I descend the Marquis Theater’s narrow stairway into a chilly and sparsely decorated basement room where I find the man responsible for “preaching the gospel of some new kind of depraved music.” Lincoln Durham, the one man Southern-Gothic, Psycho-Blues, Revival-Punk virtuoso is decked out in all black, his hair is neatly combed back, and he’s casually talking with The Ghost Wolves lead singer and guitarist, Carley Wolf. A couple of half-eaten pizzas sit on the table in front of them on this normal Thursday night in Denver; a night when normal will turn into a spectacle of musical precision that only Durham can bring with his “bastardized mid-century guitars, hand-me-down fiddles and banjos, home-made contraptions with just enough tension on a string to be considered an instrument, and any random percussive item he can get his hands or feet on.“
Tonight Durham is closing out the first leg of his tour in support of the new album, “And Into Heaven Came the Night,” a dark, gritty, and blues charged project of which he produced by himself after losing long-time producer and friend, George Reiff.
Wolf quietly exits the room as I take a seat at the end of one of the room’s black couches and turn on my iPhone’s recorder. What was supposed to be a ten minute interview turns into thirty, just enough time to get a sense as to who this man is and what makes him so damn good.
Give me a short history of Lincoln Durham. When did you start playing?
I started playing when I was four years old. I started playing the fiddle. My dad and my grandpa started me on the fiddle at that age but it wasn’t really a fiddle, more like a toy. I played it for a long time, and well, still technically do I guess, but solely until I was about fifteen or so. And then about that time I was in high school and bands like Nirvana started coming out and that really spoke to me because the fiddle was put in my hands and I always had a little bit of weird relationship with it because I didn’t choose it. So that’s when I got into guitar and wanting to sing. You know, playing cover songs and stuff, but I don’t think I found my voice or knew what I was going to do until I was in my mid-20s.
You mentioned Nirvana as an early influence. Who were some of the other influences on you at that time?
Yea, when I first started grunge was a big thing and I was really into that stuff. My dad and grandparents were old-school country so you know, Willie, Waylon, and Johnny Cash were big influences early on. Later on I started to appreciate some of the old blues guys from those early days, people like Fred McDowell, Lightning Hopkins, and Robert Johnson. That’s when I started to get more of a grittier vibe to what I was doing. I also kinda half grew up in Texas and the other half in New Jersey so I had this punk background, too, so there was always this underlying punk influence that gave more aggression to what I did. So yea, inadvertently that southerny, punk-ish, old blues vibe just kind of converged into what I do now.
That’s a lot of vibe to put into a one man show. Was that always the plan?
Back when I started doing this thing and actually trying to make a career out of it, I couldn’t afford a band. At the time I would play a more docile, still gritty, but a more low key acoustic set and I’d tap my foot on this porch board and it would make a kick drum sound. And then as I started to get more comfortable with what I was doing, I really wanted to go back to what inspired me as a teenager, get a harder, thicker, and bigger sound, but at the same time not being able to afford a band, I had to figure out how I could get the most amount of noise and still sound like a band. So it was basically out of necessity and just became a quest to be as big and beefy as possible with a big presence. And as I was doing that, it just became what people started noticing me for.
It couldn’t have been easy starting out as a one man show. How did you feel about it?
It was scary as hell and honestly, it’s still rough because you don’t have a band to kind of back you up emotionally. You’re out there all by yourself and so you have to be the entire show. I stand up in front of the kit so it does limit me a bit with what I can do. I can’t jump around and rage like I’d love to, so you just have to come up with ideas and ways to get the audience into it because you really want that. Early on it was extraordinarily difficult and I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. Even now, it’s still scary and you hope it doesn’t fall flat.
Do you ever think about bringing in a drummer?
Oh, I occasionally get that way. I generally ask my team and ask Alissa who is my tour manager and wife. The thing with her is that I haven’t really met someone with the taste that she has. She just seems to have a good thumb on the pulse of what’s good and what’s bad. She knows when I’m getting tacky or if I’m gonna have a Spinal Tap moment. And then a lot of times I ask fans and they’ll say “do what you do.” What usually deters me the most, though, is a lot of the way I have my style is because I’m writing to my limitations of the one man band. I fear that if I had the ability of a band that it might start sounding a little different and less like me.
If you could describe your music in one word, how would you do that whether it’s the live show or on a record?
Visceral. It’s raw and it’s from deep in the belly. It’s gritty and unapologetic, me bearing the problems that I have in my head. And it’s aggressive for the most part. You’re not in a mosh pit or anything but I mean it’s pissy and aggressive music.
How hard do you feel it is to stand out in such a saturated industry nowadays?
That’s the thing where doing it how I do benefits me. It keeps me in this realm of slightly different even if I don’t want it to be. I can’t help but write this way because it’s the only way I can because this is all I have to work with. For better or worse, and technically I think it might be a detriment but I view it as a positive as an artist, is that people have a hard time figuring out what I am as far as genre. They can’t ever figure out what to call it. But maybe that’s a good thing so I don’t know. I just write how I write.
Tell me a little bit about the new album, “And Into Heaven Came the Night.” How do you feel it’s different from your previous work?
Well, this one I produced myself. My previous producer, George Reiff, he passed away last year very suddenly and shockingly really, and he was going to do this one, too. It left me wondering how I was going to do this, who was going to produce it, and I was hesitant to start a new relationship with this album. So, I decided to try and do it myself and this one is different because it’s a hundred percent me. It’s what was in my head. That can be for better or for worse, though, because there aren’t a lot of people checking what you’re doing like in a normal setting. I didn’t have that and it made me nervous. Just because it’s in my head doesn’t make it good. But from people talking to me, I think it’s going over really well because it’s the old me and new me together.
Is there any one song that stands out among the others for you?
Heaven. That was the first one I wrote. It was kinda the anchor point for this album. And then I would say Feather was a big one for me as well. It made me remember what I was doing but then in this harder environment that I’m in now.
Did you hear George in the back of your head at times when producing this project?
Yea that’s what I did. Ultimately when I went into the studio, I tried to channel his critiques because I think whether you’re a painter or a musician or whatever, when you present your art to someone, I think deep down you already know what’s wrong with it. There are some songs that you say I don’t give a shit what you say, this is fuckin’ great. But there are some when you ask what they think about it, you already know something’s wrong.
What’s next for you?
Well, we’ve got a lot of touring to do this year. I’ve got this national tour that I’m on, some shows with Reverend Horton Heat coming up, and then on into the future, I’m going to keep producing because I’m really enjoying that. I’m going to start flooding the market with a lot more music. I think I found myself for the time being with this new one so I’m going to make its sister and brother albums.
Following a successful show with U-God at Lost Lake Lounge, Hip Hop artist, Namm, will be hitting the local scene with full force for Denver’s 420 festivities. Here’s where you can find him?
April 18th LIT Night Club – Namm will hit the stage at 9 p.m. for Woman Crush Wednesday.
April 19th EP Release – It’s all going down at Herman’s Hideaway and everyone is invited to celebrate the release of Namm’s long-awaited EP. Namm will be on stage throwing down some of his new stuff while also performing with a few special guests featured on the new project, too. This is also your chance to catch Lost Boyz member, Mr. Cheeks.
April 20th OFFICIAL LAUNCH PARTY FOR WU-TANG ROLLING PAPERS – This special popup promotional gig at 3 Kings Tavern will run from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., free for the first 100 guests, and is complete with a raffle, gift bags, and Wu-Tang rolling papers. There will be a live performance from Lama Squad and trust us, you’ll want to be there for the surprise guest, too.
April 21st Aztlan Theater – Namm will be on stage in the heart of the Santa Fe Art District with Cappadonna from legendary Wu-Tang Clan.
Related Content: Q&A Artist Feature: Hip-hop Artist Namm on Music and Inspiration
Here are the things you can do in and around Denver this week.
Stomp is a must watch spectacle for the audiences of all ages. This international percussion sensation has traveled and garnered so many wards around the globe. They even appeared in a number of TV shows worldwide. Find out why this explosive, provocative, and utterly unique show is a fan favorite.
Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex
FEB 13 – 18, 2017
1400 Curtis St., Denver, CO 80202
Valentine’s Day 90’s Block Party
Celebrate Valentine’s 90’s style with Guy feat Teddy Riley, creators of the New Jack Swing Style. Dust off your 90’s wardrobe and party like Y2K have’nt happened yet.
FEB 3, 2018
700 14th St., Denver, CO 80202
Watch the Spurs Visit our Nuggets
The Nuggets just traded Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks and acquired Devin Harris from the Mavs at the trade deadline. Will it be enough to secure a playoff spot in the stacked Western Conference? Well, it’s an uphill battle as they host the Spurs at home.
FEB 13, 2018
1000 Chopper Cir., Denver, CO 80204
Ever since her performance at America’s Got Talent, Grace Wanderwaal has become one of America’s favorite new singer. In 2017, she won Choice Next Best Thing at the Teen Choice Awards and The Freshest-Best New Artist from Radio Disney Music Awards. Clearly, she and her ukulele is set to conquer the US.
The Bluebird Theatre
FEB 16, 2018
3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80206
If you are feeling the blues, maybe a good cocktail and a bit of jazz are just what you need. Fortunately, the jazz scene around Denver is pretty vibrant and as smooth as a sax solo on a Friday night.
To get your Jazz fix, here are some spots you can go to:
If you are talking about Jazz in Denver, the first place to go to is the pioneer in the scene: El Chapultepec. Every Jazz fan in Denver knows to go to the corner of the 20th and Market. They are considered the oldest Jazz club in Denver, serving up the blues every night since 1933.
1962 Market St. Denver, CO 80202
Herbs’ motto is low on pretension, high on energy, and the club certainly lives up to it. If you are looking for a Jazz club at Denver’s LoDo scene, this is the spot. Great bands paired with creative, yet inexpensive cocktails make for a very smooth night. If you are in the mood to sing or play yourself, Herbs wants you to come down and bring your voice and your Axe on their Hump Day Funk Jam. Just check out their calendars for the dates
2057 Larimer St. Denver, CO 80205
Probably the premier jazz spot in Denver. They have featured some of the best local and national jazz artists like Joe Lovano, The Bad Plus, and Kurt Elling. It was listed as one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world by DownBeat magazine too. To top it off, they also established their own vinyl record store so that Jazz enthusiasts has another mode to enjoy the music.
1512 Curtis St. Denver, CO 80202
Nocturne is a pretty young contender on this list as they only opened in 2014, but that they already belong on this list speaks volumes of what they offer the Denver Jazz scene. What started out as a warehouse in RiNo, turned into an acoustically designed room to optimize the blues from the bands and artists. Their Artist in Residency program explores modern and classic jazz as never before as artists engage in an 8-week performance. So for straight ahead to funky, Nocturne has got you covered.
1330 27th St. Denver, CO 80205
The Crimson Room
If you are looking for a more intimate setting with a touch of sophistication, just check out this cozy place behind a glossy red door at downtown Denver’s historic Larimer Square. Wear your fancy clothes and experience some of Denver’s best Jazz and Acoustic acts nightly.
1403 Larimer St. Denver, CO 80202
House parties on New Year’s Eve spent hanging out with friends or family watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, sipping some drinks and then toasting at midnight with some champagne and a kiss are cool, don’t get me wrong, but there are parties, and then there are parties you don’t want to miss. It just so happens that there’s not just one, but two epic bashes to choose from.
The office over at Dream Entertainment Group is noticeably buzzing right now with New Year’s Eve right around the corner. The team of Dondrae Mills, Yoseph Assefa, and Brandon Eubands are busy finishing details for not one, but two parties they plan to throw in Denver this year. Things seem to be going smoothly, however; not at all how I imagined this place to be so close to the ball drop.
“We started planning the events in early August,” Mills stated taking a seat next to me, “and once we know what the concepts are, the planning happens quickly because all of our resources are in place from the last ten years of doing events.”
Party one is the New Year’s Black Tie Party being held downtown again at the Sheraton in its 28,000 square foot Plaza Ballroom and foyer. It is the premier New Year’s Eve experience in Denver and has everything you’d want for the night; three DJs, live music, Las Vegas style casino games, and multiple all-inclusive open bars with liquor, beer, and wine. Yes, that’s correct. Multiple open bars.
Live entertainment will include Eric Lane and Cicely O’Kain while DJ performances include top 40 and Hip Hop from DJ Big Spade, old school classics from DJ SD, and Neo Soul, Reggae, and Dance from DJ Nunez. Party goers will also enjoy a photo booth to capture those memorable moments, and a complimentary champagne toast under a massive confetti blast as the clock strikes midnight. Did I mention multiple all-inclusive open bars? Don’t worry about driving home either. Rooms are available upstairs at one of Denver’s top rated hotels.
“This party has sold out five years in a row,” Assefa added, “and has always been one of the best parties in Denver on New Year’s Eve. And it will definitely sell out again.”
“The doors open at 8 o’clock and we expect this to be one of our best years,” Eubanks said coming into the room. “We plan on giving everyone that’s coming out one hell of a night.”
For those of you who are looking for more of that exclusive party vibe, Dream Entertainment has added the Champagne Mansion Party where they promise to give those who attend an experience like never before.
“I’m always thinking about event ideas that will add a new element to Denver’s nightlife and the mansion party is the perfect fit,” Mills stated. “You’ll have it all. An elegant mansion with a roof top right next to City Park, themed rooms, multiple open bars, and champagne service all night long.”
There will be roaming photographers, access to the red carpet photo booth, music by DJ Big Spade who will be spinning everything from top 40 hits to EDM, Hip Hop and more. The big difference between this and the Black Tie Party is that the party is limited; hence the exclusive vibe.
“I expect the mansion party to be something that everyone is gonna rave about,” Mills added. “We only have 325 tickets available and will probably be sold out before Christmas so people should grab their tickets now.”
“Shoot,” Assefa added, chuckling. “Tickets started selling before we even began marketing it!”
Here are the things you can do in and around Denver this week.
Celebrate Hispanic Culture at the last week of National Hispanic Heritage Month
This is an annual celebration of culture, history, and many contributions of the Hispanic community to what the United States of America is today. It is in its last week so it’s your last chance to join in this year.
SEP 15 – OCT 15, 2017
Watch Dinosaurs Live at Dinos! After Dark
What’s better than watching dinosaurs? Watching dinosaurs actually move. What’s even better? Watching them at night. The Denver Zoo brings their Dinos Live act to a next level with Dinos! After Dark. Get to experience the Zoo’s animatronic dinosaurs come to life along with illuminated sculptures made from pumpkins. Perfect for Halloween.
OCT 5 – OCT 28, 2017
2300 Steele St., Denver, CO 80205
Catch Imagine Dragons
Catch Imagine Dragons at the Pepsi Center this Saturday. I don’t think I need to say more.
OCT 14, 2017
1000 Chopper Cir., Denver, CO 80204
MmmmBop with Hanson
Oh, you know you want to sign along!!! It’s the 25th anniversary of Hanson’s Middle of Nowhere album and you can celebrate this milestone with the band itself, all grown up.
Summit Music Hall
OCT 14, 2017
1902 Blake St., Denver, CO 80202
Run, Rock ‘n’ Roll
Rock ‘n’ Roll bands along a marathon course? I am so in. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is an annual event that has been happening since 1998 and every year, more and more people are joining the fray. Best part is that the event has raised more than $310 million for participating charities. So, marathon, bands, and charity. What else do you need?
OCT 14-15, 2017
Broadway Ave. & Colfax, Denver, CO 80202
The annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is here again and it is bigger than ever. With some controversies in the past about the involvement of large beer corporations, some changes are expected this weekend to improve beer enthusiasts experience.
Craft Beer will dominate End Caps
In the past, big beer brands like MillerCoors, Constellation Brands, and AB InBev are able to dominate endcaps through their subsidiaries because of big sponsorship of the event. But it kind of defeats the purpose of showcasing local craft beers.
This year, The Brewers Association (BA) announced that end caps will be reserved only for those brewers that meet the organization’s definition of a craft brewer, which usually means small, traditional breweries that are independent or have less than 25 percent ownership from large alcohol corporations.
Big Beer Brands presence is severely decreased
Big beer brands have been stealing the thunder from local craft beer makers in the past GABF. Not this time. Most of the big beer brands will have less presence overall. Some of them will still be there. MillerCoors will have a table where they will serve most of their beers and AB InBev will only have 2 of their purchased formerly independent breweries participating in the event. But for the most part, they are gone. Bud is not there, Blue Moon is not there, and Lagunitas, which was popular in past GABF events, won’t be there either.
Offensive Beer Name Ban
Maryland’s Flying Dog caused quite a stir when they announced that they won’t be participating in this year’s GABF because of the BA’s new policy about possible offensive beer names. In April, BA announced that it will be taking a stand against beer names that can be classified as offensive, racist, or misogynistic. Flying Dog thinks this constitutes censorship. It will be fun to see if any of the breweries will come up with names that will push BAs definition of what of what offensive names are.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan will be there
A lot of breweries do a lot of gimmicks to get their brew more attention. There were the funny stunts from Bull & Bush and Oskar Blues in the past, and then there were the cannabis-infused beers from Dad & Dudes. This year, Melvin Brewing will be going WWE (or should it be WWF) as they teamed up with wrestling legend Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who will be all over the fest. What else can I say but… HHHOOOOO…