Swallow Hill Music hosts roughly 250 live music events each year. From the cozy confines of the Quinlan Café at our Yale Avenue home to the grand stages at Denver Botanic Gardens and the Arvada Center, 2016 provided many memorable musical moments.
We asked our staff members to share their favorite Swallow Hill, and favorite non-Swallow Hill concert of the year. Here, in their own language is how they replied.
Thank you for being part of a wonderful 2016, we cannot wait to get started in the New Year!
Hanna Ackerman, Associate Concert Director
Swallow Hill – José Gonzalez at Denver Botanic Gardens: This show, in all its extreme beauty, almost didn’t happen at multiple points along the way. It always happened just by the skin of our teeth, but damn, did it pay off.
Non-Swallow Hill – Now, you know that as a general rule, I actually don’t attend concerts any more unless I’m being paid to be there. However, I was not paid to go see Bret Sexton play at the Deer Pile this past Spring. I saw him with Becca Mahlek in a quartet consisting of an upright bass, drum kit, and not one, but TWO alto saxophones, playing the freest of free jazz and it was mind-meltingly good. Loud af in that space, but just…eons better than anything I get to hear on a weekly basis.
James Cook, Customer Service Associate
Swallow Hill – It was pretty early in 2016, but Joscho Stephan definitely still stands out as the coolest show I’ve seen at Swallow Hill. Easily some of the most talented musicians I’ve been within 50 feet of.
Non-Swallow Hill – Dang, this is a tough one. I have to give mention to Dick Dale at Ophelia’s since it was such a monumental artist for me to be in the same room with. I’m going to pick a dark horse though, in Phoenix-based Dance Punk group Playboy Manbaby. I was at the Underground Music Showcase, walking up South Broadway looking for somewhere to grab a beer, which inevitably was the Hi-Dive. The whole place is packed, watching a horn-section, full punk rhythm section, and one very eccentric lead singer twist around his mic cable. I only saw their last two songs and it was one of the funnest shows I’ve been to all year.
Lindsay Corbin, Volunteer Coordinator
Favorite Swallow Hill show would have to be Sweet B and Her Moonshine Gang at Four Mile Historic Park. It was a gorgeous day and her smooth voice singing some of my favorite classics was super fun. The energy was great and everyone was having a good time.
Favorite non-Swallow Hill show would have to be St. Paul and the Broken Bones, I could not stop dancing! A groovy band to back some major singing pipes.
Deidre Hamilton, Director of Development
I hate to not participate this year. On my concert gravestone, please quote: “Has toddler. Doesn’t get out.”
Steve Hearn, Customer Service Associate
Favorite Swallow Hill concert: case/lang/veirs at Denver Botanic Gardens. I went because I’m a fan of Neko Case, but had little idea of what to expect from the three of them as a group. I was blown away by the trio’s vocal presence and depth of original song-writing as a whole.
Non-Swallow Hill – Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on 9/3/2016. Seeing Phish live is an experience I partake in at every opportunity. It was easily the most blissful 2 1/2 hours of my 2016.
Brian Hunter, Chief Sound Engineer Sawtelle Recording Studio
Richard Shindell is my Swallow Hill pick. Everything was dialed in, the light scenes worked perfect, tight band, cool guitar tremolo, good night.
Black Sabbath is my non-Swallow Hill pick. It was a big rock show that looked & sounded cool. Ozzy’s singing was even good.
Meg Ivey Yon, Associate Director of Markeing
Swallow Hill – The Okee Dokee Brothers. It was my daughter’s first concert, and she loved it! It was fun to get to bring her to a show in Daniels Hall, a place that’s so special to me.
Non-Swallow Hill – Blind Pilot. I first saw them with my friend Nicole about 10 years ago in Louisville, KY. I was living there at the time, and Nicole was living in Huntsville. Now we both live in Denver and got to go to the show together! They were just as fun as we remembered.
Paul Lhevine, Chief Executive Officer
Swallow Hill – Sierra Hull was absolutely sublime – a truly gifted performer – Indigo Girls come in as a close second
Non-Swallow Hill – The California Honeydrops opened for The Motet this summer at Mishawaka Amphitheatre… It was great music in a great Colorado venue.
Ronda Loredo, Bookkeeper
My favorite show this year was Guster at Denver Botanic Gardens. I never know what kind of music my 11 year old will like, and she loved Guster. We even went down and danced by the stage! Mother-Daughter bonding through music…
Chris McGarry, Director of Outreach & Instruction
John Moreland in Daniels Hall: Seeing Moreland live forces us to take a break from our daily lives and stare down human existence in all of its tragedy and sadness. Instead of despair, Moreland’s songs remind us that there’s beauty hidden somewhere in this mess.
My favorite non-Swallow Hill concert of the year? Consequently, this is probably my favorite concert of all time. Patti Smith performing Horses in its entirety at the Moore Theatre in Seattle. A lesser artist performing their first album in its entirety might have felt like a nostalgia tour. Patti has never slowed down as an artist and this bombastic performance reminded us that Horses is a, living, breathing work of art that has transcends genre, generation and circumstance.
Michael John McKee, Outreach Coordinator and Chairman & Founder of the Swallow Hill Music Committee for the Wellness of Swallow Hill Music Staffers
Best Swallow Hill show: In / Planes at Tuft Theater. First time seeing those folks (who also play in Haunted Windchimes), and their delicate sound seemed powerful in that room.
Best non-Swallow Hill show: Sufjan Stevens at Paramount Theater. First time seeing him, and although a seemingly-awkward person, he brought everyone to the same emotional space, a visceral mix of despair and contentment.
Roger Menell, Director of Concerts
Favorite off-site – The Mavericks at Denver Botanic Gardens. I love it when dancing breaks out!
Favorite on-site – Indigo Girls. The room was vibrating with…good vibes!
Favorite non-Swallow Hill – Gregory Alan Isakov, Red Rocks. It was a lovefest. It’s great to see the local boy make good. It was a beautifully dynamic set thanks to tasteful orchestrations and deployment of special guests.
Barry Osborne, Marketing Manager
Swallow Hill – Dom Flemons’ show in Daniels Hall this fall stands out to me. I am always impressed with how he brings history to life in such a playful and poignant way. I also have to give a special nod to Kristin Hersh in the Café earlier this month. It’s so cool to see an artist in her element in such an intimate performance space. Finally, The Church and The Psychedelic Furs gave the Arvada Center faithful a wonderful evening of music, two sets of classic songs with nary a hint of the nostalgia trap.
My favorite non-Swallow Hill concert of the year was Julien Baker at the Bluebird Theater in August. I feel like Julien is on the cusp of greatness and it is exciting to catch an artist as they are coming into their own. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. Opener Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster opened the show, he is also an extremely gifted songwriter who is worth checking out.
Tracy Owen, Bar Manager
Swallow Hill – case/lang/veirs with Loch Lomond Band at Denver Botanic Gardens was a wonderful night! The weather was great, the crowd was lovely, the music was phenomenal, and the company (fellow Swallow Hillians) couldn’t be beat.
Non-Swallow Hill: Oh man. Gregory Alan Isakov at Red Rocks with members of the Colorado Symphony was one of the most technically beautiful shows I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t look away.
Dustin Perricone, Box Office Manager
Swallow Hill – case/lang/veirs at Denver Botanic Gardens
Non-Swallow Hill – Hiss Golden Messenger at the Bluebird Theater
Lindsay Taylor, Director of Marketing
Favorite non-Swallow Hill show: I went a little out of my folk-comfort zone this year and saw some incredible shows. Balkan Beat Box stands out as one of the top. For those who don’t know Balkan Beat Box, they are a group out of New York that has a worldly vibe (almost Klezmer at times) with hip hop undertones with a front man who sings and raps lyrics about social change. They create a dance party with fresh and innovative melodies and beats. The energy that they bring to their shows is infectious.
Favorite Swallow Hill shows: There are two concerts that stand out to me this year: Indigo Girls in Daniels Hall in November and Madeleine Peyroux at the L2 Church in July. I have seen the Indigo Girls more times than I can count, but seeing them in a 300-seat venue was unreal. It was a night to remember. I have long-been a fan of Madeleine Peyroux and had never seen her perform live. Unfortunately I got slammed with a killer head cold that blocked my hearing – but I persevered and went anyway. Even though I could barely hear, Madeleine and her band still blew me away. It’s amazing to see your idols on stage at the place where you work!