The Bands of Boulder’s 4th of July
As one of the bands themselves put it, music really sets the atmosphere for any event. We had the opportunity to talk with some of the bands playing at Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast and 4th on Pearl to hear directly from the musicians about who they are, why the 4th of July is a special event for them, and more! From The Voice contestants Beat Frequency, to the lively Hazel Miller Band, to a Colorado favorite Funkiphino, and the talented students at School of Rock, we can’t wait to hear the music that these bands will be playing as we celebrate. Take a look at these fun facts about each band, and why we’re looking forward to hearing them soon.
Started by Hazel Miller herself, the Hazel Miller Band is the only band that has played 4th on Pearl every single year for more than 12 years. Five of the eight band members are full time musicians, including Hazel. With band members’ ages ranging from 24-64, their range of musical interests is even wider. By accommodating all of the band members’ music interests and style, the result is an impressive variety: from their fan-favorite original songs to covers of classic songs by Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mack, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and more, they love to keep up the energy and even rearrange covers into their own, unique sound.
Prior to starting her own group, Ms. Miller toured with Big Head Todd for a number of years, playing on almost every continent. Despite where the band was touring at the time, she would always fly back to Boulder specifically to play for Bands on the Bricks on the 4th of July, before flying back to rejoin Big Head Todd. Touring all over the world with Todd was an amazing experience, but Ms. Miller realized she needed a career change when she visited her 2 year old granddaughter over the holidays. When Ms. Miller walked in, the little girl didn’t recognize her grandmother, and it was at that moment that Ms. Miller chose to quit touring and pursue her love of music in a way that would allow her more time with her family. While Ms. Miller still joins Todd occasionally for larger performances, the Hazel Miller Band was born and became her regionalized expression of the music she loves to play.
Today, The Hazel Miller Band mostly plays at regional festivals, weddings, and corporate events. While they’re glad to not have the burden and hassles of fame, she says they “always fit in because we do what we do best. We want to bring the audience in 110%. Get them dancing and singing along.” Ms. Miller loves Bands on the Bricks because of the lively, energetic audience. She says that this event envelopes everything that Boulder is about, and it couldn’t hold better memories for her. The band is bringing a lot of new songs specifically for the 4th of July this year, and she encourages the audience to bring water and flip flops ready for dancing because “We come to party.”
To start tapping your foot to their beat now, listen on their website!
Jessica Fischer, co-founder of Funkiphino, has wanted to play at Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast for a long time: “Anyone who has gone to CU and felt the energy of Folsom field knows that it’s special.” As a native of Colorado, Jessica made Boulder her home after attending CU Boulder. As a student, she had the honor of being drum major in the marching band and setting the tone for many Folsom Field games. She highlighted how much music shapes the atmosphere for any event, and Funkiphino is ready to bring all of their energy and excitement to the fireworks show for the first time.
Co-founders Jessica and Chris Fischer first met in a dorm room at CU. As their passion for music grew, and they began making connections with their fellow classmates, it was a natural next step to create their own unique band. Today, their group is comprised of long-term, passionate musicians who love to perform and who really care about their fans. The most memorable experience for the band was playing for the Denver Broncos Superbowl Party. As a band of all Coloradoans at heart, they felt honored and in awe to be able to usher the fans into the victory celebration. This hasn’t been the only huge performance for Funkiphino: they played at the 55th Presidential Inaugural Ball, VIP parties catering to Hollywood elites, and special events throughout the country.
Funkiphino has several CDs of their own original music, but they also love to cover songs. Live mashups, timeless songs from classic artists such as Stevie Wonder and Prince, and fan-favorite originals make up their engaging set list. Focusing on timeless, long-term favorites rather than music popular for just one summer, Jessica says their music “creates moments for other people” and Funkiphino is incredibly honored to be able to create moments for our audience at Folsom Field on July 4th. “The Boulder fans are just over the top wonderful,” says Jessica.
Listen to their music here!
Check out this live interview with Channel 8 here!
Music has always been an integral part of the lives of Beat Frequency founders Shawn Lewis and Natasha Neuschwander. After meeting in 1999, they dated for a while, but their music careers remained separate. One day they realized how well their voices worked together and started doing projects in the studio as a duet. As their music gained momentum, they decided to audition for a TV show.
After making it to the producer phase of America’s Got Talent and the bootcamp phase of X-Factor, Beat Frequency appeared on NBC’s The Voice Season 3, their fan base grew, and their first album, “Electrify,” was produced. While the duo’s previous albums were electro pop, they’re now focusing on breaking the music down acoustically to bring out their powerful voices. As they focus on song writing and showing more of their strengths, their style has been changing to accommodate their voices and the natural evolution of their sound.
Originally from Washington State, Shawn and Natasha moved to Colorado after being invited to become worship leaders for Flatirons Community Church. The church needed musicians who could handle the pressure and energetic, soulful performances their large audiences required. Shawn and Natasha were a natural fit - not only did they have the musical talent, but they had been working at a church in Vancouver, Washington for several years prior to moving.
One of their favorite songs to sing is the national anthem, which they will be performing live at Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast. While they noted that it’s one of the most critically watched performances, they don’t mind singing under pressure. “Practice, practice, practice,” Natasha said, “your emotions take over once you’re on stage, so muscle memory becomes key when performing live.” The 4th of July is a special holiday for them, and they want to represent Colorado well. They’re thrilled to be invited back, and are looking forward to the positive, energetic atmosphere at the show!
Check out some of their most recent music videos.
School of Rock Boulder is a music school dedicated to equipping musicians ages 7-17 with the skills, experience, and confidence to pursue their musical dreams and goals. The teachers come from a variety of professional music backgrounds and experiences, including knowledge in the recording industry, leading a band, touring around the country, and performing on TV shows such as The Voice. They emphasize the “song first” method of teaching so that students can get as much as possible out of their instrument as quickly as possible without have to study years of music theory first. Still, they don’t leave music theory off of the lesson schedule and have prepared students to go to top name colleges, such as Berklee College of Music, for music degrees. Despite the student’s goals, School of Rock is ready to enhance their musical education and focus on developing skills that they can’t practice on their own, like the challenges and discoveries of playing with a group.
Brian, the General Manager at the School of Rock Boulder, says that one of his favorite things is the conversations that he has with the kids’ parents. Many of the parents tell him about how attending School of Rock has improved their children's lives. The values – teamwork, comradery and friendship, to name a few – encouraged by School of Rock teachers have wide reaching affects. Not only do these values enhance their musical careers, but they help in all aspects of a child’s life, especially in their day-to-day encounters in elementary and high school. Because of these experiences and many more, Brian says working at the School of Rock is the most rewarding job he’s ever had.
While anyone can join the School of Rock, even if you don’t know what instrument you want to play, they also have an elite program for kids who want to take their skill set to the next level. The House Band is an audition only program that provides a group of roughly 15 kids with more practice and performing opportunities. All of the teachers have had professional music experience, which allows them to assess every performance opportunity and avoid pitfalls so that the students can focus on what it means to be professional musicians.
All students at the school perform locally at places like the Caribou Room in Nederland, the Lazy Dog, Fox Theater, and more, but the House Band performs at special events, including performances at Red Rocks, the Boulder County Fair, summer festivals, and Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast. Last year, playing at the fireworks show was a big deal for the kids. They were excited to see their own faces on the large monitors at Folsom field, lay on the field while the firework were set off, and sign autographs after the show!
Interested in taking a lesson? Find the details here!