The RunniKine: Champions of Booty Funk

It’s no secret that I have a wealth of hard working and supremely talented artists and musicians in my tribe. How I wound up with such an incredible group of creatives as my friends is beyond me, but I did, and boy am I grateful things shook out this way. The gentleman that make up The RunniKine are some of the most dedicated musicians and kind hearted humans you’ll ever cross paths with.  Will Trask lays down ever so danceable drum beats, Jon McCartan holds down the low end on the bass, and Eric Luba simply slays the keys. Together they make really, really nice noise, guaranteed to make your booty shake. When they aren’t playing music, you can usually find them playing video games and eating hot wings. When they are playing music, it’s something so funky, joyful, and real that you can’t help but dance. All of their sets are improvisational, meaning nothing is planned in advance and everything is done spontaneously, in the moment. No two shows are ever the same, and these guys seriously bring the funk. As a vehement supporter of the “no plan plan”, and the huge revival we’re seeing in funk music, I’m a big fan of what the RunniKine is doing. Get out and see these guys play. Your dancing shoes will thank you.

Catch the RunniKine this Saturday night 5/21/16 at the Lazy Dog in Boulder for the official Upslope Get Down after party. Prepare for a damn good time.

Jaden Carlson

 

The first time I met Jaden was in 2013. I was 24 and had just returned home to Colorado from a long year living in Honduras. She was 12, and her band was using the rehearsal space in a dingy South Boulder basement that belonged to some of my musician friends. There were always people coming, and going, and crashing, and jamming, and hanging out at that wild, music filled house. Jaden was one of them, and so was I. I showed up one day after her rehearsal for one reason or another and was introduced to her and her mother Kelly. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her as not only an astonishingly talented musician, but also an incredibly creative and downright hilarious young woman. She’s 15 now, and is continuously evolving and improving as an artist. I’m constantly in awe of the way she is always unapologetically herself. I see her growth, and even some of my own in the images we made together recently and I can’t help but smile. What a wild world it is, and oh how the time flies by. Cheers to you Jaden, I’m so glad our paths crossed in this life.

Mama Magnolia

You know that feeling you get when you’re so excited about something and it takes all of your willpower not to shout at strangers about it on the street? That feeling when you’ve found something so wonderful that it feels like a crime to keep it to yourself? Those are the kinds of feelings I get about Mama Magnolia, and this is me shouting at whoever will listen:

THIS BAND IS PHENOMENAL AND YOU MUST HEAR THEM

Here is a link to their soundcloud, which I demand you pull up and listen to before you read any further.

Let’s talk about them for a minute. Most of the members of this band are semi-recent graduates from DU’s Lamont School of Jazz, which in itself is a pretty huge deal (if you don’t know, look it up and you’ll see what I mean). They call what they play “future soul” which sounds exactly as cool as it is. It’s like jazz and soul met up for coffee, and then strolled around downtown together when they ran into their buddy funk and asked him to come along too, and they all hung out together making beautiful sounds forever and ever amen. It’s amazing.

Here is the recipe for what makes Mama Magnolia’s jams so very tasty.  You start with their lead vocalist, the stunning miss Megan Letts. Her voice is like honey, and hearing her sing gives me chills just about every time. She ranges from soft and expressive to powerful and in-your-face and can switch the mood at the drop of a hat. She has the ability to make you feel every drop of emotion in each note–it’s really an incredible thing to witness. Next you add a  hearty dash of brass with Carrie McCune on trumpet and Sean Culliton on sax. I’m a sucker for just about anything with horns in it, and these two are an incredible duo. Carrie at first seems unassuming, but when she blows her horn she will also blow your mind (and she sings too! She’s amazing people). Sean absolutely wails on the sax too, and the two of them together make my little brass loving heart sing a hallelujah chorus.Then you add a pinch of Thomas Jennings on guitar. Let me tell you folks, I have seen a lot of people play guitar in the fine state of Colorado, but Thomas is one of the most talented guitarists in this state (don’t believe me? Go see them play and you will). What’s more is he’s one of the kindest, most humble people you’ll ever meet. Next you drop in a heavy splash of the bass by a personal favorite of mine, Zach Jackson. I’ve known Zach for many years and he never ceases to amaze me with his seemingly limitless talent (If you’re lucky you’ll also get to hear him sing, which is a real treat).  Last but not least add a large pinch of drums by Jackson Hillmer. His energy is calm, yet still quite palpable and his steady rhythms really bring it all together.

And just like that, with those 6 not-at-all-simple ingredients and a whole lot of heart, you’ve created one of Denver’s best up and coming bands.  I’ve been lucky enough to shoot for them a couple times, and each time I found myself having to pick my jaw up off the floor at the end of their set. The following images are from their debut show at Cervantes.

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If this isn’t enough to convince you to go see them the next time they play ( *cough* May 7th at the Armoury in Denver *cough*) then I’m very sorry, but you might be a square and you probably can’t be helped. You know I’ll be there, shaking my booty and click-click-clicking my shutter away…

A Poem With Pictures, For You.

I went out yesterday to look at the trees

and noticed that they look back at me.

I looked a bit closer so I could see

Just who it was staring back at me…

_DSC9968A surprised someone

_DSC9977An Alien

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One who gravely disapproves

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One with many scars that still smiled

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One With Brown Eyes

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One With A Toothy Grin

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An Elephant

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…and a cyclops Unicorn.

 

How would you like to go and see

Who you can find in the trees with me?

 

Fire Paintings (my friends rule).

I’ve been given many gifts in my life, but none do I cherish more than the wide array of seriously incredible friends that life has handed me. They are deeply passionate, ceaselessly thoughtful, and so wildly talented that I can’t help but smile to myself in amazement that they, somehow, crossed my path and chose to hold on to me. Lucky doesn’t even begin to cover it, especially when you consider that whenever I ask ANY of these friends to help me make art they rise to the occasion in big, beautiful ways. Luckier still, one of the friends who helped me make these images is my brother. Sometimes I think my life is just too good…

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Having friends and family that are willing to set themselves on fire for your art, either with flames or whatever other brilliance they bring to the table, is something pretty special. I don’t know why they do it, but I love them for it endlessly.

As for the fire paintings? I consider those a bonus.

Cheers, Friends (all of you, all over the world…)

xoxox

Sydney

Family Business

When the world deals us blows we’re not quite ready for we turn to our families. If you’re lucky like I am, your family is a cache of beautiful people who, even if you don’t share blood, will be in your corner round after round no matter how hard you’ve been hit. When it comes to family, top to bottom I’ve got spades. We’ve got stories that span many years, deep traditions, and some really fabulous little ones. Spending time with the children of the incredible women I shared a childhood with is an tremendous gift. They’re like mirrors that reflect our past, but somehow allow us to simultaneously peek into the future. These kiddos are some of the most wonderful human beings I’ve ever known and I can’t wait to watch the people they become. J&L

Little Iz

J&E

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Big Brother

Burts

Leaves!

A Rewind to Panama City

Typically, I did not look forward to spending time in larger cities during our trek south. Cities in Central America can be frightening, and overwhelming, though definitely manageable and enjoyable so long as you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. While I had certainly had great times in other big cities in Central America, Panama City was the first to really make my heart sing. We spent the majority of our time in Casco Viejo, the “older” more historic part of the city that is undergoing some major renovations, which I believe will make the city even more fabulous than it already is. There was brilliant street art around every corner, juxtaposed by old churches and classic architecture. There was also a Columbian lady in the park who made the greatest hot-dog in my culinary history (sorry, Chicago, but this lady knew what was up). And let’s not forget the Panama Canal–an incredible feat of human engineering that completely blew me away and reminded me that we are capable of anything we set our minds to. We spent more time here than we did in many other places, but I was still not quite ready to leave when the time came. I felt like  Panama City was still hiding secrets for me in it’s many nooks and corners. Perhaps one day I’ll go back to seek them out. Perhaps you can come too. DSCN4009                                                              Skyline

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In Casco Viejo

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I Came As A Rat

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Through The Canal

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The Church of Hot-Dog Park

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Outside Luna’s

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Taking Flight

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Cracks

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Meet The Jaden Carlson Band

I hate to break up the photos from my wild southward adventure, but It’s not every day you meet a 12 year old who can shred guitar the way Jaden does, so I had to share these photos. Simply put, Jaden is amazing, and we had an incredible afternoon romping around Boulder with her band for this shoot. I had so much fun with these guys I was not quite ready for it to end when we realized we had to pay our parking meters.The Jaden Carlson band is made of vibrant, soulful people whose love for music and dedication to their art is inspiring. And Jaden, well she’s downright beautiful, quirky, and hilarious. After our shoot I went to see her and her new bandmates–Will Trask and Eric Luba–play their first gig together at The Armoury in Denver, and I was blown away. Their sound is big, and funky, and lead by an incredibly impressive young girl who is wildly talented and will only get better and better as time rambles on. Big things are happening for this little lady, and  The Jaden Carlson Band is certainly not to be missed. I can’t wait to see what happens next for these fabulous people.
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Bocas Del Toro: Slothified

When we crossed the border into Panama things felt different. There was a weight to it, and for whatever reason Panama seemed much farther away and more exotic than any of the places we’d been. Our excitement was palpable as we walked across a rickety old railroad bridge and found a shuttle that took us to a water taxi headed for Bocas Del Toro; a chain of Islands off the Carribbean Coast of northern Panama. Bocas felt like a daydream, a sleepy little island town where the transportation of choice was either boats or bicycles. The peak of our sloth obsession, which started while still in Gracias and continues to this day, occurred when we saw our first real live sloth near the Playa Rana Roja (we were giddy with excitement people…positively giddy). It felt like a much smaller, much slower, Latin American New Orleans. I dreamt of staying, of making a life that allowed me to live in those sleepy islands forever. But we had more to see, so we went…DSCN3882                                                         Bocas Blues

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DSCN3921The Sloth!

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Costa Rica, Quickly.

Costa Rica was brief, but we soaked up every second we were given there. We arrived in San José in the early evening and explored a corner of the city in search of ice-cream. The trees that lined the parks were full of brilliant yellow and green parrots whose songs whirled between the surrounding buildings. The next morning we shot off for the caribbean coast  and landed in Puerto Viejo; a laid back little surf town that felt just like home. We rode bicycles in the rain down to Punta Uva and bounced from beach to beach all the way back. Puerto Viejo was simple and charming, and is now also home to the best calamari I have eaten in my entire life. Per usual I was not ready to leave, but we rambled on anyway…

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