Our unit comprised three acts that shared payments and backing musicians: Ava Swan, a Montana native now based mostly out of Nashville who creates groovy, uplifting tunes of self-discovery; Rachel Angel, a rustic musician from Asheville, North Carolina, with a timeless twang and flawless songwriting; and Nelleke, a once-in-a-generation vocalist who’d come all the way in which from Rotterdam, Netherlands, and whose wealthy, introspective songs encourage awe in listeners wherever she goes. Together with New York Metropolis guitarist and producer Brandon Rosiar, Nashville-based drummer Evan Kesel and producer/guitarist Christian Dias of São Paulo, Brazil, I carried out within the rhythm part for these three wonderful artists. We have been joined for just a few of the reveals by exuberant songwriter Alex McCue and Elder Grown, an eclectic veteran band out of Durango.
A lot of the musicians in our group had studied on the Berklee School of Music’s department in Valencia, Spain, and it was there that we met Sam Kelly, the saxophonist of Elder Grown. A local of Dolores, Colorado, he served as our information and booker on this tour. He made positive we had locations to remain and a sound system to make use of, and customarily saved issues collectively. Along with enjoying in Elder Grown, Kelly teaches at iAM Music Institute in Durango.
Sadly, my flight from New York to Denver was pushed again three days due to unhealthy climate on each ends of the journey, so I missed the primary present of the tour, which occurred at Durango Scorching Springs, however fortunately we had one other present there the next week. As a substitute, I joined the group on the iAM Music Fest in Mancos, a half-hour west of Durango, at Fenceline Cider. From the second I arrived, I loved the hackneyed appeal of being an uptight Northeasterner dipping into the relaxed, nice vibes of the agricultural West. Everybody from the meals truck staff to the sound man had a welcoming power that made this cease an actual pleasure, and the power introduced by native acts just like the Sugar Thieves and Haro within the Darkish solely made issues higher.
This pageant is placed on by iAM Music Institute, and it rapidly turned clear that iAM is on the coronary heart of southwest Colorado’s music scene. Not solely does the group placed on this fest in addition to different live shows within the space, however it has a terrific faculty for burgeoning musicians. At each flip, the individuals from iAM have been form and supportive, displaying admirable ardour and dedication to their work. They displayed this from the primary set on the pageant by way of a present at their in-house efficiency area, the Indigo Room, the next week. Co-founder Jesse Ogle even hopped in to sub for me on bass for the early reveals I missed, and iAM staffers commonly carry out in Haro within the Darkish and different bands.
We acquired to listen to a few of them after we had just a few days off following the pageant. We spent our downtime in Durango, hopping within the Animas River and having fun with the reside music that was surprisingly ubiquitous in a comparatively small city. It appeared like all time of day, you could possibly hear a band enjoying in Buckley Park or a bluegrass participant at eleventh Road Station. Spots just like the Station and Lola’s Place have been excellent spots for our giant group to collect since they’ve quite a lot of meals vehicles and many outside seating.
After just a few days of respite, the tour began again up with a present on the Nugget Mountain Bar, which sits on Route 550, in excellent view of Mount Eolus. Once more, our cohort discovered form and useful staffers, nice foods and drinks, and an viewers that appeared excited to have a special taste of music that evening. The following day we went as much as Silverton, and as our van crossed between Kendall and Sultan mountains and rounded the bend into the mountain city, everybody was floored by the serene alpine magnificence earlier than us. Our awe solely grew because the van stopped on the Silverton Powerhouse Collective, an artist area on the northern fringe of city that hosts live shows and exhibitions with a give attention to bolstering the humanities group of the Silverton space. We rapidly linked with members of this pleasant, supportive group; one Collective member served mocktails named after the performers’ songs, and some even adopted us to our present the subsequent evening.
That cease marked the group’s return to Durango Scorching Springs Resort, which included a shock look by NYC singer-songwriter Sharon Is Karen. As a musician, I can not overstate the marvel of ending a tremendous set after which soaking in a sizzling spring with an unbelievable view of the San Juan Mountains. Sam Kelly was our sound man for this present, and he blended it on an iPad whereas taking a soak himself, which summed up the relaxed, I-can’t-believe-we’re-here feeling of the gig. Locals and guests alike chatted with an ease that after once more took this New Englander by nice shock.
The following evening we have been on the Indigo Room with our associates from iAM, and we completed the evening with some two-stepping (one other novelty for me) at a neighborhood bar.
For the final cease of the tour, we crossed into New Mexico for a set on the large stage of Tico Time River RV resort in Aztec. Elder Grown headlined the present, and the seaside was full of ardent supporters. Elder Grown invited musicians from our group on stage to affix the set, and the sense of a creative group was stronger than at some other level on the tour. It served as the right swan music for our time within the West, and afterward, we kicked off our footwear and loved an evening underneath crystal-clear stars.
Despite the fact that everybody was exhausted and able to see their very own beds in several cities and nations, we have been nonetheless unhappy to see this two-week jaunt come to an finish. We would skilled a deep success of our artistry and made quite a lot of associates alongside the way in which. One of many driving forces behind my love of music is that it may convey me to new locations and experiences, and this present delivered fully. I will be again.
Johnny Nicholl was a Westword music intern in 2016 and 2017.