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


“Music and Peace” Still Sets Stage for Music Festivals

 Beats, Scene & Heard, The Well  Comments Off on “Music and Peace” Still Sets Stage for Music Festivals
Feb 182013

Author: Mary Willson


Fans soak in the sun at Wakarusa music festival. Wakarusa is a week long music marathon, where the sun and heat adds to the festivities.



A sea of tents is a common site at any camping-centered music festival.

A sea of tents is a common site at any camping-centered music festival.

“Three days of Music and Peace,” the honed motto of the epic Woodstock music festival, still guides the passionate community and artists that come together for marathons of music, art, and human celebration.

As the reality of warm weather turns the corner, there is little more freeing, passion-building, and exciting as a music festival to truly unwind from the grind of the past semester.



A festival attendee focuses on a stage, as the crowds swell, the community still feels close through a shared bond of music.

“It is an exprience unlike any other planned ‘vacation’ just because of the ultimate freedom you have at festivals,” said freshman finance major, Ryan Fergen. Fergen spent his senior trip at Mulberry Mountain,in the Ozarks of Arkansas at Wakarusa music festival. “It is enlightening to see the way people connect through music and how complete strangers from around the country can become instant friends through a common band or show.”


Music festivals are a golden reality, which pushes attendees into a wonderfully accepting community, while enjoying the passions that music can bring. For this reason, festivals have grown in popularity and stay on the top of the list for rallying through warm weather experiences.

“The biggest difference between festivals and shows is you actually get to live the music. When you are surrounded by thousands of people that are doing the exact same thing you are doing and living out of a tent and eating [bad] food it makes you appreciate the lifestyle so much more,” Fergen said. “Things happen at festivals that you would never even think about doing at a normal show. My friends and I discussed the feeling that once we walked into the ‘boundaries’ of Wakarusa it was like we walked into another country with no rules and different expectations for society.”

Wake up in a tent, slap some sunscreen on, eat anything you can find, grab a drink, go to your first show; rally until early in the morning, back in the tent; repeat. This is the daily grind when on break and at one of the outdoor paradises of music festivals, a complete juxtaposition of life in a student’s society.

Woodstock, the ultimate, historically epic mega-festival from Aug. 15 to 18 in 1969 sets the stage for modern music marathons.  Thirty two acts took the stage including Santana, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead—all with a crowd of 500,000 watching. As 44 years have passed and technology has increased exponentially, festivals generations behind its day-in-age were truly raw, and community oriented.

As technology has swept into daily lives, spontaneous moments such as this have dwindled. Music festivals bring those feelings into the center-stage, because through lack of outlets, wifi, and cell-phone service, being present in the moment becomes ever-exceedingly the current reality. This, coupled with energetic music and artists who are excited to be at the festival, creates a blissful show experience.

The kindness and community at festivals is felt whether one is at an electronic festival, a diverse music festival, or a bluegrass festival—the atmosphere is the same. Everyone is there to live the music.

“It’s all about the energy. Unlike a lot of concerts, at electronic ones everyone is nice to each other,” said Zaid Hassani, electrical engineering sophomore. “You rarely see fights, everyone is there for the same cause and just give off positive energy.”

Hassani made the journey to Electronic Dance Carnival (EDC) last year, and is preparing to go again. He also is an electronic DJ.

There are thousands of music festivals throughout the nation, and thousands more abroad. The largest festival in the US is South by Southwest (SXSW) with 20,000 visitors.

Popular ones within the festival season include Coachella in California, Sasquatch in May, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Firefly in Delaware, Governors Ball in New York, Bonoroo in Tennessee.

“It’s crazy because there’s thousands and thousands of people there, but you’re all there for the same reason,” said freshman Charlie Anderson, international studies major. Anderson went to Wakarusa least year, Mile High in 2009, and is getting ready to head to SXSW this March. “It feels like you’re a part of something that’s solidified in music.”

The music festival trend is truly timeless, as music is a passion that will be ignited throughout the generations to come. As our society becomes more controlled by technology, pressures of jobs, families and the like, weeks of giving it all up for the pleasure of music is something to experience.