Element 37 ignites spontaneously on stage

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On the periodic table, element 37, Rubidium, is a highly reactive metal that ignites spontaneously in air and reacts violently with water.

Rather than mixing with other elements, it completely transforms itself.

Consider it a musical metaphor, Element 37 guitar player Derek VanScoten said. Element 37 is a groove rock band that plays vocal-oriented music, but they bring in hints of R & B and Latin music in what they hope is a sound as seamless as two rivers merging.

"When you hear an album by someone like Sting who incorporates all different genres, you don't really think about it. It's just his sound," VanScoten said.

Steamboat audiences may know VanScoten from his other band, Cabaret Diosa. He imports tinges of Latin influence from one band to the other in a couple of Brazilian and Cuban tunes that Element 37 performs, but the connection, he said, "is not as direct as you think."

VanScoten is more influenced in Element 37 by the years he spent playing with other members of the band.

Drummer Will Gaw and VanScoten grew up together in Utica, N.Y. They played in a band called Naked Sam and were famously undefeated in high school talent shows.

Gaw and VanScoten moved to Boulder together after high school. Element 37 came out of regular jazz gigs the two performed Friday nights at The Player's Club, next door to the Fox Theater.

"Basically, we were doing pre-shows for big shows by default," VanScoten said. "I think through those experiences, it transformed our sound. Jazz allowed us to have a rich palette of musical understanding, but now jazz is just in the background of what we play."

Their music moved from improvisation to song-oriented rock ala Paul Simon. It was a hard transition for a band trying to make it in the Colorado music scene.

What: Element 37 When: 9:30 p.m. today Where: Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue

"We go into these gigs and there are a lot of people who just want us to jam on two chords all night," VanScoten said. "What we are trying to do to rectify it is play 10 songs and improvise on three of them. I'm not saying we're pioneers, but maybe we can steer the music scene to the next phase."

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