CU Denver student artists to look out for
Downtown Denver holds no shortage of local musicians. In fact, many are moving here just for that purpose. With CU Denver and Music and Entertainment Industry Studies (MEIS)centered in the heart of it all, it’s no surprise that many artists of the area have gotten their start right on campus. Granted—an entire issue could be dedicated to talented CU-based artists—but here are a few to look out for:
When it comes to CU-born groups, there is no better place to start than with folk-trio, Sister Neapolitan—made up of Alana Margolis, Megan Ellsworth, Katie Smith—all interchanging on vocals and instruments. The three discovered their connection as friends during a Songwriting trip with Professor Owen Kortz across the West Coast. They then discovered their shocking musical chemistry harmonizing for each other on the road. Not far down the line, they were playing at their first show together at the Sister Folk Festival, in Megan’s hometown in Oregon. Since then, the trio has played at SXSW, NAMM, and SoFar Seattle and San Francisco. From their soulful folk harmonies, to their natural and cohesive instrumental support, they are a singular CU-born band.
Jude Ernest Underground Savior (J.E.U.S) is a must know up-and-coming artist. Jude released his eponymous debut album in 2018, following up with a feature on Avery Marcel’s “A Spade Is A Spade,” and his most recently dropped single, “Organic Manic.” He got started in the live scene just last year at the Final Friday Festival in RiNo. Since then he’s played at various shows around Denver, including the Colorado Black Arts Festival, Indigenous Peoples’ album release party at Herman’s Hideaway, and more. Jude, a deeply grounded soul, extracts his inspiration from the everyday sublime. Still, he notes Big K.R.I.T., Dizzy Wright, and Tupac as some of his favorite musical influences. Jude aspires to eventually book a North American tour and perform at Voodoo Fest in his hometown. But above the ambitions of the career, Jude’s goals remain an endeavor of the present: growing as an artist, person, and soul.
Also in the hip-hop scene is Siah Rain’n and the Bounce Curators. For a long time, Breckenridge native Josiah Humphreys’ “Siah Rain’n” was a solo act, producing his own beats. He made the decision to bring in a live group and arrange the tracks he’d made into full band arrangements. Brandon Craven on Guitar, Ethan Ginsberg-Margo on keys, Seth Aylward on bass, and percussionist Jon Hunt—“The Bounce Curators”—made it possible. The band has brought their energetic chemistry to the stage for around a year now.
Stepping into the Jazz/Soul scene is CU-made Moonbeam Trio, composed of Gabe Gravangno on drums, Kyle Loeffler on bass, and Brandon Craven on guitar. The three played in a lot of the same projects, and noticing their chemistry together, they formed a band in hopes of playing a few cocktail Jazz sets to make a little money outside of their main projects. The more the trio worked together, the more they found a groove fusing R&B, hip hop, and funk into their playing. As they include a wide variety of genres in their sets, they are looking to feature and collaborate with as many singers, rappers, and horn players as possible. As Brandon describes it, their hopes are in “aiding the band-less” and establishing a network for hire-on work down the line.
Where there is music, there is community and CU Denver’s scene is no exception. When these bands aren’t playing, they’re out supporting each other. Be sure to keep a lookout for these bands to get connected to the MEIS community and hear some great music.