February 9, 2008

Feb. 8 - Ian Cooke, Paper Bird, Autumn Film

In the wake of the Mars Volta assault, I was encouraged by Kathryn to check out Ian Cooke. Ian is a Colorado musician who has chosen the cello and voice as his instruments of choice. I had never heard of him, or the other THREE acts on the bill, but Kathryn's taste in music is impeccable so I decided to take the leap. All four bands hail from the Boulder/Denver area and after checking out Ian Cooke's MySpace page I felt fairly confident I was in for an enjoyable evening of local talent.

We entered the venue during World Romantic's set. Although they had a few interesting hooks, most of their songs ended up sounding the same.

While the crowd assembled inside the Boulder Theater consisted mainly of an under 25 year old crowd I noticed quite a few older Boulderites milling around. It was an interesting confluence of the Pabst Blue Ribbon crowd and scotch and water sippers.

Paper Bird came out and it became evident to me that at least some of the older fans were likely proud parents. A six piece band comprising of three female vocalists, a guitar, a banjo and a trombone, Paper Bird calls Denver home and I would guess that the average age of the members at around 22 years old. Their mix of bluegrass, doo wop, and folk music produces a uniquely American sound that is at once engaging and uplifting. The three part harmonies the singers put forth are quite impressive while the three-piece band creates a great down home vibe even while tackling some complex time signatures and melodic changes.
Their sheer enthusiasm was contagious and the crowd assembled definitely came alive while this band was on stage. The three piece assemble did have some rough patches of missed notes and cues, but it hardly took away from the fresh fun being had within the Theater.

Their sound got me thinking about what Boulder must've been like during the Glenn Miller era, and wondered how many great local acts had stood on this stage while making music steeped in happiness and joy.

St. Louis by Paper Bird

I took a stroll back to the merch area and found their manager hawking their CD in earnest (which I happily bought) along with several items of hand made clothing. Hand made by members of the band... applique stitch work T Shirts and boxers... some pretty interesting stuff. The whole ethic of 'hand made by the band merch' could strike one as quaint and ridiculous. But honestly these facts all merge to create an aura of authenticity that is difficult to ignore. There is absolutely no irony in their efforts, only pure unadulterated JOY. A rare commodity in the so-called 'indie scene.'

After a short break Ian Cooke took the stage with a band consisting of a bass player, a keyboardist/guitarist, a fiddle player and a drummer. He opened with a cover of (Working) 9 to 5, the Dolly Parton classic. Ian is an outstanding musician and song writer who has proven time and again that he doesn't need a band. And I must confess I found myself longing to hear him without the distractions of other instruments. Still, his brilliant use of a cello and voice is a pleasure to hear even when accompanied. I found my mind wandering again during his set; ALWAYS a good sign. If the music propels the imagination outside of my little selfish reality I have come to appreciate that this means the music has literally moved me.

The highlight of the evening may have been when the drum kit was experiencing electrical problems. The singers from Paper Bird were on stage to perform a different song, one that needed percussion. Ian had apparently also rehearsed a song with the young ladies that only required voice and cello. What transpired was unscheduled, unpolished, imperfect and utterly beautiful. The audio and images from the video don't do the performance justice, but I post it here anyway hoping something from this performance endows you readers with inspiration. Listen closely for Ian's auditory embellishments.


Although Ian did not have CDs there for purchasing I am going to find some where online to buy one - and I suggest you do the same (YOU CAN BUY IT HERE THROUGH TWIST AND SHOUT!)

I left the venue during Autumn Film. For me the cat was out of the bag during Paper Bird's set and Ian was then able to hypnotize the feline sufficiently. Songs of angst or pain couldn't pierce the thick warm coat of joyful sounds made by the previous two acts.

If you are from the Boulder/Denver area and get a chance, support these local artists. They are making good, honest music and deserve your attention.


Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that your comments seem to dismiss the unity and the gathering of great artist that come together to make Ian Cooke the fantastic performer he is. I agree that his cello and voice are amazing, but I have also heard at other venues from audience members that when he does solo that it starts to all sound the same. I think that with the band and the creative sounds that Ian and his band have put together it is truly a band worth spending an evening enjoying. I also realize that we all do not understand the contributions that these, not so visual band members, make to a great band. I bet you are a Sting fan, (POLICE). Kuddo's to all of the Ian Cooke band members and I really am sad that Ian has chosen to reduce the drums to a synthetic sound. I was very disappointed when the electric drums failed and so were the other 15 people I was with.

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