The Latest Colfax-Themed Compilation Includes an Out-of-State Ode to the Street

Jonny Barber (right), with Pete's Kitchen/Satire Lounge owner Pete Contos, is putting together a third Colfax-themed compilation album.EXPAND
Jonny Barber (right), with Pete's Kitchen/Satire Lounge owner Pete Contos, is putting together a third Colfax-themed compilation album.
Photo by Anistacia Barber

While it’s clear that guitarist and singer Jonny Barber, also known as the Velvet Elvis, has a strong affinity for Elvis Presley, the guy’s fondness for Colfax Avenue runs just about as deep. He’s been webmaster of ColfaxAvenue.com for over a decade, chronicling America’s longest street.

Two years ago, Barber assembled fifteen acts for the first volume of his Colfax-themed compilation album, which included Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Five Iron Frenzy, Snake Mountain and Andy Palmer. Last year he released the second volume, with another fifteen songs by White Fudge, BLKHRTS, the Hacks, Natural Selection and others. Now Barber is gearing up for the third volume; he’s lined up about half of the fifteen acts and is looking for more to fill the album, which will be issued as a vinyl-only release.

“I’m welcoming any and all submissions, even spoken word or any style of music — it’s just that the song has to have Colfax as the subject,” Barber says. "Anything Colfax-related. No one has written a song about Casa Bonita yet, so that’s wide open.”

The first band to sign on to the third volume is the Portland, Oregon-based act the Delines, who released the album titled Colfax last year.

“Their song ‘Colfax Ave.’ is about someone coming out of the Lion's Lair and they’re all kind of bloodied up,” says Barber. “Some kind of crazy scuffle went down at the Lair. It’s a fitting way to start a Colfax anthem.”

Since the band has been touring internationally and getting press, Barber says there’s been more interest in Colfax, and he’s had people writing him from Europe and others countries wanting to know more, asking if Colfax was some kind of wild place. “I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, you don’t know the half of it,’” says Barber.

With outlaw country singer Ryan Chrys and blues artist Eef also on board for volume three, it sounds like the disc is shaping up to be as eclectic as the previous two volumes.

“What’s amazing is that they’re all original songs about Colfax but they’re all so different,”says Barber. “I mean, not only stylistically – some are jazz or blues and then some are hip-hop and some are just straight up gangsta lyrics. And then some of them have just this really lost-and-found kind of a poetic thing to [them], kind of a strain maybe coming off the Beat poets. Some of them have more a romantic notion of Colfax and people that kind of glorify Charles Bukowski or something. They’ve got this idea that Colfax is like a drunken Champs-Élysées.”

As with last year’s compilation, volume three will benefit the Colfax Community Network, which helps homeless families along the Colfax corridor.

The line-up of the first Colfax compilation.EXPAND
The line-up of the first Colfax compilation.

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