GVL 19 Best Winners
Best Album - Trusckstop Quickies - Self Titled
When Local Jam 17 rolled around, we were trying to fill out an after party at Cruisers. It seemed that every band we contacted was unavailable or not playing. Despite the best efforts of Scott and Sterling, their band was hitting a wall as they had lost their rhythm section. Fast forward one year and the group had been formed that would take an under dog’s roll and surprise many in Grand Junction.
First, their gigs at Mesa Theater and Baron’s gained them some respect and notoriety. However, something just wasn’t quite there in the sound. There was plenty of heart, but just not quite the right dynamics in sound. Like many bands before, they found that sound when faced with the daunting task of recording an album. Under the production of Taylor Riley, songs that had been written for years found small ways of improvement. Analyzing song structures lead to a better vocal mix for harmonies. As the band discovered their true voice, they also created a beautiful mess of an album.
Part irreverent fun, part dark tales of real life, the first self titled release from the Truck Stop Quickies shouldn’t work. A band as relatively new as them shouldn’t be able to include songs that shift in dynamics from The Ramones to Pink Floyd. Some of this comes from the years that Scott Stephenson and Sterling Gray have been writing together and the struggles they overcame to continue playing. More comes from finding an unlikely rhythm duo, with a drummer who has played many varieties of rock in several bands and a 20 year old bass player who only ever played in the high school jazz band before. The raw talent of Billy and Sam allowed the aspirational vision to take form, as it takes a great rhythm section to slide between fast paced punk songs and epic rock classic rock ballads.
When Local Jam 18 rolled along, the Truckstop Quickies were asked to play on the main stage and showed off their progress from the studio. By the time their album was released, they’d built a lot of anticipation with two initial singles, Shoeless Blues and best song nominee Wasted Youth. No matter where their future takes them, the under dog Truckstop Quickies can know that they won big time with their first album and the rest of 2018.
Best Song - “Two Worlds” - Wave 11
The first major release from Wave 11, the duo of Zac Couron and Charles Walker, left many people digging its mix of harmony, reggae, and hip hop. The song tells of the band’s origin story, as told through Zac’s verses, Chuck’s bars, and their back and forth chorus. The path from California to Colorado is traveled often and the duo’s popularity has exploded as much as the big bang sung about in “Two Worlds”. A video for the song was recorded by the crew at 970 West Studios.
The duo first met while working at the Applebees on Horizon drive. They even became the house band for a while, playing after their shifts were done. They also caught some time performing at Cruiser’s open mic, just across the parking lot from Applebees. They started gaining more attention while busking downtown, often in front of local businesses during farmers markets and other events. The duo’s mix of rock, reggae, soul, and hip hop is a big crowd pleaser. Listeners of all ages get moving during their take on classic rock and soul, mixed in with originals and freestyle segments.
In less than a year, the band had moved from open mics to music festivals and headlining shows. No band saw more vertical movement in 2018 than Wave 11 and everyone wants to get them on the stage, as they know the will get the crowd engaged and dancing- whether its a festival in downtown Fruita or on the big stage of Las Colonias. Look for more releases from Wave 11 in 2019 and also check out their Dojo Sessions videos to see some of what they bring to the stage.
Best Video - Blood on the Floor - NC 17’s
Produced and Directed by: Micheal Lawrie and Michael Britt
This creepy yet powerful video introduced The NC-17’s to the rest of the world. The band was born from Ryan Harrison’s desire to have a full band after playing solo acoustic rock for the past decade. Although he’d never lead a band, he took to it like he’d been doing it his whole life. Backed up with guitar/vocals from Dirtylektric’s Ben Walker, TSQ guitarist Sterling Gray on bass and Shotgun Hodown drummer Billy T. Billy, the group refused to not be noticed. Indeed, Harrison took on the rock and roll agitator personality for social media that he’s always had just under his heart on his sleeve demeanor.
The video was shot in the warehouse practice space that the band called home, with an interior room decked out in shocking decorations and nick nacks, all which have intro screen time. Harrison is first seen rolling and lighting a joint, before he jumps into the song that takes on capitalism and the state of politics. From “I want blood on the floor/ I want the lovely to scar” to a shout of “Build a wall and we’ll destroy it”, the lyrics are a call back to when punk was not safe.
The video certainly isn’t safe either, between the drug use, blood, and noose scene, it won’t make everyone happy. Which is exactly what rock and roll needs to do. The importance of this video isn’t in its nearly B-movie shtick, its showing that art does not need to be safe and it is often best when it isn’t.
Best Concert - Truckstop Quickies/ Wrong Impressions/ NC-17’s at Mutual Friends
The album release for the album of the year also turned into a party any in attendance will remember for decades. Set in the back warehouse of Mutual Friends skate shop, the small concert venue has DIY written all over it. One third of the room is taken over by a quarter pipe, which was in full use leading up to the music. To enter, one chipped in $5 and entered through a rolled up garage door with a curtain to keep some of the heat in for the cold Friday night in December.
Leading off the night were TSQ’s “sister band”, the NC-17’s. Sterling Gray plays bass and the two bands share Billy on drums. The group played a blistering set featuring songs off their Greatest Hits EP, as well as new songs slated for their debut album in 2019. The band turned off all but the back lighting, putting them full shadow as the crowd danced and moshed.
After swapping out gear, The Wrong Impressions took the stage. Still an enimagic band, the group has full punk and alternative sets and they revel in the chance to play the former. Mixing in songs from their Talking Points with some great covers, the band ended their set with kids born after 2000 freaking out over Operation Ivy’s “Sound System”.
The age of the crowd definitely tended to late teens/early 20’s with punk diehards from their 30’s to 50’s staying towards the side, relishing a high energy DIY punk show. By the time the Truckstop Quickies took to the stage area in the corner of the room, the skating had stopped and the crowd expanded to the quarter pipe. Without much fanfare, the group jumped in to a full playing of their new album, in order from front to back. By the time they hit their epic rock finale, Little Bird, the crowd was exhausted and some surprised that the same band that had them moshing was now in full lighters-out arena rock mode.
There are a few perfect nights in rock and roll, and while this one had a few technical flaws, there was little doubt that the bands created something magical that kept fans talking for days afterwards.
Best Festival - Local Jam
It does seem somewhat disingenuous to write about Local Jam when I’m on the board of directors for it, but perhaps I can give a different view on the festival than has been shown before. First of all, that “board of directors” is just three guys who meet for drinks every few weeks at Cruisers who took the reigns after the festival’s founders could no longer dedicate as much time as was needed. Along with myself, I have GVL publisher Jeff Steele and sound guy Dave Brewer helping to form this annual event that is probably too big for us to handle. We do get input from founder Aaron Seibert, but he’s often handling his band, family, or music lessons.
That said, we had 34 groups lined up to play over 3 days at Edgewater Brewery. We had a bit better financial support from the community this year, but we also ran into the biggest band in the world, Toto, playing just over the hill Saturday night. All in all, we paid our bills and raised $1700 for Hope of the Grand Valley. We had a goal for more, but we learned more lessons for next year.
The three days were full of fun, sun, and craft beer. Stand out performances from Cody Snow, Ashlock, HopeKings, and Soul Habit helped build new links in the music community. Headliners Mount Orchid, Suckafish, and Stray Grass kept the crowds happy into the night. The after party was a mixed bag, as we had to move more gear than anticipated inside, but once it finally got going the crowd stayed up late to catch the heavier bands.
Taylor Riley caught a live feed from many bands on Saturday and Sunday with the hopes of releasing some of the music. It has been a long process, but we hope to have a selection of the recordings out by the end of February.
As we begin planning Local Jam 19, we hope to find the right mix of local love and music celebration that we have closed in on the past two years. Expect to hear more as we settle in on the date for 2019.