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Steve Varney (left) plays in his band Kid Reverie at Lost Lake Lounge in Denver. Photo by Courtney Nicholson-Paine

Discover Colorado Musician’s Coolest Side Projects

Behind some of the state's biggest bands are musicians with an impressive B-side.

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If you know Kyle Hollingsworth’s name, you’re likely a fan of iconic Colorado jam band the String Cheese Incident, which he joined in 1997. But since then, the keyboardist has released four solo albums; his latest, 50, came out in March. (An avid home brewer, Hollingsworth’s two side gigs converge on December 8 at Hoppy Holidays, his annual beer-and-music charity concert.) He’s not the only local musician with a B-side: Here are three other locals who, although members of popular Centennial State acts, are creating their own chords in the industry’s soundscape.

Steve Varney

A-Side: Littleton-raised Varney plays guitar and banjo in Gregory Alan Isakov’s band, a gig that currently has him touring Europe for the Boulder singer-songwriter’s new album, Evening Machines.
B-Side: Varney, 34, pens his own tunes as the founder and lead singer of Kid Reverie, a two-year-old band that released its first, self-titled record in September. While full of folksy lyrics reminiscent of Isakov’s work, Kid Reverie is more apt to ratchet up its mournful rock ballads with powerful electric guitar chords and bellowing choruses.

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Ben Wysocki

A-Side: The 33-year-old drummer of the Fray, one of Colorado’s most successful musical exports, performs with the Grammy Award–nominated group December 1 at the Ogden Theatre.
B-Side: When the Fray took a break a couple of years ago, Wysocki began mentoring up-and-coming Colorado musicians. He produced roots/Americana singer-songwriter Hunter Burnette’s first EP, The Good Life, which dropped this past February, and is currently working on a soon-to-be-released single from Blake Brown, frontman for Americana rock group Blake Brown & the American Dust Choir.

Sarah Hubbard

A-Side: The violinist, who’s played with Harry Belafonte, started touring with local hip-hop outfit Flobots two months after she moved to Denver in 2016.
B-Side: Under the alias Sprightly, Hubbard deploys her violin as the principal instrument in a slew of acoustic pop songs she composes. “I want to see the violin in the pop genre in a prominent place,” says the 25-year-old, “not just playing notes in the background.” Her first album—an as-yet-unnamed, four- or five-song EP—should arrive this month.

If you go: Hoppy Holidays will take place on December 8 at the Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom and Cervantes’ Other Side in Denver.

Carol Singers

Colorado jazz legend Hazel Miller recommends catching one of these seasonal shows—in addition to her annual holiday concert at Denver’s Soiled Dove Underground on December 21. —Sam Spengler

Home for the Holidays
Jazz icon Dianne Reeves returns to her hometown of Denver to sing tunes from her new album, Christmas Time Is Here. June Swaner Gates Concert Hall, Dec. 6

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Visions of Sugar Plums
Miller is betting the Colorado Ballet’s 2018 rendition of The Nutcracker will hold your kids’ attention—and inspire their imaginations. Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Nov. 24 to Dec. 24

Christmas Spirits
OK, Big Head Todd and the Monsters aren’t known for their holiday vibe. Still, Miller can’t wait to hear the Boulder band’s roaring sound fill the concert hall at the Stanley Hotel. Historic Stanley Concert Hall, Dec. 28 and 29

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