Steamboat Springs It’s an experience that Colorado visitors and residents have in common: a moment when the natural beauty and stimulating culture of Colorado fuse in an unforgettable instance.
For The Dunwells, a folk rock outfit that traveled to Colorado from Leeds, England, it happened at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
A radio station on the Front Range, Alice 105.9, was one of the first Colorado stations to play the band's driving but tender indie rock songs and invited it to Colorado to play at Film on the Rocks last year.
“It was kind of romantic music with a romantic show,” singer-songwriter and guitarist Joseph Dunwell recalled.
Speaking from the road about 800 miles from Colorado in the midst of the Texas plains, Dunwell said he’s looking forward to returning to the Rocky Mountains for a run that includes a free show at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
The Dunwells play at 3 p.m. Saturday on the Steamboat Stage following another up-and-coming folk rock band, Bronze Radio Return.
The Connecticut-born sextet making waves with a rich round filled out by multiple guitars, a bass, keyboards and a harmonica play at 2 p.m. The song “Shake! Shake! Shake!” might sound familiar to those who have seen the worldwide Nissan commercial in which it was featured.
Dunwell realizes that the texture of popular music in America has expanded to include sounds like those of Bronze Radio Return and The Dunwells as acoustic rock and folk-driven music rises to chart tops and radio notoriety. And he doesn’t mind the comparisons to world-famous bands of the genre.
“I think it’s real songs and real music,” Dunwell said about the increasing popularity of the sound. “I think we’re being so true to ourselves; we’re singing what we want to sing. In time, it will always come back to that. Bands like Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters and Men, these are great bands and great artists that we like to be associated with.”
Members of The Dunwells are a little different in their relationships to one another, which mostly are blood. While Joseph is on guitar and singing, his brother David plays guitar, piano and banjo. The band is rounded out by the Dunwells’ cousins Jonny Lamb and Rob Clayton and best friend Dave Hanson.
It’s one big family, Joseph Dunwell said.
“We’re best friends,” he said. “We get on so well. Whenever we get on Skype to talk to Mom and Dad, they’re just so proud. It feels good to be experiencing the same things.”
Although touring constantly lately, the boys always find time to write in hotel rooms and backstage at shows, all while navigating whirlwinds like last week's South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
But among the countless aspiring musicians pouring their efforts into soulful folk rock music, The Dunwells stand apart by injecting a stroke of Celtic influence into their work and, of course, a bit of romanticism.
“I think the majority of this album is intentionally kind of love songs done acoustically with rock 'n' roll added to them,” he said. “I think a lot of people can easily relate to songs about love.”