I wrote this article for the Summer 2018 issue of Spoke + Blossom magazine.
Mesa County Libraries are challenging the definition of what a library is, and more importantly, what it can be for the community. Just like every library, they offer a wide selection of books and top-notch reference help, but outside of those core library services, Mesa County Libraries offer a radically different library experience than the one you probably grew up with.
For proof, look no further than the new Studio Lounge project.
Studio Lounge is focused on showcasing the area’s talented local musicians through high-quality video productions. Each month, a musician or band is invited to perform their original music at the 970West Studio, a multimedia production facility located at the Central Library campus in downtown Grand Junction.
Using the studio’s state-of-the-art equipment, each performance is captured in HD and then shared in the library’s digital collection and YouTube channel on the fourth Thursday of the month. The library also debuts the new featured artist during its “Library Beat” radio show KAFM Community Radio.
“I grew up watching MTV, and this recording experience made me feel like I was fulfilling my dream of having my own MTV Unplugged moment,” Charles King said. “As an artist, the opportunity to record your heart out in such an intimate setting and tell your story was a priceless experience.”
King, who performs under the name Chaz Roi, recorded three songs from his latest album “If Truth Be Told” during his session. The finished Studio Lounge videos were helpful in both promoting his album release party at the Mesa Theater and as assets when applying for music festival slots and larger shows.
Launched in January, Studio Lounge has featured local bands across a number of different genres. From Americana to R&B, bands Freeway Donna, The Fox & Hound Duo, Shaun Ray and Willie DeFord, and Chaz Roi have all been featured. All lounge videos are discoverable 24/7, and the library encourages bands to share them with their fans through social media.
The next two lounge performances have already been recorded and scheduled for release. Rockabilly trio The Tankerays will be the featured musicians in May, and metal band Sworn Us Under will be featured in June.
“970West gave us the best business card we could have ever hoped for,” Brian Mora, leader singer and guitars for the Tankerays, said. “Having a professional video is like having the ultimate press kit.”
Echoing the same sentiment as King, Mora also grew watching MTV and remembers watching his favorite music come to life through video. Now as a musician and featured Studio Lounge artist, Mora got to make his own video, an experience he called “instant magic.”
“It’s amazing to be able to help local musicians and showcase the capabilities of 970West Studio,” Studio Coordinator Adam Lopez said. “Studio Lounge is good exposure and it’s a new way for musicians to reach new and broader audiences.”