After moving to Denver from West Virginia six years ago, Kirk Hubbard began documenting the city’s bluegrass, jamgrass and acoustic scenes by recording shows, shooting video and taking photos. He also compiled a list of bluegrass concerts happening around the state on his Denver Jamgrass Facebook page.
With Max Paley — mandolin player for That Damn Sasquatch, who has a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University — Hubbard built Denver Jamgrass into a nonprofit organization. These days, Denver Jamgrass is not only documenting the scene through recordings and its podcast, but the group is also helping local artists through the Ben Paley Memorial Musician’s Assistance Fund, which was set up in honor of Paley’s brother and is offering COVID-19 relief for musicians who have worked in the music industry for five years or have released at least six singles or six professional videos.
Paley, Denver Jamgrass’s executive director, says the nonprofit has helped out more than twenty musicians; many of them appear on the recently released Stone Soup, which he produced and which is the first compilation album from Denver Jamgrass. Hubbard suggested the record's name, inspired by the folk story that emphasizes community and encourages all parties to share a little of what they have for the betterment of the group as a whole.
“We were talking about how we want to present ourselves to the community that we have now and the future communities that are paying attention in the bluegrass world,” Paley says. “And we decided that this Stone Soup album, where we approach a bunch of different musicians in the scene at a particular point in time, could kind of function as a snapshot of the Denver acoustic-music scene.”
The album includes tracks from local acts including Meadow Mountain, Thunder and Rain, Chain Station, Lonesome Days, That Damn Sasquatch and others, and was recorded at Swallow Hill Music. In keeping in line with Denver Jamgrass’s mission of being an archival organization, Paley says he hopes to release a new compilation every year or every other year.
He notes that the organization uses the term “jamgrass” as an all-encompassing qualifier that defines swaths of bluegrass, a genre that has grown stronger over the years in Colorado with the proliferation of nationally recognized festivals.
A main thrust of Denver Jamgrass is its podcast, which was started last fall and is now up to episode 25. While many music-related podcasts are primarily interview-based, Paley wanted a typical Denver Jamgrass podcast to include 90 percent music and 10 percent interviews.
“I really wanted a podcast that was just mostly music," says Paley, "and then a couple of little tactical interview snippets that I throw in there."
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