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.
Dorothy Martin waves to the crowd yet says nothing as the band nonchalantly walks onto the stage lit in a low blood-red light. She turns her back to the cheering crowd, stands in front of the drum kit, lights a small batch of sage, and slowly progresses through a spiritual smudging, something I’ve never seen on stage but very fitting as the band plays a sweet and melodic tune reminiscent of something you might hear on an old Doors record. The crowd quiets only briefly as she moves to the mic, peers through the enveloping smoke out into the now ever- building roar of the Bluebird Theater and for a moment soaks in the energy before finally announcing “Welcome to the Freedom Tour!” What happens over the next hour and a half is nothing short of pure rhythm and blues, rock and roll music thunder the way it should be played thanks to the Los Angeles based alt-rock group, Dorothy
When it comes to Martin, think Janis Joplin power and blues, Stevie Nicks stage mysticism and crowd-seducing control and a Linda Perry hard rock fuck you attitude backed by a hard-charging and relentless band to back her. That’s Dorothy. From the opener “White Butterfly” off the soon to be released 28 Days in the Valley, through gritty and heavy stomping “Raise Hell,” “After Midnight,” and the bluesy, emotional rollercoaster of relationship choices, “Pretty When You’re High Boy,” Martin, drummer Jason Ganberg, bassist Eliot Lorango, and guitarists Nick Maybury and Leroy Wulfmeier, bring the crowd to an early frenzy proving that they are indeed the “perfect mix of blues thunder and alt-rock guitar crunch” that Rolling Stone Magazine labeled them as.
Plenty of amazing rock bands have received the same praise that Dorothy has garnered only to fall off the face of the music scene; victims of an ever-changing, fickle industry that swallows talent up and casts them into oblivion on a way too-often basis. And sure you could place Dorothy into a neat little box of just another group fronted by a good looking female rocker, but if Friday night’s show proved anything, it’s that this band can not only hold their own, but that they can carry the rock and roll torch for years to come. The proof lives in moments like Martin showing off her mesmerizing and ever-present confidence singing “This ain’t for the faint of heart” on the hard stomping “Wicked Ones,” delivering a powerful Joplin-esque performance on the blistering ‘60s laden “Who Do You Love,” conquering songs like “Black Tar and Nicotine” and “Ain’t Our Time to Die” with beautiful vocal range breakdowns and belted fire before they all decide to finish off the audience with wild abandon fury on “Down to the Bottom,” “Freedom,” and a blazing rendition of “Whiskey Fever” that sends Martin straight to the stage floor and on her back with seemingly nothing more to give.
If you were there and understand the true need for not just live music, but for gritty, loud, in your face rock and roll, blues, and alternative thunder, it would be hard for me to imagine that you’d not only agree to being a witness to just that, but that were also in the presence of undeniably one of the best bands in music today.
Q&A Artist Feature: Comic Book Creator R. Alan Brooks and The Burning Metronome
It’s 5 o’clock on what seems like just a normal Friday afternoon but there’s already an almost palpable. artistic, and lively vibe buzzing within the eclectic walls of Mutiny Cafe as I walk through the front door. Scattered groups of colorful people mill around in an all-embracing dance of a shared love for everything from books and comics to classic rock posters and painted artwork hanging above flyer covered windows looking out onto Broadway. The place reeks of brewing coffee and inspiration; the perfect atmosphere to meet comic book creator creator, R. Alan Brooks. I take my seat next to him at a corner table inundated by the late day sun in order to talk about his latest creation, The Burning Metronome.
You recently released your first graphic novel, The Burning Metronome. What is the significance behind the title?
Well, as music geeks know, metronomes keep time in music. So the idea of one that’s burning conjures the image of time running out, which I like.
Is this your first major writing endeavor and if so, why a graphic novel?
I’ve been reading comic books since I was 5, and only decided to try writing them a few years ago. Comics are a unique medium, because when you’re reading one, you’re essentially collaborating with its creators to determine the pace and rhythm of the story. You decide how quickly the page turns, and how much time you spend looking at the art. There are methods comic creators can use to encourage you to speed up or slow down, but ultimately, it’s up to you. Even movies can’t do that. And that’s something that I love about comic books.
I’ve known you a while now, particularly as a hip-hop artist. What was this writing process like for you? Did the ideas come as easily?
Generally, ideas come pretty easily, but the execution of those ideas is the real work. Any artist ,aspiring or professional, can often pluck ideas out of the air, but it doesn’t matter if we aren’t willing to do the work to craft those ideas into finished products. So, once I have an idea, the next step for me is to mold it into something that is entertaining to people besides myself. Because, after all, I can only buy so many copies of my own book.
Graphic novels are like comic books in a sense that they use sequential art to drive the story, but this format tends to lead to more stand-alone stories and complex plots. So what is the story within The Burning Metronome?
The Burning Metronome is about six courageous explorers who find themselves trapped in a world where they encounter the strangest creatures they’ve ever seen: human beings. It’s basically a supernatural murder mystery with social commentary; kind of a Twilight-Zone-meets-Usual-Suspects type of story.
Did the comics you grew up on or ones you are currently reading have any influence over your own work?
Comics like Watchmen, Kingdom Come, and X-men all featured social commentary, and strongly influenced me as a kid. More recently, Ex-Machina, Hawkeye, Black Science, and Kill or Be Killed and others have made me more aware of what can done with genre storytelling in comics.
Who did you work with on this project and how did that relationship come to fruition?
I wrote the script and my partner Matt Strackbein did all the color art and lettering. Matt and I met just under 2 years ago at a birthday party for a mutual friend and we immediately began to talk about ways we could collaborate. Frankly, I was lucky to be able to work with him because his design work has appeared around the world, and he’s been published by Dark Horse Comics.
What do you hope readers take away from the story?
Once you read The Burning Metronome, my first hope is that you’ll enjoy it. My second hope is that you’ll find some encouraging and different ways to look at your own life, and that you’ll feel enriched for having read it.
You were at Comic Con in Denver this year. What was that experience like as a writer and what was the fan reaction to The Burning Metronome?
Wonderful. It was crazy to connect with so many people who were enthusiastic about something I created with Matt, and have them so excited about what we were doing. It was so cool and emotionally fulfilling that I frankly can’t imagine it having gone better.
Have other reviews and fan comments exceeded your expectations?
So far, so good. Ha! People have been very generous with their feedback, and I’m very thankful.
Sometimes there tends to be a steady stream of new work hitting the market without much of a break between projects. Are you currently writing a follow up or working on any other projects?
I’m actually outlining the second story arc of The Burning Metronome now. Also, I’m writing Falling Deep, a comic that Gerhard Kaaihue is drawing. That’s a secret agent story, which is really an exploration of love and divorce.
In addition, I’m continuing to write a children’s comic called The Adventures of Captain Colorado for Pop Culture Classroom, an educational non-profit that puts on Denver Comic Con.
Finally, I’m on my second draft of a film script for a director in Atlanta.
There seems to be a resurgence in both the comic book and graphic novel industry and it’s sort of the cool thing to do now. What is the scene like here in Denver?
It’s full of talented and generous people who all support each other’s endeavors in really dope ways. I love being part of this community.
Copies of The Burning Metronome for purchase can be found at various comic book shops, at Mutiny Cafe, or online at: www.theburningmetronome.com
You can also keep up to date on the latest news at:
Last night The Lumineers returned home to play the first of three shows this weekend at Fiddler’s Green – a homecoming that saw the 18,000-capacity venue filled with screaming fans from stage to lawn and what will eventually become the end of the band’s Cleopatra Tour on Sunday night. Here are a few photos from Friday night.
There is a reason why the food and beer scene in Denver is so diverse and lively. It is the openness of the people to accept and even try new things from different cultures. That open-mindedness makes it possible for unique ideas to prosper here when it would have fizzled out in another city or state.
That applies to the art scene as well. The Mile High City is the place to be when it comes to diverse, incredible, and memorable arts and culture.
And to sate your art and culture fix, here are the top must-see art exhibits around Denver for the next two months:
Ends on August 13, 2017
The way Vikings are portrayed in TV and movies range from pirate to cartoonish. However, there is so muh depth to the history and culture of Vikings than what you were led to believe. This exhibition busts a lot of myths surrounding them and highlights the complexities of Viking culture, politics, etc. Plus, you can also get a glimpse of treasures that have not been displayed outside Scandinavia
Ends on August 20, 2017
Get a glimpse of New York in the 90s when Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were not a thing yet. Photographer Ryan McGinley takes us back to his life in the late 90s when he was growing up in New York armed with his trusty Polaroid camera. Take a tip back in memory lane and see the life of another generation.
Ends on September 10, 2017
Discover the evolution of Western Genre beyond cowboys and American Indians. This major exhibit will examine the history and growth of the genre that started in the mid-1800s. It will feature 160 works including fine art, film and, popular culture. The exhibit will explore how the genre has handled gender roles, race, and its obsession with guns in particular.
Ends on September 24, 2017
Be in awe of Alexander Calder’s large-cale steel sculptures as it interacts, and gives great contrast to the surrounding landscape of the Denver Botanic Gardens. Using shapes that resonate with the natural world, this American artist provides audiences with an awe-inspiring exhibit.
The 2nd annual Denver International Festival is a celebration of hundreds of countries and cultures that call Denver home and it’s all happening this Saturday. This free event features live music and dance performances, interactive art, cultural displays, a marketplace and kid’s village, a beer garden, and over 30 restaurant and food truck vendors offering some of the best food and drinks in the city. If you’re planning to attend, here’s a quick guide and few highlights to let you know what’s going on.
When: Saturday, August 5th | When: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Where: Civic Center Park
Admission is FREE
Marketplace, Interactive Art & Cultural Displays
Here’s your chance to meet local businesses, take part in an interactive art mural, and browse beautiful art and clothing products created by some of Colorado’s most talented entrepreneurs and artists.
Luv Mrk’s mission is to ‘Ignite Kindness and ‘Inspire Luv’ by living through our hearts in order to make a positive impact on the world. Visit this booth to meet the owner, purchase unique apparel that lets people know you a part of the solution, and talk about why leaving your ‘luvmrk’ is important.
BeAfrica offers African-inspired, handmade scarves, hoodies, and coin purses using vibrant and strong fabrics from the country. Each product includes a description of its meaning as well as an overview of ways to wear and care for the item.
Denver In Color, a book by Jason Davis and Jonathan Castner featuring the voices and images of Denver interracial couples, will be on sale at their booth. This book allows their voices to come to light and to show that love has no color.
Other highlights include: Heavy Metal Works | Arturo Garcia Fine Art | CommUNITY Fitness | Project Hartwork
This year’s kid village is bigger and better! This is the whole family’s chance to color, paint, and create sand art, take part in cool science experiments, as well play around on the bouncy castles, a bubble station and much more.
Rocket Making & Blast Off: Powered by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Museum
DIY Slime and Lava Lamps
Mentos & Coca Cola Experiments
Polynesian Hula (watch & learn at 12:30pm)
Meet & Greet: Moana and Captain America (11:30am)
Pinata Breaking (11am, 1pm, 3pm & 5pm)
The Great Kid Village Water Fight (3:30pm)
International Beer and Wine Tasting
If you’re a wine or beer lover, here’s your chance to sample from both local and international wineries and breweries.
Time: 3pm to 6pm
Cost: $25 single admission $45 per couple $100 per group of 5 or more (a portion of the proceeds will benefit Youth on Record)
Admission includes 1 full flight of tastings from all wine and beers per person
El Javi – 3:30pm
El Javi is a Rock Flamenco artist from Mexico City who joins the heart of rock with the spirit of flamenco to deliver a distinct instrumental sound and powerful live performance.
Cicely O’Kain – 4:30pm
This Denver singer/songwriter brings both energy and her eclectic mix and whimsical twist of R&B and soul music to the stage leaving audiences entertained and wanting more every time. Her latest single Like Bass, from her EDM/uptempo dance EP, was considered for a 2017 Grammy nomination.
Orquesta La Brava – 6pm
This is the newest and hottest Denver Salsa band combining Latin percussion accompanied by bass, piano, and a great trombone and singing ensemble.
Irie Still – 7:15pm
Steeped first in Reggae and then incorporated with the elements of Hip-Hop, Soca, Dancehall, Calypso, Ska, Afro Beat, and Tribal Rhythms, this Colorado based band overwhelms the crowd with audience participation, soaring vocal harmony, and great music.
Food & Drinks
Check out our previous write up here.
Q&A Artist Feature: Hip-hop Artist Namm on Music and Inspiration
Denver hip-hop artist, Namm, talks about his music, those who have inspired him, and making music with a message. (Photo credit: TheTravelin’Joe)
The door slowly closes behind us leaving the room quiet and separated from the music pumping through the speakers in the main art gallery section here at Megafauna. The walls are covered from floor to ceiling with artwork and both classic and obscure album covers; the perfect setting for me to talk all things music with Denver artist, Naam.
How long have you been making music?
I couldn’t tell you when I wasn’t making music. That’s how long I’ve been doing it. I’ve been doing it since I was really young but actually taking it seriously, probably since I was 16.
Take me through your writing process. What is it like for you?
I like to sit with music for a little while. If I get a couple of tracks together I’ll sit and play with them for a bit. Once something comes to me, I think of the concept and then the melody and when I have the actual hook together, then it’s nothing for me after that.
Are you producing your own beats at the same time, too?
On occasion, yea. But I have in-house producers, though. I’m mostly a writer. I write everything.
How long does it take you to put the lyrics together? Does it depend on the song?
It depends. I kinda write under pressure a lot better. So if my deadline is tomorrow, then I write my best stuff. But I can write a song between 10 minutes to an hour. When there’s no real concept to it and it’s just spittin’ and putting things together that sound clever, that’s easy for me. When I’m actually focusing on a topic, I won’t say it’s hard, but it’s a little more in depth, you know what I mean? I like to take my time a little bit more with those concepts.
Who in the industry has influenced you as an artist?
All the greats. The Biggies. The Tupacs. Jay-Z. I’m a big Outkast fan. Any music, especially with hip-hop, that’s really saying something. I come from that era. I mean I listen to the new stuff just cause I like to keep my ear out there and know what’s goin’ on but I’m an old school dude. That’s the stuff that gives me inspiration. A lot of music now is more about the track and the feel of it. But I come from lyrics and messages in the music.
You mentioned that music now is more about the track and feel of it rather than sending a message. What are your thoughts on that as a writer wanting to tell a story?
I believe hip-hop is still what I came from even though you go through periods of trends. It’s a young game but what people also have to realize is that hip-hop isn’t that old. It’s not like rock ‘n’ roll or soul music. It’s a very young genre so people don’t understand that even Jay-Z is considered old school now and he’s what I came up on. So you have the older cats and the younger cats and it’s just that the younger cats run the trends and stuff right now. But I try to stick to what I do and what I know and not jump in on that. Now I can get in on a record with any of these young cats, I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s still gonna be me and what I do on that track.
What is your message?
My message is do what you wanna do. I’m from Queens and grew up rough, which I didn’t realize at the time. It just was what it was. Moving to Colorado has showed me how good people have it out here. I watch so many people try to be something else so I just want to stay true to what I do and hopefully give that energy off saying you can be yourself, do how you feel, and people will reciprocate it. People will reciprocate it more if you’re being true to yourself. I hear so many songs and it’s the same song as the one I just heard. It’s the same cadence, same flow, everything is the same. I think in order to have longevity, you can’t be in that space. You just have to take risks and just do it. It might get accepted and it might not, but it only takes one.
Do you reach back in the past, hard as it may have been, to help inspire your lyrics?
Absolutely. That’s where I draw everything from. My life experiences, whether it was me or someone close to me that went through something, I pull from those things. I try to pull from a true place. The music comes out better when I do that. I think it’s my obligation if there are people listening to put something out there that they can take with them.
Do you think there will eventually be a shift back toward more messages behind the lyrics within hip-hop?
Absolutely, because if you look at the people still on top, the real money makers in the industry, they’re all subject based artists. You still have the Jay-Zs, you still have the Eminems, you still have those people who put that music out and it’s the biggest thing.
Compare your style to that of today’s latest trends in hip-hop. Are you comparable to someone out there or do you even pay attention to that?
I haven’t really heard the ‘you really remind me of this person or that person.’ The difference between me and a lot of rappers is that I consider myself a three-dimensional rapper. Most of my favorite artists are one-dimensional rappers. So you have Jadakiss and people like that do the same thing on every track. Eminem is a three-dimensional rapper to me because he can change it up in so many different ways. I’m like that. I switch to whatever the music says to me. I don’t have one flow or one style. I can do a bunch of different things.
What does your music mean to you?
It’s an outlet for me. I get to vent through my music. It keeps me from jumping off the porch. When I go through stuff I really like to write. It really helps me in that way, but at the end of the day, I just want people to respect what I do and like what I do. I’m not trying to be Drake or nobody. I just want to be able to support my kids by doing music.
What is your opinion of the music scene here in Denver?
There’s an extreme amount of talent in Colorado and I’ve been amazed by some of these cats out here doin’ it. My take on the scene is that people don’t really know how to work together, though. It’s like everyone wants to be the first to do it so it’s like gimme, gimme, gimme, and then push, push, push. But I think that if something positive pops off it’ll give these other artists an opportunity to showcase what they can do as well. But the scene out here is real dope.
What projects are you currently working on?
I actually have an album that I’ve done with the band (Lama Squad) that we’ve been sitting on for a little while. So hopefully here soon we’ll be able to put that out if the stars line up and the backing comes in like how it used to. Maybe within the next couple of months. I also just did an album with my brother and one of my other guys. It’s called Boardwalk Empire. I’m from Far Rockaway Queens so I grew up on the boardwalk and so it’s a play off of that. The album is crazy. It’s kinda like 90s hip-hop but modernized. It’s something real different. It’s straight lyrics and dope beats that’s real different than what’s goin’ on now. I’m hoping within the next month that’ll be out. But yea, August is gonna be a month where I’m getting back into it as far as getting these projects out, doing promotions, and doing a lot of shows.
Catch Namm at Mile High Jewelers on July 29th.
Find Namm Lama Squad music on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud