Bop Skizzum has finally named its new lead singer, and she's making her live debut tonight at Cervantes', when the band shares a bill with the legends of Fishbone. Last month we confirmed that the group had indeed found a replacement for the then-departing Erin Jo Harris, but they were keeping her identity under wraps while she had a chance to find her groove. Well, groove found. Tonight, Julie Almeria makes her introduction.
Almeria, a 22-year-old Denver School of the Arts alumni, was most recently living in New York, where she attended a music conservatory and studied music and acting. After living for a short time in the Big Apple, she determined that she was more interested in writing and performing her own music. Now, thanks to an introduction from Nick Hammerberg of Petals of Spain, a mutual friend of Almeria and Bop Skizzum leader Andy Guerrero (aka Andy Rok), the young singer finds herself back in Denver and in the driver's seat of a promising funk band.
"So we went through all the auditions and everything, and we decided to go with her," says Guerrero, explaining how the band chose Almeria. "One, I think her voice is really great. It's really distinct, you know? It's not like Erin's. It's still good and soulful, but it's a little more poppy, I think. She has a really unique voice -- to me, she has a really unique voice. Like I told her, it doesn't sound like anybody else's voice that I heard. So I was looking to go for, like, real distinct, you know, and make a very [strong] distinction from Erin."
Shortly after quitting her job in New York and moving back to Denver, Almeria wasted no time getting together with the band to write and rehearse. And already she's made huge strides, says Guerrero. "She learns quickly," he points out. "Her learning curve is pretty impressive to me, at this point." Good thing she's a quick study, because it's been a trial by fire so far. She arrived in town in time for the Flobots Bowling Ball, and less than a week later, she hopped in the van with Guerrero and company and headed out on a 35-hour road trip to South Carolina to audition for the National Association of College Activities (NACA). Out of hundreds of submissions, NACA picks twenty bands or so to showcase in consideration for landing gigs at 150 colleges.
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Meanwhile, back in Denver, Almeria has been learning some of the act's older songs and working with the guys to write new material. "We're not going to phase out all the old songs,because some of them are still really good," says Guerrero. "But a lot of those songs were written for Erin's range. Julie can do them, and she can do them really well, but her voice is different, so we're writing stuff that I feel is better for her voice and her sound."
After tonight's show, the band is slated to make its way into the studio next week to lay down some of the new tracks in preparation for an eventual EP in Feburary of next year. In the meantime, Almeria will be making a more formal debut on New Year's Eve at Moe's BBQ.
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