CU Denver finds Lost Lake Lounge

CU Denver’s Pop Rock and Hip-Hop/R&B ensembles take the stage. Photo: John Mazzetta · The Sentry

Rock, hip-hop, and R&B at Lost Lake Lounge

Lost Lake Lounge was full of CU Denver students last week as the University’s Pop Rock and Hip-Hop/R&B ensembles performed a showcase at the venue. 

The Pop Rock Ensemble had a self-described funk energy. Vocalist Cleo Daniels used her bright, powerful voice to belt classics, such as Bobby “Blue” Band’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” 

Her talent extends beyond retro tunes, exemplified by her fantastic rendition of “Juice” by Lizzo. She received vocal support from bassist Claudia Martinez and keyboardist Ronan Dowling during a couple of the songs. The three of them, accompanied by guitarist Brandon Craven and drummer Jon Hunt, rounded out the group nicely, creating a cohesive, constantly entertaining brand. 

The funny thing was they’d never even performed together. “That was the first time any of them have ever played together,” said ensemble director Andrew Guerrero, “and they killed it.” They did indeed. The bouncy, bubbly group had wonderful energy and presence throughout the entirety of their set, making them an absolute joy to watch and listen to. 

CU Denver’s Pop Rock and Hip-Hop/R&B ensembles take the stage. Photo: John Mazzetta · The Sentry

The final ensemble of the night was the Hip-Hop/Rap Ensemble. The band showcased three singers: Amber Edwards, Shanea Jorden, and Sreeja Chakrabarty, each with an incredible amount of vocal skill. Edwards hit the high notes, captivating the audience with her staggering range. She led the group during their fantastic rendition of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” stunning the crowd. Even though the song is a favorite among the band and audience members alike, it’s a lot more difficult than it seems.

“At least as far as I go, it’s a mixture of acoustic drums and electronic midi drums, which is hard to put together outside of a studio,” said drummer Ryan Lavallee. Performing alongside Lavallee were keyboardist Brett Regan, guitarists Dominick Jackson and Chris Ketchum, and bassist Jonathan Pesce.

Another impeccable rendition done by the ensemble was SZA’s “The Weekend.” The energy from singer Sreeja Chakrabarty transformed the small venue into a dance club, with the audience singing along. Her controlled and clear voice was a contrast to the powerhouse, Edwards, and the smooth sultriness of Jorden, but the three showcased an incredible capability to blend with one another at the right times. 

The band also performed some throwbacks, most notably TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” The singers worked together on “No Scrubs,” creating a solid cover of an already constantly covered song. For “No Diggity,” guitarist Dominik Jackson helped the girls out on the rap verse at the beginning, giving the group more dimension as an ensemble. 

“My favorite was ‘Tyrone,’” said lead singer Edwards. “I liked being sassy.” And sassy she was. So sassy, in fact, the audience members would respond back to her as they would a preacher during a sermon at church.

The ensemble showcase was a wonderful way to experience the talent that CU’s music programs have to offer. Hosting the event at the Lost Lake Lounge made for an incredible setting. “I want them to experience playing in a real venue,” said Guerrero. “Hip-hop doesn’t work in a concert hall.”

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