Live Music in the Teller High Country

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Winner Declared in Battle of the Bands

Rick Langenberg

Nope, this one won’t become Woodstock Four or Five. Or is it now Woodstock Six?

However, as Mick Jagger famously stated, “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, But We Like It.”

This became the theme of an inspiring Battle of the Bands contest that was waged across the Teller High Country for the last month, relaying the message that live music still reigns across our fine mountain abode. Yes, the skeptics have been silenced, at least for now.

The contest was sponsored by Crystola Roadhouse and featured a spree of contenders for its opening night. The rock ‘n’ roll duel was narrowed down to the top two for a second competition, and then the grand finale.  Selections were made by local votes.

The contest attracted considerable attention on social media and generated a huge turnout during opening night, with close to 100 people in attendance, including yours truly, who also partook in the final showdown, along with Teller’s infamous dancing dog, “Sinead O’Connor.”

With the final contest held on Nov. 25, Swell the Band grabbed the Gold.  Swell, which actually hails from Divide, needs few introductions in the area. On their website, they describe themselves as “Colorado’s premiere classic rock band.”  They edged past Midnight Hippies from Colorado Springs, who also has an extremely  loyal and enthusiastic following.

The big winners, though, were local live music-goers, who were treated to a bombardment of great acts, with many commenting that good old times have returned to the mountain music scene. We won’t compete with Colorado Spring and Denver, but Manitou Springs, it may be time to move over. Maybe, not yet, but your days as the Ute Pass music kings are numbered.

Swell is a six-member band and does mostly old classics from the 70s and 80s. But what really stands outs is the fact that they are an amazingly tight group with great vocals, musicianship and energy.

In this writer’s heavily bias opinion, they won the final night with an absolute stellar version of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer tune that forced everyone to the dance floor. Oddly enough, Peter was at Denver’s Ball Arena recently for his latest tour (which he does about every 10 years) and played this very song.

He would have been quite proud of Swell’s version.  According to one of the Swell members, they may try some more of PG’s songs. But they hit a home run with a number of great classics, including songs from Tom Petty and Heart.

They are quite a passionate and hearty group. As described by Swell on their website in describing the live music challenge: “Every song has the power to lift you up, make you feel and release your soul from the chains of now. Swell is a band of amazing musicians for whom every song is a passionate offering on the altar of rock and each concert connects you to your best memories and gets you dancing and singing along  and puts you in a better place all night along.”

That kind of says it all, so I better shut up.

But both bands were quite inspiring. Midnight Hippies did more of the 60 and 70s era music, and featured revived classics from Led Zeppelin, Kansas, Janis Joplin and even the Cranberries. Their closing number of Stairway to Heaven was a definite treat. On their website, they describe themselves as a “four-piece band from a collection of rock-loving softies.”

The Battle of the Bands concept was a great idea and definitely worth pursuing again.  The idea, according to Facebook posts, was partially envisioned by Jeannie Robbins, the charismatic lead singer for Swell.

Kudos to all the local places that are now toying with live music more including of course the Crystola  Roadhouse, Blue Moose, Over Ice, the 911 Reserve, and many more. In fact, quite a few places now are even exploring acoustic acts, including the Righteous Grounds Coffee Roasters.

And there are a number of stellar local bands, other than those who performed in the recent Battle of the Bands.  Tava Blue and Off the Wagon are making impressive runs these days in our colorful and friendly music scene.

We support all of the efforts of area musicians, and drop us a line, if you know of a great show coming up.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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