There are opportunities for music to accomplish amazing things — just look at “We Are the World,” which raised a ton of money in the ’80s from the royalties of basically one song.
Like comedy, music can be a good vehicle to argue political points in our modern culture. Of course, we could all regularly gather in our neighborhoods and towns to discuss the politics of the moment, just like they did in revolutionary days, standing on actual soapboxes and shouting beliefs, etc. But who has that kind of time? Plus, it probably violates your HOA guidelines anyway.
Last week, I mentioned Longmont’s Prairie Scholars, just one of a large group of musicians in the local scene trying to effect change through lyrics and music. If you haven’t yet, catch them live the next three days at Boom Days in Leadville, or next Thursday at Wibby Brewing in Longmont.
I recently reached out to local musicians to send me news (email firstname.lastname@example.org), and one that reached back was a local guitarist I’ve been familiar with for the last 10 years or so. This is another prominent vocal warrior for change and awareness, whose lyrics drive music that is an interesting mix of western and Native American sounds and traditional blues.
I would say that over time, my taste in music has wandered more than a horde of house cats, but I had a big blues phase back in the day. To scratch the itch, I used to head out to the Pearl Street Pub or the Outlook Hotel to snag some live tunes in the genre.
Throughout those years, Silent Bear would be a name I’d see over and over. He is hard to miss behind the guitar, and that stage name is really one of the most descriptive I’ve ever seen. I have never seen him utter a word offstage, so the guitar playing and his articulate lyrics are almost magnified.
Silent Bear recently released an album, “Green Lion,” which you can pick, like I did, up at Absolute Vinyl in their local section. Check out his first album, too, “River Drum Child,” via Spotify or any of the usual places. Silent Bear brings a lot of the best local musicians together for “Green Lion,” and the album was mastered at Boulder’s world class Airshow Mastering. It’s an entertaining spin and features David Amram and the late, great Pete Seeger on a couple of Native American-inspired tracks.
Between the blues, the Native American influence and a kind of western feel to it all, Silent Bear’s music is a genre mashup that makes him a unique player in Boulder and a gift to our scene.
He’s now working on a new album and gathering funding. With new song lyrics that speak out against fracking, pay homage to Pete Seeger and in one song tell the story of NYPD choking victim Eric Garner, it appears he’s staying true to the activist approach in music. He’s a modern soapbox preacher, and you can catch him next at License No. 1 in Boulder on Aug. 11.