajo


Like You Love You



2MX2 self-styles as an “alterNATIVE pop hip-hop band,” but it’s more complicated than that. The reggaeton you hear blasting out of every window in the Caribbean is made accessible through a Colorado filter by 2MX2, but the beloved young Denver band also mixes in traditional Mexican influences, intoxicating pop, and a passion for activism and youth education. Though it has no full-length album yet, 2MX2 and its bilingual hip-hop have exhilarated Colorado crowds for a few years now, empowering listeners to be active in politics and social issues, and leap out of their seats with inspirational songs like “Si Se Puede”.

The band is composed of highly talented individuals, including Owen Trujillo (aka O1), a Mexican-born artist from Zacatecas, Denver natives Juice ET Hugo, Lolita, DMD, and Kenny O., Eastlin and Chilean/Cuban artist Adrian Garay. 

Band Members