Music News

Ten Acts of Kindness in the Denver Music Scene

Ten Acts of Kindness in the Denver Music Scene
Courtesy of Bud Bronson & the Good Timers
The Denver music scene is often touted as a network that balances ambition with frequent shows of kindness, whether that means putting on benefits for medical expenses, banding together for DIY festivals, or simply showing up for all-local shows. (Illegal Pete's feeds hungry musicians for free; locals are often tapped to play the big stage at Red Rocks...) We asked Colorado musicians and show organizers to weigh in on the local music community and shout out folks working to help fellow artists. Here are ten acts of musical kindness in Denver.

Courtesy of Bud Bronson & the Good Timers
10. Brian Beer, singer/guitarist/songwriter of Bud Bronson & the Good Timers
Beer wrote: "Sometime during the summer of 2015, maybe during FaceMan's Journey to the Sun, our bass player Austen was talking to Justin Hicks, who through his company Incite Productions, helped construct the giant rocket that was the JTS centerpiece. Austen mentioned how cool it would be if BBGT had a giant, light-up sign to hang at shows, something like Weezer's patented "Flying W" (think the El Scorcho video). Justin agreed, and a few weeks later, he actually showed up at our house with a four-foot-diameter light-up sign featuring the logo on our band jackets. We plugged it in and fired it up for our Fantasy Machine LP release show a few weeks later, and lemme tell ya, that sign really helped tie the room together — especially considering we were playing in the very un-rock-and-roll locale of Savoy (normally a ballroom dance hall/pilates studio).

The coolest thing about this is that Justin wasn't a close pal or anything. He was just a guy who liked our band and was really generous with his time and skills, going out of his way after a one-time conversation to make this awesome thing happen for our band. Totally out of the goodness of his heart (unless there's some weird ulterior motive that has yet to manifest itself two-plus years after this act of kindness).

In response, I know we gave Justin a bunch of sick BBGT schwag along with some social media mentions, but I don't think anything we've done can really adequately thank him for this semi-random, much-appreciated act of kindness. Justin, if you're reading this, you get a lifetime guestlist pass to any show (including when we play the Pepsi Center in 2019 for the Diamond Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Tour & Arena Rock Blowout) and a lifetime of gratitude for being a good friend to us."

click to enlarge The Corner Girls perform at Titwrench Fest in 2016 - SARAH SLATER
The Corner Girls perform at Titwrench Fest in 2016
Sarah Slater
9. Bree Davies, co-organizer of Titwrench
Davies wanted to spotlight Witch House, a space as it was known for years, which provided affordable housing for artists: "waaaay below market rate rent, which kept many of us afloat and able to make art and stay living in Denver." Based on a belief in equitable distribution of wealth and power, the person who owns the house describes the space as "a place of healing, community, warmth, and shelter to many amazing Denver artists and musicians, as well as those touring through."

Westword archive
8. Amanda Gonulsen, of Automatic Iris

In addition to shouting out Wheelchair Sports Camp's activism for marginalized and disabled people, Gonulsen recounted a story of musicians coming together to build a community. Gonulsen, along with bandmate and sweetheart Glenn Hermanson, teamed up with Neil McCormick (of Kid Reverie and other bands) and Erin Korris to throw a free rooftop show — and record the event under the full moon with Lady Cactus Publishing. "Folks from the community, industry, from Open Air, UMS, and a couple close friends came to be the live audience," Gonulsen says. "It was a way to give back to them." The core four set up the rooftop party with food and drink, and Strange Americans, Chimney Choir, Overslept, Avenhart, Kinesics, Kid Reverie and Automatic Iris all played for free. Friends and neighbors helped set up, loaned supplies and lights, and took photos. The event had "a real barn-building community feel, like the night that the kids finally got to throw a dance in Footloose. Everyone got something from it, gave something to it, and we got to share a beautiful community night under the full moon!" Gonulsen says. "It was all huggable and swoony, and had nothing to do with a dime."

Westword archive
7. Ru Johnson, owner of Roux Black

Johnson seems to know everyone in Denver hip-hop, but when it came to the subject of kindness, she zeroed in on one name: DJ Ktone. "He's literally the best person this music scene has to offer in terms of talent and his energy," Johnson says. "He gives away bags and bags of clothing to people who need them often (and his style is fly, so he's outfitting people in hot threads)." DJ Ktone's annual birthday bash had a charitable twist this year, as he partnered with the Colorado Association of Black Journalists to create scholarships in broadcast journalism/communication. The FLO 107.1 DJ's repping for good causes extends to his own son, who's had a stellar season on Regis Jesuit High's football team. Johnson says Ktone "brought out all the rappers and promoted [Regis football] games like they were an event."

6. Tobias Krause, of Two Parts

Krause says he witnesses artists helping one another out all the time. "This is a community of awesome musicians willing to step up and help one another out," Krause says. The festival booker even remembers a hostile audience member getting tackled: "I think he was on meth..." For his part, Krause tries to contribute to the Denver scene by plugging musicians in to higher-paying gigs and providing "an alternate space to showcase their music away from the cliche clubs."
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Katie Moulton is a former Westword music editor. She's written about culture for alt-weeklies since 2009 and has also worked as a venue manager, radio DJ/producer and festival organizer. Her go-to karaoke jams are "Flagpole Sitta," by Harvey Danger, or "Ride Wit Me," by Nelly, which tells you a lot.
Contact: Katie Moulton