See what I did there?
So, look. Most of my reviews are about Denver bands. Mile High has a lot going on, musically, and really it becomes a numbers game. There are so many bands to highlight, and most of them have the secret sauce.
But I have a secret, too. Despite being a fierce advocate for Denver happenings, I hang my hat in Boulder County. And I’m delighted when I can bang the drum for a really great Boulder band. So readers please give a warm Stubborn Sounds welcome to AUGUSTUS. I don’t know why they’re only now on my radar (my fault).
Augustus is a modern Americana trio featuring Colin Kelly on voice and guitar, Jesse Wright on cello, and Jim Herlihy on banjo, guitar, and drums. In 2014, they dropped “The Common Collapse” e.p., which you can pick up at their shows, online, at Absolute Vinyl and at Bart’s Music in Boulder.
I’m generally not smitten with band bios (sorry bands), but I was pretty blown away by the poetry of Augustus’ own description of its sound: “Harvested from the most significant American musical movements—bluegrass, folk, blues, and jazz—Augustus music reminds one of a time gone by that probably never existed, but one wishes it had. And while it is aligned with a current trend—the return to Americana: banjos, cellos, a kick drum, and a soulful singer … Augustus remains distinct, as do all groups that root themselves in truly great songwriting.”
I’m going to let that description do the work because I simply can’t say it any better. However, I do have an observation. Sometimes I get lost when searching for the Boulder sound. The positive of that is there’s plenty of variety in the Republic. The downside is that bands struggle to stand out. When I imagine what a pillar of the Boulder music scene might sound like, it should echo into the night sky. It should feel human. It should not shy from gravitas or joy. Lyrics are sung honestly, without affect. Someone’s truth, accessible to all. I have found this in Augustus.
“North” is the lead song on the e.p., and it’s been a hit for the band. It’s a stompin’ bluesy dirge that Robert Randolph could get down with – a complete foot stomper/head bobber making fine use of that distinct banjo sound. The e.p. is a moody, funky, genre-jumping trip with anchors in Americana.
Too bad for everyone already shaving their ‘tache and wagging fingers at “acoustic bands.” To you I say that when the apocalypse comes and you can’t plug in your Moog, Boulder will be clamoring for its sound, a musical belief system, and Augustus will provide it.
In the meantime, Augustus is playing around Boulder every couple of weeks, so go support and tell ’em I sent ya.