Friday, January 27, 2017

Music Industry Alumni Visits CU Denver to talk about beneficial career strategies for CAM students

The King Center in Denver, Colorado welcomed back CU Denver alumni and past faculty member Tyler Soifer for general recital class on January 27th, 2017, to talk to students about the importance of constantly adding to your skillset in the music industry. Soifer is a graduate of the Recording Arts program of the College of Arts and Media (CAM). He also worked at the ‘Core’ on Auraria campus, (a recording studio for CAM music students) and gained experience managing live sound for the King Center building early in his career. In addition to working for CU Denver, Soifer is presently an audio engineer who opened his own recording studio in Denver (Side 3 Studios.) Soifer has a plethora of live sound experience from working major industry concerts: including being the tour drum technician for Steve Smith (drummer for Journey).
            Soifer’s story is inspiring for CAM students looking and aspiring to become music industry professionals. After graduating from CAM, he explained how he solved a problem at an internship helped him stand out to Steve Smith, who eventually hired him full-time. At the time an album of Smith’s was deleted on a solid state hard drive. Soifer’s knowledge of forensics helped establish him a valuable music industry connection after he recovered the album in full for the drummer. Soifer explained how his Mentor Rich Sanders helped him as a CAM student.  He also was adamant about how sometimes luck is an important part of the industry. He was in the right place at the right time to solve a problem for Smith and create a door for a mutually beneficial relationship.            

Soifer’s attitude and way of looking at life has enabled him to meet as many people, and learn as much knowledge as he could while he was in College to the point where he was a valuable asset to industry professionals once he graduated. This lifestyle entails constantly learning, constantly working, and constantly getting away from being too comfortable in music jobs or ventures. In this way, Soifer was not only lucky to find the career opportunities he did, he was also continuously increasing his opportunities by working his tail off, and expanding his knowledge as he did it. He talked about how he was always “picking his teacher’s brains” and taking in as much information about audio as possible. This never ending search for knowledge is what has made Soifer stand out to industry professionals. CAM students benefitted from being able to meet and connect with Soifer as he offered valuable insights into realm of working in live sound, audio production, and the business of operating a recording studio. 

Denver Arts and Venues official pays visit to CU Denver music students

On Thursday, January 26th, 2017, CU Denver music students had the chance of meeting Lisa Gedgaudas, of whom works as Program Administrator for ‘Create Denver’, a sector of the Denver arts and Venues organization. As the lead of Create Denver, Lisa researches statistics about the economics of music in the City of Denver. She presents research statistics to government officials and as well as proposes grants for artistic community cultivation. Programs such as ‘Create Denver’ help sustain a vibrant Denver music scene.
Some of the goals of this organization are: facilitating affordable housing for artists, putting on community festivals for artists and listeners alike (such as the five points jazz festival or the Underground music showcase,) and allocating funding for further music cities research. Gedgaudas has already overseen that 1 % of all public development resources in Denver go towards non-profit arts and cultural organizations. This is helping programs such as Youth on Record, a non-profit organization that supplements musicians with employment: teaching music and other subjects to youth in the community. Gedgaudas explained that there are three teirs, or levels that Denver non-profit organizations are divided into. These go from one: largest venues such as the Denver Zoo, to three: small independent organizations that may just be getting started.

The visit to CU Denver was a valuable opportunity for student musicians and aspiring music industry professionals to meet Gedgaudas, and also learn about the many programs around Denver that benefit artists, musicians, and creative people alike. As well as being creative with their art, Gedgaudas explained that creative people are invaluable to city and local governments. This may be because musicians and artists can use their creative prolem solving strategies towards taking on problems in the community unrelated to art: such as (for example) affordable housing and work opportunities for citizens. 

Original Members of Bob Marley's Band: The Wailers Visit the Gothic in Denver

On the night of January 26th, The Gothic theatre was lively and nearly sold out as The Wailers made a stop to Denver on their International tour. The opening act was a 5-piece reggae band out of Denver called Rastasaurus, of whom brought a hometown Denver-style reggae sound to the Gothic Theatre. They played a mixture of reggae and rock, while singing songs that had catchy lyrics and quick melodic phrases repeated. Thanks to Rastasaurus, the crowd was warmed up, and ready to hear more reggae music. It was an appropriate opening band selection for the audience, as they had come to see original members of Bob Marley’s band and original Wailer songs.
  As the stage rotation took place, it was great to see the many stage hands that are needed, as well as the mass amounts of lighting and sound equipment that a professional live show uses. As the Wailers went on, they opened up with a Marley classic called ‘Natural Mystic.’ The Wailers Band consists of two original members of Bob Marley and the Wailers: Aston Barret on bass guitar and Junior Marvin on guitar and vocals. After Marley’s death in 1981, Barret and Marvin led the band to continue touring around the world, playing the timeless songs that fans still adored. The band has recently reunited after a 5-year hiatus that started in 2011. The newly reunited band is now an 8 to 9-piece group. Among these original members of Bob Marley’s band are 2 female vocalists (sometimes 1,) two rhythm guitarists, a keyboardist, a drummer and a lead vocalist. The lead singer, Josh David Barrett, Aston Barret’s son sung each song with passion and created an experience unlike any other for Bob Marley and the Wailer’s fans in Denver. The group played many classics such as ‘Three Little Birds,’ ‘Jammin’’ and ‘Waiting in Vain.’ It was clear that the Jamaican group came to play many of Marley’s songs, and the crowd loved it. The room filled with smoke, as the people danced and sang along.
It is worth nothing that each song had original keyboard, drum, bass and vocal layering that one would hear on a live Bob Marley Record. Each little melody line, each drum fill, and each vocal phrase: all of these elements of each song were accounted for by this group of musicians. It was evident that the band consisted of original band members, because the sound is extremely similar to the band that Bob Marley actually played with. Other songs played include ‘I Know a Place,’ ‘Positive Vibration,’ ‘Heathen’ and ‘Roots, Rock Reggae.’

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Legendary Live Concert Promoter Chuck Morris visit's CU Denver, 1/20/2017

On January 20th, the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Arts and Media had the honor of welcoming the CEO of AEG Live Rocky Mountains, Mr. Chuck Morris for an interview and discussion attended by staff and students. AEG Is a major concert promotion company with branches all over the world. Chuck Morris has an inspiring life story of working hard to establish a music community in Denver. The Denver area’s live concert scene is flourishing presently and AEG live is the largest concert promotion company in the city and surrounding metro area; putting on an average of 800 shows per year. Although sometimes the Denver concert scene’s history can seem pretty obscure, the truth is that Denver’s music scene wasn’t always as intensely promoted with live touring acts as it is today. Today’s concert network in Denver supports a large number of venues, small to large and welcomes national touring acts every weekend on average. Denver’s concert industry has become a hot spot for tourists and natives alike, bringing together people from all walks of life to enjoy music and entertainment. These venues all had to start somewhere, and Chuck Morris’s story is an integrated part of many of these venue’s history as well as Colorado’s live music history. Interviewed by Colorado music hall of fame member and music business Professor for the College of Arts and Media Chris Daniels, Chuck Morris was happy to share his story with those in attendance. Morris started his academic career by going to school for a political science degree. After two years in a master’s program, he hitchhiked to Boulder, Colorado where he turned to music and managed a small bar called ‘The Sink’ on ‘The Hill’ in Boulder, a popular college town hotspot. It was here that he learned some skills and knowledge in the music industry and partnered with Don Strasburg, all while keeping the juke box in the bar playing every night. Morris and Strasburg started an underground radio station that would eventually become Colorado’s major radio station named ‘KBCO’. At this point in his career, he met and helped promoted the future mega rock band ‘The Eagles’ among other large touring acts. He started his own club that was catching serious traction with huge acts performing regularly including ‘The Eagles’; and Morris started to establish himself and his name in the live music business. This caught attention of Live Nation promoter Barry Fay, of whom Morris had wanted to partner with previously. After partnering with Fay, Morris shifted his focus to managing live acts himself. Eventually, however, Fay started retiring and so Morris got back into promotion. After his partnership with Fay flourished with Morris eventually taking the reins of the business, Morris worked directly with Bill Graham of San Francisco’s concert promoter and pioneer as well to create a new concert promotion company. This company would be sold to Bob Silverman to become SFX, and eventually became Clear Channel Entertainment Group. This company is now known as Live nation. A short time into the Live Nation switch, Morris accepted an offer to work with Phil Anschutz and helped establish AEG Live Rocky Mountains. Since this move, Denver’s music scene has transformed with the majority of venues being owned by Anschutz. One thing Morris was adamant about in the interview is that “You just can’t replace live music.” (Morris) I think it is safe to say that he is right …the concert industry has grown to become a 9 billion dollar- a year business. The live music industry has become the lifeline of bands and artists amid the digital music sale meltdown of the 21st century and it is good to know that the music industry as a whole is still healthy, alive and well. Morris’s story has become a huge part of the history of live music in Colorado and his story demonstrates that anyone can start small and go on to do great things with enough hard work, vision and purpose.