Students Balance Supportive and Saturated City

Photo: Ashley Bauler


The Denver music scene personifies  an enigma of popping young talent and a hidden treasure trove.

The Underground Music Showcase in July was a singular opportunity to unearth and bring many of these young musicians to the forefront with an entire showcase dedicated to aspiring college student musicians. However, most of these stories are unknown; many remain nameless and faceless to the community. Both Ethan Griggs and Anna Smith are current examples of kids carving their own path in the Denver music scene.

Anna Smith is a singer/songwriter who has been involved in music for a majority of her life. “I play lead guitar in a psych/experimental rock band called Ancient Elk, and then I also really enjoy playing folk and bluegrass music,” Smith said. “My main instruments are guitar, mandolin, and banjo. I grew up in a one-room cabin, and for awhile most of my entertainment came from the radio. I started writing my own songs and then began taking guitar lessons at the age of 10 so I could put music to my songs.”

From a young age, Ethan Griggs shared a similar frenzy for music through romping on rockin’ beats. “The music I play is a mix of modern psychedelic rock and folk rock, with a bit of a pop mentality in the song structures and form,” Griggs said. “I definitely jump around—you will find blues in some of the songs as well. I had been singing since I was a little boy, but what really sparked my interest in music was when I first started taking piano lessons.”

Learning one instrument simply acted as a spring board for Griggs. “My engagement in music blossomed so much at that point that I only took lessons for about a year, and then I taught myself to play guitar from my piano knowledge. Music is something that has always come to me very naturally.”

Then asked about the Denver music market, a similar story simultaneously began to unfold of a city that is equally booming as it is imbued with talent. “Especially in the past couple of years, Denver has become extremely saturated in terms of its music scene,” Griggs said. “Everywhere you turn, there’s some sort of music going on. As big as it is, though, it is also very inclusive in terms of different styles and genres of music.”

Smith has had a similar experience with the city.“I love the Denver music community, everyone is extremely supportive, your audience for shows often consists of Denver musicians and there’s a lot of cross pollinating and collaborative work in Denver,” Smith said.

The young musicians do have noteworthy goals for their musical endeavours. “My ultimate goal is to always be at a point in my career where I don’t have to stop playing.” Griggs said. “Forget the fame and the fortune—I truly just want to make it to a position where I can play shows on any scale for a living.”

While Smith had similar goals, she wants her music to create change.“My goal is to write a really solid influential album(s) and make a difference for how women in music are perceived,” Smith said.

Both Griggs and Smith are seem to be examples of the rising talent in the city and have lasting goals and visions as well as a passion for what they do.

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