On June 29, we'll present our 25th Westword Music Showcase. The event has grown dramatically since it was founded in 1995, with just a handful of bands playing around LoDo. In 2019, more than seventy local acts will fill venues throughout the Golden Triangle, while national headliners CHVRCHES, Jai Wolf, JAUZ, Bishop Briggs, Crooked Colours, lovelytheband, The Knocks, The Wrecks and SHAED will play the two main stages.
Many of the artists who have participated in Showcase have gone on to worldwide success, while others continue to perform for loyal local audiences. And some have cashed it in and left music altogether.
Jeff Campbell, aka Apostle, was a force in Denver's hip-hop scene in the late ’90s and through the ’00s. He was the frontman of Heavyweight Dub Champion, a solo MC and the head of the Colorado Hip-Hop Coalition, who preached the gospel of hip-hop culture at home and far beyond. In recent years, Campbell has shifted his focus toward writing, directing and starring in plays, including Who Killed Jigaboo Jones? and, most recently, Honorable Disorder through his Emancipation Theater Company.
We caught up with Campbell to talk about playing Showcase and what he thinks about Denver's evolving music scene.
Westword: What memories and stories do you have of playing the Westword Music Showcase?
Jeff Campbell: I was scheduled to play the Soiled Dove one year, and the headliner was Leftover Salmon, who was scheduled outside. The weather was terrible, and they had to cancel the outdoor stages, which wound up bumping my slot for Leftover Salmon's. I was pissed, but it wound up pushing the folks from outside inside, and Leftover Salmon invited me up during their set to sit in. We did about a good ten minutes of me improvising while they gave me some solid hip-hop/reggae live music to freestyle over. And grass-hop was born!
How has your own band evolved since playing Showcase?
Since hip-hop is a young person's sport, I've focused my writing talents on playwriting. I have a couple of productions under my belt: Who Killed Jigaboo Jones? (2013) and Honorable Disorder (2018). I'm growing and learning as a playwright and have a few more scripts in me that I will be giving birth to soon. I romanticize often about recording music. So far, it hasn't been enough to get me back in the studio. Maybe some day.
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Denver's music scene has changed a lot over the past 25 years. What are your thoughts on its evolution?
A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. There are so many talented artists in our city, and I am pulling for them all to reach their height of heights. I'm proud of Wheelchair Sports Camp and Trev Rich and their national success. I'm a big fan of Kid Astronaut, 5280 Mystic, DJ Cavem, Bianca Mikahn and Koo Qua. I also love the voice and writing of Kayla Marque, Cicely O'kain, and Such. They are all just getting started, and their future is extremely bright. I will always love Venus Cruz, Danette Hollowell, Erica Brown, Felisa Hernandez.
Denver's music scene — in large part, because of the incredible Westword Music Showcase — will continue to grow, thrive and inspire. Respect.
The 25th Westword Music Showcase will sound off in the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 29. Find out more about who's playing, vote for your favorite acts on the Westword Music Awards ballot, buy tickets and find more details now at westwordshowcase.com.