About Face

Local a cappella heroes, Face, change it up for the holidays

Dave Kirby | Boulder Weekly



All right, so what if Ben Folds doesn’t get an invite; Face is closing in on another vocal-madness holiday gig at the Boulder Theater; part holy night, part holy crap, how do they do that?


Teetering on the brink of its second decade and firmly established as a local elixir of uncommon sparkle, Face isn’t spending too much time worrying about how Mr. Folds helped usher them off NBC’s televised Sing-Off thing last year, whining something about their Bon Jovi cover lagging a little on the chorus.

Pssh. They probably ended up getting the last laugh anyway.

“It’s been a really good year for us,” Ryan Driver told us recently.

“We probably got to springboard off the success of being on the ‘Sing-Off ’ about a year ago. We’ve gotten out of town a little more than usual, including a handful of out-of-town shows that we got specifically for being on that show. So it’s been cool … 70 or 80 shows this year.”

Having recently turned the odometer past 100 gigs, Face is now more or less the undisputed chronic house party at Nissi’s, but the holiday gig, now in its fourth season, migrates to the Boulder Theater next Wednesday and Friday nights.

“The fact that we only perform this music one month out of the year, and that we try to keep it fresh every year — bring in new holiday songs every year — means we pretty much dedicate all of October and November to preparing for these few shows,” Driver says.

But it’s worth noting that, apart from the stage charisma and local-hero rep that these guys exude by the bushel, there’s a keen quotient of serious work involved in arranging and rehearsing music for six voices. Yeah, they make it look easy, and once you’re good at it, it probably does follow the general outline that instinct traces for you. And true, this is a sympathetic audience — the Nissi’s crowd in large part, probably mingling with various factions of holiday-bedecked Boulder nightlifers in festive designer fleece.

But these guys take their craft very seriously — we wondered if the holiday gig represented anything like a yearly visit from some needy ghost of Christmas past, screwing up writing, arranging and rehearsal plans every year for the band’s regular gigs locally and out of town.

“October and November are generally pretty slow for us anyway,” Driver notes, “so it usually works out pretty well that we can spend most of those months preparing for this.

“But I mean it’s one of the few times in the year that we get to do something really different for a show. We don’t get too many opportunities throughout the course of the year — the other months of the year, the shows end up usually somewhat similar. We try to change it up, but it’s usually pretty close to our standard repertoire. December we get to do something totally different, and we look forward to that.”

You get the holiday gig at the Boulder Theater if you’re an institution, or however close you can come to it, but it occurs to us that singing is a uniquely individual expression, and at least from a rock band perspective, there’s usually one lead singer only because there’s … well, just one.

We asked Driver how the band has managed to keep six lead singers happy, contained within the band and not dashing off to do auditions for American Idol, at least over the course of the five or six years since their last personnel change.

“Well, to be fair about it, two of us have auditioned for ‘American Idol,’” Driver laughs, “and they didn’t want us, so it was back to Face.

“But, y’know, it’s a constant balance. Especially [since] four of the guys are married and have kids. Being away 70 or 80 nights a year, juggling all those schedules, it’s definitely a challenge. But the answer, ultimately, is that we love doing this so much that it’s worth the sacrifice.

“We all think it’s worth it.”

On the Bill

Face plays
the Boulder Theater on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and Friday, Dec. 17. Shows
start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14.50 for students, $20.25 for general
admission, and $26 for reserved seating. 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-

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