Here's what Chella & the Charm, led by Chella Negro, has to say.
Westword: What do you want readers to know about your music?
Chella: While we are listed under the Country category [on the Westword Music Awards ballot], we don't fit neatly into the country-music genre. We take a little bit of the honky-tonk, a little bit of Western swing, healthy doses of outlaw country, and mix in a some punk and surf-rock elements. That, along with the enormous presence of Chella and her big voice, set us apart from what the average listener might think of when they think of country music.
How has Denver influenced your sound?
Over the last eighteen years, this city has really found its way into my heart, into my bones. As my songwriting changes and evolves, so does the city. I wonder if maybe the two aren't connected. I have several songs specifically about Denver and my experiences here. A close listener can find hints of the city in nearly all of my songs, in fact. At this point, I don't think I can separate Chella & the Charm from Denver, the city, even if I sometimes daydream about busting out. We're both a little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll.
What are the biggest issues Denver musicians face in 2018 — good and bad?
I mean, the obvious good thing is that we have this amazing cross-genre community here. It doesn't matter who you are or what type of music you play; we've all had nearly the same experiences in this town, which really bonds us. The drama is minimal and can usually be hashed out over a few beers and a smoke. Keeping that sense of goodwill and camaraderie as the city and our music scene expands is important not only to us old scenesters, but for the kiddos coming in, too. It's always a goal of mine to keep that idea alive.
To me, a very important issue to keep an eye on is the preservation of our independent venues. AEG and the like give us locals an opportunity to share the stage with national acts and get out in front of new audiences, so I really can't complain about that. What I do worry about is that we are down to maybe four independently owned dedicated music venues. That's pretty sad for a city of almost 700,000 people. As musicians and consumers of music, it's so very important to support these bastions of true independent music.
Go to the hi-dive on a Thursday, spend a Sunday night at the Oriental Theater. These places are bringing in amazing artists and putting on great shows. Buy tons of drinks and tip the staff. Do whatever you can to make sure we do not lose the places that have helped define the Denver Sound. I mean, how many bands were born of 7 South Broadway?! Ponder that one for a while; then imagine a town without it. Beige and boring as fuck, right?
If you could change anything about Denver's music scene, what would it be?
Honestly, I'd like to see more press coverage of our scene. We used to have many and varied outlets with eyes on our scene, and now...I mean, who's even doing show/album reviews? It's sad to see fifteen pages of a local paper devoted to marijuana when they used to be devoted to music. Other than that, we're perfect.
What has you most excited about playing the 2018 Westword Music Showcase?
Getting out and playing in front of people who may not have seen us before is the best thing. It's also a wonderful day to hang out and catch up with peers and buds.
Chella & the Charm play the Westword Music Showcase at 1:50 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Stoney's South, 1109 Lincoln Street. Get more information and tickets at westwordshowcase.com.