Q&A: The Lowest Pair on songwriting, life on the road and banjos
Episode 32, November 10- Julie and John Pennel
Maintenance Technician (he/him/his)
Originally from Southern California, Bryan moved to Colorado in 2010 and never looked back. He assists Jim in keeping the Swallow Hill building and surrounding property functioning smoothly, fixing what needs repairing, and performing preventative maintenance. Bryan is a lifelong musician, songwriter and audio engineer, and is glad to be able to blend his passion for music with his desire to work with his hands. When not making building improvements at Swallow Hill, Bryan can found performing in one of his bands, photographing wildlife, backpacking, and hanging out with his wife and kids.
First Concert: RX Bandits at The Glasshouse in Pomona, CA
What song could you listen to all day? “Passional” by Ruben Juarez
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Wherever the birds happen to be
Customer Service Associate (she/her/hers)
Leah is originally from Kansas City and moved to Denver in 2007 to be closer to the vibrant live bluegrass and Americana scene in this area. She recently left a 15-year career in healthcare to pursue a new journey in the arts and music industry. She has spent many years involved in nonprofit arts and cultural organizations working closely with the City of Louisville, where she currently lives with her husband, to promote funding for cultural activities and live music.
As a Customer Service Associate, Leah assists with school enrollment, day-of concert setup, building management, and general friendly assistance at the front desk. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, knitting, and collecting vinyl bluegrass albums.
First Concert: Whitney Houston
What song could you listen to all day? “Wrecking Ball” by Gillian Welch
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Town Park in Telluride!
Development Director (she/her/hers)
Before moving to Colorado three years ago from California, Allison served the Reagan Presidential Foundation for six years; from there, she managed the corporate, foundation, and major gift accounts for the United Service Organizations (USO). As Swallow Hill’s Development Director, she leads the development program to drive fundraising success and expand revenue channels while supporting a strong donor and membership program. Allison has a Bachelor of Arts in History from UCLA and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from CSU. During her free time, Allison can be found enjoying a glass of wine with her fiance Shane, trying a new restaurant around town, or spending time with family.
First Concert: Backstreet Boys
What song could you listen to all day? “Great Food” by Joey Pecoraro
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Durango, CO
Associate Concert Director (they/them/theirs)
Amy Lyn Howard originally hails from Rochester, NH. They have had a career anchored in justice, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion, recently transitioning from a 16-year career in higher education in 2021, and are currently a full-time PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program at Michigan Technological University. Amy is invested in the amplification of BIPOC, Queer, and Disabled artists within the Folk tradition. In Amy’s role as Associate Concert Director, they assist with background work to ensure shows happen with ease while also booking artists and producing concerts. Outside of their career and school pursuits, you can find Amy at a live music event, adventuring with their pup Wheezy F Baby, tinkering with one of 300 half-done art projects, road tripping across the US, or in their garden growing approximately too many vegetables.
First Concert: Bad Company with my mom in the 90s
What song could you listen to all day? “Everybody” by Mac Miller
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Fort Greene for drinks with pals; Akihabara Arcade for a fun late night out; hi-dive is my favorite venue besides Swallow Hill; 3 Girasoles for the best pupusas for take-out; the Historic Five Points neighborhood for street art; and my house because I love my new house ☺
School Program Manager (she/her/hers)
Kelsy grew up in Ames, Iowa and moved to Denver in the Fall of 2016. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Music Business, she started seeking out opportunities in Denver’s music industry and came across Swallow Hill. She started out on our customer service team before becoming the School Programs Manager. In her current role, she manages and supports the school registration system, development of school programs, and ensures that the needs of our students, teachers, and customer service staff are met. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs, checking out new breweries (and visiting old favorites), and hanging out in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.
First Concert: As a baby, her dad and aunt’s country rock band, Broken Bow
What song could you listen to all day? “Footsteps in the Dark” by The Isley Brothers
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Any outdoor patio in the sunshine on a 65 degree day (extra points if there’s a mountain view)
President and Chief Executive Officer (he/him/his)
Born in Ireland and raised in Ontario, Canada, Aengus is an artist, teacher, and arts administrator who previously worked for Folk Alliance International, the Ontario Arts Council, Community Futures, and Shelter Valley Productions. He toured North America for a decade as a singer-songwriter, releasing 3 albums, capping his career with a performance at the Kennedy Center. As CEO he is responsible for the long-term growth and development of Swallow Hill’s finances, team, programs, governance, partnerships, and profile. You can find him cycling, fostering cats, and sampling boutique distilleries when not at work.
First Concert: Paul Young
What song could you listen to all day? “The Downeaster ‘Alexa'” by Billy Joel
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Beacon
Café Manager/Customer Service Associate (she/her/hers)
Tracey is a Colorado native. She went to school to pursue studies in music, which she brings with her to Swallow Hill, alongside her love for community work and the concert industry. She wears multiple hats here that include managing Quinlan Cafe and our bar staff, supporting our merch program from design to sale, and supporting patron needs through her customer service. Outside of work, you can find her at a concert, the most fly-on-the-wall restaurants, or at home cooking soup and listening to the hottest tunes.
First Concert: Wonder Girls and 2PM @ Gothic Theatre 2012
What song could you listen to all day? “Mulberry Street” by Twenty One Pilots
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Tivoli Brewery on UCD campus!
Marketing Director (she/her/hers)
What song could you listen to all day long? “Can I Kick It” by A Tribe Called Quest
Favorite Denver (or Colorado) hangout? Anywhere on my paddleboard during the nice weather
Chief Operating Officer (she/her/hers)
Jessy was born in Denver, and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before finding her way back to Denver after graduating from college. She has been in nonprofit organizations her entire career, with the last ten focusing specifically on operations. She is responsible for revenue generation, programs, systems and IT, and ensuring the team has what they need in order to be successful. When Jessy isn’t working, she plays golf, camps and travels extensively. She has also learned to play several instruments (guitar, uke and bass) while working at Swallow Hill.
First Concert: Rod Stewart
What song could you listen to all day? “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Bluegrass and Bourbon in Olde Town Arvada
Catherine is originally from Fort Collins, Colorado. She grew up in a family where music was ever present, and helped everyone connect with each other and themselves. Prior to Swallow Hill, Catherine has worked in a variety of spaces, including research, government affairs, and other arts nonprofits. She is also a student at the University of Denver. Catherine primarily works at the Front Desk, helping and getting to know students, concert-goers, and whomever else comes through. She also contributes to the administrative day-to-day of the music school and other Swallow Hill programs. When away from work, Catherine enjoys going to live shows, reading, and time spent with her loved ones.
First Concert: Earth, Wind, & Fire
What song could you listen to all day? “Douss” by Yasmine Hamdan
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Bingham Hill Park (Near Fort Collins)
Belle was born and raised in Denver. She spent six years in Nashville where she studied songwriting and sociology at Belmont University. After graduating in 2020, Colorado called her home and back to Swallow Hill, where she had come to watch her one-man-band uncle play blues since she was a little girl. She is passionate about creating spaces where folks can find belonging, freedom, creativity, and fun, and is using her background in social understanding as the Assistant Customer Service Manager. Day to day, you can find Belle overseeing customer service team operations, scheduling building usage, and getting to know the folks who walk through the door each day. After work, she usually jets off to a yoga class, jogs around one of the many parks in Denver, or spends the evening cooking something yummy.
First Concert: The Jonas Brothers opening for the Cheetah Girls… yup…
What song could you listen to all day? Anything by Remi Wolf, however “Michael” is the favorite
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Fort Greene in Globeville or Bonnie Brae for the best ice cream
Facilities Manager (he/him/his)
Jim grew up in Toledo, Ohio, working in the family construction business since he was a kid. With a lifelong love of listening to and playing music, he continued to work in the trades after moving to Denver in 2004 – which was a perfect fit for the role as caretaker of the Swallow Hill building on Yale Avenue. Currently, Jim manages large-scale building renovation projects, takes on small-scale repairs, and occasionally moonlights as a sound engineer and teacher. When not at Swallow Hill, you can find Jim spending time with his partner and kids, at a concert, camping in Utah, or working on old trucks.
First Concert: Steely Dan, Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit Michigan, circa 1991
What song could you listen to all day? “Baby It’s You” by The Shirelles (a Burt Bacharach tune)
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Lakeside Amusement Park
School & Outreach Director (he/him/his)
Tyler is a “Denver Rock City” native and serves as our School & Outreach Director. In this role, he works with our teachers and staff to develop programming that fulfills the musical needs, wants, and desires of our current and future students to allow them to learn and engage in music. He was led to Swallow Hill through a few of the city’s other wonderful music and social justice nonprofits as well as his allegiance to Old Denver. When not at work, Ty is learning to be a dad, listening to dad rock, and playing in a cumbia dad band.
First Concert: The Rolling Stones
What song could you listen to all day? “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King'” By Edvard Grieg
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? “Where the zero meets the fifteen”
Michael grew up in Gering, Nebraska listening to fishing boats and cattle. After teaching abroad in China and Honduras, Michael moved to Denver to pursue music. In his role here at Swallow Hill, he manages our wide range of community outreach programs that bring music education and music therapy to the Denver metro region. These programs include, but are not limited to, school assemblies, music therapy, and after-school enrichment classes. Michael spends his spare time in art museums or his garden.
First Concert: Bela Fleck & the Flecktones at Chautauqua Auditorium in 2003
What song could you listen to all day? “Swing Lo Magellan” by Dirty Projectors
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Three Dogs Tavern
Customer Service Director (he/him/his)
Originally from Gastonia, North Carolina, David became a Denverite in 2003 and has called the DU area home since then. As Customer Service Director, he oversees Swallow Hill’s customer service team, Quinlan Café, volunteer program, and merchandise operations. David was a long-time Swallow Hill patron prior to joining the staff in 2019. Outside of Swallow Hill, David spends his time coaching baseball, skiing, and generally soaking up the outdoors.
First Concert: Matchbox Twenty
What song could you listen to all day? That’s a big commitment to put on paper.
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Salida, CO
Originally from central N.Y., Patty Jackson has called Westminster her home for the past 20 years. As the Volunteer Manager, Patty recruits, orients, trains, oversees the volunteers in a variety of roles across all departments including concerts and outreach programs. Patty’s varied career path has taken her on many adventures including Park Building and Maintenance, Youth Center Director, Hay Wagon Troubadour, Drug and Alcohol Counselor, and Activity Director with Seniors in Long Term Care Facilities. Patty is also a part time musician and has called Swallow Hill Music her unofficial home away from home. In her leisure time, Patty can be found camping, kayaking, singing in the Boulder Women’s Chorus, teaching a mighty band of ukulele and guitar players, playing board games, cooking, reading, playing with her bands in coffeehouses and bars, woodworking and attending live music events.
First Concert: Joan Baez
What song could you listen to all day? “Michigan” by The Milk Carton Kids
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Any body of water with the sun on my face
Membership & Individual Giving Manager (she/her/hers)
Lily was born and raised in North Carolina and moved to Colorado with her partner in 2019. She graduated UNC Asheville with a degree in Music Business. While at UNCA Lily worked as the Director of External Affairs at the student-run radio station, Blue Echo, booking and organizing concerts as well as an annual 25 band music festival. She has also worked in a variety of roles at numerous venues and festivals such as ARISE Festival (CO), Pot of Gold (AZ), Southland Ballroom (NC), and Red Hat Amphitheater (NC).
Lily manages all Swallow Hill Music membership related duties, donations, and development centered events. Outside of here, you can find her at home with her two cats, at a local concert, or on a (short and scenic) hike. She also enjoys practicing guitar, making collages and drawing, watching films, and playing video games.
First Concert: Weezer
What song could you listen to all day? Currently it is ‘Art-i-ficial’ by X-Ray Spex.
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? HQ and Dry Dock Brewing
Staff Accountant (he/him/his)
Samuel is originally from Abidjan, on the Ivory Coast. His background and experience in finance and accounting and his desire to serve communities brought him to Swallow Hill in 2022. He oversees the daily financial operations and transactions, produces weekly and monthly reports, runs the accounts reconciliations, and handles the general ledger and journal entries. When Samuel is not working, he enjoys spending time with family, playing soccer and basketball at Denver city park. He can also be found traveling and reading.
First Concert: Main Entrée – a Louisiana Band
What song could you listen to all day? “Dadju” by Va Dire A Ton Ex, a French singer
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Denver Botanic Gardens
Community Marketing Manager (he/him/they/them)
Barry hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has a background in libraries and daily journalism, including ten years at The Denver Post. He first came to Swallow Hill as a banjo student to help him destress from working in journalism. As Community Marketing Manager, he ensures that Swallow Hill is visible at offsite, community events. He works with musicians to promote their concerts, as well as media relations, and maintaining Swallow Hill’s archives.
A songwriter and banjo player, Barry performs solo, and with indie folk band Distance Walk. He loves building Lego kits with his son, listening to true crime podcasts with his daughter, and exploring the city with his wife.
First Concert: Depeche Mode at Summerfest in Milwaukee, 1990
What song could you listen to all day? “Deadbeat Club” by The B-52’s
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Pop-up events, things that happen once and never again. Denver’s a great town for that, you just have to look.
Associate Director, Early Childhood Education (he/him/they/them)
Born in the ancestral, occupied territories of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute and many other people now known as Denver, Colorado, Joshua Abeyta is the Associate Director of Early Childhood Education at Swallow Hill. After over a decade as a freelance educator and professional musician, Joshua stepped into this administrative role in 2021. He currently manages a team of 8 instructors and 21 partner schools, while looking to create new partnerships and expand the popular Little Swallows program. When he isn’t at Swallow Hill, you can find him performing as a solo act or with his bands Los Mocochetes and The Xisme. Otherwise, you may find him shooting pool, playing chess or foosball, rooting for the Avalanche, Nuggets, Broncos and, yes, even the Rockies, or plotting his next adventure beyond the horizon.
First Concert: Oddly, an Alan Jackson concert at Bandimere Speedway
What song could you listen to all day? Anything by Anthony Ruptak or The Copper Children
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Wherever the harmonies are
As our Sound Engineer, Brian runs live sound in the Daniels Hall and Tuft Theatre, where he has worked with acts like Tommy Emmanuel, Guy Clark, John Oats and Roger McGuinn. Brian has more than 20 years of experience in the studio and in concert settings. Formally trained in the art of sound recording, he studied music technology at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Industry Studies. Music recorded by Brian can be heard on countless local demo & CD projects, and even on regional radio and Grammy-nominated albums.
Concert Director (she/her/ella)
Bruce Trujillo is a Chicana from occupied Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe land, in what’s now called Colorado – raised on the Western Slope, and currently in Denver. Bruce has been working in community and public media since 2012, with a mission to work with, and amplify voices of those who are systematically excluded, with a focus on independent and locally made music and art. Bruce’s connections to local and national/international music led her to Swallow Hill Music in 2021, to continue working on providing equitable representation in the live music landscape, focusing on BIPOC, femme, disabled, and 2SLGBTQ+ artists.
At Swallow Hill Music, Bruce oversees the entire Concert Department, booking your favorite shows in the building, creating and maintaining community partnerships that highlight live music, and ensuring all guests – music creators and lovers alike – are excited to come back.
Outside of Swallow Hill, Bruce stays busy checking out live music across the country, hosting her radio shows on Indie 102.3 and other events around town, as well as spending time in community with family and friends (plus 2 very small dogs).
First Concert: NSYNC at Mile High, baby.
What song could you listen to all day? “You’re Dead” by Norma Tanega
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Somewhere in the San Juan Mountains
Chief Financial Officer (she/her/hers)
Kome joined the Swallow Hill team in 2018. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, she discovered her love for music while working for concert promoter Bill Graham Presents doing promotions and public relations for concerts. She transitioned into the art world and managed a gallery in Sausalito, California for seven years. Here, she was introduced to nonprofits when she was asked by the gallery owner to oversee the finances of her animal rescue. After leaving the art gallery, Kome immersed herself in the nonprofit sector by becoming the Finance Manager for a breast cancer and AIDS/HIV organization. Kome moved to Denver from San Francisco in 2016 and was able to combine her passion for music and nonprofit work at Swallow Hill. When she is not working you can find her relaxing at her tiny cabin in the woods, watching her sons play ice hockey and hanging out with her pup named Pickles.
First Concert: Beach Boys
What song could you listen to all day? “Accidente” by Making Movies
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Our tiny cabin in Southern Colorado
Digital Marketing Manager (he/him/his)
Daniel is originally from San Antonio, Texas and has been a musician since age 10. After studying music and journalism in college, he began a career in Digital Marketing and is grateful to now combine his passion for communication with his passion for music.
As the Digital Marketing Manager, he is responsible for spreading the joy of music by overseeing Swallow Hill’s social media, website, and email communications. When he isn’t working, you can find him playing guitar and viola in his band Chariots & Charioteers, running long-ish distances, or playing Dungeons & Dragons.
First Concert: Goo Goo Dolls & Counting Crows (when he was 10!)
What song could you listen to all day? “Bluebird” by Cory Wong
Favorite Denver/Colorado hangout? Golden Gate Canyon for hiking