Can you hear it? Summer is ushering in a soundtrack not to be missed. From free concert series to ticketed nights at cherished venues, there is a never-ending supply of opportunities to dance with abandon to rock, jazz, hip hop, bluegrass and more.
Longtime Boulder musician Adam Perry is here to offer his musical aid to locals so they can enjoy a summer of varied tunes with his new group.
“Because of my commitment to raising my kid, I no longer live the crazy life of a touring musician,” said Perry, who recently founded Rolling Harvest, a collaboration of local musicians. “But I do want to perform all over Colorado — and putting this amazing band together is my chance to do what I love, with great people, and play some of the greatest songs ever written.”
The former Gasoline Lollipops drummer’s new venture is bringing fresh energy to the tracks of icons Bob Dylan and Neil Young. While the group’s name is a clever mashup of Young’s “Harvest Moon” and Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” this certainly isn’t a typical cover band.
“I’ve always been wary of tribute bands, but Rolling Harvest isn’t trying to copy the sound or even the feeling of Neil Young or Bob Dylan,” said Perry, who also was a member of The Yawpers. “We’re just excited, and the Colorado music scene seems excited, to have members of some beloved local bands come together to dive into two of the biggest, most diverse, relevant and huge catalogs in the history of popular music and do what we want with them.”
In addition to Perry, Rolling Harvest members include Jason Bertone (Banshee Tree), Scott Coulter (Gasoline Lollipops), Cole Sexton, Hunter Stone, Alexandra Schwan (a former member of The Sweet Lillies and Gasoline Lollipops) Gabe Cwern and Madalyn McCoy (a former member of Aos Si’, who has also collaborated with The Velveteers).
Seasoned musicians — who have been an integral part of the Front Range music scene for years — make up the supergroup. Rehearsals have been nothing short of electrifying. On Instagram, the band teased a powerful take on Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” that Jimi Hendrix so famously covered in the late 1960s.
“It’s really fun to have multiple singers, so I’m excited about Alexandra Schwan’s bluesy takes on Neil Young deep cuts, like ‘For the Turnstiles,’ and also Hunter Stone’s unique Western-tinged grit on Dylan’s ‘Man In Me,’” Perry said. “Alexandra and Hunter sing well together in harmony, and while trading verses on some longer Dylan songs, so it’s great playing with them and also just sitting back and enjoying them like I’m an audience member.”
Perry savors witnessing the magic that unfolds at band practices.
“Alexandra and I were in Gasoline Lollipops together and played everywhere from the Gold Hill Inn to Red Rocks, along with touring in the Caribbean and Europe, and I always wanted to see her take the reins as a frontwoman,” Perry said. “Like Keb’ Mo’ says, ‘Put a woman in charge.’”
The band’s name is also a bit of a homage to The Rolling Thunder Revue, a tour Dylan embarked on in 1975 — along with musicians Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn and others.
“I’m also inspired by playing with talented young Rolling Harvest members like Gabriel Cwern and Cole Sexton who, unlike me, have a formal musical education but haven’t really been out there with rock bands like this before,” Perry said. “It’s great having basically the opposite experience and learning from each other and realizing both types of education — dive bars and classrooms — are valuable.”
“I’m hoping that this summer brings Rolling Harvest and Colorado music lovers together with the kind of energy none of us have been able to experience much since before the pandemic,” Perry said. “And the obvious hankering people have to get back to rocking out together again is why I booked so many Rolling Harvest shows this summer and fall at my favorite venues, like the Gold Hill Inn and some brand-new spots.”
In 2021, with most indoor venues still shuttered due to COVID, cellist Josh Halpern decided to form a traveling troupe of musicians who performed everywhere from outside of bakeries to in front of the Boulder Jewish Community Center.
The renowned musician has been busy gearing up for the Caravan’s second installment, but he’s been organizing the seven mainstage concerts and 25 free pop-up shows from afar.
Halpern moved to Berlin in October after winning a fellowship to work with Berlin Philharmonic. He’s been planning Cultural Caravan happenings eight time zones away from where they will occur.
“It’s been a ton of work,” Halpern said. “It’s like I have two days in one –– my normal Berlin day, of course, but by the evening, everyone’s up and getting to work in Boulder. I’ve had a lot of 11 p.m. Zoom meetings.”
Halpern has flown in for the festival that kicked off Wednesday with concerts on the Pearl Street Mall, The Boulder Farmers Market and Moxie Bread Company. Thursday, Zimbabwean Afropop band ZiMbira played The Boulder Bandshell.
From Venezuelan jazz to folk, the festival promises a diverse lineup at over 20 business throughout the county.
Cultural Caravan — an organization that recently became a nonprofit — has partnered with El Centro Amistad, Ayuda Boulder and Boulder Food Rescue for the festival.
“All the money we raise is reinvested directly back into the community,” Halpern said.
Halpern’s family lost their home in the Marshall Fire, and to honor the first responders, Cultural Caravan is throwing a concert at Louisville Fire Station (895 Via Appia Way) on June 7, from 5-8 p.m.
“It will be a great opportunity for people to come together and find support during this destabilizing time, but it will also be a chance for people to simply have fun, if they don’t wish to dwell too much on the events of this year,” Halpern said. “The fire department will have their trucks out for people to explore, and they’ll be giving tours of the station.”
Andy Clark, of Moxie Bread Co., enlisted fellow Louisville establishments Lulu’s BBQ and Pica’s Taqueria to provide food for the event.
“We have a variety of local performers, including bassist Gonzalo Teppa — whose home narrowly escaped damage from the Marshall Fire — and Enion Pelta-Tiller’s Gadjo Quartet. Enion is a member of Taarka and a big favorite in the community,” Halpern said. “I’ll play a few tunes myself, too.”
Halpern will be sitting in with musicians for pop-up concerts and mainstage productions almost every day of Cultural Caravan.
The festival promises over 30 musicians, and some returning Cultural Caravan performers include banjoist Jayme Stone — who will play Longmont’s Stewart Auditorium Saturday at 7:30 p.m. — and folk-pop singer Carolyn Hunter.
“We have so many artists from different backgrounds, so I get the chance to step out of my bubble, play their music and learn from them,” Halpern said. “And it’s great for the audience, because you never really experience the same thing twice.”
At 2:30 p.m. June 5 at Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium, Halpern will perform a show entitled “Get Your Mind Out of The Way,” along with pianist Margaret McDonald, who chairs the collaborative piano department at University of Colorado Boulder.
“I wanted to program a concert of all 21st-century music, but more than anything, I wanted it to be fun,” Halpern said. “Most of these composers are still really young –– no one fits the dusty stereotype of the classical composer –– and all of them play around with sounds from all over the world inspired by folk melodies, pop music, you name it. There’s even a piece that calls for me to put tiny clothespins on the strings of my cello.”
From doing a pop-up at Superior Liquor to jumping right into a musical story time at Boulder Book Store, it’s clear Cultural Caravan knows how to pivot.
Other mainstage venues include B2 Center at CU Boulder’s ATLAS Institute and Dairy Arts Center. For the full list of events, visit culturalcaravan.org.
A collective voice
Ars Nova Singers will close out the season with “Made Real,” a performance featuring close to 40 singers filled with themes sure to conjure much reflection.
“Ars Nova means ‘New Art,’ and over our history we’ve presented quite a lot of new music,” said Tom Morgan, artistic director of Ars Nova Singers. “But it’s rare to present something that is borne out of very current events and themes, while enlarging them into a much broader and more universal context through some really impactful imagery by poet Melissa Studdard.”
Tickets are $25 and livestream tickets are available as well. The productions will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Paul Community of Faith in Denver, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Boulder and 7 p.m. Sunday at Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum.
“Christopher Theofanidis’s ‘Door Out of the Fire’ is an amazing new work composed last year that references and poetically comments on issues such as global climate change, racial inequality and the protest movements surrounding this issue, the soaring legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, immigration and migration, even a reference to the difficulty of just breathing during this pandemic,” Morgan said.
Guitarist Nicolo Sperà, a collaborator, commissioned the work that will make its Colorado premiere this weekend.
“It’s an energetic, inspiring work for the chorus to sing; it is composed with the choir divided into eight voice parts throughout, which adds to the drama,” Morgan said. “Mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims poetically embodies the late Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg in a movement called ‘Ruth’s Aria.’”
The performance will also include “Immortal Bach” by Knut Nystedt, and Ildebrando Pizzetti’s ethereal “Requiem.”
At the end of the first half of the program, Nicolo will play a solo piece, Telemann’s “Fantasia No. 1.”
“The classical guitar is amplified to balance the choir,” Morgan said. “The guitar ties everything together and serves as ‘the contemplative soul of the piece,’ in the composer’s words.”
As the shows wrap up, Ars Nova is already busy planning for its 37th season.
In March 2023, Ars Nova will present the internationally acclaimed ensemble VOCES8 in two performances at Macky Auditorium in Boulder and at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver.
In September, Ars Nova will host a gala at Lone Hawk Farm in Longmont.
To keep up with more of Ars Nova’s offerings, visit arsnovasingers.org.