One of the fringe benefits of being in the radio industry is exposure to a lot of music. This week, I took part in the Triple A radio conference in Boulder. This annual event is really a showcase for new music.
The affair, started two decades ago primarily to help eclectic radio stations find solace with like-minded individuals, has grown to be a celebration of new music and breaking artists. Record companies promote some of their brand name new releases while numerous musicians perform in showcase events. There are always musical highlights like the chance to hear Phoenix perform in an intimate setting come to mind. Their performance at the cozy Fox Theater in front of a crowd that numbered in the hundreds as opposed to the tens of thousands they played for just the night before was a sonic delight.
There were other ‘big name’ performers, but the bulk of the extended weekend is about undiscovered and soon to be big bands and artists. Previously, the event has highlighted relative unknowns John Cougar and The Counting Crows years before their ascension to rock stardom.
So after witnessing nearly two dozen bands, what does the future hold for you the music fan? I hate to say it but more of the same for now with a hint of imagination possibly breaking through. There still is a huge Mumford & Sons residual in the music world. Artist like Little Green Cars and unheard of acts like Courtyard Hounds will continue the trend toward amped down banjo and mandolin based sounds. There is a small ray of light in the band Delta Rae who recently had a headline gig at Vilar. Their strong percussion based high-energy sound will be getting a strong promotional push this fall with the new album “Carry The Fire.”
The most exciting news to be released at the conference was a live presentation of the new album from The Head and The Heart. After a year on the road in support of their debut release, the band seems poised to reach an even larger fan base with a great set of songs and a supportive role on the Dave Matthews tour. Many attendees were also all a buzz over the double album from rock legend Mark Knopfler. The former leader of Dire Straits has had some very powerful solo projects but this release, which has been available in the United Kingdom and Canada for the last nine months but was held up over contractual disputes in America, promises plenty for his legions.
For me however, it’s about the discovery of new artist. Though they were not my favorite performers of the seminar, I believe the band Satellite will turn some heads in the coming few months. Their blond hair, blue eyes leader, Stephen McMorran possesses a pleasing rock voice to go with some sophisticated lyrics of lovers in turmoil. In addition, Andrew Ripp, a Nashville resident via Chicago, will break some hearts as well. His single “Cool Ya” and “Falling For The Beat,” are two catchy numbers off his debut “Won’t Let Go.” And rumor has it Ripp will be ripping through town in the very near future to perform. There was also a strong performances and serious potential exhibited by a sister band out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Touring as The Secret Sisters, Laura and Lydia Rogers just might have the secret formula to succeed- haunting rhythms with sterling vocals backed by great story telling.