Mar 192013

Author: Mary Willson


Matt “P-Mann” Mahern and Lindsey O’brien of the Lindsey O’brien Band play at the SpokesBUZZ showcase. SpokesBUZZ put together the Colorado Music Party at SXSW in Austin, bringing together thousands of Colorado musicans and fans to support eachother at the festival.


The pattern of Fort Collins life is threaded with the staples of a classic Colorado experience: outdoor beauty, local beer, original bikes, and home-based bands.

With venues such as Aggie, Hodi’s Half Note, Avogadro’s Number, Surfside, Mishawaka, it is no


Alana Rolfe of Fierce Bad Rabbit plays at the SpokesBUZZ showcase in Austin at SXSW. Fierce Bad Rabbit played multiple showcases over the week, and are alumni of SpokesBUZZ.

surprise that Fort Collins supports hundreds of homegrown bands.   With the jamming beats of locality also comes the responsibility of a celebratory community; which in the 970, there is no shortage of.

April kicks off with FoCoMX, leading into a summer of Beet Street festivities, and closing out with Bohemian Nights. Being an artist or band in town looks pretty good.

Yet, one of the most supportive outlets for local bands is a non-profit, volunteer-run music support and education organization, SpokesBUZZ.

“SpokesBUZZ raises global awareness of Fort Collins sound and culture by bringing worldwide attention to local bands,” according to the official mission.

“It has really two parts to it. In the big picture, it’s really a promotion engine for Fort Collins. Our job is to get the word out beyond our backyard about the great music scene we have here in Fort Collins, and on the grassroots level, help educate music and bands to be better in business,” said organization member, Julie Sutter. Sutter deals with communication and publicity for SpokesBUZZ as well as runs her own communication company, Unconventional Ink. “One of the things that we try to foster is ‘ look how much you can do together.’”

Only on its fourth year, the organization has fostered positivity in dozens of bands, as each goes through a program, in about two years. The current class envelopes 11 bands. As a SpokesBUZZ band, monthly seminars take place to learn the ins-and-outs of business, marketing, and other valuable skills needed to create a long lasting, successful band.

“You go from being kind of a garage band, to being a band that has a platform to actually do something. To me, its kind of a ticket to somewhere,” said James Yearling, singer, electric guitarist, co-writer and management of the band Better Than Bacon, a current SpokesBUZZ band. “We want to be advocates to SpokesBUZZ. Part of the bands’ role is honestly to be an advocate for our community and to keep the reputation high, and so outside of all the fun, there is a level of responsibility that all the bands really enjoy.”

James Yearling jams on his electric guitar with his band Better Than Bacon at SXSW in Austin.

James Yearling jams on his electric guitar with his band Better Than Bacon at SXSW in Austin.

The music incubator is a collaborative effort that brings forward all aspects of the community, outside of just musicians. Fans feel invested to SpokesBUZZ because the shows, events, and bands represent something bigger than just the music.

Dani Grant started the organization, and she also runs the Mishawaka and Chippers Lanes. The organization is supported through volunteer driven leadership, communication, skills and forte, and funded by community initatives such as New Belgium and Crowd Funding.

“What makes Fort Collins unique is that everyone is very humble, which is really exceptional to see,” said Chris Anderson of Fierce Bad Rabbit, an alumni of SpokesBUZZ. “People do it because they like it. Everyone is very supportive, yet everyone’s doing their own thing.”

As the bands headed off to South By South West (SXSW) in the middle of March, they are making their fifth journey into a mega-music sea, to promote the locality of Fort Collins. The beginnings of the organizations stem from SXSW, a mega festival, of over 128,000 attendees, according to

“One of the things that we’ve discovered by going to Austin, it kind of feels like you’re a little fish in a big pond, but we’ve been able to bring so much of the community, beyond the music,” Sutter said. “What’s different about this year, we’ve actually made really great connections with the Denver community. It’s overwhelming, so you look for this connection, so the Colorado people gravitate to each other.”

This year, over a thousand Colorado-affiliated, music-passioned people are teaming up with SpokesBUZZ to celebrate Colorado music together through an official Colorado Music Party collaboration at SXSW, showing the progression from its first year of Fort Collins jamming out in Austin.

“At SXSW, it is just positive exposure for Fort Collins. I think a lot of people don’t realize what an amazing music base we have here,” said Nick Duarte, vocals and guitarists for Post Paradise. “It is really a team effort and everyone is working for the same goal, and they take it to Austin and say ‘hey look world, this is us.’”

The year ahead is fresh with SXSW SpokesBUZZ showcase behind, and a whole new journey to learn, explore and grow on. A new season for SpokesBUZZ is ahead, as a new class of bands is soon to join the team.

SpokesBUZZ puts on collaborative concerts, as well as supports the band’s and artist’s individual performances, so when the chance arises to check out a local band involved with this organization, a  larger picture is supported: the pattern that makes Fort Collins unique.

The threads of Fort Collins music are growing rapidly, and it is the responsibility of the community to keep this exciting pattern unfolding.

“Fort Collins does have a story to tell,” Sutter said. “When people hear ‘Colorado’, they may not think about Fort Collins, but that is changing.”

For more info on SpokesBUZZ, head over to


Expecting the unexpected with Black Bottle Brewery

 Features, The Well  Comments Off on Expecting the unexpected with Black Bottle Brewery
Sep 102012

Author: Chelsea Dunfee


Black Bottle Brewery

Sean Nook is the owner and head brewer at Black Bottle Brewery. Black Bottle Brewery, a new and edgy brewery located south of CSU will be opening in October. For more information on the brewery visit

Black Bottle Brewery is not your typical brewery. The new, edgy and radical brewery, owned and managed by  Sean Nook, is making some pretty bold moves.

After 12 years as an auto technician, Nook took a risk in today’s shaky economic climate by quitting his job to follow his passion of brewing beer. He is in the final stages of completing the full service beer pub, opening in October.  Black Bottle will be located south of campus on the corner of College Avenue and Prospect Road.

Nook’s dream began eight years ago when he started home brewing.

“All great breweries started as home brewing, all the ones you could think of and I was obsessed with it and never stopped,” Nook said.

Nook’s determination helped him to learn everythinghe could about brewing and starting his own business.

“I have a high school education, so I guess passion speaks louder than vocabulary. I read – no one showed me how to brew. I just read books and online– and a lot of trial and error. A lot of terrible trial and error,” Nook laughed.

Nook always had a taste for craft beer and at a young age was impressed with places such as New Belgium and Odell.

“These guys are especially unique and I was influenced by them at a very young age – not legal age – I was drinking that stuff and being like, ‘This is not like my dad’s MGD’,” Nook said. “This actually has flavor and taste and a good after taste.”

Nook is also taking a risk by opening a brewery in a town that is already home to nine other microbreweries. He believes his location is in the perfect spot as he describes how new student apartments will be built within short walking distance to the brewery. The new Mason Street corridor will also stop right behind his building.

Though there may be several microbreweries in town, Black Bottle is unique. Be ready to expect the unexpected.

“The idea is to not be normal in any aspect on anything. Design, attitude, video, beer, anything,” Nook said.

Nook is also thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing the brewery. His products include shirts for cats and even a fashion line of men’s underwear.

“The men’s underwear is a joke but it’s selling,” Nook said. “I’ve seen [breweries] sell women’s thongs. That’s so predictable, so I found black tighty whities.”

While his eye-catching marketing products cater to college town young adults, Nook welcomes all legal drinking age ranges.

“We love every age, legal of course,” Nook said.

Not only is Black Bottle’s radical techniques capturing local attention, but the brewery also won second place at Granly Brew Fest this past summer. He describes his Brewery as nontraditional, risky and creative.

“It’s fun. We want to offend you but we don’t want to make you cry. We color outside the lines and our beer has ADD,” Nook laughs.

Photo courtesy of David David Higgins

Photo courtesy of David David Higgins