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Area bands sound off

Eric Ostberg, Chris Wright and Bryan Bardusco of Meniskus perform at The Foundry.

For the Camera

Eric Ostberg, Chris Wright and Bryan Bardusco of Meniskus perform at The Foundry.

Bryan Bardusco of Meniskus performs at The Foundry on Saturday, March 10.

For the Camera

Bryan Bardusco of Meniskus performs at The Foundry on Saturday, March 10.

FIVE LIVE

Five more local bar bands to keep an eye on

MENISKUS (www.meniskusband.com)

Now based in Denver, Meniskus formed three years ago at the Pearl Street Pub in Boulder, when guitarist Bryan Bardusco and drummer and keyboard player Chris Wright, who had been jamming at the bar, called on violinist Eric Ostberg to join them. Ostberg moved from New York to Boulder to join the band, whose unique, acoustic-based sound has won it a legion of fans. Meniskus will release its second album, Foreign Beyond, on May 17, between tours in Europe and the northeast United States.

Members

Bryan Bardusco, 30, guitar and percussion; Eric Ostberg, 24, violin and lead vocals; Chris Wright, 31, drums, keyboard and vocals

How would you describe your sound?

"I call it Rock Nouveau," Wright says. "Then if people ask what that is, I usually say 'fusion rock.' We've also been described as trance rock, acoustic electronica and euro-rock.

Who are your musical influences?

The Police, U2, Dave Matthews, anything from the '80s, and European house and techno.

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"? If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band?

"Meniskus was for sure a bar band at its roots," says band manager Eric Singer. "But now that we're in larger venues, and about to launch a European tour, you could say we're really a touring band with the occasional stop to blow the roof off your local bar.

"The secret to being a good bar band is pretty simple. Keep people dancing and drinking until last call, every show."

Next shows

Sunday afternoon at Bacaro; Thursday at the Sutra Room in Denver

JOHNNY O BAND (www.johnnyoband.com)

Certainly one of Boulder's hardest-working bands, John Ohnmacht and his crew can be found playing the blues at local bars, clubs and theaters most nights each week. Ohnmacht, who lives in Louisville, formed the band 10 years ago after living in the Roaring Fork Valley for a year. Prior to that, he lived in Boulder while he performed and toured with Band du Jour, one of Boulder's most popular bands at the time.

Members John Ohnmacht, 40, guitar and vocals; Marion Edwards, 54, drums and vocals; Ian Anderson, 43, bass

How would you describe your sound?

"A modern take on the high-energy blues sound pioneered by the likes of Albert King, Freddie King and B.B. King," Ohnmacht says. "My original music draws from the sound of New Orleans funk and soul."

Who are your musical influences?

Albert King, Freddie King and B.B. King, Stevie Ray, Santana, Duane Allman, The Meters and a host of others.

What are the venues you play regularly?

In Boulder, the Foundry, RedFish, Conor O'Neill's and the Catacombs. In Denver, Lincoln's Road House and the Hornet. We especially like Nissi's in Lafayette. We've sold out almost every show we've played there.

What's your ratio of original songs to covers?

About 50-50, but when we cover a song we always put our own spin on it.

Next shows

Tonight and Saturday at Catacombs

MUMBOULI (www.mumbouli.com and www.myspace.com/mumbouli)

Boulder-based Mumbouli started as a one-off Irish band to play a St. Patrick's gig in 2002. "We were encouraged to play another gig months later and then started playing as a three-piece acoustic band (bass, mandolin, guitar)," rhythm guitarist and singer Troy Clayton writes in an e-mail. "We never really took ourselves seriously, being as we were doing it for fun, booze, and a little money primarily the love of music."

The band added another guitarist, a drummer and former Menagerie member Ethan Ice on keys and started playing its bluegrass-flavored roots rock at venues like Conor O'Neill's and the Fox.

Members

Doug Baker, 30, lead guitar and vocals; Troy Clayton, 33, rhythm guitar and vocals; Ethan Ice, 25, keyboards and vocals; Brion Kean, 33, bass guitar; Brett Thomas, 34, drums and vocals

How would you describe your sound?

"We came up with 'Slap-a-Billy' as a description in the early days but as we started playing more bluegrass, reggae, funk and country-influenced material it didn't seem to fit," Clayton says. "'Rock-Americana' is I suppose the best description we could be branded with."

What are the venues you play regularly?

Conor O'Neill's, Fox Theatre, Lucky Joe's, the Pioneer Inn and Quixote's in Denver.

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"? If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band?

"Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but never exclusively," Kean says. "We aspire to bring our music to as many people as possible. So after we hone our chops at local brewpubs and watering holes, we like to take it up a notch to the bigger venues and theaters, where we can reach a different audience.

Next shows

April 20 at Conor O'Neill's, May 6 at Oskar Blues in Lyons

LIONEL YOUNG BAND (www.lionelyoung.net)

Violinist Lionel Young has been playing since he was 16, mostly classical. He first came to Colorado 14 years ago to play with the National Repertory Orchestra, which was then based in Evergreen. He started jamming with rock bands on the side and eventually formed his own band, which plays blues, soul, R&B and more at venues all over the state.

Members

Lionel Young, violin; Brian Gordon, bass; Jay Forest, drums

How would you describe your sound?

"We play a lot of rock 'n' roll, a little bit of reggae, a little bit of R&B, a lot of blues, a little bit of swing it's very adaptable in some ways," Young says. "And that's born out of situations you end up playing in. I ended up doing gigs once a month at the Mercury Cafe that were just swing. Or you end up in blues clubs, so you have to do mostly blues."

Who are your musical influences?

Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Yasha Heifetz

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"? If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band?

"Not necessarily, but we can adapt to be a bar band," Young says. "We do play a lot of bars, but in Boulder we play a lot of hotels, which is kind of weird.

"The secret is connecting with people. Music is a communication medium, in a way. You've got to be able to get something across, your love of the music or passion for environmental causes or your political persuasion or whatever. If you get up in front of a bunch of people on a regular basis, your state of mind is what you convey."

Next shows

April 21 at the St. Julien, April 27 at the Foundry, the Boulder Outlook Hotel on April 22, the Pearl Street Pub on April 23

SAVAGE HENRY (www.savagehenry.com or www.myspace.com/savagehenry)

On its Web site, Denver's 2½-year-old Savage Henry likens its sound to "the songwriting of Jack Johnson, combined with the attitude of G-Love, mixed with musical styles of bands like Maroon 5, Incubus, and 311." The band also has a proggy side, playing the occasional Pink Floyd tribute and citing Dream Theater and Meshugga as influences.

Members

Damon Guerrasio, 31, vocals; Bill Travis, 31, drums and percussion; John Jeffers, 34, bass, vocal; Stu Miller, 29, guitar, vocals, 29

How would you describe your sound?

Pop rock with the occasional foray into prog/rock territory.

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"? If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band?

"I'd rather not think of us as a 'bar band,'" Jeffers says. "I think we're an original band that plays bars to pay the bills while we work on our plan for world domination. As you know, world domination is expensive, and the bars help to make it happen.

Next show: Saturday night at the Walnut Room in Denverrhythm guitarist and singer Troy Clayton writes in an e-mail. "We never really took ourselves seriously, being as we were doing it for fun, booze, and a little money primarily the love of music."

The band added another guitarist, a drummer and former Menagerie member Ethan Ice on keys and started playing its bluegrass-flavored roots rock at venues like Conor O'Neill's and the Fox.

Members Doug Baker, 30, lead guitar and vocals; Troy Clayton, 33, rhythm guitar and vocals; Ethan Ice, 25, keyboards and vocals; Brion Kean, 33, bass guitar; Brett Thomas, 34, drums and vocals.

How would you describe your sound?

"We came up with 'Slap-a-Billy' as a description in the early days but as we started playing more bluegrass, reggae, funk and country-influenced material it didn't seem to fit," Clayton says. "'Rock-Americana' is I suppose the best description we could be branded with."

What are the venues you play regularly?

Conor O'Neill's, Fox Theatre, Lucky Joe's, the Pioneer Inn and Quixote's in Denver.

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"? If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band?

"Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but never exclusively," Kean says. "We aspire to bring our music to as many people as possible. So after we hone our chops at local brewpubs and watering holes, we like to take it up a notch to the bigger venues and theaters, where we can reach a different audience.

Next shows April 20 at Conor O'Neill's, May 6 at Oskar Blues in Lyons

LIONEL YOUNG BAND (www.lionelyoung.net)

Violinist Lionel Young has been playing since he was 16, mostly classical. He first came to Colorado 14 years ago to play with the National Repertory Orchestra, which was then based in Evergreen. He started jamming with rock bands on the side and eventually formed his own band, which plays blues, soul, R&B and more at venues all over the state.

Members Lionel Young, violin; Brian Gordon, bass; Jay Forest, drums.

How would you describe your sound?

"We play a lot of rock 'n' roll, a little bit of reggae, a little bit of R&B, a lot of blues, a little bit of swing it's very adaptable in some ways," Young says. "And that's born out of situations you end up playing in. I ended up doing gigs once a month at the Mercury Cafe that were just swing. Or you end up in blues clubs, so you have to do mostly blues."

Who are your musical influences?

Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Yasha Heifetz

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"? If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band?

"Not necessarily, but we can adapt to be a bar band," Young says. "We do play a lot of bars, but in Boulder we play a lot of hotels, which is kind of weird.

"The secret is connecting with people. Music is a communication medium, in a way. You've got to be able to get something across, your love of the music or passion for environmental causes or your political persuasion or whatever. If you get up in front of a bunch of people on a regular basis, your state of mind is what you convey."

Next shows April 21 at the St. Julien, April 27 at the Foundry, April 22 at the Boulder Outlook Hotel, April 23 at the Pearl Street Pub

SAVAGE HENRY (www.savagehenry.com or www.myspace.com/savagehenry) On its Web site, Denver's 2½-year-old Savage Henry likens its sound to "the songwriting of Jack Johnson, combined with the attitude of G-Love, mixed with musical styles of bands like Maroon 5, Incubus, and 311." The band also has a proggy side, playing the occasional Pink Floyd tribute and citing Dream Theater and Meshugga as influences.

Members Damon Guerrasio, 31, vocals; Bill Travis, 31, drums and percussion; John Jeffers, 34, bass, vocal; Stu Miller, 29, guitar, vocals, 29

How would you describe your sound?

Pop rock with the occasional foray into prog/rock territory.

Would you consider yourself a "bar band"?If so, what's the secret to being a good bar band? "I'd rather not think of us as a 'bar band,'" Jeffers says. "I think we're an original band that plays bars to pay the bills while we work on our plan for world domination. As you know, world domination is expensive, and the bars help to make it happen.

Next show: Saturday night at the Walnut Room in Denver

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