On Wednesday night, October 6, 2010, an open-mic took place at Herbs, a bar in downtown Denver. Around 9:30 the first group of musicians took the stage. Suddenly sounds of a guitar, bass, and drums took over the room. Heads started to nod in general consensus that the music was good.
The guitar was played by a short-haired woman in her late 30's. She rocked with the passion of a thirteen-year-old girl and the control of a fifty-year-old man. About five minutes into the jam, a man named Keith Rouse came on the stage and added his flair to the jam, the sound of the trumpet transformed the tune to something with funk.
After the show,Keith relaxed outside in a corner with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I approached him and started a conversation, thinking he could answer some of my question; How long has he been a musician in Denver? Who are important people to be noticed by in Denver? How do musicians make their music into a monetary success?
To my surprise, Keith had a different agenda after I asked him those questions. Instead Keith told me why he is a musician. He told me why music is exciting "The music world is always challenging because when its not challenging its no longer fun or entertainment. People listen to music because they want to hear something that will free them from their world and blow their mind."
Keith has been living in Denver his whole life and only focused on music being a career for a few years of his life when he was in his 20's. He remembers, "I thought I was the best and unstoppable, but that doesn't mean a thing if you can't convince your audience that your the best, and I guess I couldn't."
Keith was able to explain that the audience in Denver can be particularly hard to please, "The audience in Denver is very fragile, one day its a hit, the next day its a miss. A good musician needs talent and luck if they want to make money from doing what they love the most."
Going into Herbs with three friends, all of us college-aged, ended up providing me with an answer to two of the most obvious questions; why is music important and what drives people to do it in the first place?
Music doesn’t start from a passion to make money, it starts from a passion to entertain other people, and produce something you love, and this is a fact that needs to be recognized before delving into something as difficult and harsh as the music world.
Next week, its time to take a look into how popular, local music arenas book artists. From that I hope to find another show to see and hear about local bands in Denver that have worked their way onto the scene.
Places to Explore this week:
The Gothic Theater