Chris K knows Colorado music. He’s been involved with the scene since 1979. His involvement has been multifaceted, doing everything him from performing in a band, running music venues to handling sound as a “front of house” man for numerous top acts. He also has a significant radio show that recently started airing on Monday night on KZYR. The “Colorado Playlist” is an important and informative show that is well researched and engaging. It answers modern radio critics who believe radio has become to corporate. Chris K presents music that is popular and also some not so well known artist who are on the rise. He plays music that varies in genres from jam bands to pop bands like the Lumineers. The one unifying theme is all acts that appear on his show are from Colorado.
So I thought I’d ask Chris K, also know as GOAT, if he thought there was an unifying sound that was distinctly Colorado. He immediately responded no. He then went on to express the variety of acts that have made it on the national scene to those that continue to entertain regionally across the state. From The Fray to String Cheese Incident, the Colorado sound if it exists is an amalgamation of inspirations of the ‘incredible cross pollination of influences” according to Chris K.
Artists in the state, particularly on the Front Range, have a ‘mind blowing” number of places to ply their craft and get paid. Something that separates Colorado in particular from other states or regions of the country, Chris K pointed out a recent study whose main conclusion was that on any given night in Denver a music fan has more venues to hear live music than Austin, Texas- a town renowned for its proliferation of the musical arts. When asked why he thought that was true, his first answer may have been the obvious one- legal marijuana. When I suggested stereotyping, he resoundingly refuted me. “It’s reality. It’s had a huge impact on the state and bars, craft breweries and music venues are having a great run.” His observations are reflected in the growth of live music venues throughout the state. Chris K pointed out that in his community just north of Denver alone there has as been three new live music venues opened and numerous festivals recently launched.
Though the vast Colorado music scene still lacks a unifying marketing slogan or movement like the Seattle grunge movement of the 1990s, it hasn’t prevented artists from breaking out nationally. Of course there is the international sensations like The Fray, One Direction and The Lumineers, Chris K also suggests there are regional and national success stories that have kept the state’s scene vibrant and realistic for artists willing to commit to the drudgery of making a go of it in this challenging new age of the music business. Breakout acts like Nathaniel Rateliff and Paper Bird are testament to the incubation quality of the Colorado scene. “Rateliff’s ascendence into a radio sensation was the very organic result of him having the opportunity to refine his trade in numerous venues across the state from small folk venues to larger rock halls. Once people got a chance to see him perform live it was just a matter of time”
Chris K assures us that the Colorado music scene is alive and well and full of acts soon to make an impression across the country in a variety of genres. He is optimistic that this year’s Grammy awards show may include more than one Centennial State representative suggesting that jazz sax sensation Gerald Albright may receive his second nod as well as the aforementioned Lumineers whose sophomore effort Cleopatra continues to reward listeners. We anxiously look forward to those announcements and also the continuation of Chris K’s own contribution to the burgeoning music scene. (Chris K’s Colorado Playlist can be heard every Sunday at 6-8pm on 97.7FM KZYR.)