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:
Sofia Valdes – Sofía Valdés is a singer is a singer/songwriter, born and raised in Panama, educated in the U.S. and Liverpool, UK. Sofía’s family is deeply musical, ranging from Panamanian folk music to Cubanismo. Her latest release is “Silhouette.” @sofiavaldes
Shannon + The Clams – Shannon & The Clams’ sixth studio album, Year Of The Spider, is out now via Easy Eye Sound. For the album, the band, fronted by bass player Shannon Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard on lead vocals with Will Sprott on keyboards and Nate Mahan on drums, returned to Dan Auerbach’s Nashville Easy Eye Sound Studio to craft a mature, reflective and ebullient album built for the current times, on which they have perfected their signature blend of garage psych, doo-wop, classic R&B, and surf rock. The album features singles including “All of My Cryin’” and “Midnight Wine.” @shannonandtheclams
Zembu – ZEMBU is an indie-pop electronic producer and artist based out of Colorado. She combines ethereal, warm production with layers of soulful vocals and reflective lyricism centered around the intersection of her identities, mental health, and social issues. @zembumusic
Jelie – Denver rapper Jelie (pronounced “jell-eye”) is a music savant. Between her beats, production, sound engineering, songwriting and a recording arts degree received from the University of Colorado Denver, she lives and breathes her craft. @jelie303
DEADLUV – DEADLUV is a newly formed synth-pop duo from Denver, Colorado. Their music is the juxtaposition of dark and light with heavy synthesizers and ethereal vocals colliding effortlessly. Chris Nugen creates a soundscape of house beats and gnarling synth voices while Emma Henry sings hypnotic melodies on top. @deadluvmusic
The Grand Alliance – The Grand Alliance is Crl Crrll, Sur EllZ and Kayla Marque. Each amazing musicians. Together a Colorado supergroup. @legrandalliance
Lnlygrl – Perhaps the most interesting story of UMS. Originally from California this artist started music while still in college. She went to medical school in San Diego while still continuing music. Since moving to Denver and starting her career as a physician, LNLYGRL hopes to continue sharing her funky grooves with others on the dancefloor (when not on call). @_lnlygrl
Remi Wolf – Remi Wolf will cement her status as one of pop music’s brightest young stars when her debut album Juno lands on October 15th. With her eclectic sound and style and magnetic personality, Remi has developed an avid fan base – to which she affectionately refers to as “Remjobs” – that has made her a trailblazer of the emerging Gen Z pop scene. She has garnered a cult following of peers and fellow artists along the way, boasting collaborations with Dominic Fike, Beck, and Nile Rodgers and Instagram cosigns from John Mayer, Khalid and Camila Cabello. @remiwolf
Messiahvore – Formed in 2019 By guitarist/vocalist Bart McCrorey & bassist Jenn McCrorey. Kevin Disney on baritone guitar and Brokk Dagaz on drums. Messiahvore have a new full length record to be released early in 2022, but for now the plan is to keep writing, perform and get back on the road. @messiahvore
Pink Fuzz – The big news this year is The Velveteers new album produced by Dan Auerbach. The other half of the Velveteers family is in Pink Fuzz with John & LuLu. Pink Fuzz mixes harmonies with hard driving guitar. Pink Fuzz has been an extensive touring band for about 4 years. They have played with bands including Thee Oh Sees, LA Witch, Reignwolf, The Yawpers, Slowcaves, Black Pistol Fire and Heart. @pinkfuzzband
Esther Rose – As much as she’s a songwriter, Esther Rose is a scene setter, a crystallizer of moments, and a full time inhabitant of the dimly-lit world depicted in her songs. Rose found her voice over the course of years spent regularly performing and recording in New Orleans, combining her DIY work ethic with an affinity for traditional country arrangements. Though still dressed with the dreamy lap steel, fiddle, and string bass accompaniment of earlier material, sophomore album You Made It This Far took on a far more personal tone. The songs were at times cuttingly direct, with storytelling lyrics culled straight from lived experiences both stormy and revelatory. @therealestherrose
Lolita – Lolita is a latin pop artist. Her latest release is called, “Toda Mi Gente (Remix),[ft. Big Samir of The Reminders].” It’s a Spanglish pop song about gun violence and police brutality. The song weaponizes joy through pop music and puts it to use in the fight for social justice. @lolitaworldwide
Down Time – Led by Alyssa Maunders Down Time has made a mark with their debut album Hurts Being Alive produced by Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore of Tennis. @downtimeforever
The Andersons – Couples bass therapy. The Andersons is DJs Yololo and Nasty Nachos, a powerful partnership that have provided the city with grooves for all occasions. @perpetualjoyyy
Claire Heywood – After playing solo sets for small listening audiences alongside poets, comedians, and writers for several years, Heywood self-released an EP of original songs titled The Wind, It Howls in March 2019. In 2020, Heywood released three singles: “Python,” “Letter Day,” and “I Won’t Resign My Love For That Old Dream.” Her latest release is “Crushed Lemons” @claireaheywood
For over 20 years this music festival has brought big names to Denver while also showcasing the local scene. This year over 170 artists will appear on 15 stages over 3 days. Last year the festival was a virtual 3 hour event. This year’s showcase includes Pinegrove, Remi Wolf, Shannon & The Clams, Sofia Valdes among its 13 headliners. Local acts include returning artists of Bellhoss, Slow Caves, Wildermiss, Izcalli and more. There are also new faces including Lnlygirl, The Grand Alliance, Deadluv and more.
“After 20 years of Underground Music Showcase, we were thrilled to be able to carry-on our tradition virtually last year by raising $75,000 for independent musicians” shares Casey Berry, owner of the festival. “With that said, we couldn’t be happier to be in-person for 2021 to not only support live music and local bands, but to support more than a dozen independent bars and restaurants on Broadway!”
UMS is working closely with city and state officials to make sure we rage safely in 2021. This might include reduced capacity (especially at indoor venues), and potentially limiting ticket sales to ensure proper distancing as required. UMS has every intent to become a good example of how to return to in-person, live music festivals in a safe and celebratory manner, and will be monitoring health directives in real time as the big weekend approaches.