Since 2011, Sounds on 29th, a PBS12 television broadcast, has put the spotlight on Colorado musicians via live performances straight from the studio. This year, COVID-19 took that option away. The show pivoted, and now host and occasional Westword writer Bree Davies is spending the season highlighting some of the best music videos from local artists, with a focus on projects by directors Jeremey Pape, Kim Shively and Dylan Owens.
The season is also tapping into the station's historic Teletunes archives, exploring videos from the past four decades. Teletunes was a music-video show that premiered on Channel 12 as FM-TV in February 1981 and pre-dated MTV by six months. Before shutting down in the late ’90s, it was the longest-running music-video show on television.
For years, the program was hosted by Heather Dalton, a fixture in the Denver underground cultural scene and a longtime producer of Sounds on 29th. Davies, Dalton and Richard Taylor, who shoots, edits and curates the show, decided to focus on music videos this season when they noticed Teletunes' surprisingly active social media following.
"That Teletunes fan base was so strong, we knew it would be of interest to the Denver community," Davies says.
Though she misses the chaotic adventure of hosting bands in the studio and interviewing them live on camera, the shift toward music videos has made this season easier to produce.
Davies describes Sounds on 29th as a celebration of Denver's ever-growing music scene, which she says has become stronger as musicians from the Midwest have moved here to avoid oversaturated music cities like Nashville or Los Angeles.
"You couldn't say we were this big ten years ago," she says.
In part, Davies explains Denver's emergence as a music city by pointing to the city's venues, from mid-sized spaces like AEG's new Mission Ballroom and Live Nation's Fillmore Auditorium to Denver-owned Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which she describes as Colorado's Disneyland for music.
So far, the show has included musicians like the Milk Blossoms, Kayla Marque, Mitch Pond and Pink Hawks. To supplement the videos, Davies interviews artists. She also honors the often forgotten producers, directors and others working behind the scenes.
Even with the new format, one thing hasn't changed about Sounds on 29th, says Davies: "We’re letting the music speak."
New Sounds on 29th episodes debut online every Friday through December 4. The show airs at 9 p.m. on Saturdays on Channel 12 through January 2021.
Correction, November 3, 2020: This story originally misidentified the station showing Teletunes and Sounds on 29th. It is PBS12, not Rocky Mountain PBS.
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