Ah, the elusive mixtape — because sometimes you can’t put your feelings into words, so you let Bob Dylan, The Smiths, Radiohead, The Cars, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding do it for you. While ancient poets penned sonnets to express their undying love, folks of the ‘80s, ‘90s and early-2000s turned to top-40 radio and limited-released EPs to say all the things they couldn’t.
On Aug. 24, as part of the Boulder Fringe Festival, Boulder-based theater collaboratory group Band of Toughs will partner with other companies to deliver a live music-video inspired mixtape — “Mix Tape Vol. 1” — where a variety of local artists and collaborators will put a unique own spin on a song of their choosing.
“We are so excited to highlight our local scene’s creativity, diversity and what promises to be a one-time only unexpected mix of music and performance,” said Colleen Mylott, one of Band of Toughs founding members. “Our hope is that this is Vol. 1 of a recurring event at the Fringe.”
An element of surprise will run through this multimedia performance that hopes to create a soundtrack unlike any other. The self-described “music-smitten” troupe has already delighted audiences with track-heavy productions of “Nirvamlet” and “I Miss My MTV.”
“The BoTs are gonna work with a song by The Clash, cause we are old school like that,” said Mylott. “Otherwise, we are asking all the other companies to describe their chosen song in three words and then we will program the mix tape order according to those descriptions.”
From stoic models rocking red lips in Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” to vixen Tawny Kitaen doing hair flips and splits on the hood of a Jaguar in Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” the artistry of music videos has created some pretty iconic looks. While details of “Mix Tape Vol. 1” haven’t been revealed, the performance will most likely include a hodgepodge of multi-genre tunes and high-energy showmanship.
“We like mixtapes that have big contrasts, so the order of the mix will be based on how the songs are described,” said Mylott. “The mix will be a surprise for the audience and the participating performers.”
For Mylott, an element of nostalgia is at the core of this one-of-a-kind production that pays tribute to the pre-Instagram time, when folks shared songs — not memes.
“The most thoughtful mix CD I received was from a past boyfriend who sent me on a crazy scavenger hunt all around the city,” said Mylott. “I remember that at the end of the hunt, the CD was taped underneath a blue USPS mailbox a couple of blocks away from my apartment. It had the perfect mix of cool music and songs that were hinting at falling in love. It was pretty fabulous.”
As for what songs the night will deliver, that’s being kept under wraps, but attendees can rest assured the collaborative production will offer up plenty of moments to laugh, boogie, ponder and reminisce.
“I hope audiences have a blast seeing this unique, eclectic live music video performance event,” said Mylott. “When inviting companies and performers, it was a requirement to create something entertaining as hell. We have some amazing companies involved, like hip-hop juggernaut Block 1750’s street team and the always breathtaking acrobatics and movement masterminds from Fractal Tribe — the groups involved are really diverse and amazing.”
Before this musical event, there are plenty of chances to take in the zany and unusual acts of local and visiting artists during the 12-day festival. With more than 52 fringe festivals held in cities throughout North America, and more than 50 occurring in Europe, Asia and Australia, the brand continues to bring experimental off-Broadway theater gems to the masses.
“The most rewarding aspect of the last 15 years of Fringe in Boulder has been providing a space where all voices can participate in the arts, regardless of their background, appearance, origin or beliefs,” said David Ortolano, Boulder Fringe Festival founder. “Boulder is not a terribly diverse community by nature, so it’s been important to us to find ways to create safety for every person in this community to have their voice heard. The Fringe has been a great forum to feature artists of many cultural backgrounds, including African and African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American voices and people from all over the world.”
Melanie Moseley, a singer-songwriter based in Portland, Oregon, will explore the journey from monogamy to solo-polyamory in “Sexology: The Musical.” Boulder’s own Michael Anthony Jones dives into the workings of gentrification and the social construct of race in “Janice: Not Your N Word.”
While Pine Street Church remains the main locale of Boulder Fringe this year, Fringe events will extend to other venues like farm-to-table eatery Bramble & Hare. The restaurant will host a talk show-inspired “Late Night with Fringe,” featuring host and improv enthusiast Ian Gibbs, where artists will be interviewed, games will be played and cocktails savored.
On Aug. 14, a Boulder Fringe opening night party, held at The Sanctuary at Pine Street Church, will give a sampling of all the fest has to offer.
“It’s a high-speed preview event hosted and driven by a comedian that features all of the shows, events and workshops,” said Ortolano. “We call it the ‘All-You-Can-Artist-Buffet.’ This is a smorgasbord of one-minute previews of everything that happens on the Fringe.”
On Aug. 16, community will come together to celebrate a harvest and culinary offerings at the beyond organic Jacob Springs Farm Co-op, 7602 Arapahoe Road, Boulder. “Farm to Fringe: Under the Corn Moon,” an evening orchestrated by Elena Zubulake, is sure to deliver definite flavor within artfully-prepared dishes and within the spoken word dispersed between courses.
“There will be surprise guest musicians and storytellers, but the evening will mostly be focused on the guests’ experiences, their own stories about food and the story of the farm, how the grain was milled, where the vegetables were grown and how we consume our food together,” said Ortolano.
Puppetry, avant-garde performance art, a one-woman cabaret, the workings of a modern magician and a number of kid-focused workshops are just a few of the authentic offerings of Boulder’s upcoming Fringe.
“Fringe Festivals all of the world are places where artists of all kinds can create opportunities to have live input to social issues, creative play and development of a competent modern society that is able to see and honor the uniqueness in everyone,” said Ortolano. “The Fringe is the place for this and the world really needs Fringe now more than ever.”
If you go
What: 15th annual Boulder Fringe FestivalWhen: Wednesday through Aug. 25Where: Pine Street Church and other locations, 1237 Pine St., BoulderCost: free-$15More info: boulderfringe.com