Monocle Band
Gig Seeker Pro

Monocle Band

Boulder, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Boulder, Colorado, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Bluegrass




"Snapshot: Monocle"

Formed in 2010, Boulder-based Monocle draws inspiration from folk and Americana, with a guitar, upright bass, drums and strong female vocalist leading the quartet. Heartache and longing characterize much of singer Monica Whittington's lyrics, from the melancholic "Far Away" to the upbeat "Can't Get By" and "Water Sky." Highlights from the band's demo tracks include the jazz-infused "Slow Walk" and "Falling" - a fast-paced danceable tune about damnation and redemption. - Marquee Magazine

"Boulder band Monocle brings meditative harmony to Steamboat"

Steamboat Springs — Boulder singer-songwriter Monica Whittington says writing music is like opening a diary.

“It’s very personal, it’s rooted in some deep emotions and heartbreak, but some deeper things about the world and relating to people and the community,” she said this week.

Onstage, Whittington finds performing with her band, Monocle, a calming and Zen-like experience.

“It becomes a really comfortable place; it’s a place of immense happiness. There’s these magical moments where your worries, fears and stress melt away.”

Her guitarist, songwriting partner and longtime friend Bill Huston agreed, but he said that philosophy isn’t reflected in the pace of Monocle’s songs — they’re not all slow and serene.

“It’s definitely meditative; it’s this cathartic release, but we definitely want to get people dancing and channel that meditation into the moving meditation of dancing,” Huston said.

With the inflection of bluegrass and folk and the influences of the serene mountain scenery of their Boulder home, Monocle blends Whittington’s silky voice with rich harmonies and a neo-acoustic soul sound.

Together for only a year, the band is making its first foray into the mountain town circuit with a show Saturday at Carl’s Tavern. The concert is free and starts at about 9 p.m.

The trio is rounded out by Boulder musician and bassist Eric Wiggs, who met Huston through the music school at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The technical and academic backgrounds of Wiggs and Huston melt easily into creative concepts used in writing their music and is capped by Whittington’s wide-eyed and innocent reaction to beautiful sounds stemming from a lifetime of singing in choirs.

“I’ve always been really enamored with sound and singing,” she said. “Being a part of such a big body of singers and being surrounded by harmonies, it was a cool experience, it’s always resonated with me.”

When she met Huston through mutual friends a few years ago, the pair found their sounds and philosophies to be complementary.

“I think for both Monica and myself, it’s a pure love for the music,” Huston said. “If we’re making beautiful sounds and we’re making our musical statement that we appreciate and enjoy, then everything is fine.”

As a young band, the group hopes to continue to tour regionally, play festivals this summer and get into the studio to record its first album within the next few months.

“Very simply, I want to share this music with as many people as I can,” Huston said. “We really care about our songs. We put a lot of ourselves into our songs, and these are deeply personal feelings.

“When we listen to one of our songs, it’s like, I made this thing, and I can share that energy with the people around me, and they can connect to it, as well.” - Steamboat Today

"Monocle talks jazz influences and Boulder music"

Since forming in 2010, indie folk quintet Monocle has hit nearly every music spot in Boulder and ventured out into the rest of Colorado, too. Check their schedule, and you'll see they have tons of shows coming up in Boulder. Here are singer and bandleader Monica Whittington and guitarist Bill Huston (both of whom are also the primary songwriters) in their own words:

What has the band been up to lately?

MW: We just started breaking into the mountain scene. We played a show in Steamboat a couple weeks ago. Coming up in April, we'll be in Jamestown and Nederland. Just playing around the small venues in Boulder.

BH: We're about to do a little run up in the Vail Valley, as well. We've played about 50 shows in the Boulder area in the past year … We're getting a little momentum.

Any plans for recording?

BH: We did a demo that's pretty solid. We're in the preliminary process of recording an album sometime in the next four months. So we've been hitting the gigs pretty hard in the last four months and playing a lot. At some point in the next few months we'll dial it back and try and get into the studio.

You've worked with a lot of big local names (String Cheese Incident, Big Gigantic, Leftover Salmon). Tell me about some of those collaborations.

BH: I've lived here for just over 10 years and Monica's been here since ‘07, and a couple of the other players in the band met in the jazz program

up at CU. The Front Range music scene is just one of those things where everybody knows each other and is supportive and they play together. We haven't made records with those folks, but we've had people come sit in on projects and we've jam with folks at parties over the years. Especially in the acoustic scene out here, you can show up at a pick and there are really good players there who are well known and renowned.

MW: Yeah, it's a small world.

Several of you have background in jazz and there's definitely a jazz influence in your music. How do you keep that up-to-date and interesting?

BH: You know, it's interesting. Our bass player Eric Wiggs and [drummer] Josh Moore went through the jazz program and Eric and Josh gig all the time on jazz gigs … Our music, it's more of a subtle thing. We don't play jazz, but we have a couple tracks that have the elements, some swing or things like that. We all went through that world and built our chops and got comfortable with the musical vocabulary and stuff like that. All that's kind of dialed back and we'll play simple music. It's a subtle thing. The jazz background formed the way we play and the way we can communicate with each other and improvise to some degree. It's more kind of in our background and something that we can draw from.

What do you like best about being a band in Boulder?

MW: Well I think that because we're so close to the mountains, that there's a big influence of mountain music and with that comes a large group of people who love music and mountain music. The scene is pretty driving here. There's so many great players around. It's so easy to network, and make friends, and jam. It's just fun.

BH: Everybody around here is really talented and, for the most part, really unpretentious … It's just so fun to play with everybody around here because everybody is great, and really open, and just in it for the music.

MW: I sort of have the propensity to leave … but what keeps me here, honestly, is the music scene, working with Bill, and working with the band.
- Colorado Daily

"Monocle Band - Quick Spin"

Recorded at the Distillery Recording Studio in the shadows of the red sandstone cliffs of Lyons, Colo. that is home to the famed Planet Bluegrass Ranch, Monocle’s debut album sounds like something that would waft out of the speakers during an afternoon RockyGrass set. Melding bluegrass influences with Americana songwriting, the band is centered around Monica Whittington’s vocal chops, which were cut during her choral singing days.

Backed by a talented quartet, and joined by contributors including lap steel guitarist Sally Van Meter, Whittingon puts forth a mix of 11 peppy, but subdued tracks, which are neither newgrass nor traditional bluegrass, but an amalgam of both classic and modern influences. “Silly Joy” is one of the disc’s highlights — a splendidly written and performed number that is one of the shining examples of Whittington’s vocal strength. - Marquee Magazine

"Steal This Track: Monocle"

Monocle’s lineup of guitar, bass, drums, fiddle, mandolin and pretty voices certainly isn’t the first of its kind to emerge from Boulder, Colo. The ensemble of Monica Whittington, Bill Huston, Josh Moore and Eric Wiggs makes folk pop with a touch of bluegrass that goes down as easily as a bloody mary at brunch on the Pearl Street Mall. It’s the kind of easy-going mountain music that northern Colorado cranks out with surprising prolificacy.

What distinguishes Monocle from the barefoot legions, however, is the foundation of Whittington’s songs. Written with honesty, enthusiasm and sincerity, the Colorado Springs native’s lyrics ring true and rarely lapse into cliche, while the melodies are crisp and memorable. The songs are familiar enough to be accessible, but original enough to say something new. Steal “Can’t Get By,” a solo tune by Whittington, to hear for yourself, then catch the band at one of its many upcoming shows in Boulder County or up in the hills. - Denver Post

"Monocle Band CD Release Party"

This has been a wild and wonderful year for the band called Monocle. Formed in 2010 in the High Country of Colorado’s Front Range they play a brand of original acoustic mountain music, which seems to fit perfectly in this area. Taking fourth place at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival band
contest, they wrote and recorded their debut CD, entered the contest at RockyGrass, played many local gigs, and now it’s time for the release of the long awaited self-titled album, simply called Monocle Band.
With her sweet and soaring vocal melodies, Monica Whittington leads the quintet of Boulder, Colorado’s finest musicians on this acoustic exploration of the heart. Monocle blends stirring song craft, flatpicked guitar, fiddle, mandolin, upright bass and the most musical of drums into a sound that will move your body, mind, and soul. Monica a native from Colorado Springs has been singing since she could walk and talk, and has a background in choral singing that is obvious. Bill Huston, Monocle’s second primary songwriter, is a veteran of several bands in California and Colorado, and has studied jazz guitar with some of the most noted teachers in the country, including front- range legend Dale Bruning. Upright bassist Eric Wiggs, the recipient of a master’s degree in jazz guitar from CU Boulder, is a musical omnivore who makes his living as a free-lance guitarist, bassist, singer, and music educator. Drummer Josh Moore has studied jazz performance at the University of North Texas.
Don’t be confused with all the jazz credentials. Monocle is Rocky Mountain Indie Folk; brand new, original music rooted in the traditions of bluegrass and the troubadour wanderings that led Townes Van Zant through the San Juan Mountains on horseback. To quote Bill Huston in an interview with the Colorado
Daily’s Ashley Dean this year, “Our music, it’s more of a subtle thing. We don’t play jazz, but we have a couple of tracks that have the elements, some swing or things like that. We all went through that world and built our chops and got comfortable with the musical vocabulary and stuff like that. All that’s dialed back, and the way we can communicate with each other and improvise to some degree. It’s more kind of in our background and something that we can draw from.”
Make no mistake about it though, this is Monica Whittington’s CD and it is long over-due, but also right on time, in the sense everything seemed to line up for her, her songs, and the band. I have had to opportunity to hear Monica many times over the last few years and have come away from her performances thinking, “wow what a voice,” but mostly I came away wanting and expecting more.
This CD justifies the anxiety and the wait. She has found the right band and definitely the right producer, David Tiller. Not to mention Lyons friends to contribute here, with the likes of Sally Van Meter, Eric Moon and David and Enion Tiller collaborating. It is Monica’s soaring voice that propels the music through the great original tunes they have shaped to fit the sound perfectly. Always up front and effortlessly floating over the music and sounding so completely in charge, she gently pushes the tunes beautifully forward with a very relaxed and pleasant sound, like a landscape of gorgeous mountain music.
The Railsplitters will open the show, and David and Enion Tiller (whose home and studio, where this great CD was made, was demolished) will do a short set as well. This will be a very special show, and one not to be missed, on Friday, November 8, at Oskar’s in Lyons starting at 8 p.m. - Lyons Recorder

"Monocle Gets Back to it After Floods Destroyed Their Town and the Studio Where They Recorded Their New Album"

As the rain started to fall in Colorado in mid-September, Monica Whittington was putting the finishing touches on plans for her band Monocle’s self-titled debut CD release schedule. The band had the album complete, and were in the midst of scheduling shows and the other happenings around a record rollout when Whittington, a Colorado Springs native living in Lyons, had to evacuate due to what would become the flood event of the last century in Colorado.

Whittington was one of the lucky ones, her home safely perched on a hill over town, but the impact of the flood knocked out utilities and access to her house and more than a month and a half later, she was still displaced — living in a friend’s basement in north Boulder.

But this month, as Whittington gets set to move back into Lyons, all of her focus is again on getting this album out — and now, more than ever, the dedication to that project has a resounding, poignant sign of victory attached to it.

Monocle embarked on this labor of love for their self-titled debut some time ago, approaching it as a long-term project, not just a record-it-and-get-it-out-there kind of release.

The album is an organic result of the band’s collaborative and creative nature that emerged naturally from friendships between band members and contributing artists such as Grammy winner Sally Van Meter, Eric Moon, and owners of The Distillery Recording Studio in Lyons, David and Enion Tiller.

It was over lunch one day that Whittington and Monocle’s second primary songwriter Bill Huston decided to make an album together. With craft and deliberate intention, Huston and Whittington spent hours re-working songs from their back pockets, ones they had sat on for years. Adding a full band to include Eric Wiggs on standup bass, Ben Blechman on fiddle and Josh Moore on drums, provided Monocle a fresh sound with a new take on their old tunes.

Once the material was set Huston and Whittington began searching for the right producer. “We had been researching studios for quite a while — really doing our research on them. We had looked to some of the musicians that we look up to as well to see where they recorded. Bill and I knew of the Tillers, but we didn’t really know them. One day over coffee at the Laughing Goat we were talking about where to go [to record] and when we walked outside — in what I call a divine moment — there was Enion Tiller. I didn’t know her well enough to go up and say anything, but we knew then we had to work with them,” Whittington said in a recent interview with The Marquee.

When it came time to record, Monocle went to the Tiller’s studio and over the course of a year the band and the Tiller’s became family. They slept on the floors of the studio and spent days that turned to nights recording music.

Sadly, the Tillers lost their home and The Distillery Recording Studio in the flood, as both were located in the heart of Lyons, in one of the hardest hit sections of town.

“It adds a deeper connection with heightened emotion. Any record captures a moment in time, and we feel lucky to have been there at that time to be one of the only bands to record there,” Whittington said. Huston added ” We put our heart and soul into the songs which now, even more so, contain irreplaceable and poignant memories.”

In fact, Huston pointed out, that the last track on the CD, “Home,” includes the refrain “Home, I can’t wait to see you again,” a line that has now taken on a new meaning for so many who have been displaced by the floods.

As Lyons rebuilds, the Colorado community (musical and otherwise) continues to come together in all kinds of ways with a supportive environment, as residents helped the Tillers clean out the studio. But David Tiller said in late October that it could be a year before they can return to their property, and that there’s still great uncertainty about if and how they will be able to rebuild there.

While Monocle was slated to celebrate its official CD release at the Oskar Blues Longmont location following the flood, it was announced just before deadline that the show was being moved back to Lyons, and the Tillers, who have their own band Taarka, will join Monocle, with opening support from The Railsplitters. “The community here is largely unpretentious and warm and welcoming,” said Whittington. “I was trained classically in voice performance, but taught guitar by my mother, and to be accepted in a community of really badass musicians is just too cool.” - Marquee Magazine

"Colorado's Monocle Band Debut Album"

I fell immediately in love with this Boulder, Colorado based Monocle Band last year sometime right before Couch By Couchwest and reached out to them to please join us with a submission which they promptly did with the song ‘Can’t Get By’(see below) so needless to say I’ve waited anxiously for their debut album.

Released October 15th Monocle’s eleven song debut is all I hoped for and more. Monica’s magical voice soars with sweeping fiddle and strings like fresh, crisp mile high mountain air. Backed by exceptional musicians Monica’s vocals shine and surprise with her beautiful depth and range, do I sound like I’m swooning? Well yeah I am. Hitting the mark between traditional folk/bluegrass and something new and unique destined to see them rise on the national scene. - No Depression

"Monocle Band CD Review"

Thanks to those Mumford and Avett chaps, donning vests, suspenders, fedoras and derby caps is as fashionable lately as making music with acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos and fiddles seems to be. But while the members of the Monocle Band seem (based on their press photos) to have a kindred fashion sense, and certainly favor similar instrumentation, the music of this Boulder-based quintet is far more memorable than that of the various acts stomping opportunistically down the well-trod road paved by those gents — not to mention quite a bit more subdued. Led by the breathy, bewitching vocals of Monica Whittington, the band — made up of studied players with shared backgrounds in jazz — resembles a folksier version of the Weepies backing Rosie Thomas on this affecting batch of heartrending songs, tunes that genuinely possess the kind of pastoral charm that so many others seem to be striving for these days but rarely achieve. This is one local act that is truly worth keeping an eye on. - Denver Westword


Still working on that hot first release.




Formed in the musically fertile slopes of Colorado's Front Range, Monocle Band offers a fresh and vibrant take on the roots acoustic music that has made Colorado one of the most exciting music scenes in the country. Monocle Band is Rocky Mountain Indie Folkbrand new, original music rooted in the traditions of Telluride bluegrass and the troubadour wanderings that led Townes Van Zandt through the San Juan Mountains on horseback. Always rooted in song, the group's music flows from a stomping fiddle breakdown to a lost lover's lament. This is original music, the acoustic sound of the spirit, innately authentic yet sonically aligned with the roots music revival enchanting the nation. Lighting up dance floors and breaking hearts across the Rocky Mountain west since 2011, Monocle Band blends stirring songcraft, flatpicked guitar, fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, and the most musical of drums into a sound that will move your body, mind, and soul.

Led by the sweet and soaring vocals of Monica Whittington, the Boulder, Colorado quintet combines the best of song-craft and captivating performance. Monica (vocals, acoustic guitar) and songwriting partner Bill Huston (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar) have assembled an unparalleled ensemble of jazz-trained and roots-based musicians and have played over 250 dates since the bands the bands inception. Filling out the quintet are Eric Wiggs (vocals, upright bass, electric guitar), Ben Blechman (violin) and Josh Moore (drums, percussion). As Colorado music legend Danny Shafer says, "Monocle's instrumental ability is as strong as their connection to the audience. They always are able to give an engaging performance whether to a dancing crowd or a listening room." Indeed, the band's noted performances have led them to the main stage band competitions of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass, countless venues Colorado, and to opening slots for The SteelDrivers, The Samples, and Ralph Stanley.

Monocle Band released their self-titled debut CD in October 2013 to enthusiastic acclaim, gaining them the 25th most played CD on the National Folk DJ chart for the month of September 2013. The CD was recorded and produced at The Distillery in Lyons, Colorado by David Tiller (Taarka, ThaMuseMeant), the man behind the sounds of Elephant Revivals first two albums, and features contributions from Grammy award winning lap steel guitarist Sally Van Meter and other noted guests. As Denver Westword magazine says "This affecting batch of heartrending songs...genuinely possesses the kind of pastoral charm that so many others seem to be striving for these days but rarely achieve." It is a snapshot of a moment in time: an acoustic rhythm backed by crackling drums, a shimmering curtain of electric guitars and violin, all of it lifting up the yearning tones of Monica Whittingtons vocals. Marquee Magazine calls the record "Splendidly written and performed."

Monocle Band's debut recording is a musical postcard made even more poignant when The Distillery Studio in Lyons was washed away in the recent Colorado floods, just months after the record was finished. The album captures a band in its creative stride, a young group with a firm command of their craft and a steady gaze to the mountains, plains, and cities that lie before them.

Band Members