Cultivation: The Seeds of Colorado Music

Oct 26, 2010 by

Cultivation: The Seeds of Colorado Music

PO1-249x189Within each issue of Mousike, you will find profiles on four Colorado based bands that are contributing their original styles to a live music scene that many consider to be the best in the world. Generally, each band included in Cultivation have been around for less than five years but we here at Mousike believe that they have the talent to achieve great success in Colorado and beyond for many years to come.

Peace Officer
Fort Collins

By Jenna Stecker

Sugar. The Brain. Senoj Nerol. Wiled Wombat. RaSense. Shaneye. AK. This may sound like a roll call for a Star Wars fan club, however these are names of the members of Front Range Hip Hop act Peace Officer. Correction… they are more than just a hip hop act. Bringing to mind reggae legend Jimmy Cliff’s song by the same name, Peace Officer incorporates reggae and so much more into their musical fold. “Our music is hip hop, but like all hip hop we add many different genres,” says AK. “We call what we do dub hop. It’s hip hop tempo, rhyming and consciousness, with the ridiculously fat grooves that dub can bring.”

Peace Officer also brings in an electronica influence with sample playback during their sets. This sampling, in combination with a live drum, bass and guitar set creates their multilayered and unique sound. Emcees that play to the crowd and know how to get spectators revved up makes Peace Officer’s live show one not to miss.

Most of the members have known each other for years with the creation of the group seeming to center mainly around several bandmates working at a Fort Collins bagel shop. Since forming with the current lineup in 2007, all members have been working to hone their sound and rock the crowd. In January 2009, Peace Officer released their first full length LP, “Insurgency”, an album that has been backed by a live show that has garnered a cult following in Colorado. The folow-up album “Contraband”, dropped to a packed house on Halloween 2009, just nine months later. This album features all members of the seven-piece outfit expanding their skills and solidifying their style to create a musical experience that is beyond labels.

Peace Officer’s new challenge is getting their sound out of Colorado and to the masses. “We want to get on the road and tour.” AK tells Mousike. “We’re working up to that… Within the year we hope to go out for extended periods of time.” To support Peace Officer’s desire to travel, find out where they will be next and to get a free download of Contraband, go to

Rojos Calientes
Summit County

By Jenna Stecker

“Gypsy Grass?” I thought when I first heard of Summit County’s Rojos Calientes. I was very intrigued and wondered how Latin influenced Bluegrass would sound. As it turns out, it sounds pretty good. Sitting through a recent Calientes show, I found that they fuse a solid bluegrass foundation and then build a Jam and Latin infused house on top of it. While core members of Rojos Calientes have been playing together for years now, they have only recently rounded out their line up.

Raul Quintanilla is from Peru, but his 4 years in Bozeman Montana is where he became familiar with new genres of music such as Country, Bluegrass and Jam music. While originally a bassist, Quintanilla seems to have flowed seamlessly into being Rojos Calientes front man and lead guitarist, as well as the band’s primary songwriter. Mike Huberman who plays Mandolin, Banjo, and Washboard says, “Raul and I are the principle songwriters. We tend to split the work with me on the musical arrangement end of things and Raul writing most lyrics.” Huberman laughs as he notes the language difference. “Funny thing is, the majority of us are not entirely sure what some of the songs are about! We think most of them are about love and love lost.” Mike and Raul played together as a duo for short time before meeting Ryan Blizzard and his Upright Bass at the South Park Music Festival. In October 2008 a month before going into the studio to record their first album, they met Angie Janzen who plays the Viola and lends some femininity to the band with her vocals. In the Spring of 2010 Rojos Calientes added its 5th member, John Bunting “JB” an established Denver percussionist.

It seems Rojos Calientes has finally found the last piece to the puzzle. As Huberman says “Being an acoustic band with no drum kit and for a while with no percussion was tough. Playing bars and clubs where people expect to dance can be a challenge, to overcome this we really utilize ways to maximize the percussive qualities of our acoustic instruments.”  Watching the small but enthusiastic crowd dance when I saw them play live, that seems be a challenge that they have overcome. The most enjoyable portion of the show was the fusion of Trampled By Turtles “Codeine” into Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” then back to “Codeine”. Both of these songs played well with the distinct Calientes’ sound. A close second was their version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” into “Shady Grove” and back to Floyd again. Crooning that they are “Just a shady brick in the wall” Rojos Calientes is a fun fusion act that deserves a little attention from you.

D.V.S* – Derek VanScoten

By Whitney LeFevre

With descriptions like “Omni-tempo Soulgaze,” and “Six-String Whomp,” your imagination churns thinking about what kind of music D.V.S* (Derek VanScoten) creates.  A self-proclaimed creator of “tasty beatz,” multi-instrumentalist D.V.S* has called Boulder home for over a decade, yet has only recently started producing his work.

Derek released a full-length album titled “Before I Sing” in October 2009, which has been followed closely by two EP’s, two singles, and an original mixtape. His recordings pull from various elements of dance music, including hip-hop, electro-funk, dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass and house. “Before I Sing” plays parent to songs like “Being Near You,” “Different From the Rest,” and “Sweetest Hangover,” which reflect an eclectic combination of vintage, soulful lyricism, blues rock guitar textures and trip-hop beats.  Derek has adhered to new musical influences in his more recent work through bands like Flying Lotus, Four Tet, Rusko, Booka Shade and others. With “Through the Looking Glass EP”, songs like “Rüberjunk” and “The Day Speeds On…” carry a glitchy, dub-oriented sound mixed with light, beautiful guitar melodies. His most recent release, “How it Ends ~ The Remix EP”, draws inspiration from bands like Passion Pit, Devotchka, Bjork, Major Lazer, and Bassnectar in a fiery yet melancholic collection of remixes. While Derek’s albums lay praise to him as a truly talented artist, they are merely a glimpse of the real magic D.V.S* conjures during a live performance.  His musicianship alone can quickly pack a dance floor and keep it moving well into the early morning hours. “My primary instruments are a variety of electric and acoustic guitars, as well as laptops and controllers for making beats. I also play bass, mandolin, tenor banjo and a little bit of keys,” says Derek While some fans have described Derek as the love child shared between Girl Talk and Ratatat, others have called him a one-man Lotus or Electro Keller Williams. Either way, you can expect a wide range of music to be played during his set: “I’m always changing it up to keep it fresh, but definitely [expect] dirty beats and lots of guitar. [It’s] a perfect blend of crunchy beats and live musicianship.” Sadly, Derek has packed up and headed to Brooklyn, NY; however, he will always hold Colorado close: “I’ll be back [in Colorado] for gigs, friends, and whatnot, but it’s time for D.V.S* to move to bright lights and big city.”

You can download all albums and tracks at and follow D.V.S* on Facebook at

Boulder Acoustic Society

By Whitney LeFevre

If you start with a heaping bowl of American roots and add a dash of indie rock, drop in some classical music training and gritty harmonization, sprinkle with punk undertones, and cover it with a pseudo avant-garde and Brechtian cabaret candy coating, you have undoubtedly created the delicious concoction known as the Boulder Acoustic Society.

Spanning extensive musical backgrounds, educations and degrees, the four members of Boulder Acoustic Society, or BAS as they are warmly known among friends and fans, have done much more than make a musical statement.  Seven years after their original formation, BAS has toured throughout the United States, has played over 150 shows a year, and is ready to release their sixth album “Champion of Disaster” in October.

The current members, consisting of Aaron Keim (banjo, guitar, ukulele, vocals), Scott McCormick (accordion, piano, vocals), Neil McCormick (bass), and Scott Aller (drums, vocals), have essentially known each other since 2006.  “The band has been around since 2003,” says Keim. “Since then, [the band] has become more folky, more rockin’ and has a darker vibe.”  Influenced by artists like The Clash, Woody Guthrie, The Pixies, Doc Watson, The Pogues, Memphis Jug Band and a vast collection of others, it makes sense how BAS pulls from so many genres to create the acoustically fresh, foot-stomping assertiveness their albums offer.  From Americana grass roots with ragtime, country and jazz hints (So Many Stars In The Sky and The 8th Color) to ominous implementations of gospel and vocal harmonies (Now), to raspy traditional meets folk-punk rock with a gypsy twist (Punchline), BAS isn’t new to turning experiment into melodious masterpiece. Speaking of masterpieces, “Champion of Disaster” has BAS centering on Appalachian root instrumentation with rock backbeats.  They create a traditional sound with an aggressive yet communal feel by pairing a swooning banjo, guitar, and heavy accordion with their signature grainy harmonization and vocality.  The new album is actually more an act in refinement than an experiment: “Our recorded music is very diverse.  Champion is an attempt to strip it down and focus on one sound,” says Keim.

BAS is currently on their Coal, Cotton and Dust tour throughout the United States.  If you head to one of their shows, don’t let their initial jug band/ bluegrass swagger and laidback demureness fool you; their live shows pack a sensationally direct punch to the eardrums.  In addition to deep lyrics, creative arrangements, captivating personalities, and fun, expect to hear rock music played on folk instruments and folk music played on rock instruments.   Follow BAS online at

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