Monday, July 25, 2016

Polyrhythmics & Atomga Bringin' That Afrobeat Fire

This 10-piece Afrobeat dance band is comprised of musicians from a variety of other Mile High City bands who joined forces four years ago to create intoxicatingly fun dance music for the masses. Several members of ATOMGA sat down with AXS to discuss their history and pre-Thanksgiving show in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What brought ATOMGA together?
Casey Hrdlicka (guitar): We all loved the style of Afrobeat and felt that not too many people around were doing it, let alone had even heard the style of music, so we thought it would be a great vessel for creating original, unique sounding music.
Frank Roddy (tenor saxophone): Expanding on Casey’s answer, we all strive to keep a strong Afrobeat foundation while creating a modern sound.
Alice Hansen (trumpet): Aside from the love of playing Afrobeat, which was a huge motivator, I joined Atomga because I love playing in bands with musicians from different backgrounds, and not just a shared college degree. Once I started meeting everyone in the group it became clear to me that this was a band that functioned without relying on the cynicism/ego of so many of those different musical projects. Everyone approached Atomga with a sincerity that I still feel is completely unique to this band, and to me it made it clear that this band would keep growing as a group, and that I would have the freedom to grow as an individual musician within it.
Leah Concialdi (baritone and soprano saxophone/flute/EWI): As far as the formation of the band, I think Casey once described the band coming together as “a long series of connections over a long period of time.” Frank and Casey knew each other from Friends of Red Rocks and conceptualized starting an Afrobeat band in Denver. From there, everyone came together whether it had been playing in previous groups YEARS ago, Craigslist, colleague recommendation and we got our newest members from watching them crush in other groups that we had shared bills with before. When we had vacancies, we knew exactly who we would call.

AXS: How long has ATOMGA been together? What have you learned during that time?
Casey: Four years. Patience and creativity.
Frank: During the past 4 years together, I feel we have learned how to create, record and perform as a team who truly cares about each other.
Alice: I’ve learned how every person in a band grows to fill a particular role, and how important each member’s presence is at any rehearsal/concert.

AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Frank: Quixote’s supporting Buntron Smith who recently morphed into Sol Authority.
Leah: The first show with the bulk of our current members was Cervantes’ Fall Down Fest in September 2011.

AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired ATOMGA?
Leah: Stylistically, The Motet’s first few albums really highlighted the new advent of Afrobeat music and they got the ball rolling getting those types of spellbinding grooves on the forefront of the Denver scene. Their Halloween shows have also shown that you can adapt pop, soul, funk, and beyond for this type of ensemble. Euforquestra is also a band that has been around for awhile playing funky, world-influenced tunes.
Casey: Mitch Chmara, Tim Lee, Chris Sauthoff, Paa Kow
Alice: Maybe this isn’t speaking for the band, but I’m not super involved in the jam scene and I get huge motivation from the jazz scene here- particularly artists like Ron Miles, Venus Cruz, and pretty much any of those assholes in Supercollider. In terms of “world" music here, I think we gotta mention Paa Kow’s By All Means band. They’ve informed so much about how I want to learn music (oral tradition, fuckers), and how I would like the flow of concerts I play to go. They put so much content and quality into music that is unbelievably accessible and fun. And they have the tightest horn section this side of the Mississippi.

AXS: Does ATOMGA have a goal in mind for the sound the band produces? Are there certain influences or themes the band tries to inject into its own music?
Leah: We want all of our tunes to keep people moving and on their feet while maybe stopping in their tracks to think about potent lyrics or a sick horn line they just heard. We have a variety of backgrounds and influences amongst our members, so if a horn line sounds like it could be a shout chorus of a big band tune, or there’s a proggy/math-rock guitar/bass duo, it’s all part of our musical melting pot.
Casey: We collectively have many influences spanning across the spectrum of all music from all over the world. Fela Kuti is a major influence among many others. We mainly just want to make people dance while pushing ourselves musically.
Frank: We do put a lot of effort, when writing originals, to keep a raw, organic sound while developing a strong, clean groove that [with so many musicians] doesn't sound cluttered.

AXS: What would your ideal live show look like? Where would it take place? Any particular time of year? Would a specific band/musician share the bill with or open for ATOMGA?
Leah: As far as venues are concerned, of course Red Rocks is the #1 bucket list item for most Colorado musicians. I have always wanted to play shows with Femi Kuti & The Positive Force and The Budos Band. Our styles of music mesh really well and they are 2 of my favorite groups who play Afrobeat/Afro-influenced music. If we ever found ourselves in Lagos, Nigeria playing at the New Afrika Shrine [Note: The original Shrine was a nightclub founded by Fela Kuti where he performed regularly and officiated Yoruba ceremonies], we would be taken aback by the rich history and seeing the roots and traditions of the music we play.

AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Frank: I would say the thriving music scene that we have here is quite an inspiration in itself. Any and all genres, great musicianship who love to collaborate, wonderful venues with great sound gear and engineers and, most of all, support by the people locally who come to see and appreciate the shows.
Leah: Collaboration and support. Denver is the hub for a creative renaissance where people aren’t afraid of new ideas and to have their voices heard. We live in a place where super jams and collaborations are a common occurrence in the music scene and it seems like whenever musicians have nights off, they are out there supporting their friends and colleagues around the community. It’s truly something special that doesn’t happen everywhere.
Alice: Gotta agree with Leah in terms of the supportive community and variety of the musicians here. I feel like every musician can find their own niche, and that the music scene is very supportive and accepting to anyone who puts themselves out there to play or listen. I’m constantly surprised by how musicians support each other, and I feel like Denver operates in a very non-competitive way that is unique and crazy fun. Also, the men. I enjoy the men.
Leah: I second Alice on the men!

Music-wise, here’s a list of other awesome Denver bands that feature various members of ATOMGA: Hamhock; Tnertle; Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats; Knocean; The Abstract Collective; Samwich; Gora Gora Orkestar; Sleazy Grease; Crescent Brothers Blues Band; Dover Prose

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stephen Colbert Brings Back The Word: Trumpiness

#WorstResponders #NeverTrump #RNCinCLE
Jon Stewart: "Either Lumpy and his friends are lying about being bothered by thin-skinned, authoritarian, less-than-Christian readers-of-prompter being president, or they don’t they care, as long as it’s their thin-skinned prompter authoritarian tyrant narcissist. You just want that person to give you your country back, because you feel that you’re this country’s rightful owners. There’s only one problem with that: This country isn’t yours. You don’t own it. It never was. There is no “real” America... I see you, and I see your bullshit!"

Following a stunt the night before where he crashed the convention stage while impersonating Hunger Games emcee Caesar Flickerman, the comedian and political satirist revived his Colbert Report character—a satire of a blowhard conservative—and brought on former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, whose commentary many have sorely missed during this election cycle.

Opening the show with a pre-taped musical number filmed partially on-site at the convention, Colbert took shots at prominent Republicans ranging from Indiana governor Mike Pence—Donald Trump’s running mate—to Chris Christie and Ben Carson, and, of course, the presumptive Republican nominee himself, Trump (who he called an “orange manatee”). “The party of Lincoln had better start drinking,” he suggested.

Colbert’s Comedy Central alter ego, who had apparently been hiding in a cabin with Stewart, came on to explain the Trump phenomenon, riding into the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on a golden chariot pulled by bare-chested Uncle Sams, while carrying a Captain America-style shield and sword.

Colbert reprised his “the word” segment to coin a new term to describe what drives Trump supporters: “Trumpiness.” The term plays off another term Colbert invented during the second Bush administration, “Truthiness,” which means “believing in something that feels true, even if it isn’t supported by fact.” Whereas truthiness has to feel true, however, Trumpiness does not, he said, citing a Washington Post story that shows some Trump fans don’t even believe his pledges to build a wall.

The comedian ended the bit by summing up what fuels the Trump machine: The candidate is “an emotional megaphone for voters full of rage at a government that achieves nothing.”

More information:
» NPR: "WATCH: Chaos Erupts On RNC Floor As #NeverTrump Makes Last Stand"
» Quartz: "The funniest tweets about Trump and Pence’s first joint interview"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks

7/15/16 - Red Rocks - Morrison, CO

S1: Texas, Get Tight, Way That It Goes, Farther, Water > It Is What It Is > Hi Ho No Show

S2: Just One Story > Way Back Home > Everybody Wants To Rule the World > Way Back Home, Seventh Step, Black Clouds, Miss Brown's Teahouse > Let's Go Outside

E: Rivertrance

More information:
» JamBase: "Photos, Videos & Full Show Audio"

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saturday, July 2, 2016

2016 Summer Olympics: The Introduction

"It wasn't supposed to be like this."

26. Poop suits aren’t enough

The special antimicrobial racing suits being designed for rowers to compete in shit-filled water? Probably won’t work.

25. Human body parts on the beach

Yep, right next to where athletes will play volleyball.

24. Even Stephen Colbert agrees

23. Zika

Golf is being played at the Games for the first time in 112 years. But the world’s top-ranked golfer, Jason Day, will not go to Rio due to Zika. In a statement he mentioned his “concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” even though the CDC has said Zika is not a long-term problem for couples who are planning on having children in the future.

22. It will be hard to test for doping

The only lab that’s accredited to test athletes’ blood and urine in Brazil has been shut down, according to Deadspin. The World Anti-Doping Agency claimed there will be workaround procedures in place, but since the problem with another doping scandal was that samples were tainted, this could open the door for lots more doping.

21. They killed the freaking mascot

They killed the freaking mascot!

20. Financial emergency

Rio has declared a state of “public calamity.” The government has been forced to take emergency actions just to host the Olympics.

19. Superbugs

Two separate scientific investigations have found antibiotic-resistant super bacteria in the water where athletes will compete.

18. Rio is basically a police state

Concerns about crime and political unrest have transformed Rio into a high-tech surveillance wonderland of security cameras and smartphone sniffers, as Motherboard reports in this really creepy story

17. Journalists are backing out

It’s not just athletes who are wary about Zika. Now a “handful” of NBC staffers have refused to travel to Rio, including Today anchor Savannah Guthrie, who is pregnant.

16. Athletes are backing out

The first US athlete to withdraw from the games due to Zika is cyclist Tejay van Gardener, who is concerned about transmitting Zika to his pregnant wife. A handful of other athletes have cited Zika as a reason they’re not going.

15. Bankruptcy

Tecnosolo, the construction company in charge of the velodrome, has declared bankruptcy and now another firm is scrambling to complete the $43 million structure by August 11.

14. Violence

A gold medalist sailor from Spain and two other members of the team were robbed at gunpoint. Muggings have become a concern with security budgets slashed.

13. Doping

23 athletes in an IOC investigation have tested positive for doping in a massive doping scandal that could ban a total of 31 yet-unnamed athletes “from 12 countries and six sports” from participating.

12. Corruption

Officials are currently investigating what happened to missing federal funds earmarked for several venues, including bodies of water that were supposed to be cleaned for the games (see #6).

11. Zika

Sending 500,000 people to the center of an outbreak of a yet-to-be-understood disease might create a global pandemic.

10. Inequality

Rio’s poorest residents have been shouldered with the heaviest burden for the Olympics—and some of them have already lost their homes in the process.

9. Some countries might not be invited

Due to some Russians who were already outed for doping, Russia might be barred completely, and because it didn’t comply with an anti-doping agency investigation, Kenya may not be able to compete at all either.

8. Political scandals

Brazil’s president has been suspended after being impeached (although some reports say she’s being unfairly targeted by political enemies). But that’s not all! More than half of the members of Brazil’s senate are also being investigated for crimes.

7. Brazil’s recession

The Brazilian economy is in free-fall. And the Olympics—or even worse, a financially unsuccessful Olympics—might plunge it even further downward.

6. Poop

The shitty (literally, shitty) water that the country refused to clean up has the potential to make athletes sick. Also, the money allocated to do this was probably stolen.

5. Unfinished infrastructure

The extension for Rio de Janeiro’s Metro Linha 4 that connects the major venues hasn’t even been finished. That means traffic will be an absolute nightmare.

4. Dangerous infrastructure

The infrastructure for the games that has already been finished is falling apart and killing people.

3. Bad luck

We just found out that South Korea, the country set to host the next Olympics, secretly did a really, really horrible job last time. So that’s reassuring.

2. International sporting events suck

No one wants to host them. And the IOC seems like a bunch of jerks.

1. But seriously, Zika

Dude, if the recommendations are that pregnant women or even people who are considering getting pregnant shouldn’t attend—will anyone even go?

More information:
» The Atlantic: "What Happens When There’s Sewage in the Water?"
» ESPN: "The Promise Rio Couldn't Keep"
» CNN: "Olympics: Rio 2016's 'perfect storm'"
» Reuters: "Studies find 'super bacteria' in Rio's Olympic venues, top beaches"
» Quartz: "Rio’s most dangerous levels of deadly air pollution are at the Olympic Stadium"