Jun 292011

I'm With Her (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

What do you get when you take an established country/roots singer from Denver and an established folk singer from Fargo, and put ’em together? When Angie Stevens and Haley E. Rydell tried it, they came up with a new collaboration called I’m With Her.

Both artists have found success on their own–Stevens with her band Angie Stevens & the Beautiful Wreck, and Rydell with Haley E. & the Rydells–but this collaboration seems to combine the best of both artists in an expression that is much different than what either one has produced thus far.  According to Stevens, with whom I had a chance to talk prior to the release of I’m With Her’s self-titled EP, this project provided a chance for them to share some heartfelt music that doesn’t quite fit the vibe of the artists’ respective bands.

Released earlier this month on Stevens’ label Boss Koala Records, the I’m With Her EP contains songs that are simple, reflective, passionate, beautiful…and deep.

Deep.  That’s a good word for it. The girls ventured into deeper waters with this collaboration. If you’re a fan of Stevens, Rydell, or both, chances are you’ll love this collaboration a lot.

Take a listen to the track below, and if you like it, go buy the EP at I’m With Her’s Bandcamp site.

I’m With Her: “But I Do”

Mar 152010

This post supplements my article on Examiner.com.

Those who know me personally or through other blogs already know that one of my passions is to celebrate and support the voice of the woman in our culture.  It isn’t a political thing for me, but rather a deep sense of conviction that God doesn’t play favorites, that the female of our species is blessed with every bit as much giftedness as the male–but in a culture long dominated by men, the talents of women aren’t always seen or acknowledged or taken seriously.  That said, some of the most amazing art around is created by women, and I appreciate anything that celebrates the voice and talent of women in our culture, especially when it comes to creativity.  So when Angie Stevens headlined a lineup of four top-notch acoustic/vocal female-fronted acts last Friday, my photographer wife Shelby and I made a point to be there.

Of the four acts that appeared at the Toad Tavern that night–Angie Stevens, Wendy Woo, Goldie and the Bears and Megan Burtt–I already knew three of them to be exceptionally talented, so my expectations were pretty high going in.  But I’m happy to say that my expectations were even exceeded.  It’s rare that I go to a music event where I thoroughly enjoy every performer on the bill–and that even goes for larger tours with big names.  This was one of those rare times. Every one of these ladies could easily have carried the show on their own; we got to see all four of them on one stage in one night.

You can catch my full recap of the concert on Examiner.com, but just to give the highlights: 

Megan Burtt (whose new record I reviewed here) performed songs from the record and some new tunes, and did a great job opening the show with just a voice and guitar (she had left her band on the road to come home for the show). 

Megan Burtt.

Megan Burtt. (Photo: Shelby McQuilkin.)

Goldie and the Bears, the newest band and the one act I had not yet heard, blew me away. Goldie is young, yet has one of the strongest, yet controlled, set of vocal pipes I’ve heard in someone her age. Her band (all guys) has a rich, bluesy, neo-soul vibe that matches her voice. I’m already looking for the CD.


Goldie (Photo: Shelby McQuilkin.)

Wendy Woo and her band filled the dance floor with fans with the first song. This was the third time I’ve heard her perform (once solo, once with the band), and despite a few technical difficulties, this was the strongest set of the three–one of those times when the sound quality was there, the band was together, and the crowd was connecting.  Just felt right.

Wendy Woo

Wendy Woo. (Photo: Shelby McQuilkin.)

Angie Stevens’ set was less like a performance, and more like a jam session with old friends–not to suggest it was less than a good performance, but just that it was relaxed and fun. She’d invited the band Something Underground to join her, and the set was a mixture of performances with different combinations of Angie and the guys and her own bandmates, all done with an infectious energy that just made you love the music right along with them.

Angie Stevens

Angie Stevens. (Photo: Shelby McQuilkin.)

Thanks, ladies, for sharing your gifts with us.  What an awesome evening of music.

Mar 012010

Photo by Traci Goudie.

This post is supplemental to my article on Examiner.com.

Since starting to scope out the Denver local music scene to write about it here and on Examiner.com, I’ve seen a lot of bands and artists with promise.  I’ve experienced soul-stirring moments, heard some great musicians play (both veterans and newcomers), and met some awesome friends in the music community.  There is a lot of genuine talent here, and I’m a fan, for sure.

Every so often, though, amid all the good music, you get a standout moment where the bar is raised, and someone performs in a way you know you will remember for a long, long time–that soul-rocking moment that reminds you why you are a fan of music, where you want to jump out of your chair and yell, “YES! Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!” 

I had that kind of moment Friday night, watching Angie Stevens and the Beautiful Wreck.

I’d read a lot of great stuff about Angie Stevens’ alt-country-roots-rock sound, and had actually been looking for an opportunity to catch her act, to see what all the fuss was about–and time conflicts prevented me before now.  I’m glad I went when I had the chance. 

Angie and her band took the stage at Bender’s Tavern after 11:30 PM, and to tell you the truth, the opening acts had just about put me to sleep.  But from the first few bars of the first song in Angie Stevens’ set, oxygen came back into the room, and I remembered why I’d come.  Pretty much everything I saw and heard, from catchy songs to engaging stage presence to fantastic raw talent (as much with the bandmates as with Stevens herself)…all of it was captivating.  To say it was one of the most solid performances I’ve seen so far in Denver is putting it mildly.

One of the key things that makes me a fan and a believer when watching a band or artist play is when you can tell they love what they are doing, and that they believe what they are doing.  When they believe it, I believe it.  You could just tell Angie Stevens loves what she does, and her excitement was absolutely contagious.  Not only that–but she’s very, very good at what she does.  It isn’t just hype–there is a real voice and talent to match it.  It’s apparent that Angie Stevens believes it–and it made a believer out of me. 

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about.

OOMPH scale: 10 (the first 10 I’ve given since starting this blog).