folk rock / americana | Denver, Colorado

Latest

Meet the members of The Belle Jar: JJ Chamberlain

JJ

Hometown?
Arlington Heights, Illinois

Favorite movie?
Wayne’s World

What was the first CD you owned?
Weezer’s Blue Album, followed quickly by Alanis Morrisette and Presidents of the United States of America

Favorite food?
Oh jeez, that’s not fair. All of it?

Favorite adult beverage?
Black Butte-Hard Root Beer Ice Cream Float. I just made that up but doesn’t it sound fantastic? Maybe some whiskey in there too just to make sure it works.

In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice and why?
Winter. I don’t think zombies can survive a winter. End of the World Party in Canada!

What was the first song you learned how to play on your instrument?
“Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, I think.

Best book you’ve read recently?
Siddartha by Herman Hesse, but I read that twice a year.

Favorite venue to play in Denver?
Hi Dive!

What is your spirit animal (and why)?
I’m not sure my spirit animal. My brothers say my Indian name is Soaring Eagle. I feel like I’m more of a Chupacabra.

What Denver band have you been listening to the most?
Poet’s Row. Strange Americans. Red Fox Run.

Favorite thing about rockin’ out in a folk rock band?
All the friends I’ve made! You’re all beautiful!

Hear the fat (or phat…whichever) beats JJ throws down on our new album Union Station.

Meet the members of The Belle Jar: Miss Emily Rose Lewis

Emily Lewis

Hometown?
Manhattan, KS

Favorite movie?
Toss up between Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen)

What was the first CD you owned?
Fiona Apple – Tidal

Favorite food?
Ice cream

Favorite adult beverage?
Three way tie between Mountain Sun Brewery’s Annapurna Amber, Moscow Mule, Mojito

In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice and why?
Crossbow. Ninja-like stealth and quickness, and I don’t have to get too close to a zombie to use it. Gross.

What was the first song you learned how to play on your instrument?
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Best book you’ve read recently?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Favorite venue to play in Denver?
The Walnut Room

What is your spirit animal (and why)?
Dragonfly. Or the Owl. Depending on if I feel like being the bringer of life or the bringer of death (See the zombie apocalypse question).

What Denver band have you been listening to the most?
Strange Americans

Favorite thing about rockin’ out in a folk rock band?
The fiddle works well and isn’t obliterated by other instruments. How many successful death metal violinists have you heard of?? Also, I still have my hearing intact after a show!

Hear Emily’s beautiful violin parts on our new album Union Station. Find it on iTunes and Bandcamp.

Reasons We Love the Denver Music Scene

There are more reasons than we can even type out about why we love the Denver music scene so much. But one of those reasons is that there are always great shows to go to. Tonight, for instance, there are at least three. I highly recommend any of the three:

1) Folk rocker extraordinaire Anthony Ruptak is playing tonight at Merchant’s Mile High Saloon with one of the best indie rock bands in Denver, Red Fox Run. Here’s a video of Anthony.

2) The anthemic dark folk rock/Americana band Two Tone Wolf Pack will be tearing it up tonight at The Oriental Theater along with our lovely and talented friend Chella Negro and some other great bands. Here’s a video from Two Tone’s recent in-studio performance at OpenAir.

3) Our buddies in The CASE will be rockin’ the house at Bannock Street Garage.

So the question tonight isn’t “Am I going to go to a show” but “Which show am I going to?”

Also, mark your calendars for a couple upcoming Belle Jar shows:
Feb. 15 at Rocky Mountain Sound Garden w/ Bear Antler and The Jane Thatcher Band
Feb. 22 at Merchant’s Mile High Saloon w/ Drew Schofield and Stang Gappa

[post by Matthew]

From Then to Now

Hello, friends.

Ryan and AndyWelcome to the new band blog! The Belle Jar really doesn’t have much of a blogging history to date, so this shouldbe fun…in moderation, of course. Everything in moderation. I think I did a  blog post when Fall Systems Go (download it for free here) finally got done, but that was back when it was a solo project, so it may as well have just said, The album is done. What do I do now?

Move ahead to 2012, and we’ve got all this fancy social media stuff that Matthew has set up since he’s been in the band. The Belle Jar Facebook page, for example, transformed from essentially nothing into something light-years beyond my comprehension in its awesomeness. No joke. It was only about a month ago that I personally figured out how to “officially” invite people to shows via Facebook. This should tell you everything you need to know about how much I have contributed to the Belle Jar social media upgrades.

As for the band, there are six of us Belles now.

In order of appearance, Matthew came first. Matthew possesses several useful skills. He plays bass, sings harmonies, and makes people hear of the band via computer machines and telephones.

I met JJ next. The first thing he did was write a flattering review of Fall Systems Go for the new G to C Magazine. And as it turned out, he also played drums. Both effectively and with all kinds of energy. He became the full-time drummer not too long after that.

Show with Kathryn CalderBoth Andy and Courtney showed up last November…just in time to help us open for Kathryn Calder at Larimer Lounge. Also a member of New Pornographers, Ms. Calder was on tour supporting her new solo album, which had been getting lots of time on NPR and such. Not a bad first gig, I’d say. Incidentally, Andy and Court both possess the rare ability to come up with great parts that I never would have stumbled across on my own. Never. Andy does it on the guitar, Court does it on the violin, the keys, and the accordion.  That’s great, because arguably the hardest part of collaborative song-building is trying to explain with words what you’re hearing in your mind, mostly while using phrases that don’t actually mean anything. Phrases like, “I’d like to hear something a little less bouncy and a little more wistful.”

Finally, we found Emily Rose Lewis to play some sparkling violin while Court was in London this past summer doing England stuff. I don’t exactly remember how we convinced Em to join us on a more permanent basis, but I’m glad we pulled it off. As if we weren’t already having a great time…

As for the new album, Union Station, we are aiming for an early spring release. In the meantime, we will be fundraising and recording. Check back soon for more news and updates, and come see us live on December 17 at Larimer Lounge with Kopecky Family Band!

[post by Ryan]

photos by Dan Shargel

Filming, downtown Denver, acting the fool

Well, despite to eating too much food and drinking too much beer over Thanksgiving, we managed to get some filming done  for our soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter campaign. We’re raising money for our upcoming album Union Station, which we’ve been writing and rehearsing songs for over the past several months.

For the video, we got to wander around downtown Denver with our filmmaking friend Vadim to get some we’re-trying-to-look-cool-walking-across-this-bridge band shots and whatnot. He’s a pro, so I know he’ll make us look good. I also snapped a few photos while we were wandering around downtown, which you can check out here.

We will be releasing a demo version of the title track “Union Station” soon – but in the meantime, you can listen to some live versions of songs that will be on the new album.

[post by Matthew]