Shane Endsley has been the trumpeter for the forward-thinking quartet Kneebody for the past two decades. More recently, he’s been director of education and outreach for the Denver Municipal Band, which has been building community through music around the city since 1861, just a couple of years after Denver was founded.
While the members of DMB usually play a number of free concerts in local parks every year (during the pandemic, the band moved its concerts online) and also offer music education programs throughout the city, Endsley was looking for new ways that the group could lend its services in different parts of Denver, particularly to enrich lower-income neighborhoods.
“I've been trying to figure out ways to just branch out — be able to meet up with more kids and folks in the community that are outside of already established music programs — and more ways to kind of pull people in,” Endsley says.
While on a bike ride along the Platte River, Endsley and his wife stumbled on Raices Brewing Company, a family-friendly brewery at 2060 West Colfax Avenue that also offers cultural events for the community, regularly hosting artisans, poets, seminars and concerts.
Endsley talked with Tamil Maldonado, vice president of development at Raices, about possibly doing some group music classes at the brewery. Now, starting on March 31, Raices and DMB will offer free weekly classes on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., through May 5. Open to all ages, the classes will be held in both English (register here) and Spanish (register here).
Los Mocochetes bassist Diego Florez, who has previously a partner artist at Youth on Record, will be the head teacher for the classes, leading the group through basic guitar and percussion techniques using traditional and original songs. COVID safety practices will be carefully monitored at each class.
The six weeks of classes will be almost like a mini-semester, Endsley says, adding that he hopes people attend them regularly through early May. For those who do, DMB might be able to offer additional instruction or help with the acquisition of an instrument, he notes.
At the very least, under the instruction of Florez, students will learn a few chords and part of a song, and sing and play together.
“My favorite thing, and part of our DMB mission, is just to kind of promote the art and craft of music and all the benefits and joys it brings to individuals when you're playing together as a group, and that unique way that you connect with other people when you're playing music,” Endsley explains.
While the classes are geared to younger students, Endsley would like to keep them open to all. “It would be great if it was multi-generational,” he says, “like if we had old folks and middle-aged and kids sitting together, playing. That would be ideal, where it kind of brings people together along those lines, when they might not always be doing some kind of activity together."
While the March 31 class is full, that gives Endsley hope for the success of the series. "We're just trying to keep it really open and inviting for whoever wants to come and sit down and play," he says. "We'll try and just keep a seat for them, and if they need an instrument, we’ll provide an instrument for them.”
Find information on future classes here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included art that was not of Florez. We regret the error.