Rane Miranda, who fronts the Boulder band Sunnnner, started booking underground shows at her house and venues around town about four years ago.
“With these shows, you're seeing this community kind of get formed when you bring people together,” Miranda says. “You're making the world more diverse, and you're introducing people to cultures and music and ideas that are vastly different from each other. Just that spreading of culture I found to be the most inspiring human aspect of music.”
Miranda began booking shows under the name DIY Casual, which she eventually turned into an arts-education nonprofit, providing maker spaces at cost or for free. To help promote the group, Miranda created Casual Fest, a series of independent arts, music and activism concerts at the Boulder Bandshell. The series launches on Friday, July 23, and will continue on August 6, September 10 and September 17.
“Our goal starting out is to create a public art and music event, totally free, with the goal of connecting the community and taking the inclusivity and mystique of knowledge out of the independent scene into the mainstream,” Miranda says. “We believe that art should be accessible to everyone, housed or unhoused, and the opportunity to show it off or participate in a local market should not be limited by finances. We are looking to create a more vibrant art community, and do not see people's race, sex, housing status or gender as a barrier to participation."
Miranda is seeking donations (@diycasual on Venmo) to help offset the festival’s production costs, which are about $2,300 per show. Lineups will be diverse, including mostly LGBTQIA, BIPOC and femme artists. There will also be an open mic available for poets, activists, social-movement artists, Indigenous organizers and more.
Within two years, the organization hopes to establish a permanent maker space, and Miranda's been scoping warehouses between Denver and Boulder. That space would have art supplies, instrumental rentals, studios, educational spaces, a screen-printing lab and more. She hopes to franchise the concept nationwide so that communities around the country can build from her model.
While Miranda has been busy with DIY Casual, she’s also recorded material with her Sunnnner bandmates — Ari Looney, Logan Pace and Reed Hackett — for a self-titled album set to drop on August 13. The songs explore Miranda's childhood trauma, gender and racial identity, and drug addiction, addressing how brushes with death can bring a person closer to life.
“I've almost died several times,” Miranda says. “I'm the most alive I have ever been. I've been clean for six years, off of opiates, and feel the most alive that I ever really have in my life. It’s just through this understanding and this kind of confrontation with death — and I call it impending death and unavoidable life — that's my definition of art.”
Casual Fest, featuring Slow Caves, Sickly Hecks, Sunnnner, Pictoria Vark, People in General, King Crawdad, Musa Starseed, Safekeeper, Pictoria Vark, Lu and more runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, July 23, at the Boulder Bandshell, 1212 Canyon Boulevard in Boulder. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.