Mile High Makeout: Opening My Eyes

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Just when I think I really know the Denver music scene, something happens to humble me and make me realize how much I have to learn. As Depeche Mode said, it’s a lot like life.

Last weekend, I had the honor of participating on a panel at the third annual Building Creative Businesses Expo, an extremely valuable event thrown by the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the event is to provide creative types with opportunities to learn a bit more about how to run their creative “businesses” more successfully. There were workshops and panels about marketing, legal issues, networking, finances and much more. The mere existence of this happening further proves that it’s a great time to be an artist here. It felt like making out with the City of Denver, and that’s not a bad thing, as it turns out.

My panel was called “Meet the (Music) Press,” and included wisdom and science dropped by Ricardo Baca and John Moore from the Denver Post, Jim McTurnan from Cat-A-Tac and Jesse Walker from the Flobots. I hope it was valuable for the folks who attended and asked great questions. I know it was valuable for me. Some of the folks in the room had some really smart insights about what makes good music journalism, and I’m still thinking about it.

The modest conference room in which we held our little pow-wow was absolutely packed, and this surprised the hell out of me. There were people standing, people sitting on the floor and people lurking by the door. In addition to musicians, there were band managers, label representatives and other music biz types. And I knew almost none of them. Sure, there were a couple of familiar faces, but most of these people were new to me, as I’m sure I was to them.

This experience came on the heels of an enlightening email exchange I recently had with Jason Crockwell, of the band 66 Rising. He forwarded me some information about the Battle of the Bands coming up this weekend at the Art Institute of Colorado. There are 10 bands competing, and I’ve never heard – or even heard of – any of them. It’s not a crime to not know certain things. You can always go out and learn, right? But when you don’t know what you don’t know, that’s the very definition of ignorance, isn’t it? The bands you read about here, the bands I check out regularly, the folks who have made the wide-eyed pilgrimage to Austin this week – those are just the tip of Denver’s musical iceberg.

Sure, that’s a horrible metaphor (as well as a horrible application of the phrase “just the tip”), but the point still stands. I don’t know what I don’t know. I now have just an inkling of all the shows, bands and venues I haven’t even experienced yet. My calendar is already full with shows by musicians I know, but I have a feeling it’s about to get a lot more crowded.

If I try to make it to half of the shows going on in this town, I’ll have to forgo eating and sleeping. As Morrissey once said, on a completely unrelated topic, “This night has opened my eyes, and I will never sleep again.” I think I know what he meant.

Post-script: If there’s a musical act or band in the Denver area you think I should see – even if it’s your own – feel free to leave a comment here with some details about the style of music, when they’re playing next and why you think it’s worth checking out. If you’ve been reading my writing over the years, you already know the types of music I’m into, so please don’t send me to see some jam band. You can help a lot of people open their eyes to all of the great stuff happening every night in the Denver area. --Eryc Eyl

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