Denver’s Underground Music Showcase (UMS) features over 150 acts from all over the nation. The festival, now in its 22nd year has a number of changes. We’re spotlighting 2 of them, and the artists involved here..
Youth on Record was founded in 2008 with the mission to designs and implements strengths-based, music-centered programs intended to equip young people from historically under-resourced communities with the skills needed to find success in life by advancing their academic success, increasing their economic opportunities and career skills, and strengthening their community connections and networks. This year Youth on Record took a 49% interest in UMS. As part of that they’ve brought their own signature events to UMS including:
Impact Show July 30, 2022 – New to UMS this year, the Impact Show is part of a festival-wide focus on supporting mental wellness and the prevention of substance misuse among musicians and an anticipated 10,000 festival attendees. The inaugural show will feature the Seratones, A funk-soul-rock band from Louisiana that marries spirituality, protest, Black feminism, and Afrofuturism.
Youth on Record will also have Impact Days preceding UMS on July 27 & 28, 2022 from 12-6 MST at Youth on Record.
A two-day intensive hosted by Youth on Record and open to all musicians and artists participating in the UMS, Impact Days will serve as an industry-focused kick-off for the festival. Artists, music industry and community leaders will provide skill-sharing workshops, networking, professional development, and wellness coaching opportunities to local and emerging artists. Focused on artmaking, Impact, and Economic Opportunity, Impact Days are designed to build the foundation for institutional resources that will serve musicians, artists, and the creative industries for years to come.
Dozens of industry and arts leaders will host panels, workshops and coaching sessions; industry and arts leaders will be paid for their time. During the pilot year, the event is free to all participating artists. Between sessions, participants will be invited to participate in “care” practices including yoga, access to mental health resources, sober bars, and healthy foods.
Black Fret is a nationwide membership organization with chapters in Austin, Seattle and now Colorado. Black Fret’s goal is to create a global network of connected communities, all supporting their local music economies. And in the process of creating this network, provide opportunities for our Black Fret bands to travel between cities, playing bigger gigs and being paid for shows they would not have had the opportunity to otherwise.
Recently Black Fret Colorado announced its 2022 Black Fret Awardees. The inaugural Black Fret Awardee artists were nominated by local industry experts and founding members in Colorado. They represent a broad spectrum of musical genres and reflect the depth of Colorado’s remarkable talent. They are:
Colorado duo Companion are getting ready to release their debut album. Today they released a new track, “If I Were A Ghost.”
“Jo and I lost our father when we were 13, and in many ways, we lost our mom too. She was never the same after he passed. And though we felt empathy for her grief, it was hard to navigate adolescence while also growing up with a grieving, broken mother,” explains Sophia. “After a particularly hard day where the empathy wasn’t coming easily, I started writing in an attempt to understand what it would be like to lose the love of your life & father of your children all at once. Thus came ‘If I Were a Ghost’ — a song about trying to work through grief, loneliness, and longing.”
Companion announced the release of their single “23rd Street” and the release of their album Second Day of Spring on May 27th, 2022
“23rd Street” was written during a time saturated with change. We were living in downtown Oklahoma City, a couple blocks from the busy street the song is named after.
We were just a few months away from graduating college, Sophia had recently got engaged and was moving to a new state she barely knew a soul in, and we both had no idea what the coming year held for us.
In times of change, we often find ourselves experiencing a feeling we can only describe as “pre-nostalgia” — it’s the feeling, or realization, that things will never be the same as they are now.
Though you may come back to the same places, or reunite with old friends — the feeling you had then won’t ever quite come back the same way.
This song & this album perfectly encapsulate this feeling of impermanence, new growth, and change for us.
I actually wrote this song before Lovelight, and yet it’s the last to be released. I think that the huge amount of time between writing and producing served it well. By the time we were in the studio with it, I was much less attached to the original structure, and lyrics of the song. I was able to “lose control” as they say, and let Julian Peterson and Micah Tawlks work their magic on the production side.
Julian (producer) and I would sit at his studio (Wolf Den Studios) out on a hay farm and just have fun. This was the last of the batch of songs we were recording and so we had a unique final-stretch playfulness. We messed with robotic audio settings, we flipped choruses and verses, we cut everything and laughed about it.
It was a good time, and I think it shows in the track. Then of course you add Micah’s shimmering synth splash hook and we were just happy crying.
Best of 2021 – Last year we missed doing our annual “Best Of.” This year we present it after a year of quarantine albums galore. Tours didn’t start until May but new music was flowing from the start of 2021. 2022 is already aiming to be a busy year. Here are our choices for the Best of 2021.
We’ve evolved from Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion and others of last year to a new crop of artists.
Best Label – Fire Talk Records – Home to Bnny, Mamalarky, Packs and more this boutique label is setting up to be the next Saddle Creek Records.
Secretly Group @secretlygroup, Saddle Creek Records @saddlecreek, Fire Talk Records @firetalkrecs, Don Giovanni Records @DonGiovanniRecs
Nest New Artist – “New” is always relative. Georgia Maq has been part of Camp Cope, and Isabella Manfredi was part of The Preatures. Our winner is Ashe who album Ashlyn was hard to put down this year.
Georgia Maq @goldsoundz_, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Ashe @ashemusic, Jillette Johnson @jillettejohnson, Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Noa Kirel @noakirel, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Killboy @killboy , Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd , Ydegirl @ydegirl, The Linda Lindas @the_linda_lindas, Allison Ponthier @allisonponthier, Isabella Manfredi @isabellamanfredi, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Local (Colorado) Artist – Local artists can often be touring or even national acts. This category was very competitive with the amount of quarantine albums that came out. Our winner is Companion who mesmerized us in the Spring. They will quickly become a national act.
Best Dance – Dance is also electronic and electro pop. Magdalena Bay & Sofi Tukker are the 800 lb gorillas in this category. Kito is our winner for surprising collaborations.
Magdalena Bay @magdalenabay, Sofi Tukker @sofitukker, Kito @kito
Best Pop – Pop like Indie is often open to interpretation. It is often what dominates at venues. Our winner is Charlotte Cardin whose Phoenix album was one of the best albums this year.
Hana Vu @hanavuuu, Lucy Dacus @lucydacus, Japanese Breakfast @jbrekkie, Baby Queen @queenofthebabies, Charlotte Cardin @charlottecardin, Jess Chalker @jess_chalker_, May-A @mayacumming, Ashe @ashemusic, Girl In Red @girlinred, Angèle @angele_vl, Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd, Nadia Vaeh @nadiavaeh, Olivia Rox @oliviarox, Number One Popstar @numberonepopstar, Bahari @bahari, Noga Erez @nogaerez, Lola Lennox @lolalennex
Best Rock – Rock is often the guitar driven beat that keeps you going. Kill Birds, who have been touring with Foo Fighters are our winner.
Royal and the Serpent @royalandtheserpent, Amyl and the Sniffers @amylandthesniffers, Mattiel @mattielworldwide , Upsahl @upsahlmusicl, Self Esteem @selfesteemselfesteem, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Nadia Sheikh @nadiasheikhmusic, Red Hook @weareredhook, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Indie – Indie always means both a sound but also a level of development. These are the artists at the small venues touring to survive. We have a diverse selection this year. Bnny is our winner.
Best Experimental – There is always a “flinch” moment when you saw experimental. It involves a great deal of risk as personified by our winner Fifi Rong who is working on her dual album set with one album all in English, and one all in Chinese. She is crowdfunding now.
Insect Ark @insectark, Fifi Rong @fifirong, Sasami @sasamiashworth, Irreversible Entanglements @irreversibleentanglements, Haru Nemuri @haru_nemuri
Best Hip Hop – This is the first year that FEMMUSIC has this category. There may be some arguments as to whether all these artists fit it. Coi Leray is the best newcomer in this area. Ray BLK is our winner.
Bia @bia, Tones and I @tonesandi, Doja Cat @dojacat, Sza @sza, Cardi B @iamcardib, Megan Thee Stallion @theestallion, Coi Leray @coileray, Ms Banks @msbanks, Ray BLK @rayblk, Remi Wolf @remiwolf, Tinashe @tinashenow
Best Jazz – We will admit to not hearing as much jazz this year. Laufey is the winner with original interpretations of classics.
Laufey @laufey, Nnenna Freelon @officialnnenna
Best Country – Brandi Carlile is a favorite in this category and will take home more GRAMMYs. Allison Russell wins for being new and original.
Brandi Carlile @brandicarlile, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, Yola @iamyolaofficial, CMAT @cmatbaby, Jackson & Sellers @jacksonsellersmusic, Ingrid Andress @ingridandress
Best Heavy Metal – Infected Rain is a former winner in this category. Jinjer, Halestorm & The Pretty Reckless dominate. The Velveteers are this year’s winner.
Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Edge of Paradise @edgeofparadise, Jinjer @jinjer_official, The Velveteers @thevelveteers, Infected Rain @infectedrain_official, The Pretty Reckless @theprettyreckless, Halestorm @halestormrocks
Best R & B – This category includes powerhouses like Arlo Parks and Dawn Richard. Alewya is our winner for new and original music this year.
Muni Long @munilong, India Shawn @indiashawn, Dawn Richard @dawnrichard, Alewya @alewya11, Arlo Parks @arloparks, Tkay Maidza @tkaymaidza, Danielia Cotton @danieliacotton, Saleka @saleka
Best Surprise – A “surprise” for us is that unexpected performance when it was not expected. It includes some risky performances such as LVXURI and Big Klit. S.G. Goodman is our hands down winner. We caught her as an opener and she garnered as much reaction as the headliner. She is a blunt, and emotive songwriter.
S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Kiesza @kiesza, LVXURI @mx_lvxuri, Big Klit @klitoriusmaximus
Best Comeback – This has been a surprisingly competitive category. Whether it’s the return of ABBA after a long time to Adele’s new album. The big surprise this month is Taylor Swift taking the world with the longest song. She is our winner.
Kylie Minogue @kylieminogue, Avril Lavigne @avrillavigne, Deborah Gibson @debbiegibson, Liz Phair @LizPhairOfficial, Taylor Swift @taylorswift , ABBA @ABBA, Adele @adele, Lorde @lorde
Ft Collins band Companion is identical twin sisters Joanna & Sophia Babb. Today they release their first single and video as Companion. The single is “How Could I Have Known.”
The video takes a humorous look at finding the right someone.
A little background:
“I (Sophia) started writing “How Could I Have Known” at the beginning of my first autumn in northern Colorado. I quickly learned that fall is a fleeting, beautifully short time in the mountains – it doesn’t last long. It takes just a few blustery days for all the yellow aspen leaves to give way to bare trees, snowfall, and early sunsets.
That autumn, I was engaged to my now husband. He was dealing with some concerning medical issues, and I developed an over-awareness of how quickly I could never see him again. Having lost family members suddenly & without warning in the past, I became anxiously aware that just as soon as he came into my life, he could leave it, too.
Though this thought, at its core, is a very scary one – when I looked beyond the fear of losing something I held so dearly, I could see the incredible gift it is to have something to hold dear in the first place.
I showed Jo the beginnings of the song, and we finished it together in an afternoon. This song is a way to give thanks to the unknown forces that bring people together, acknowledge that those same forces may take people away, and meditate on the permanence of impermanence.”
Companion will be releasing a full length album and this is the first taste.