Eleven Famous Musicians Who Recently Moved to Colorado

Gordan Gano of the Violent Femmes: Now a Coloradan.
Gordan Gano of the Violent Femmes: Now a Coloradan.
Wikimedia user Casliber

With the legalization of cannabis for recreational use starting January 1, 2014, Colorado has become a destination for touring bands. However, a steady stream of artists have been moving to the state for years. Some seem to use it purely as a base of operations, but some have engaged with the local community in at least semi-regular local performances and collaborations. Here are a few of the big names who now call Colorado home.

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11. Fritz Fox -- The Mutants

Fritz Fox was one of the vocalists for San Francisco's artsy punk band the Mutants, one of the most popular groups out of the first wave of West Coast punk. With only a handful of seven-inches and compilation tracks and their classic full-length album, 1981's Fun Terminal, the Mutants established a legacy of imaginative left-field rock music. Though the band has been back together since 2004, Fox currently calls Denver home, and the Mutants played a rare show at the hi-dive on June 2, 2012.

10. Jeff Raphael -- The Nuns

The Nuns are perhaps best known to punk history for being one of the two San Francisco bands (the other being the Avengers) that opened for the Sex Pistols on the last night at the legendary Winterland venue in February 1978. It was, as it turns out, the final Sex Pistols gig until the 1990s reunion tour. The Nuns, like many of San Francisco's punk acts, didn't get the memo that everyone needed to sound something like the Ramones or the Pistols, and many of its songs include the use of electric piano and predated the new-wave aesthetic. One thing consistent across much of the band's relatively lengthy career and changing musical styles was Jeff Raphael's able timekeeping as a drummer with a flair for expressive flourishes. Raphael spent time playing in the Sleepers and Tuxedomoon and had a brief stint playing with one of Johnny Thunders's bands. In recent years, though, he's given up the drums, and he currently makes imaginative collage art. Raphael moved to Boulder a handful of years ago and to Denver in 2013. He's still interested in playing music, but not in playing color-by-numbers punk.

9. Johnny Hickman -- Cracker

When David Lowery's legendary folk/punk/psychedelic band Camper Van Beethoven broke up in 1990, Lowery moved to Richmond, Virginia, with his childhood friend Johnny Hickman and started a band called Cracker, possessed of similar stylistic roots but with more bombast and straight-ahead rock-and-roll songwriting. For the past several years, Hickman has been living outside of Fort Collins.

8. Waleed Shabazz -- C-Rayz Walz

Born and raised in the Bronx, Shabazz, who performs as C-Rayz Walz, was exposed to the music of the man who is said to be directly responsible for the development of hip-hop as we know it: DJ Cool Herc. With hip-hop in his DNA from an early age, Shabazz went on to collaborate with Aesop Rock and Immortal Technique, as well as establish himself as a true talent. He also runs his own label, Sun Cycle. For several years, Shabazz has been living in the southeastern part of Denver; you might even run into him at a vegan restaurant.



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