When I think of the heart and soul of pure American music, a few places and songs immediately come to mind. The first thing that pops into my head is usually a verse and the chorus of the great Paul Simon song Graceland. Even though it was recorded in South Africa and the rhythm section was composed entirely of South Africans, the traveling Johnny Cash drums, the minor chords and the sparse and haunting guitar lick all scream mid-50’s Sun Records and an era that brought the sound of the blues, the original Americana, to the white masses via Nashville, via Graceland, via Elvis.
Elvis took the Blues and sang it with a country twang, but no one embraced the true essence of the blues and then elevated it the way Stevie Ray Vaughn did. He drew on all of the great aspects of the American electric blues revolution, and then made them his own, bringing a flood of inspirational music down in Texas that would memorialize and imprint Austin’s blues scene into the greater American consciousness.
Am I really comparing Fort Collins to these to two capitals of not only American music, but of contemporary music worldwide? I guess not, but they came to mind while I was squeezed into standing room only at Moe’s BBQ, face melting from Ansel Foxley’s blazing electric dobro and the tempestuous vocal musings of Rosewood Divine’s Ali Paine. Honestly, this was a warm-up act slot and one of the smaller venues for FOCOMX (Fort Collins Music Experiment), or what is sometimes referred to as South X Fort Collins, but they were absolutely brilliant and I was thinking to myself, “is this just the beginning?!”
Maybe it was the fact that some of the members of Rosewood Divine had just come off of long stints in Nashville, honing their skills before bringing them to the Fort. Maybe it was the fact that though it’s not an exact replica, FOCOMX is definitely rooted in Austin’s tradition of having some smoking electric blues guitar escaping from every storefront in town, but damn it felt real. It felt like there was so much talent bubbling up on the streets of Downtown FC that these premier musicians were just one of 20 other bands lighting up every inch of bar floor space within a mile or two radius.
By the time I made it full circle, to the Aggie, to catch once again Ansel Foxley channeling Derek Trucks on the slide guitar for Patti Fiasco, followed by the preaching of Monkey Paws, as Musketeer Gripweed brought down the house well into the wee hours of the night, I was convinced. How notable, I’m not sure, but there was no question that I had just witnessed the upshot of a musical renaissance in the wildlands of Northern Colorado. If you’re not already – it’s time to start paying attention.