Sarah Slaton of Edison on Playing Children's Hospitals, SXSW and Outside Colorado

Denver band Edison helped organize the Colorado music showcase at SXSW 2015.EXPAND
Denver band Edison helped organize the Colorado music showcase at SXSW 2015.
Kit Chalberg

Sarah Slaton doesn’t like hospitals, but that doesn’t stop her and the band Edison from regularly playing music in one. She and her bandmates in Denver’s popular folk trio Edison regularly volunteer for Amp the Cause’s Sunday Sounds at Children’s Hospital Colorado, which turns the hospital’s foyer into a makeshift music venue each week. Children staying in the hospital are invited to enjoy the music, and Slaton thinks they do. “As soon as the music starts they calm down, and for five minutes, they forget they're sick,” she says.

Slaton remembers a particular infant who struck a chord. “The youngest kid I’ve ever spent time with was a baby less than a year old. Connected to machines and tubes, awful things. I remember the baby was crying and upset. We changed one of our songs to a lullaby and performed it. I put my hand out, and he put his hand around my pinkie. The whole time we played and sang, the kid was not upset. We locked eyes, he even smiled at one point. That has always been imprinted in my brain.”

After a week of grinding the local music scene recording, performing, then booking more shows, the last thing you’d think Slaton and the members of Edison would want to do is spend their Sunday Funday in an often emotionally taxing environment. But releasing positive energy into the world via music and volunteering is part of the band's ethos. Spending much of their time on the road on tour, the bandmembers say they have plenty of miles to contemplate the secrets of the universe. Slaton says she believes the key is this: “Be kind and love hard. Try to stay positive.”

Edison will have even more time on the road to contemplate the meaning of life as the band embarks on its Road to Austin spring tour. The band will go on a four-week tour leading up to South by Southwest in March. For an emerging band, SXSW offers plenty of opportunity for networking and performing. Slaton lays out the game plan for this year's conference: “I'm going to see some bands and set loose, dive into some panels. And Edison will be playing four or five shows.”

Though Slaton says she had a badge last year but did not attend a single panel, perhaps that's because she was busy co-organizing the SpokesBUZZ Colorado Music Party at 512 Bar, an unofficial showcase devoted to all things Colorado music.

“We picked the bands, picked the schedule and backline,” Slaton says. “I was in charge of communicating with 120 bands and coordinating everything. They’re not doing the party this year, unfortunately. This is my sixth year of South by Southwest, and the first year only being a musician. That’s kind of exciting for me.”

As she makes her way through a packed slate of parties, panels and shows, Slaton will still be representing the Colorado music scene. She believes the local music scene is filled with lots of talented people, a reputation that she says is recognized outside Denver.

“I get a great response when I say I'm from Colorado, especially Denver,” Slaton says. “Whenever I talk to people in the industry they bring up Nathaniel Rateliff, the Lumineers, the Fray and more. There are so many great bands that have come out of Denver. I think a lot of people pay attention to, or give some sort of credibility, to a band when they say they’re from such a burgeoning music city.”

Edison performs at the hi-dive on Sunday, February 14, with Walk by Sea, Tyto Alba and the Sunrise Review. 

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