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Colorado Sound Music Awards: meet the 2024 nominees

colorado sound music awards 2024 nominees main graphic
Meet the nominees of the 2024 Colorado Sound Music Awards, brought you by Initial Capacity and the Lazy Greyhound Cocktail Lounge!

We’re thrilled to announce the 3rd annual Colorado Sound Music Awards! Spend some time getting to know each of this year’s incredible nominees.

Below are profiles of each nominee, all of whom are active Colorado musicians, bands, or organizations. All profiles are written by Adam Perry

When you’re ready, cast your vote in each of the five categories.

Congrats to all who were nominated this year!

colorado sound music awards on the rise 2024 nominees category
Clockwise from top middle: 2MX2, Dead Pioneers, the Trujillo Company, Julian Fulco Perron, Jesus Christ Taxi Driver

On the Rise

These Colorado bands and musicians are getting noticed, gaining traction, and actively growing their audience. 


“Spanglish Latin alternative pop-rock hip-hop” might be a mouthful, but Colorado’s diversely potent 2MX2 is a band with a mission. The group could blow the roof off a packed club in the Caribbean, captivate rock audiences with guitar-driven Latin alt-pop, or simply uplift your morning drive with its window-shaking beats and sharp rhymes. 2MX2 rotates between Spanish and English with a swift-moving, dance-inducing cauldron of intelligent and infectious music, always with a finger on the pulse of where its members, some of whom were born in Mexico, are from as well as who they’ve become and where they want to be. 2MX2’s breakneck gem “Elegante” put the Denver act on the map back in 2019, and a slew of memorable singles since then (touching on social and political issues with both fire and flavor) have warmed fans of the three-frontperson sensation up as they wait for a follow-up to 20:12, the experimental, embryonic album that birthed 2MX2 over a decade ago.

Dead Pioneers

Dead Pioneers is the brainchild of indigenous activist and spoken-word artist Gregg Deal, who’s showing Colorado rockers that there’s not much more punk than reminding us that “America acts like its original inhabitants are foreigners.” From its blazing first track, “Tired,” Dead Pioneers’ debut self-titled album, which dropped last year, mixes Anti-Flag-style punk rock with the notion that history won’t hurt you; it’ll only make you stronger, if you’re open to it. On “We Were Punk First,” referencing a phrase coined by Native artist and activist Walt Pourier, Deal says that “means we were here all along,” and more and more people in Colorado and beyond are listening to what his powerful band has to say. The group recorded Dead Pioneers at the Blasting Room in just two days, and it’s been a smash on Spotify since its release, garnering interest from noted punk labels; somewhere between Pennywise and Rage Against the Machine, Dead Pioneers makes every ferocious moment meaningful.

The Trujillo Company

The Trujillo Company, a sludgy blues-rock band that debuted in 2018 as a hard-charging Denver duo, isn’t technically a family band, but the moment Mike Trujillo (vocals/guitar) and Leny Trujillo (drums) jammed together they felt like musical brothers, on stage and writing songs together. Bassist Mark Hibl joined in 2021. The Trujillo Company’s first longplay as a trio, last year’s 4 Arrows, is billed by the band as big, heavy tunes for “all the Latin kids out there who want to rock,” but the group’s meaty, crunchy sound is chewable for any discerning music lover. A recent set for the Denver Sessions series, available on YouTube, shows off the Trujillo Company’s thick, inviting grooves and dark lyrics, but this music is meant to be felt in person.

Julian Fulco Perron

Equal parts funky, eccentric, and downright weird, Julian Fulco Perron’s silky, lo-fi music is impossible to categorize. His bouncy 2023 single “Burnout, Baby” could get strangers at a house party dancing close, with velvet harmonies, delightfully cheesy synthesizers and tongue-in-cheek horns juxtaposing thick ’70s beats and Perron’s honeyed vocals, which succeed in his mission to fall somewhere between Elton John and Tame Impala. Full-length releases Dreamland (2020) and In My Garden (2022) executed Perron’s dreamscaped, funky vision of jangly rock masterfully, but the Denver-area singer-songwriter’s three 2023 singles hint at something even more ambitious on the horizon. Put on a Jamiroquai album at the wrong speed and play a Tangerine Dream record at the same time, and you might be on the same wavelength as Julian Fulco Perron, getting your slow-paced psychedelic groove on.

Jesus Christ Taxi Driver

Born from the ashes of the Beeves, a Boulder act that rose with the help of one of its heroes, Nate Cook of the Yawpers, Jesus Christ Taxi Driver — which just released its debut album — is a family band starring brothers Ian and Will Ehrhart (vocals/guitar and drums, respectively). Inspired in large part by a Christian upbringing he’s still recovering from, big brother Ian’s deceptively complex songs feed a stew of blues, classic rock and wild punk with a side of simultaneously traumatized and sarcastic, sometimes hilarious bombast. Featuring Colin Kelly of Augustus on lead guitar and a rotating cast of bassists that includes all-world talent Emma Rose, Jesus Christ Taxi Driver is known more than anything for its positively explosive and sometimes unhinged live shows, that often feature Ian duckwalking in the crowd within moments and — at the Aggie Theatre during this last FoCoMX — found him eating a cigarette..

colorado sound music awards colorado spirit 2024 nominees category
Clockwise from top middle: Big Head Todd and the Monsters, DeVotchKa, Youth on Record, Swallow Hill Music, Planet Bluegrass

Colorado Spirit

Nominees in this category are uniquely part of ‘the spirit and soul’ of our extraordinary state. The artists grace stages around the world, while the organizations support and strengthen our incredible community. 

Big Head Todd and the Monsters

To some music lovers around the United States, Big Head Todd and the Monsters – formed in Boulder in 1986 when its members were attending the University of Colorado, having previously attended Columbine High School – might be known as the one-hit wonder that struck gold in 1993 with “Bittersweet” and famously backed blues legend John Lee Hooker on a 1997 version of his classic “Boom Boom.” For Coloradans, though, Big Head Todd and the Monsters is a Red Rocks staple synonymous with blues-rock in the Centennial State, a super-talented, hard-working road warrior of a band. Their 1993 album Sister Sweetly did go platinum, but that was by no means a career peak, as they band has stayed powerful and relevant for almost 40 years – playing the Broncos’ most recent Super Bowl parade, for instance, and collaborating with fellow Colorado-music keystone Hazel Miller on the unforgettable single “Hard Time Come Again No More” in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across a dozen studio albums and half a dozen scorching live albums, Big Head Todd and the Monsters has represented Colorado boldly and with continued relevance all these bluesy years.


Nick Urata is a New York City native, but it was seeing Jane’s Addiction in Boulder on the Nothing’s Shocking tour in 1989 that married his love of western-movie soundtracks and old-time Italian music with ambitious, passionate rock music and set him on a course for orchestral Gypsy romance with DeVotchKa. The group is now a Colorado institution that’s brought Urata’s wide-ranging love of Eastern European folk music, crooning love songs, and danceable rock to audiences all over the word, from jam-packed theaters and festivals to symphony halls. DeVotchKa got its start when long-defunct Colorado groups like Baldo Rex had Boulder music lovers bouncing off the walls, but Urata and company survived all these years by crafting a signature, inimitable sound and showcasing it in major movies as well as major venues. Despite not releasing a full-length album since 2018, and Urata spending much of his time doing movie and TV scores in Los Angeles, DeVotchKa is still firmly one of the most iconic Colorado bands in history.

Youth on Record

Denver’s Youth on Record, founded in 2008, does it all – its 7-year-old recording studio is a home base for independent bands and part of a 4,000-square-foot Youth Media Studio that’s the “anchor tenant” of a mixed-income residential and commercial community. Youth on Record lifts the Denver music community up year after year by giving vulnerable youth a chance to express themselves and even build careers through access to not just creative outlets but DIY work ethic. With at-risk youth busy passionately writing, playing, performing, recording, and even producing music, there’s little time to get in trouble, and Youth on Record works with local schools, the Denver Housing Authority, and seemingly countless local organizations to tackle discrimination, gang-related activities, truancy and substance abuse through a battle against social, political, and economic injustice fought with instruments and voices.

Swallow Hill Music

Based in Denver, Swallow Hill Music is a relatively small Colorado nonprofit with a big heart and a big impact. Founded in 1975, Swallow Hill — a Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee — provides music education for kids from 1 to 92, offering everything from music therapy and preschool music-related outreach to in-person and virtual lessons for musicians looking to grow their ability from beginner to professional in a wide variety of genres. Swallow Hill also puts on exciting concerts every year at the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Butterfly Pavilion, and many other local spots, including its own Swallow Hill location, which features three distinct listening rooms that can host everyone from relatively unknown local singer-songwriters to well-known national band. For over 40 years, Swallow Hill has sought to “build community through music performance, education and outreach,” and the spirit they operate with is not only infectious but mighty.

Planet Bluegrass

Planet Bluegrass was literally under water just a decade ago, ravaged by flooding and in danger of effectively ending the decades-long runs of Rockygrass and Folks Fest – not to mention countless stand-alone concerts – at the Colorado institution’s sprawling festival grounds in Lyons, Colo. The location wound up surviving not just flooding but the COVID-19 pandemic, and both Rockygrass and Folks Fest have soldiered on – as well as the 50-years-running Telluride Bluegrass Festival, also put on (since 1988) by Planet Bluegrass. However, even though its website is bluegrass.com, the company isn’t all about bluegrass: Folks Fest headliners have included disparate groups like Los Lobos and St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Telluride Bluegrass—considered by many the crown jewel of American bluegrass festivals—was once headlined by David Byrne. ‘Colorado spirit’ can be found not just in the tens of thousands of people who pack the fairgrounds in Lyons and Telluride for the headliners at Planet Bluegrass’ festivals, but also in the homegrown artists who sometimes go from young fans and Song School regulars to main stage stars.

colorado sound music awards outstanding stage presence 2024 nominees category
Clockwise from top middle: 2MX2, iZCALLi, Swashbuckling Doctors, N3ptune with Rusty Steve, Los Mocochetes

Outstanding Stage Presence

These bands and artists have incredible presence, captivating audiences every time they perform live. 


Anyone who witnessed 2MX2’s powerful performance at Washington’s during this year FoCoMX remembers a three-frontperson sensation getting the packed venue to dance, sing along, and raise fists in solidarity with the band’s mega-conscious lyrics. Intermittently firing machine-gun-fast Spanish and English raps and breathing hard-rock fire with reggaeton flavor, 2MX2 blends guitar, bass, and drumkit with percussion and smatterings of electronica. “Making waves in Spanglish” is 2MX2’s self-stated mission, and with its brash, outspoken take on sounds sprung from all over Latin America to the streets of Denver and back, this vital local band is one that can make the hearts and feet of any audience move


Led by talented siblings Miguel and Brenda Aviña (vocals/guitar and vocals/bass, respectively), the mighty iZCALLi delivers volcanic Latin-tinged hard-rock shows all over the Front Range every year, with beautiful original songs alternating between Spanish and English and sky-high energy from every inch of the stage. iZCALLi has rocked just about every notable Colorado stage, big and small, and is a notoriously difficult act to follow. “Latin rock” is a ridiculously myopic description for what the wide-ranging band does, often building upon its exciting and original tunes — anchored by the core members’ bass, guitar, and drums — with a plethora of incredible auxiliary musicians who are well-known in the area and make a magical monolith of iZCALLi on stage. The group’s “immigrant song,” as inspired by its Mexican roots as the classic rock of Led Zeppelin and the alt-rock of the ’90s, is an unforgettable live attraction.

Swashbuckling Doctors

“Swashbuckling Anthem,” from Swashbuckling Doctors’ 2014 album Side Effects May Include…, lays out the energetic Fort Collins ska band’s truly strange, cosmic mission, like an eccentric FAQ: “Sailing to the cursed shore…We’ll do battle with the hipsters, ‘cause they never call us Mister…and you know we would defeat them, but we sold our last guitar.” The Doctors say they’re “sure to cure you of affliction with a healthy dose of ska,” and the group’s live shows sure deliver. The group, which debuted in 2010, is about to unleash its fourth studio album, Work By Day, Skank By Night, and its searing recent FoCoMX show, which propelled concertgoers to dance in the freezing cold, provided all the evidence we need that the Doctors, not unlike the Aquabats, have crashed into our planet to throw a very fun and very weird party.


N3ptune is an enthralling queer-positive artist bent on taking the guilt, rage and repression of being raised in the Baptist church and “letting judgment take its course and hitting you where it hurts,” to paraphrase his powerful gospel-tinged R&B-meets-rock song “Black Horse.” As for stage presence, N3ptune is a one-man Denver Fashion Week, with creative, beautiful bondage-tinged punk-meets-hip-hop outfits and a mission of bottling the energy and passion of the most fervent churches in America and spitting it back in the face of assimilation and conformity. Collaborating most frequently with guitarist and co-producer Rusty Steve, N3ptune is arresting and captivating on his albums—like a dramatic Michael Jackson such as “Dirty Diana” if it had included desperate personal messages about suicide, race, childhood trauma, gender fluidity and more—but on stage he’s larger than life. A few years ago, N3ptune, who is now in his late 20s, told 5280 Magazine “I will be one of the greatest artists of all time…cutting edge, something we’ve never seen.” Well, he’s gaining momentum all over the U.S., and every moment of a N3ptune show definitely provides something we’ve never seen..

Los Mocochetes

Los Mocochetes concerts are a cross between a raging party and a peaceful but fierce political protest. “Chicano funk” doesn’t begin to describe the power of the Denver group, which is active in the community and has even produced a play, courtesy of longtime bandmember Diego Florez-Arroyo, whose Cuauhtémoczin – a mythological impressionist play – was put on last year with the help of Control Group Productions and MCA Denver. Florez-Arroyo and his talented mates embody the word “band,” offering audiences a smorgasbord of poetry, activism, acting, rapping, dancing, rocking, and grooving, proudly offering music they liken to a machete, “which can be used either as a tool to build or a weapon to kill.” For almost a decade, Los Mocochetes — with members from Mexico, Denver and all over the U.S. — has chosen to use their musical tools to build community, and get audiences moving both literally and politically, winning local awards for their music and playing concerts of all kinds, from donating countless performances benefiting charities and grassroots organizations to slaying headlining slots.

colorado sound music awards outstanding secret ingredient 2024 nominees category
Clockwise from top middle: 7S Management, Blast N Scrap, Wes Watkins, Travis Albright, FoCoMA

Outstanding ‘Secret Ingredient’

Not every player in a band is out front. This category celebrates some of Colorado’s ‘secret ingredients,’ from exceptional musicians to people behind the scenes or helping artists create their best work.  

7S Management

Among fledgling, up-and-coming and even mid-level Colorado bands, 7S Management is spoken about in hushed tones backstage, while saddled-up at scene-making bars, and surely at countless band practices, too. Known mainly for handling global star act Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, 7S also manages many other popular, respected American mainstays, such as Dinosaur Jr., Galactic, Lucerom and Mary Chapin Carpenter. In addition, 7S also handles skyrocketing heavies like the Velveteers and even manages the estates of John Denver, Etta James, and Bobby Darin. The musically diverse roster at 7S is impressive, but maybe what’s most amazing is how the small company seems to just run things the right way for so many artists and then stand back, with just one short sentence on its website and almost no social-media presence. Several colleagues split from Red Light Management about a decade ago to form 7S, a successful boutique proudly formed and still based out of Denver, and the result has been one hell of an ongoing ride — one that many musicians hope to jump on.

Blast N Scrap

Based in Fort Collins, the nonprofit music-industry resource Blast N Scrap provides knowledge, wisdom, and myriad support to young and up-and-coming musicians with workshops and performance opportunities, keeping an eye on important issues like social inclusion and environmental activism in the arts. Blast N Scrap’s executive director, Michael Gormley, and his team are hoping to assemble a full-time, year-round paid staff and their own stand-alone music venue. For now, the FoCo institution is a life preserver for the DIY community, offering consistent educational and career opportunities of many kinds, such as a pop-up venue, access to instruments, music-industry workshops, community projects, and a plethora of always-necessary resources for musicians who want to take a leap forward but don’t have a financial safety net from family or a record label. Along with supporting DIY entertainers, Blast N Scrap saves lives by providing free naxolone, fentanyl test strips, and condoms at all of its events

Wes Watkins

Wes Watkins — his musicianship, his stage presence, his fashion sense, his conversations with anyone and everyone before and after gigs, and his overall infectious vibe — have been ubiquitous in Colorado over the last decade. There is seemingly no relevant local artist Watkins has not jammed with on trumpet, and he has continually pulled live audiences in with his funky, rootsy, inspired performances leading the Other Black and his eponymous projects, with songs he says “focus on creating empathy and understanding of moral, social, and civil dilemmas.” But Watkins is also a profound teacher, activist, and all-around artist as well as a musician and entertainer. It’s hard to call someone a “secret” when there are murals of him in the Mile High City and pictures of him in its tourist office, but for someone who is revered on so many stages so often, it’s almost like the secret about the talented and charismatic Watkins is that his true self is hiding in plain sight.

Travis Albright

As executive director of the nonprofit Future Arts Foundation, Travis Albright puts together the Bluebird Music Festival, whose first edition took place at Macky Auditorium in Boulder in the spring of 2018. He’s busy all year raising money for music education, though — putting together shows that match national stars like Margo Price and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy with Colorado greats to make sure kids in need, and musicians affected by disasters like the Marshall Fire, have access to instruments. Albright founded the Future Arts Foundation in 2014, and it has brought millions of dollars to the Boulder County economy, and to the effort to provide musical instruments. Albright and the Future Arts Foundation are now also presenting a quarterly dinner-and-a-concert series in Boulder called Bluebird Supper Club, offering world-class music and Colorado cuisine. Albright, a Pennsylvania product, is a joy to work with, a hardcore Pittsburgh Steelers fan now firmly planted in Colorado with his family, and a beam of light for organizing the Future Arts Foundation’s annual menu of money-raising musical goodness


To hear the Fort Collins Music Assocation (FoCoMA) tell it, supporting “all Northern Colorado musicians in our community through networking, education and events because music changes lives” is the simple, no-nonsense description of FoCoMA’s mission, and its effect on the region. But take a walk around Fort Collins during the annual sprawling, unforgettable FoCoMX festival and you’ll struggle to find enough words to say how giant, how amazing of a community impact FoCoMA has on the city – which has one of the best, most sustainable and supported music scenes on earth in large part because of what FoCoMA does. Live-performance opportunities, networking and wellness programs for musicians all year, every year; rehearsal and recording resources; music-industry parties; management-advisory meetings; and even complimentary dental clinics make up just a fraction of what FoCoMA offers. The only thing better than realizing the positive power of FoCoMA on the region is donating to it.

colorado sound music awards write in 105.5 miles 2024 category

Colorado Artist You’d Drive 105.5 Miles to See

Who is your all-time favorite Colorado band or musician? Who would you drive many miles to see play live?

This is a write-in category, so the field is wide open. The artist or band must be based in Colorado and be actively working right now. One vote per person, please.  

When you are ready, cast your vote right here for the 2024 Colorado Sound Music Awards! Voting closes Aug. 16, 2024, and information on the award ceremony is coming soon.

The 2024 Colorado Sound Music Awards are brought to you by: 

Initial Capacityinitial capacity colorado sound music awards sponsor
The Lazy Greyhound Cocktail Lounge

Related pages:

Colorado Sound Music Awards 2023 – meet last year’s winners and see photos from the award ceremony

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