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970 West Studios
By Greg Hartman

First opening in 2016, 970 West Studios sits at the corner of 5th and Ouray, across the street from the Mesa County Central Library.  The studio provides video and audio production classes, production spaces, and equipment check out - all free for library card holders.  Additionally, the studio space hosts a quarterly artist in residence who work on their craft while teaching a few public classes. It is a great resource, providing needed studio space and education to encouraging budding digital artists and musicians.

We first checked in with 970 West in our January 2017 issue, featuring Snootch using the studio to create their first album.  While the project never saw a full release, the resulting tracks can be found on guitarist/producer Kellen Michael’s soundcloud.  Groups can record for free after attending an orientation and there have been several demos and promotional recordings created. The most impressive productions have included audio and video projects.

As impressive as the resource is, it hasn’t quite seen its full potential.  To help tap that, David Goe and Adam Lopez sought a way to bring the facility more public exposure.  In addition to working at the studio, David is the guitarist for Mount Orchid. The group was invited to do a live recording and video session with Colorado Public Radio’s Open Air, a first for a band from the Western Slope.  The band was given five takes to record four songs and the result helped remind the Front Range that the state continues past the mountain towns.

Taking the CPR experience as inspiration, Goe and Lopez sought to create high quality music and video recordings of Grand Valley bands.  A first test run was put together with Freeway Donna, who recorded “Shelter”. Several cameras were used, both handheld and stable, while the audio was piped to the recording board across the hallway.  Lopez mixed the sound, the video was edited to include the multiple angles, with some subtle editing touches used during transitions. The result was an impressive live music video that showed off what the studio was capable of.

David then contacted more bands to line up more sessions.  With Adam on board to record and mix sound, they brought in a full team of six to record more bands.  The groups would come in and set up, then record live, original music for about an hour and the best takes would be used.  To achieve this, bands would have to be ready to perform the music without overdubs, edits, or cuts. Maybe a tall order for any other community of the Grand Valley’s size, but no problem with our ever growing musical talent.

Nine more bands were lined up to record live sessions, with a band released once a month.  Lopez and Goe chose to announce the sessions every 4th Thursday on the Mesa County Library’s radio show on KAFM.  The resulting eclectic mix of bands includes a wide mix of genres, including bluegrass, folk, metal, R&B, and indie rock.  Each group is based in the Grand Valley and brings in two or three originals to perform. Groups are taking full advantage of making the sessions their own, with Charles King bringing in an array of props and Tim + Richard revealing a new song.  The releases are also timely, such as Sworn Us Under’s coinciding with their album release and Primordial released during Hispanic Heritage Month. While we won’t reveal October’s session ahead of time, it definitely will coincide with a big concert happening a few days later.

With October’s release, the initial run of 10 bands is complete.  David is already being asked by groups to be part of the next batch, planned for 2019.  Adam is adamant about continuing the program “until someone stops us”. This unique content creation is an amazing gift for Mesa County.  While one may not associate live music with libraries, the connection is the next step from collecting information. Instead of just collecting history, 970 West is recording it for the future.  The videos are being stored in their digital library at mesacountylibraries.org, as well as through YouTube and Facebook.

If you are interested in utilizing the studio, new classes are offered on a monthly basis, including a required orientation.  In addition to studio equipment, the studio also has video and sound equipment on site. This includes a growing collection of quality musical instruments, including guitars and an electric drum kit.  Check out their website for more information and keep up with 970 Studios on social media to see news on next year’s featured musicians and October’s release.