B-Side Fridays spin again in virtual format

Indie 102.3, MCA partner to highlight local musicians

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Ask anyone what they’re missing most this summer, and the responses will be as varied as the residents of the city. But there’s one answer that’s bound to pop up over and over — live music.

Sarah Baie, director of programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, understands that feeling, especially since B-Side Music Fridays, the museum’s summer rooftop concert series, has become a favorite for local musicians and audiences alike.

“Ask fans of live music and they’ll say the biggest sacrifice is not being able to gather in the same space,” she said. “We’ve been working on how to fund new opportunities to build creative spaces in virtual spaces, and one of the things we want to bring to light is the rich depth of the music scene. And who better to do that with than Colorado Public Radio, which has a similar goal? It’s a dream come true.”

Together the MCA and CPR’s Indie 102.3 — an independent platform that focuses on Colorado-based music, musicians and experiences — will be bringing the B-Side Music Fridays to audiences online and via the airwaves with its new virtual version, which will be aired Fridays in July and August.

“We were looking for a way to go beyond what we normally do, especially since we can’t do live music, so this came along at just the right time,” said Willobee Carlan, program director at Indie 102.3. “This allows us and the musicians to reach a wider audience than can fit on the museum’s rooftop.”

The musicians will perform on the MCA’s roof, just like if this were a normal summer, and it will be livestreamed on Indie 102.3’s Facebook page at 7 p.m., broadcast on the radio at 9 p.m. and then available online, including on the NPR Music Live Sessions platform, for a national audience.

Performers include Esmé Patterson, The Yawpers, Adiel Mitchell, Ella Luna, Neoma and The Grand Alliance.

“We’ve got it set up so audiences are seeing these beautiful multi-camera shoots,” Baie said. “Our roof can hold about 200 to 300 people, so this provides a much better view. It allows us to bring a bit of summer to our viewers.”

The concert series is just the latest way both the museum and radio station are trying to remain connected and vital during the COVID-19 shutdown. The museum reopened its doors on July 1, including its rooftop, and has on display the “Nari Ward: We the People” exhibit through Sept. 20. The summer is particularly exciting because all the events at the MCA will be free, including new programs that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Indie 102.3 only recently celebrated its first anniversary and has been growing by leaps and bounds in just 12 months. The station’s three main missions are to grow the audience, to provide a larger platform to local artists, and to highlight the diversity of music. Before the pandemic, the station was looking to expand to Colorado Springs and Fort Collins and was building relationships with promoters both large and small. As Carlan explains, since everything has shut down the station has worked — and will continue — to provide resources to struggling musicians.

“This situation has made us look at the scene with a whole new set of eyes and philosophy. We’re asking, how (can) we keep this scene moving forward,” Carlan said. “We’ve created a very engaging and enticing music station, and we think once people hear it, they’ll be hooked.”

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