When's the last time you tore the cellophane off a CD by a band — one that, in fact, had just recently played the Grammys — and found your name among the inside credits? For Fuel/Friends blogger Heather Browne and Changing Colors musician Conor Bourgal, that would be last Wednesday.
"Oh no, they spelled it wrong," exclaimed Browne. "They put SHOVEL Chapel instead of Shove Chapel!"
Loitering in a booth at Wooglin's Deli, the masterminds of the Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions (which began two years ago this month) were pleased to find their own names spelled correctly. But what's really impressive about this European pressing of the Lumineers' self-titled debut album is its two bonus tracks, which come directly from the group's Chapel Session.
The summer 2011 session also included a version of the Lumineers' now-ubiquitous "Ho Hey," which recently charted at No. 3 following the band's Grammy performance. Denver's latest sensation also played with The Head and the Heart at one of Browne's house shows for a hefty $5 donation.
"The first time that 'Ho Hey' was ever recorded was in our Chapel Session, so we're pretty proud of that," says Browne, who makes her living as Colorado College coordinator of off-campus study when not connecting with musicians through her indie-folk-inclined blog, house shows and recording sessions.
Bourgal, who records and produces the Shove Chapel sessions, picks up the conversational thread. "After the Lumineers were nominated for the Grammy, Daytrotter posted about how excited they were that they were the first ones that ever recorded 'Ho Hey.' So I did some research, and found out that our version was a month earlier."
The 23rd Chapel Session, posted just last week on fuelfriendsblog.com, features the Haunted Windchimes' Mike Clark and his soul-stricken side project, Sugar Sounds, performing four originals plus a cover of Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is."
"I'd known Mike for two years around town, and as I watched, I thought, 'Where did this come from?' recalls Browne. "It's just this sound that I hadn't heard, and this confidence and this transformation into somebody that I hadn't seen performing in this capacity before. And it's exciting that we have a place to capture that."
Or, as Bourgal puts it, "If evolution is something you look for in a musical artist, then Mike Clark's your guy. He's Sugar Sounds now, but who the hell knows what Mike Clark's gonna be next year? He's like his own little microcosmic rock 'n roll history. He's gonna get to grunge eventually, you know, and it's gonna be awesome."
Whether recording Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips or Neil Halstead, who cofounded the British band Slowdive, the process for Browne and Bourgal is largely the same. "We usually have about two hours," says Bourgal, "to go in there, set up, sound check, record, and get out. It's crazy!"
But those limitations are also what give the sessions an air of intimacy and spontaneity, which is also a hallmark of the concerts Browne puts on at the community house at Casa Verde Commons in the Patty Jewett neighborhood. "The first house show I ever attended was Joe Pug in Boulder," she recalls. "It almost floored me, it was so intimate. It was almost too intimate."
And that's a tradition Browne plans to continue. "Even if the audience has no idea who I've brought in, we still get this wildly rapt crowd that will just sit there and listen. You can hear a pin drop in the room, everyone will listen so closely."
Meanwhile, in the altogether less intimate world of local clubs, Rawkus will follow up Saturday night's English Beat gig (interview on p. 29) with one of its first local showcases. The St. Patrick's Day event will feature Claymore Disco, El Toro de la Muerte, Murder Hat and the Knightbeats.
Also this week, Get Along will hit the Black Sheep on Friday to celebrate the release of its We Tried So Hard To Be So Cool EP, which, according to Nick Yanez, is more "chaotic and bipolar" than the duo's debut. Also on the bill are Sean Waldron, Bad Maps and Dino Belli with at least some of his fellow Flumps.
And finally, tonight (March 13) is the third installment in Brian Parton's Westside Wednesdays at Meadow Muffins. Previous weeks have featured Last Call Romance and Harriett Landrum of the Hopeful Heroines, while this time around Parton will do an opening set backing OFL frontman Dave Cantrell, a combination that should be about as good and weird as it gets.