The ‘lovechild of funky soul and dirty blues’

Boulder’s Cold River City step into the spotlight for their first headlining show at The Fox

courtesy of Cold River city
Nadia Mishkin | Boulder Weekly

Noah John Rondeau was a wellknown hermit of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate, rural New York. Rondeau, who said that he was “not wellsatisfied with the world and its trends,” began his hermitdom in 1929 at age 46, moving to a remote area in the Northeastern woods near Cold River, where he lived year round. He called himself the “Mayor of Cold River City, (Population 1).”

“He was a social hermit, though,” explains Emma Fields, lead singer of Boulder band Cold River City, which named itself in honor of Rondeau. “He would go into periods of seclusion and then would have people visit him. He even did outdoor conferences.”

Rondeau is also reputed to have serenaded any visitors to his wilderness dwelling on the violin, and in the absence of other people, he would play for the deer.

Cold River City — the band — has some things in common with the Adirondack hermit. For starters, they are their own tribe and define success as being able to play the music that they love. That nonconformist style provides a refreshing, original sound that is turning heads and making people dance. So much so that it will be playing its first headlining show at The Fox Theater on Thursday, April 3.

The band’s six members met while studying at the University of Colorado. They came from widespread musical backgrounds in blues, jazz, classic rock, hip-hop, punk and ska, bringing it all together to mold sounds rooted in funk and jazz into a style ranging from classic rock to hip-hop. The band calls it “the lovechild of funky soul and dirty blues.” Swanky harmonized vocals mesh with rapped lyrics over funky bass lines and bluesy slide guitar.

Bass player Austin Pacharz, who grew up in the Adirondack State Park before relocating to Boulder, passed on the story of Noah John Rondeau to his bandmates.

“We all just liked the story, but also really associated with it,” Pacharz explains. The members of Cold River City resonated with the tales of the outlandish, yet friendly and passionate character.

“We related to the story in the sense that our musical style is really different from a lot of other bands, and in a sense we seclude ourselves,” adds Brian Hubbert, guitarist and vocalist for the band.

The self-directed style has earned the band an enthusiastic following that is beginning to move from Colorado into the world at large. Cold River City played their first gig at an open-mic at Catacombs Bar on Cinco De Mayo in 2011.

“I wasn’t even 21 yet,” says Fields. “I had to have my parents walk me in, and as soon as we finished playing they threw me right out of there,” she chuckles. “It was awesome.”

That first show led to another low-profile concert on the rooftop of K’s China, a former college bar on The Hill. The same night, the band was invited to move their stuff downstairs and around the corner to play an impromptu set at the hidden bar behind Cosmo’s Pizza, the “no-name” bar, a fitting locale for selfproclaimed hermits. They began playing the venue every two weeks for several months, where they got noticed and picked-up shows at well-known locales such as Denver’s Cervantes’ and as opening acts at The Fox Theatre.

Cold River City is slowly but surely emerging from their shell into the spotlight and showing no signs of retreat. Since the 45-minute appearance at the basement bar’s open mic, the group has produced two EP’s and their first fulllength album Start a Change.

“All of us have college degrees and are working jobs way below our qualifications to get the flexibility and the things that we need to pursue the music,” explains Fields. “We are all working as hard as we can. It’s everything on the table to do this.”

This week’s headlining show at The Fox is close to a year after the band’s first time taking the stage at the local stomping ground in 2013.

“The fact that we are headlining The Fox is really exciting,” adds Pacharz. “It’s one of the best venues in the country — amazing sound system — and to think of all the people that I have watched play on that stage is amazing.”

“So much has happened in the last year,” says Fields. “We got on the road for the first time, bought a van and got out in the country. All of a sudden the scale has changed and everything just has really tumbled on.”