Article By: Nina Ryan
February 3rd. 7:30 P.M. The crowd chatters and people slowly begin to seep into the venue. Tonight, Fox Theater is a theater filled with people of all ages. The mood is vibrant and everyone is gathered to hear good blues.
The first performers come onto stage very casually, it’s almost unnoticeable. Ghost Tapes’ casual and easygoing vibe is ultimately what makes them so lovable. The main singer, Stella Nursery, addresses the crowd with a relaxed smile and a beer in her hand. Her pink coat clashes perfectly with her leopard print shirt. A raspy and strong alto voice is all it takes to get the crowd into the mood for some soul music. Despite her naturally low tone of voice, Stella hits her higher notes flawlessly, with a lightness that not many singers can achieve. Ghost Tapes’ soulful music flowed through the house, making for a perfect beginning to a night of blues.
After Ghost Tapes, Billy Raffoul took the house by storm. The crew set up for the next performance by checking amps, pedals, mics, and guitars. The crew flooded the stage and one man came to the front to sound check a guitar. His long, black hair was thrown up in a bun and he sported a jean jacket with a patch on the right shoulder. His focus on the instrument was unbreakable. Moments passed and after a while of waiting, Billy Raffoul was finally up. The band walks onto the stage, a sensation of power taking over the space. The man who had been checking the guitar was one of the band members, completely transformed before the crowd’s eyes. His hair was no longer piled on top of his head and he had his guitar strapped around him, ready to play. The moment the band started playing, the audience was on their feet. The blaring guitar and beat of the drums immediately boosted the mood of the people in the venue. The first song had a strong sound of rock n’ roll combined with a soulful voice and indescribable emotion. Together, the three artists created a sound unlike any other. Passion poured from all three band members throughout their entire set. After Billy Raffoul blew it out of the water with his husky voice and incredible bassist and drummer, it was finally time for ZZ Ward.
ZZ Ward is a powerhouse. She opens her show with Let It Burn, a powerful, bass filled anthem. ZZ’s rock n’ roll/blues mixture fills the house and has everyone swaying to the rhythm of her music. ZZ has a range of songs. Her classic bluesy vibe carries throughout her upbeat songs and her ballads, proving that her voice can tell a story through any type of music.
She takes a short break after a song to tell the audience about where her music comes from. She talks about a time when she was a child, listening to blues with her dad. She smiles and points out that her dad is here tonight, sitting towards the back of the venue. Her father’s love for blues heavily influenced ZZ’s music. ZZ’s blaring harmonica solos and raspy, lilting voice, makes her captivating in a way that has the ability to transport anyone back to the days of classic blues.
ZZ switched gears about halfway through the show, performing an acoustic ballad “Last Love Song”. The simple melody carried through the house, enchanting everyone into a few moments of silence. ZZ breaks her stage persona when a big smile spreads across her face. Someone from the crowd yells “We love you ZZ!”. She looks up with the smile still on her face, “I love you too.”
The concert came to an end and ZZ skipped backstage, thanking Boulder for such a fun night. As the guitarist, bassist, and drummer left the stage, the crowd stirred. Everyone was still buzzing but oddly enough, no one turned to walk toward the exit. A rumbling began moving the ground as people began stomping their feet in unison. The stomping became faster and faster until it merged into chanting, “ZZ,ZZ,ZZ,ZZ…” The crowd was motivated to see ZZ one last time. The chanting faded and there was a strong anticipation lingering throughout the crowd. As the silence began to feel almost unbearable, it seemed as though the encore was going to be ineffective. Just when the crowd was about to give up, ZZ returned to the stage, exclaiming that she would play a few more songs for the crowd that she loved so much. The audience watched her performance in pure bliss, relishing the last few songs of the night.