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The music that Blake Brown makes with Bare Bones could be considered a throwback, so it's only fitting that it all started in a museum. While working at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Brown struck up a conversation with co-worker and current bandmate Freida Stalheim, formerly of Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots, and after expressing a mutual love for Gram Parsons, the two decided to bring their instruments to work and begin building the skeletal structures of what would eventually become Bare Bones songs.
With the help of an all-star cast of musicians — James Yardley of Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Jordan Wyatt of Hearts in Space and Ben Desoto of the Wheel — the group recently put the finishing touches on a self-titled EP. We caught up with Brown and asked him about the sound he's creating.
Westword: You performed for years as a solo artist. Explain the decision to build a band around these songs. Why did you pick the musicians you did?
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Blake Brown: Well, the solo thing was kind of an accident. I grew up playing in bands that were always pretty loud and on the more aggressive side, yet I've always written these delicate acoustic songs. The songs didn't really fit with any of my bands, and through word of mouth and being involved in a great music scene, the next thing I knew, I was playing solo shows with artists like Rocky Votolato and Lucero. I just tried to do it all and not really think twice about it. For one reason or another, I kind of gave up on the music thing for a while, or at least I thought I did.
I wasn't in a band, and I would rarely play live. I was way more focused on school and art, but in between writing papers and studying for tests, I found I was writing songs. With these new songs, I was focusing on the craft of songwriting and found I was constructing them as if I had a band, meaning I was writing parts with the notion that I had members filling in the holes, or where a lead guitar part would go and things like that.
To be honest, I didn't consciously make an effort to put this band together. It all fell into place quite naturally, and it's the most organic project I've ever been a part of. I had these songs, and once Frieda and I worked through a handful of them, I thought it would be fun to play a show. This being said, I felt the songs needed more accompaniment.