The Crooked Streets
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The Crooked Streets

Denver, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Denver, Colorado, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Folk




"Kick Back and keep it real with Singer/songwriter Mathias Olson"

So many acoustic singer-songwriters embody pretension as their sole virtue – to the point of melodrama. Not so for Mathias Olson. His voice, gravelly, raw and unpampered, is as genuine and honest as the grassy plains of his hometown in New Mexico. - The Urchin Movement

"20 Questions with The Crooked Streets"

From Open Mic night to editor’s pick, Mathias Olson has come along way to find himself on the beat of The Crooked Streets. The band formed in 2011 when the singer/songwriter decided to take his solo project to the next level. Three years and several craigslist ads later, he now fronts the five-piece Denver Indie Folk band that many locals have come to love. Their crooning gypsy sound is gritty but has a certain charm–the shabby chic sort of feel that is so common of the great modern Indie Folk groups of our time.

Listen Up Denver!: How did you come up with your band’s name?

The Crooked Streets: I was listening to a song by Bright Eyes called “I Must Belong Somewhere.” There is a line where Conor sings, “Let the sideways rain in the crooked street remain.” The imagery of a crooked street was indelible, it stuck. I later found myself writing a song that I eventually titled “Crooked Streets.” So the name came in a roundabout way from a Bright Eyes song.

LUD!: What is the line-up of the band?

CS: The lineup has changed numerous times over the past few years. When the band first started out it was only me playing my guitar and singing at open mic nights around Denver. With a Craigslist ad the “band” found a violin player named Aimee Nelson (she is still a part of the line-up). They then added Andrew Neldon to the group, who played Steel Drums and percussion (he is no longer playing). Honestly, there are a few more musicians that joined and exited the group. The answer to this question could, and already has rambled on. To summarize, the group is currently comprised of: Mathias Olson (Acoustic guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocals), Logan Barrier (Drums, backing vocals), Aimee Nelson (violin, backing vocals), Jeff Malek (electric guitar, backing vocals) and Bradley Morse (Upright bass, backing vocals). Mark Emde will join the band on stage from time to time and put the “man” in mandolin.

LUD!: How would you describe your sound?

CS: Honest. Gritty vocals. Americana. Gypsy Jazz. Blues. Indie Folk Rock. It’s not the easiest of questions to answer as genres change from song to song.

LUD!: Who would you count as major influences on your band?

CS: Contemporary: Elephant Revival, Tallest Man On Earth, Jose Gonzales, Iron and Wine, The Black Keys, Josh Ritter. Classic: Nick Drake, The Beatles, John Prine.

LUD!: How did you guys get started playing together?

CS: Well, most of us met through craigslist ads.

LUD!: Does anyone in the band have any formal musical training? If so, what is it?

CS: Yes we do. I went to school at South Plains college and studied some Bluegrass, Jazz and theory for a year. Bradley graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Jazz studies. Jeffrey graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO with a degree in classical guitar. Logan is mostly self-taught, but he has attended a few drum clinics taught by various professional drummers. Aimee graduated from a college in California where she was classically trained on violin.

LUD!: Where was your first gig together and how did it go?

CS: Hm, must have been at Waterloo in Louisville. Waterloo is nice enough to have us play there once a month. I think the gig was probably a little rocky since it was the first time to play with Bradley and Jeff. It was great though, they both came in and played songs they never heard before and for the most part it was a success.

LUD!: What’s your favorite memory of playing together?

CS: Our CD release show was an awesome experience. We had so many people come out and dance, sing and cheer. We love our fans! From the most avid of listeners to the casual concert goers, they are all #1 in my book.

One story that comes to mind isn’t a “favorite” memory, but I feel like needs to be shared. We booked a gig at a real seedy bar on Colfax called Zephyr Lounge. The owner, Byron, isn’t the world’s best communicator and I thought we played at 10 and was mistaken. I get a call from him at 8:30 asking where we are because we are supposed to start in 30 minutes. We were all on our way at that time and started only 30 minutes late. The only business in the place was a few regulars, some older gentlemen with women who were obviously prostitutes, and about 15 friends/fans of ours. So, what I’m saying is if we weren’t playing that night the place would have been quite quiet. Byron, the owner, wasn’t even there.

He called the bar around 10:45 during our set break to complain about how many people we brought out and asked if he could pay us $100 dollars less then what was agreed upon. What nerve! As an owner you’d think you’d want your entertainment to be pleased and in a good mood going into their next set. I told Byron to do what he had to do and that we’d never play in his place again.

You know it’s not the best of stories, but every band has one of these. I’m just glad that we can look back on it and laugh.

LUD!: Are you playing any shows coming up that you are particularly excited for?

CS: We are taking the rest of the month of June off because my first child will be born! I don’t want to risk playing somewhere out of town while my wife goes into labor. We have just started booking for July.

LUD!: What is your favorite song to cover?

CS: There are a few, “Never Settle For Less” by Thamusemeant, “Gotta Keep Moving” by Willy Mason and a song from an old Geico commercial called “Remind Me” by Royksopp.

LUD!: What is the strangest request you’ve had at a show?

CS: It was at Park House a few weeks back a lady asked us to play either A. “something bluegrass” or B. “something from the 90s.” I really wish we could have thought of a Bluegrass song from the 90s, but we played an original Bluegrassy song called “Weighing on my Soul.”

LUD!: What was the first song you wrote together as a band?

CS: Well there isn’t really one song that we all sat down and wrote together. The closest thing to a song written as a band would be one we call “Waiting for Aimee.” It started at a rehearsal when we were waiting for Aimee to arrive (she’s consistently not on time). Bradley started by playing this real funky bass riff and quickly Logan, Jeff and myself joined along. It was a great chord progression and it stuck in my head. About a week later I sat down with it and wrote some lyrics.

LUD!: Do you still play that song live? If not, why?

CS: We do still play this song live from time to time. Mostly either when Aimee can’t make a gig or when we are passing around a tip jar. We have Aimee pass around the tip jar because she is the pretty one and people give her more money than they’d give any of us. That’s what I call a business strategy.

LUD!: Have you released any of your material yet? If not, do you have any plans to?

CS: We released our first album titled From a Seed in January of 2014, just a few short months ago. The cast of musicians on the album is different from what you’d see at one of today’s live shows. The only person on the album that still plays now is Aimee Nelson. We are actually planning on getting into the studio soon to record a whole new slew of songs. We are very excited to get to work on this project.

LUD!: What is your favorite venue in Colorado, and why?

CS: Red Rocks, it’s obvious why. The location, the view, the sound, the atmosphere, the big names, the history, these are all things that make Red Rocks truly remarkable.

LUD!: If you could play on any stage in the world where would it be and why?

CS: See the answer to our favorite Colorado venue. It is one and the same.

LUD!: If you could open for any band or artist, who would it be and why?

CS: Oh man that’s a tough question to answer. There are so many! The Tallest Man On Earth because he is such a great songwriter and inspiration. Monsters of Folk because then we could meet four members of three awesome bands (Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, M. Ward). Elephant Revival would be awesome as well.

LUD!: What is the most outlandish thing your band would consider putting in your backstage rider?

CS: Man, if we get to the point in our careers where having a list of things to have backstage becomes possible then why not take full advantage of it. Everyone else does.

17 bottles of Makers Mark
11 Beach Towels
13 giant barracuda statues on wheels
7 overgrown ferns
9 candles all scented cucumber melon
A “build a bear” station
Various cheese and meat platters
33 love sacs
That’s just the beginning…

LUD!: What is your band’s drink of choice?

CS: Probably Makers Mark on the rocks.

LUD!: Can you name a few local Colorado bands that are really impressing you right now?

CS: We love Taarka (Dave and Enion are amazing and our Bass player Bradley will be playing a few shows with them this summer), Elephant Revival (It’s Alive is a well-produced EP and These Changing Skies is full of hits), Chimney Choir, Anthony Ruptak, Jacob Russo, and Banshee Tree (I think they’re currently recording their first album). These are only a few of our favorites, but these guys all seem to consistently impress us - Listen-Up Denver

"Get To Know A Denver Band: The Crooked Streets"

rlier this year, gypsy folk quintet The Crooked Streets released their debut full-length album, From A Seed. While the band’s lineup has evolved over its inaugural three years, The Crooked Streets began with vocalist and rhythm guitar player, Mathias Olson. Along with Olson, The Crooked Streets’ electric guitarist, Jeffrey Malek, spoke with AXS in this exclusive interview.

AXS: Are you all Denver natives? If not, where is everyone originally from?
Mathias Olson: We are not all Denver natives, but we’re all from our parents. Sexual reproduction is where we all come from. Meiosis I and meiosis II take place. Eventually two gametes come together to produce a zygote, and well that’s what we are and where we come from. [Laughs.] The 5 of us were all born in different states and none of us were born in Denver.

AXS: What brought The Crooked Streets together?
Mathias: This band started as a solo project of mine. Eventually, I got tired of playing my songs all alone. So, I put out some craigslist ads looking for skilled musicians. I was lucky enough to find talented musicians and friends that like my songs enough to play them!
Jeffrey Malek: Cool ranch chips and bong loads of shampoo.

AXS: How long have The Crooked Streets been together? What have you learned during that time?
Mathias: Well this current lineup has been together for exactly one day. [Laughs.] Seriously though we have currently added 2 new musicians that have yet to have a rehearsal with us. All in all, The Crooked Streets has been a project for about three years.

AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Mathias: I think the first gig I played under the name The Crooked Streets was at The Toad Tavern. It was a completely different band at the time. We even had steel drums in a few songs. We came away with a pretty good recording of the show that I’ll still listen to from time to time. I give away some free copies of it to our biggest fans.

AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired The Crooked Streets?
Mathias: I don’t know if I’d say any Denver musicians have inspired me in the songwriting process, but there is a list of Denver musicians that I respect and like to listen to. Anthony Ruptak, Chimney Choir, Nathaniel Rateliff, Zea and the Copper Children, Gun Street Ghost, Jacob Russo, Dragondeer, Ark Life and Jane Thatcher to name a few.
Jeffrey: I'm pretty sure that we're inspired by the Crooked Streets. We try to practice real hard after every time we hear ourselves. Other than us, I believe that musicians are always inspired by other musicians. We should all practice more. When we make time to go see each other, we should actually be practicing

AXS: What inspired The Crooked Streets’ first studio album, From A Seed?
Mathias: I’m always writing songs and I’m always inspired from other songwriters. When you always write songs you end up with quite a collection. I have hundreds of songs that need to be recorded. It just felt like it was time to get a professional recording of some of these songs. So I picked 13 songs that I liked of mine on a particular day and said, “This is From a Seed.”

AXS: What was the writing and recording experience like on From A Seed?
Mathias: I guess I’m the best person to answer this question since I wrote the songs. Well this album is about growing. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows. Hardships do occur and it occurs more frequently in some lives than others. My point is I’ve gone through hell, you’ve gone through hell, your parents have gone through it, we all have. In the end, we’re all still standing. We’re all still growing. This album is about not only the hard times, but it’s about the other side as well. Recording the album was a long process and there were many appearances from musicians that are old friends. The current lineup of musicians you’ll see live is not the lineup that was on the album. We do however play the same songs and make them sound even better!

AXS: What projects are The Crooked Streets currently working on?
Mathias: Currently we are recording some tunes that we are going to put on an EP. Like I mentioned before, we have a lot of songs and this EP might just turn into another full length album. We’ll see.

AXS: What else is The Crooked Streets involved in locally?
Mathias: I am in the restaurant biz, and four months ago my wife and I had our first child and named her Colette Mae Olson.
Jeffrey: Locally we are very active in the underground bird juggling scene. Yeah, we have families and friends, so what's it to ya?

AXS: Does The Crooked Streets have a goal in mind for the sound the band produces? Are there certain influences or themes the band tries to inject into its own music?
Mathias: We don’t necessarily have a goal in mind. We just want to sound like us. I don’t want to sound like this band or that band. Sure, sometimes we come across something that is reminiscent of another band (I mean how is it possible to be 100% unique). When that happens we think it’s great, we don’t purposely change things to sound different. Hmm, I feel like I contradicted myself, but I think that makes sense.
Jeffrey: Our main goal is to have enough money to buy enough friends on myspace to one day get up to 100 friends. Other than that nothing else. Our main influence is the texture of raspberries being thrown at small styrofoam models of the solar system. There are a bunch of bands that we listen to as well.

AXS: For someone who has never seen or heard The Crooked Streets, what would you tell them to entice them to watch your set?
Jeffrey: Basically we sound like if your ear was a foot and our music was a hot tub you'd first dip your foot in. Then you'd probably get a little hungry and have to walk across some gravel without your shoes on to get to the fridge. and then you'd decide that you'd want to buy something online while you were up but eventually you would wander back to the hot tub and and get all the way in even though you didn't remember a swimsuit. After a while you would forget about your foot skin because the hot tub is so awesome that your foot skin would get all pruny and shit. But that's cool cause it'll dry out again and eventually you'll be able to get back in the hot tub with your friends and some hot chick that everybody is tryin to get with even though you're sure she like you the best cause all the the guys a douche tubes and trying way too hard.
Mathias: I’d say Jeffrey’s answer is pretty elaborate. We play our own brand of Gypsy Folk-n-Soul.

AXS: What would your ideal live show look like?
Mathias: Well, It would take place at a sold out venue. I don’t really care where it is. It would be in the fall, because fall is bad ass.
Jeffrey: Katy Perry would probably open for us!
Mathias: Yeah, having Katy Perry there would be ideal, or anybody else. Andrew Bird, Josh Ritter, Elephant Revival, you know somebody like that.

AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Mathias and Jeffrey: The friendship.
Mathias: Most of the people I’ve come across in the Denver music scene are nice. Also, they are willing to help out. I feel like other cities and scenes are much more cutthroat than Denver. - AXS


Still working on that hot first release.



The Crooked Streets is a 5 piece gypsy folk and soul band from Denver, Colorado. Their music is for fans of Josh Ritter, Iron and Wine and early Tom Waits. They have shared the stage with many different Colorado acts including Dragondeer, Anthony Ruptak, Edison and Sawmill Joe to name a few. They have also shared the spotlight with national acts like Brown Bird, Hoots and Hellmouth, and Hymn For Her.  

     In early 2014, The Crooked Streets released their 1st studio album titled "From a Seed". The idea of crooked streets came from a Bright Eyes track, "I Must Belong Somewhere". 

     They are comprised of singer/rhythm guitarist Mathias Olson, drummer Logan Barrier, violinist Stephanie Miller, bassist Chris Loftus, and lastly electric guitarist Jeffrey Malek. From time to time you might catch them with mandolin player Mark Emde, and trumpeter Johanes Stehle Jr.

     The Crooked Streets are currently playing in the Denver front range area garnering attention from music fans and venue owners. With gritty vocals, meaningful heartfelt lyrics, catchy melodies, and skillful musicianship this band has a signature sound they call Gypsy Folk'n'Soul.

Band Members