Seven Denver Side Projects You Should Be Listening To

Denver is a haven for musicians. It has a plethora of venues and a veritable sea of musicians to collaborate with. The sheer size of the musician population has led to more bands then we could name here, and countless other side projects. Those side projects, the every once in awhile acts, are not as clear-cut as one may think. What’s a main gig for one musician is a side gig for another. And with bands constantly hitting the road, many feature a rotating cast of musical characters. Despite the hazy lines and unclear designations, we found our way through the Denver music maze; here are seven great side projects to check out.

The Eye & the Arrow
The Eye & the Arrow, which features Mark Anderson on drums and Paul DeHaven on guitar/vocals, was dormant for a while, as Paper Bird (of which both are members) spent most of the last couple of years on the road and in the studio. But 2015 saw them at backyard parties and venues around town. The two Paper Bird members teamed up with Jason Haas-Hecker for a vintage, stripped-down sound. It’s a bit heavier than Paper Bird, but just as sincere, with elegant lyrics and sway-worthy melodies.

Poet’s Row
While Poet’s Row is certainly the main project for Mickey Bakas and Emily Hobbs (though Bakas has his own solo work), it makes our list for Macon Terry, the group’s occasional bassist. Terry, formerly of Paper Bird, is the frontman for his own band, Clouds and Mountains, but often makes an appearance on the stage with Poet’s Row, plucking his bass. Poet’s Row is delicate, quiet and at times haunting. It’s reminiscent of long, solo drives through the mountains and soundtracks to failed romances of the past.

When Wilson Helmricks isn’t busy producing albums for others or hitting the road with Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, he’s teamed up with Zale Hassler (from 200 Million Years) to create some strange, eerie electronic music. The duo hasn't appeared live since August, but hopefully it will play soon — October could use some melancholy unsettling electronic psych from Denver’s own.

Miss America by Wheary
Before Joseph Pope III and Patrick Meese took off with Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats to perform the excellent debut all over the world, he was quietly working on Miss America. Featuring Julie Davis and occasionally Rateliff himself, this project is sentimental, thoughtful. It's the kind of music you play on an old, dusty turntable as night turns into morning and conversations became hushed.

Natalie Tate
Natalie Tate is a solo artist (and keyboard player for Porlolo, and guitar player for Ark Life), and if you haven’t seen this exceptional singer/songwriter live, put it on your Denver music bucket list. When performing live, however, it’s not just Tate and a keyboard. She has enlisted the help of members of Ark Life, Chimney Choir and other Denver musicians to create a compelling sound to match her captivating voice and songwriting skills. It’s Natalie Tate, but it’s the sound of Denver’s giant bed of talent.

Patrick and Nate Meese have been in involved in countless successful bands. If one want’s to define Denver music, one doesn’t need to look much further than the Meese brothers. Their latest creative endeavor is currently on hold. It was a casual collaboration between Nate, Patrick, and Patrick’s wife Tiffany. Between the Night Sweats touring, hometown performances with Miss America, and one of a dozen projects the two brothers may be involved in at any given time, it may be a while before the Centennial comes back. But when it does, Denver is ready for the two fraternal maestros to wow with their music.

You’re most likely to see Kim Phat fronting the raucous party band The Dirty Few. Maybe spewing beer into the crowd and stage diving. When she isn’t living out the Denver party dream, she’s working with producer and DJ Usurper on Lascivus. It’s dark and windy electronic music. The kind you listen to alone, late at night after too many drinks. It’s a major departure for Phat, and one for Usurper as well, but a welcome one as their collaboration leaves the ears wanting more.