When Lonely Boy (also known as Joshua Heath) launched the Blend in Los Angeles about ten years ago, he envisioned the night as a combination -- a blend -- of electronic and live music. "At the time, I had a live band, and we wanted to do a night where we could feature the band in a live setting and also feature DJs, because the group was a mixture of people into both electronic and live music, and so we figured, 'Why not feature both things?'"
It's come a long way from those origins; a Denver tradition since 2011, the Blend returns to Beauty Bar this Saturday, September 27 -- and Lonely Boy is the special guest DJ.
Heath met Hoang Luu through the Blend, and eventually the two of them wound up running the DJ aspect of the evening together; Luu brought in another DJ, Sami Tangents, to play some sets at the resident night in L.A. "It was just a collective of friends and friends of friends of friends of friends," notes Heath.
After putting the Blend together for a few years, Heath and Luu tapered off its regularity. "We tried to take the Blend to Hollywood," says Luu. "And at that time, Josh was becoming a reputable producer in the house scene -- he was working with Miguel Migs and some other big names. So we'd still do events in L.A., but we weren't doing a weekly or a monthly anymore."
Then Luu moved to Denver in 2010 and began thinking about reviving the Blend here, where Tangents was also living. "I went out and started meeting some of the other promotion crews -- the Treehouse Collective, mainly -- and I saw how tight the crew was and how everyone was supported, and I thought, 'I want to bring that concept that we got started in L.A. here. I think it'd work well, maybe even better. And Sami was like, 'We've got to do this and make a mark.'"
So in 2011, the Blend launched in Denver as a monthly residency at the Meadowlark. At first, Tangents and Luu primarily booked locals. Heath was the first out-of-town guest.
It also doesn't include a live band here. Rather, the event draws inspiration from genres across the board and dedicates themes to each show, bringing in guests to help them pay homage to that theme. "We like to rock," says Luu. "We like all kinds of music. All of us have influences across the board -- from jazz to funk to hip-hop to techno. And we wanted to bring that flavor to our night and not be pigeonholed."
"Then we started kicking around ideas about different theme nights we could do," says Tangents. "We did a drum-and-bass party; we did a mustache party. Last year, we threw our first hip-hop party, and this year, we brought Atish in. We moved away from doing a monthly because we didn't want it to get stale, so we scaled back, and now we plan out our parties a little more and put a little more time into each one." (This will be the third Blend event this year.)
"And we're taking time between parties where we're saying, 'We'll make it a scene and bring back a style of music,'" says Luu. "So we did the golden era of hip-hop -- '80s through early '90s, that was very specific. And we're still DJing -- the live aspect is still there -- but we're switching out the music and adding a really fun vibe with lots of decorations."
Meanwhile, Heath has been working on a new project for the past couple of years -- Lonely Boy, an alias he developed a few years ago. "I started growing tired of where I was stereotyped as 'Joshua Heath,'" he explains. "It's just natural to evolve as a person and as a musician -- or in whatever creative field you're working in. And as I played and traveled over the world over several years, I became a different kind of DJ and wanted to play different music, but promoters wanted to book me based on the first records I put out in 2007. So I just figured that if I wanted to get the gigs that I wanted to play, I'd have to make that kind of music.
"So I stopped doing things under 'Joshua Heath' and started covering new ground," he says. "I'm finally to the point where I'm really happy with everything I'm making and wanting to play it. It's slightly more electronic and more thought-out and ethereal than the stuff I used to make."
You can hear for yourself when Lonely Boy joins Hoang at Beauty Bar this Saturday, September 27, at 9 p.m.; admission is $10.
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