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'Real American country'

Denver's tunes suit dancing, drinking and brawling
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Denver is touring in support of its second album, “Rowdy Love.”Photo courtesy of Vincent Bancheri
 Posted: 8:20 AM April 04, 2013

Portland's "ramshackle, all-star country band" Denver can pack a house like the best of 'em. The band, which formed four years ago, has sold out shows in some of Portland's bigger venues, including the Doug Fir Lounge and Mississippi Studios, which hold about 350 people.

Behind facial hair, aviator sunglasses and trucker hats, Denver "good ol' boys" are Mike Elias on acoustic guitar and harmonica, Birger Olsen on mandolin and electric guitar, Eric Earley on electric guitar and banjo, Sean MacNeil on drums, Tom Bevitori on acoustic guitar and harmonica, and Michael VanPelt on bass.

"We were a bunch of solo musicians coming together to play one another's songs," Bevitori says. "We had tons of fun doing it, so we started getting together more regularly. Once Sean came on and started playing drums, we thought, 'Well, s—-, I guess we should get a bass player, too.' "

If you go

Who: Denver

When: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9

Where: Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland

Cover: $3

Call: 541-482-8818

This month, the band, except for Earley and VanPelt, hits the dusty trail on its first West Coast tour. Accompanied by stand-in bassist Billy Slater and guitarist Lewi Longmire, Denver will play at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. Cover is $3.

Early last year, the band released its self-titled debut with Momma Bird Recording Co.

Bevitori called the recording process for the album "frivolous and fun," while Olsen sums it up with this description, found on the band's website: "Drums in the living room, singer in the bedroom, four-track cassette recorder, cases of beer, whiskey, sandwiches and a sunny porch."

For its second album, the band got serious, went to a real studio, spent more money and did it right, Bevitori says.

"It's not a smoother sound, but what we are doing is more refined," he says.

The album, "Rowdy Love," is scheduled for release later this spring and features the same sound as the first — "outlaw country with a modern twist" and four-part harmonies.

It's "real American country," Bevitori says.

"There's some heartbreak on there, some rowdy drinking songs and some good jams," he adds.

"The first one ("Denver") came off as a beautiful accident, and the second one ("Rowdy Love") is a little more preconceived ... and crafted."

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