Many of the artists who have participated in the Showcase have gone on to worldwide success, while others continue to perform for loyal local audiences. And some have cashed it in and left music altogether.
As part of our 25th Showcase celebration, we're checking in with 25 of the bands and musicians who have played the festival over the years, asking them to share a few Showcase memories as well as their thoughts on how Denver's music scene and their own music has changed.
First up: Wendy Woo of The Wendy Woo Band. Woo has been performing in the Denver area since the ’90s and is a member of the Westword Music Showcase Hall of Fame — one of a select group of artists who have been nominated to play at the Westword Music Showcase for more than three years. She's a five-time winner of a Westword Music Award.
Here's what Woo has to say:
Westword: What memories and stories do you have of playing the Westword Music Showcase?
Wendy Woo: I would always get a call from someone asking me to make sure I could come to the event. And I would always be playing somewhere. Once I was busy playing at a wedding and couldn’t make it. At the wedding, my drummer at the time had a new girlfriend, and they were making out on his drum throne. The managers at the country club were offended and asked them to leave. I cried. It was a mess. I finally made my way down to the Showcase, and someone ran up to me outside of the Bluebird Theater and handed me the most amazing metal sculpture of the Denver skyline with a plaque that said Best Singer/Songwriter Wendy Woo. The next few years I also had to miss, but then I started taking the awards night off. I was able to accept two of the last five awards. By that time, I had a speech ready.
How has your own band evolved since playing Showcase?
Believe it or not, I still have the same drummer. I hired him right after firing the guy who was making out with his girlfriend. I ended up marrying this new drummer, having two beautiful babies with him, separating from him. Both of us married other people, and he still plays in the band!
We try to evolve through the times by releasing new music every couple years and new videos as much as possible. We still play a lot. We all write and record. We try hard to stay relevant. We’ve been sitting at number one on the Reverb Nation charts for months now and have won some recent best-of awards, so I think we're achieving that goal while continuing to build a strong following and online presence. I believe these things are important to maintain relevance in this modern time of music performance.
Denver's music scene has changed a lot over the past 25 years. What are your thoughts on its evolution?
It is much harder to make a living since CDs have become a thing of the past. Music is now more about the performance and the show than it is about the CD sales. Recording music is still a wonderful art that will never go away, and it's good to have new material circulating. I think we're just waiting to see what the next media musical platform is, where an artist can make money off their stuff.
So what's next? Are YouTubers the new rock stars? Advertising will pay the high-hitting YouTubers, so now is it all about getting “likes” and views? How does the musician keep from also having to be the bartender?
The 25th Westword Music Showcase will sound off in the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 29. Get your tickets and more details now at westwordshowcase.com.