I bet you didn’t even see it coming. That’s right. You were busy flipping pages of everyday music publications, looking at everyday concert announcements beside everyday advertisements feeling very…everyday about it all. But, who could blame you, really? Never fear. Relax and welcome to The Music Buzz! You have picked up something with a little more meat on its bones. This month, we are going to turn heads in a brand new way, starting with yours.
Back in 2002, I came to Denver and remember hearing opinion after jaded opinion about our local music scene. Some people couldn’t flap their jaws enough about how disconnected we were from the real major music scenes like L.A., Nashville, or even Austin. People talked like Colorado is some sort of deserted island destined to waste away without any attention from record labels or music producers. The pursuit of a musical career was as futile as hoping get seen by a rescue helicopter.
Well, boo-hoo! Just look around and think again. Denver is blowing up! More and more major artists are being discovered from our very own clubs and venues. And don’t get me wrong; the music that is played here each and every day is truly special. I am talking about the rising attention from the global music scene. It is breeding more and more confidence in bands trying to make their mark. And you know what else? It means you better look both ways before you cross the street. Otherwise you might just get plowed over by some of the amazing young talent in Colorado, waiting to grab that microphone, plug in, and have everyone whistling a different tune.
Some of these emerging stars are not old even old enough to get into many music clubs. Some have yet to graduate high school. Some cannot even drive to their own shows. But if you could put them on the same bill as your local favorites, you could close your eyes and know you were listening to something truly smashing and promising.
This month’s truly smashing promise is Becca Krueger.
To everything there is a season, as they say. Becca is thriving in the first light of a spring that could truly become a dynamite adventure, with many seasons to come. She is a 15-year-old singer/songwriter with a true heart of gold. But with that heart comes a strong head on her shoulders. She has already recorded a demo c.d. with her original music and she is working with her current booking agency, Afton Live. She is not wasting any time.
It wouldn’t take crazy marketing to convince you to enjoy her sound. It just takes her singing to you. It doesn’t take a handful of listens to a polished recording of her original songs to “grow on you.” It just takes her playing them for you one time. You see, this is the very thing I am talking about. One may have to be 21 years of age to play in most venues. But it doesn’t take being much more than being a young child to begin harnessing some of the inspiration that we find from Becca as a young woman in Denver.
My mission is to find as many young, talented musicians in Denver as I can and put them in the spotlight. And it is quite true that you don’t find musicians like Becca everyday. She is a busy teen. While I cannot include all of her accomplishments, I can certainly share a few. She recently took second place in a local “Battle of the Bands” competition. She did this as the only solo act. That’s right. You hardly hear of such a thing happening. She plays music because she is in love with it.
But the first time you see her, like many others who have, you will know she has something special going for her. True like many other teens, she also juggles school, theater, and friends, but she also mixes this with a calendar of upcoming gigs. The most notable show is at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on August 22nd. Do yourself a favor and go to this. It will be her first paid gig as a teen rock star. She and I talked a bit about what she will do with the money. She plans to invest it back into recording equipment. Or a car. You know, the things most teenagers are up in the air about.
She also has some great experience sending promotional materials to various agencies and management possibilities throughout the country. At this point, she has sent one to Nashville and two to California. She has already heard back from one busy company stating that she has quite the promising sound, despite her contrast to the music that particular company promotes. She stays busy in many types of music lessons and is otherwise your normal, social butterfly. A lot of us know it is not about status or number of gigs that makes us who we are. I am just illustrating something about a teenager, mind you. It is something those more vested in the music scene could notice and absorb. Sometimes I take notes when I hear about her progress and motivation.
But what does Becca sound like? Well, for those of you who are yet to be fans, she sounds like music you could put on your stereo and relax to every single day. She sounds like a warm day out on a raft, where she is the current and the listener flows without a care in the world. She sounds like an interesting mixture of traditional jazz music in her voice and intention, but she uses modern-day music tools to weave her web of style. She is working to hone her skills as a guitarist and overall musician. But don’t you worry. She can do more with 3 chords than you would think is possible. I suppose the Beatles proved that a few times. But she doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just deliver it to you on a very nice platter.
What is truly striking, once you get past the seemingly apparent “novelty” of such a polished sound coming from such a young player, is the wisdom and depth to her lyrics. At one of her upcoming shows you could be sure to hear songs like, “There’s Nothing to Help Me Now.” She fills the air with wonderful melodies that dance perfectly along to words like, “why does gravity hurt so badly? Feelings matter and matter falls…there’s nothing, nothing to help me now.” The first time I heard those words, I forgot I was not listening to someone who had lived a life at least twice as long!
I wondered about the many aspects of musical training she has been pursuing. My suspicion was that her willingness to learn from many places was helping her mold her own talent. So we sat down and I asked her a bit about what her take on it was. After all, she has been known to take lessons in: musical theatre, guitar, vocals, piano, and even rock bands. She sites some of her influences to include her piano instructor, Power Chord Academy, and one of our very own Colorado-grown rock music schools, Band Dynamics.
CMB: Can you talk about your theater training? Your personal style is a lot more “jazzy” sounding with a dash of pop to me.
BK: Well, I sort of started training my voice in musical theater. I feel strongly that it still helps me diversify my voice and helps me to explore different styles of music. It also helps me boost my vocal range. My coach works a lot with me on putting character into what I do, since that is what theater is all about. But when it comes to my own songwriting, it is extremely helpful. It allows me to put more of a feeling of character when I write.
CMB: I guess I didn’t think of it that way at first, but you are right. How about your piano instructor?
BK: Piano really has given me more of a wider sense of the instruments we can play. Of course it also helps me a lot with theory, too. At the moment I am working on focusing on some jazz music for an upcoming benefit show I am doing. It’s cool. When I write on the piano it is much different than when I write on guitar and I like that.
CMB: You mentioned a summer camp called, Power Chord Academy. What’s that all about?
BK: I love it. I mean, it’s a rock and roll music camp! I really find that it challenges me to sing in ways I never normally would. People are jamming on electric guitars and such, and it is very fun. It’s just so much fun when you are surrounded by a bunch of musicians including the counselors.
CMB: That sounds like so much fun! You also go to a year-round rock school called, Band Dynamics where you take songwriting lessons and play rock shows, right?
BK: Yeah, and honestly that is the place that really started my creativity in the sense of helping me get in touch with what my specific style is. It is the first place I really got to play in live shows and has helped me to redirect my nervous energy into good performance energy. Overall, when it comes to all of these places I take lessons; I find that it is always good to have guidance, no matter how good you think you may get at what you are doing.
CMB: I couldn’t agree more! I realize as artists our vision can change daily about where we are headed. What would you say is your current vision with music?
BK: I just want to continue with is as much as possible. This year I have gotten a lot of truly wonderful connections, so I am grateful for that. Right now I mostly play on my own but I would love to have a band to play along with me. It is part of the journey, you know. I have a lot of music-loving friends but the right combination of people has yet to appear.
CMB: Yeah, that can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a music career. But you seem to contend pretty well with it. I want everyone that reads this interview to go to your show, grab a copy of your demo, and just become a fan of your music, like me. For fun, would you mind sharing with them three of your favorite influences in music and give them a quick idea of why they inspire you?
BK: Sure! I have a lot of jazz influences and too many to mention. But I suppose my first would be Ella Fitzgerald. I just love how she has that sort of preeminent jazz standard sound. It inspires me because you seem to see it show up as the basis for most great music. I truly love Norah Jones. I just love what she does with the road that has already been paved. She makes jazz seem more modern all the time. As far as bands go, there is one called The XX. They are kind of a more low-key band. They are quite weird, off the wall and such. They have a male and a female singer, which is really unique. The female has a great voice that is sort of soft and withdrawn while the male singer is very Michael Buble-ish. They seem to put jazz and rock and techno into a huge melting pot. To me they show that bands can be any different style they want to be and so many things can be incorporated into it.
CMB: That is very insightful. I know people are going to love that show at Cervantes. Tell me something, being that you are starting to get more and more momentum and attention for your music, how are you going to stay grounded and honest throughout it all?
BK: Wow, that is not an easy question. (pauses) I guess what I must keep reminding myself is that I am not necessarily the one influencing music so much as the music is the thing that is influencing me.
CMB: Very well said. I am sure we will love to see what happens next for you. Where can we keep up with all of your progress and are there places we can listen to your music?
BK: Well, you can watch some of my performances on You Tube by going to www.youtube.com/BeccaDon17. Also, my MySpace account is in its infancy but can be viewed at www.myspace.com/BeccaDon17. You can check out more of my shows through Afton at www.aftonshows.com and search my name as an artist. Also, you can buy advance tickets to my next show at www.cervantesmasterpiece.com. It promises to be a great show!
…So there you have it, Denver. Amidst all of the wonderful music you may already grown to love, lies the talent of Becca Krueger and many others. Do not be fooled by her age. Instead, be one of the first to be a fan and stay tuned for many more young artists that will be crawling their way onto the pages of The Colorado Music Buzz.