Photos by Mikala Redel • email@example.com
Take the long hallway toward the Tivoli brewery and follow the half-hidden staircase to the right. Walk down one flight of stairs, past the door to the billiards room, down another flight of stairs and you’ll find a brightly decorated sign that reads, “DIME DENVER.” This basement studio is home to the Wildflowers, a band that lead singer Siddy Bennett described as the free wheeling bastard children of Fleetwood Mac.
“It’s got that earthy, folk kind of hippie vibe mixed with rock n’ roll,” Bennett said.
The band consists of three main members and a manager. James Ashbury is head of recruitment and the lead guitarist. Kit Bennett, Siddy’s sister, is the head of facilities and the accordion and piano player. Matthew Shurben is the lead manager. Bennett also organizes events for the band.
As of August 2017, the MSU Denver music department, the Wildflowers and the Detroit Institute of Music Education will be opening a second location for DIME in Denver.
DIME brings industry professionals to students in order to make studying music a real world experience. This second opening will allow MSU Denver music students to take classes with DIME at either of DIME’s two locations, Detroit or Denver.
Department Chair and Associate Professor of Musicology Peter Schimpf and Bennett explained what
the partnership between MSU Denver, DIME and the Wildflowers needs to be so this generation of musicians is ready to enter the music industry.
“There is always more to learn, and students need to know the life-long skill of teaching themselves. ey need to know how to find resources and to creatively make a career for themselves,” Schimpf said. “In the field of music, there are rarely any career guarantees, so graduates need to be prepared to make their own way, so to speak.”
One of the most helpful aspects of the program is to bring in mentors like the Wildflowers, who have already found success in England. According to Bennett, the Wildflowers were created when Bennett met guitarist Ashbury while attending school in England. The school was run by DIME founders Kevin Nixon and Sarah Clayman.
“We met and started a band immediately. And they actually took a special interest in us. They liked our music and they always supported us,” Bennett said.
Shortly after they left the school, Nixon signed the Wildflowers and became their manager. According to Bennett, Nixon instantly decided to have them start the new school in Denver.
“We’ve been working with them through music for four years and they thought we were the best people for the job,” Bennett said.
Bennett explains that Nixon appreciated how well the band marketed for themselves and created a music scene in England. He realized their sound was perfect for the American music scene. This made them the ideal band to open the DIME Denver location.
Since Bennett and Ashbury both attended a school with a similar focus, they would be the best to guide others through it.
“You go because you want to learn how to market yourself. How to go on tour, how to do promotions,” she said. “You have access to so many different things like this master class where you have people come in and ask Stevie Wonder’s band how they started and you can ask these people tips.”
Promoting is still what the band does for DIME and themselves. They get the opportunity to show their abilities while starting fresh in Denver. Making new connections on a fresh slate also helps them guide students on how to make their own path.
DIME’s focus is on making musicians successful enough to make a living o of either performing or managing. The Wildflowers are the poster children for DIME’s goals. Having the band at the school let’s students see behind the scenes of a real example that’s found success in the music world.
“It would have been a completely different world, but through going to this school I met so many people in the music industry and you know you are always representing yourself. It’s an amazing opportunity for someone who is serious about it,” Bennett said.