Singer-songwriter Blake Brown has been a part of the Colorado music scene for more than twenty years. He arrived in Fort Collins in 1995 at the age of fifteen and cut his teeth playing aggressive rock with the group To the Sky before joining a couple of indie-oriented projects (Monofog, Bare Bones), all the while polishing his songwriting chops. Along the way, he's befriended members of standout Mile High outfits including Paper Bird and Strange Americans — and like the Front Range, Brown's artistry has evolved with the times.
"I'm originally from El Paso, but I've been here for quite some time, and I feel like a native," shares Brown, who has called Denver home for the past eleven years and who is about to release a batch of new songs with his group, Blake Brown & the American Dust Choir. "My former [musical] self included a fairly heavy rock vibe, and my past work was introspective and reflective. You write from the heart, and you write about hard times or whatever you're going through. The new songs are more about looking outward. Instead of being about me and my experiences, they are about partnership, love, god and hope, which are messages that I want to spread as I get older."
Brown and the Choir will celebrate the premiere of their latest single, "Hanging by a Wire," with a show at the hi-dive on March 9. The band, which comprises Brown on vocals and guitar, drummer Adam Blake, guitarist Trent Nelson, bassist Jason Legler, guitarist Jonah Wisneski and keyboardist/vocalist Tiffany Brown, plans to release an EP with more songs later this year. "Hanging by a Wire" fuses a pulsing pop feel with Brown's indie-leaning sensibility and captivating harmonies.
"[My] new songs are a little more rock-influenced, though not as Americana-heavy," Brown says. "'Hanging by a Wire' is representative of the rest of the songs on our [upcoming] record. I've made a concerted effort to see the light in things. It's dark times now politically, and the world feels hectic. So I wanted to make an effort to see the positive and to try to maintain a shred of hope in a time of darkness. These new songs are an effort to break some new ground. This song addresses leaving a part of yourself while looking ahead with a newfound sense of self. — all the while, doing so with hope and strength, and even doing it with someone by your side. It's about seeing light in something during a chaotic, challenging time, with love and support there with you along the way. Which, I think, in itself is pretty special. Some of the lyrics are 'The ghost of my past, he's just a liar,' and 'Caught in the eye of the storm, it won't leave me alone,' while the chorus follows with 'Take my hand. I'll be here where you stand.'"
"I write the songs on the acoustic, so you kind of then deconstruct them and put them back together in the studio," he explains. "I wanted to have a lot of space in the songs and really make them impactful. Our buddy Joe Richmond, the producer, did the last record, and I called him in to do this one. So there's a running theme. When it comes down to Americana alt stuff, I'm trying to break away from that and be a well-rounded artist. A song is a good song if you can strip it down to its basics and it still translates. I'm trying to get out of my box a little. You get compared to stuff when you've been around for a while, but the idea is to stretch yourself and do what you can do."
Brown says he and the ADC, which released a full-length titled Long Way Home last year, started around 2013 but have found their footing in the past couple of years.
"I've been performing for a while, but within the last two years things, have picked up in terms of the business component," Brown says. "We signed with an agency [Madison House], and I have a batch of new songs. We're going to push this single hard, and we're shopping it to record labels. Last year was great, but this year is also great. We're amping up for spring and summer. I'm looking forward to playing with my friends Matt Hoffman from New Mexican and the people from Heavy Diamond Ring. I've known them for years. I love that it's going to be a community thing that taps into the Denver music scene."