On the afternoon of the Marshall fire, Kendall James, lead singer and keyboardist of Neon the Bishop
, was shopping at FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield with a friend.
“We knew there were some fires, but thought they were contained out in a field, so at the time we didn’t take it too seriously,” says James. “I was caught off guard when they started evacuations.”
Inside one of the mall’s gaming stores, James remembers he was suddenly asked to leave. "This older lady working there literally started pushing us out of the store, saying, ‘Leave now, we’re being evacuated!’”
As the two exited the mall, James says he saw how chaotic it was on the roads, and the severity of the fire, exacerbated by the high winds and dry conditions, began to set in. “At that point, the smoke was much heavier," he recalls. "It looked like it was the Apocalypse.”
When he reached his home in Parker and learned that the fire continued to ravage Boulder County, burning hundreds of structures and forcing people in Louisville and Superior to evacuate, he knew he wanted to do something to help those impacted by the fire.
“I figured the best thing I could do was to rally local musicians together and put on a fundraiser show so that proceeds could go to people who lost so much,” he explains.
James recruited alt-rock band Holdfast
, country artist Kayla Ruby
, indie rockers Augustus
and the soulful, jazz-meets-pop group Dzirae Gold
. James says they were all eager to join forces and do what they could for the benefit concert.
All proceeds from the Local Loving Local - Wild Fire Fundraiser will go directly to the Boulder County Wildfire Fund.
“We were born and raised in Colorado and have lots of friends who lost their homes and had to evacuate from the Marshall fire,” says Holdfast lead singer Charlie Maddocks, who formed the band in Windsor in 2011 with his cousins Mike and Tommy Maddocks. The trio met James and his band last September, when the two acts performed at KTCL 93.3's Big Gig at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. “We’re grateful to be part of something that will help raise funds for those affected by the fire,” Maddocks says.
James says the recent fire also hit home for many local musicians, who haven’t forgotten the generosity they felt from the Boulder and Denver music communities when the pandemic hit.
“A lot of venues took care of artists the best way they could during a really difficult time,” says James. “It costs promoters more money during the outbreak of COVID-19 because of capacity restrictions, but venues like the Black Buzzard at Oskar Blues
, Lost Lake Lounge
, Globe Hall
, Moe's Original Bar B Que
, the Fox Theatr
e and more did their best to keep the spirit of music alive. So the best thing us musicians know how to do is put on a good show to raise some money for a good cause."
The benefit concert, called Local Loving Local - Wild Fire Fundraiser, takes place Friday, February 4, at Mannequin Entertainment Studios in Englewood. It offers limited concert tickets, with 75 in-person tickets overall. There will also be a free livestream
of the show, with a link to a donation page raising funds for the victims of the Marshall fire.
A hundred percent of the ticket sales and all donations made during the livestream will go directly to the Boulder County Wildfire Fund
, which is powered by ColoradoGives.org
, a year-round and up-to-date website that supports around 3,000 Colorado nonprofits online.
James also recruited several sponsors to help with expenses, including Tokyo Joe’s, which is donating food to the volunteers and bands on the night of the concert; Mannequin Entertainment
, a corporate event brand in Denver, which is lending its sound system and rehearsal space at Sublimelight Studios for the live show; Reel Flamingo, a video production company, which is providing the cameras, switchers and other livestream equipment; and local graphic artist Elias Armao, who created the artwork for the poster.
James says he is proud of putting the fundraiser together and devoting the time and energy needed to get it off the ground. “I thought it was best if Neon the Bishop didn’t play the concert," he says. "I don’t think I could have given the show the attention to detail it needs to really promote it and get the word out.”
Neon the Bishop
is currently working on new material for an album to be released sometime this year. Known for its epic sound — a mix of Queen, Young the Giant, and Twenty One Pilots — James says the indie-rock/electronica band recently won KTCL 93.3 radio’s Hometown for the Holidays 2021
song competition for its latest single, “Wasted City,
” in December. The prize earned the band complimentary studio time for the recording and mastering of one song at the the Blasting Room
in Fort Collins.
"It’s really cool to be able to record at such a legendary recording studio,” says James. “We’re pumped.” The Blasting Studio, built in 1994 by members of Descendents, ALL and Black Flag, has been used by countless bands, including Flobots, Anti-Flag, Alkaline Trio, the Ataris, Rise Against, Lagwagon and the Distillers.
Local Loving Local - Wild Fire Fundraiser; 6 p.m. Friday, February 4; Mannequin Entertainment Studios, 2997 South Tejon Street, Englewood. Tickets are $20. The livestream can be viewed at https://bit.ly/locallovinglocal. Donations can be made online via the Boulder County Wildfire Fund.