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A Look into Colorado’s Growing EDM Scene

EDM found its way into the Denver music scene not through external interlopers, but homegrown artists whose mixes and tracks range from intricate compositions to funky chaos.

With a drastic increase in the number of local EDM festivals and venues, there’s no denying this genre’s place in the Centennial State.

 

Check Out These Artists

From Pretty Lights to Big Gigantic, Colorado’s EDM scene is thriving. Not all of the artists mentioned in this story got their start in Colorado; however, all of them either now call Colorado home or have touched the state in a remarkable way.

 

Pretty Lights

Hailing from Fort Collins, Derek Vincent Smith rose to the top of the local EDM world with an array of interlacing mixes that beam you to the past and future all at once. His EDM persona, Pretty Lights, is known for selling out local venues, including Red Rocks, as well as its synonymous festival in Telluride.

 

Breathe Carolina

Originally started in 2006 with two members, Breathe Carolina now tours with its lead member, David Schmitt, and a live backing band. With a sound that at times balances extremes like melodic beats and hardcore screaming, there’s no other band quite like Breathe Carolina. The act’s music has somewhat mellowed since bandmate Kyle Even’s departure in 2013, but it still invites raucous energy.

 

Illenium

Chicago-born and San Francisco-raised, Nicholas Miller (a.k.a. Illenium) became inspired to devote himself to his musical craft after a show at Red Rocks in 2012. Since then, he’s released two EPs and three studio albums. On the back of his most recent release, Ascend, Illenium now finds himself on a thirty-city North American tour, mixing his unique, electronically-backed singer/songwriter-esque singles.

 

Dabin

Despite his reputation as a performer whose live shows push the boundaries of what electronic music can do with live instrumentation, Dabin initially found fame online; his mixes have been played millions of times across all of his streaming platforms. Dabin’s most recent album, Wild Youth, also brought his first headlining tour and further recognition in the melodic bass subgenre.

 

Said the Sky

A musician from before he hit double digits, Trevor Christensen, professionally known as Said the Sky, began taking piano lessons when he was eight years old. He later blossomed as an electronic dance artist, releasing singles throughout the mid-2010s, and eventually dropping his first album, Wide Eyed, in 2018 to rave reviews. Christensen brings technical craftsmanship to his often emotional work, which mixes sunny melodies with evocative basslines.

 

GRiZ

Before you try to look up “energy” in the dictionary, you should probably put the book away and play GRiZ’s latest album, Ride Waves. Playing a genre he calls “future funk,” GRiZ, known offstage as Grant Kwiecinski, brings the dynamite to his live shows, which feature his patented mix of soul, funk, electronic and live saxophone. Whatever you call his multi-hyphenated genre, you’ll find yourself getting up and dancing when he performs at local venues.

 

Big Gigantic

With its home base in Boulder, Big Gigantic deserves praise for its role in Colorado’s EDM scene. Its beats mix funk, jazz, hip-hop and electronica, and its Rowdy Town festival supports local artists year after year.

 

Where to Find Them

EDM’s burgeoning place in Denver’s music scene brings with it an increase in the number of festivals catering to fans of the genre. The Global Dance Festival began at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre but recently moved to Broncos Stadium at Mile High to provide space for growing attendance numbers.

Combining the ultimate party scenario of a New Year’s Eve bash and EDM performance space, Decadence proved to be a big hit in 2018. With a vast lineup, including many of the homegrown artists listed above, it’s hard for the year to end (or begin) poorly at Decadence.

While the Global Dance Festival changed locations, that shouldn’t discount the importance of Red Rocks to local musicians. An outdoor venue chiseled out of a rock, Red Rocks holds more than a hundred concerts throughout the year.

 

Colorado Music Hall of Fame

If you’re excited about Colorado musicians, check out more from the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Our calendar shows upcoming music events, such as Hall of Fame inductions and performances.

Image Credit: Getty Images / DisobeyArt

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Chuck Morris & KBCO

Colorado has a rich musical history. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the contributions of legendary music promoter Chuck Morris, and 97.3 KBCO that got its start in Boulder, Colorado. Morris and 97.3 are set to be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental this December 3rd at the Paramount Theater. Read on to learn more about these two titans of the Colorado music scene and get tickets to be part of this historic community event.

Chuck Morris

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Chuck Morris established himself as a Colorado music industry institution. After leaving the Ph.D. program in political science at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Morris was offered a job managing The Sink, a restaurant and bar on the Hill where he brought in acts as varied as Tommy Bolin and Flash Cadillac. With partner Herb Kauvar, they bought and re-opened Tulagi nightclub. At Tulagi, Morris brought Boulder the first real concert hall experience, bringing in Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, ZZ Top, Bonnie Raitt, and The Doobie Brothers on their very first tours.

In 1974, he brought his prolific ear for music to Denver where he booked early tours of Richard Pryor, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Martin, and Carole King at Ebbets Field Nightclub with his financial partner Barry Fey. Morris recently told The Daily Camera, “I thought I would be doing this music thing for six months and then go back to graduate school. That was 50 years ago.”

Since then, Morris has continued to drive the Colorado music community as a world-class promoter and an artist manager, and most recently in a bid to bring a 4,000-seat theater to downtown Denver called the Mission Ballroom opening in 2019.

KBCO

97.3 first went on the airwaves in 1977 and established itself in the Boulder community as the premier station for playing both well-known artist’s deep album cuts and discovering young unknown artists. At the time, there were no stations that gave airtime to indie bands and performers, and KBCO found a massive audience hungry for new, upcoming bands and performers. The strength of KBCO’s increased transmission power brought the station to the entire Front Range and that combined with their deep community involvement, from Kinetics to the Studio C sessions released on CD. This supported The Boulder Valley Aids Project and Food Bank of The Rockies with millions of dollars in fundraising that led to 97.3 KBCO becoming not just world-class rock, but a Colorado music icon that is as vibrant today as it was when it started in the 1970s. From their featuring of local artists on “Local Edition” to their hosting of the national Triple A Radio Convention and its long history of environmental activism, 97.3 KBCO is more than just radio; it is the music of our lives.

Be a Part of Colorado History

The inductees will be honored on December 3rd at the Paramount Theater. More than seven musical acts will pay tribute including The Lumineers, Leo Kottke, Isaac Slade of the Fray, Amos Lee, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, members of Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, and surprise guests – plus

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper leading a “roast” of Morris this is a not-to-be-missed event. To attend this fun event and honor some of the most prolific members of the Colorado music scene, grab tickets here. If you’re interested in learning more about Colorado’s musical history, visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental and check out our exhibits that range from 20th Century Pioneers to John Denver.

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KBCO & Chuck Morris Induction Event

KBCO & Chuck Morris Induction Event

December 3, 2018

DENVER, CO 10/15/18– The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental will host its next induction event, Monday, December 3, 2018, at the historic Paramount Theatre. The induction of 97.3 KBCO and legendary concert promoter and artist manager Chuck Morris will be accompanied by a cavalcade of musical appearances from Amos Lee, Todd Park Mohr (Big Head Todd), Isaac Slade and Ben Wysocki of The Fray, Bill Nershi and members of The String Cheese Incident, Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt from Leftover Salmon, Jeff Hanna and some members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Leo Kottke along with backing band Chris Daniels & The Kings, plus more surprises to be announced.

This seminal evening will include a “Chuck Roast” of inductee Chuck Morris hosted by the Honorable Governor John Hickenlooper, who commented, “Chuck Morris is one of those prominent figures who helped transform the Colorado music and concert scene into one of the biggest and finest music worlds in the country.”

Tickets go on sale Friday, October 19 at 10 a.m. MDT through www.AltitudeTickets.com.

Inductee 97.3 KBCO went on the air in 1977 creating an alternative to standard rock and pop radio. Programmers and DJs were given freedom to go beyond the “hit singles” playing “album” tracks and music from artists as diverse as The Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Talking Heads, and Lyle Lovett. 97.3 KBCO, along with a handful of stations around the country, created a format now called “Adult-Album-Alternative” (or Triple-A) radio. The format was so successful that Billboard added a Triple-A Chart in 2005 and every year the Triple-A Radio Convention is held in Boulder hosted by KBCO.

Along with the countless awards and innovative programming like “KBCO Sunday Sunrise” and “KBCO Local Edition,” this year, the station is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with “KBCO Studio C, CD,” 30 years of live recordings benefiting the Boulder County Aids Project and Food Bank of the Rockies. Countless artists like Amos Lee, Dave Matthews, and Big Head Todd & The Monsters owe their careers to the men and women who programmed and played their music long before pop radio gave them a chance.

Inductee Chuck Morris was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Queens College at the age of 20. After graduation, Morris started a Ph.D. program in Political Science at CU Boulder in 1965. In 1968, Morris decided to drop out of graduate school to follow his love of music.

First at the Sink and then at Tulagi’s (that he co-owned) on the hill in Boulder, Morris made his mark at booking up-and-coming talent that would become the stars of tomorrow.

Hosting artists from the Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top to Linda Ronstadt, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to Muddy Waters, and hundreds more, Tulagi’s was the launching pad for Morris’s 48-year career as Colorado’s most prolific concert promoter and artist manager.

Morris opened Ebbets Field in Denver that included a New Year’s Eve performance by Steve Martin who took the entire audience out for coffee in a snowstorm. Following Ebbets Field which brought in first tours of Dan Fogelberg, Jimmy Buffet, Emmylou Harris, Tommy Bolin, and Energy among others, Chuck joined Feyline as Senior Vice President of Promotion for 10 years.

Next, Morris joined forces with the company of famed concert promoter Bill Graham to create a Morris/SFX company that re-imagined the old Mammoth Gardens into The Fillmore. Through Morris’s management work for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and their tour of Russia in support of the Anschutz Western Art Collection debut, Chuck developed a close working relationship with Colorado’s Phil Anschutz.

That friendship resulted in AEG Rocky Mountains with Morris at the helm. It has become the largest concert promotion company in our State’s history, putting on more than 800 shows per year at venues from the Pepsi Center to Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, and more than 110 shows at Red Rocks in the summer of 2018.

Morris also built one of Colorado’s most successful artist management firms with clients that included Lyle Lovett, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Leo Kottke to name only a few.

This CMHOF evening will feature video tributes, interviews, and performances. The pre-concert gala (a dinner and meet-and-greet with the performers) will also include a historic array of exhibits and archival photographs to be relocated in the CMHOF’s home at the world-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre Trading Post.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions, to preserve and protect historical artifacts, and to educate the public regarding everything that is great about our Colorado music.

Previous inductees include John Denver and Red Rocks Amphitheatre; Harry Tuft of the Denver Folklore Center and promoter Barry Fey of Family Dog fame; the Astronauts, Sugarloaf, Flash Cadillac, and KIMN radio; folk legend Judy Collins, the Serendipity Singers, Bob Lind, and Chris Daniels; Stephen Stills/Manassas, Firefall, Poco, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and more.

This induction concert is produced by AEG Presents and the historic Paramount Theatre. Reserved tickets and premium gala seating with pre-show hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails are available through AltitudeTickets.com – additional information can be obtained on the Hall’s website, cmhof.org.

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