Leadville Cherokee rocks Dillon Dam Brewery in support of new album
If you go
What: Leadville Cherokee
When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26
Where: Dillon Dam Brewery, 100 Little Dam St., Dillon
Cost: $5 cover at the door; copies of the band’s debut album, “How to Build a Fire,” will be on sale for $5
More information: Visit www.leadvillecherokee.com to learn more about the band, or listen to and purchase the album on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon or CD Baby.
Leadville Cherokee formed when most of the band members met up at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, said bassist Brian Carter.
“I’d known one of the guys,” he said, referring to guitarist Mark Niernberger. “We played in a high school band in Kansas, and he moved to Leadville and then we met two other guys. One of the guys is from Texas, and the other one is from Illinois.
“The lead singer is from Tennessee,” he continued, referring to vocalist Coco Martin. “We went on a rafting trip down east and met her on the river, and she came out to Colorado and started singing with us, and the keyboard player is a Leadville native. It’s kind of a complicated story.”
Each of the band members had a different musical background, and each brought a unique sound to the band. From Carter and Niernberger’s funk and Southern rock ’n’ roll influences, to a bit of a melodic thread from classically trained keyboard player Michael Seibel and violinist-guitarist Peter Albrecht, to drummer Vilous “V” Fox’s hip-hop beats, Leadville Cherokee explores the full gamut of euphonic noise.
“Each member has a certain type of music the way they learned it growing up, and those are all different genres, so when we all come together to play, it’s a combination of everyone’s influence,” Carter said.
Making an album
The eclectic mix shines through in the band’s debut full-length album, “How to Build a Fire,” which was released on Thursday, Jan. 1. The 12-track album was crowd-funded through Kickstarter and recorded in Leadville with Grammy-nominated producer Tim Stroh. Stroh owned Stepbridge Studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before relocating to Leadville to work on smaller projects, Carter said.
“He’s a brilliant guy, but he basically built this studio in Leadville,” Carter said, adding that the studio is right down the street from where Leadville Cherokee practices. “Not many people know about it right now besides people he’s worked with in the past. You can’t look it up, it has no website, but it’s a pro studio in Leadville, not commercial, just a private space. We were the first full band to record an album, which was pretty cool.”
Carter was associate producer on the album, spending many grueling hours in the studio alongside Stroh, Martin said, but the overall musical process was collaborative, with one band member proposing an idea and others adding to it, starting the evolution that eventually became a song.
“I’d say it takes us usually about two weeks to write a song,” he said. “Someone will bring it in and we’ll have five or six band practices and we’ll mold and shape it into what people end up hearing onstage.”
The album took about seven months to write and produce, Carter said, and it has all the hallmarks of the band’s melting pot of influences, from bluegrass to funk to dance, soul and folk, interspersed with classical violin parts and overlaid with Albrecht’s and Martin’s Rocky Mountain-inspired lyrics.
“The music that we make is such a huge reflection of what we do when we’re not onstage,” Martin said. “Every one of the people in this band is about finding themselves in the adventure. We’ve been raft guides, we work on ski mountains, we go on hikes all the time — that’s where the inspiration comes from for the music.”
One of Martin’s favorite tracks, written by Albrecht and titled “Rocky Mountain Morning,” paints a peaceful, beautiful picture of the vistas and valleys the band explores on a regular basis from their home in Lake County. The theme is typical of many of the songs on the album.
“A lot of the subject matter in the lyrics comes from a place of kind of discovering that there are really simple ways to find happiness and to find peace, and that involves a lot of things that are being outside,” Martin said. “That’s kind of a big thing is finding your spirit in the adventure of being outside. That’s where a lot of the stuff comes from and realizing that you don’t necessarily need a god to feel comfortable as much as you need yourself and what you have around you.”
Leadville Cherokee’s live show at the Dillon Dam Brewery on Thursday, March 26, will incorporate a lot of the new music, along with genre-bending covers and a whole lot of improvisation.
“People always end up really getting up and dancing around, and we find this time to truly be ourselves, so that kind of opens this window to really connect with other people and have a really good time,” Martin said. “It’s not just about playing everything perfect and putting on a performance, because that’s not what’s fun for us. It’s about sharing that experience and I think it shows in the music.”
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