The Secret Life of…Heather Browne
The Gazette has picked Heather Browne, coordinator of off-campus study at Colorado College, as “Best Music Mover and Shaker” in their annual “Best of the Springs” survey. More than 15,000 voters and eight staff members weighed in.
“Not only does Heather have excellent taste in music, but she has a knack for finding the rising stars of the music scene, and the drive to bring them successfully to our city,” said Jennifer Mulson, Gazette arts and entertainment reporter. “Her touch seems to be golden. More than several bands she has brought to town have gone on to find big success in the business.”
By day, Browne coordinates off-campus study for CC’s International Programs, a job she has held since 2008. However, on nights and weekends she promotes and books concerts at Ivywild School, the new community marketplace and gathering spot a few miles south of campus. When the renovation of Ivywild School was nearly completed, the opportunity arose for Browne and her music-booking partner and friend Marc Benning (formerly of the Denver band 34 Satellite, and a local musician and record producer himself) to book music in the Ivywild gym, a job she started earlier this academic year.
“It’s been fun to use my connections and relationships with folks across the country to bring so many of my favorite musicians to my town, and share the goodness here at home,” Browne said. “We are excited to continue to bring bothup-and-coming as well as established and respected artists for special nights of music at the Ivywild. The kind of music I like being around and championing is music that is connective and vibrant, and I have been fortunate that it all is finally starting to succeed here, and bring joy to people in the Springs community.”
Browne has been running her own independent music blog Fuel/Friends (www.fuelfriendsblog.com) since moving to Colorado from California in 2005. “Over the course of the last eight years writing my blog, I have felt really fortunate to make musical connections all over the world, with bands and record labels and promotions folks and booking agents and other music writers,” she said. “That’s all coming to fruition at the Ivywild.”
From that website and her connections formed with musicians because of it, Browne began organizing Colorado Springs house concerts in her downtown cohousing community near Dogtooth Coffee. “I realized that the kind of venue I really wanted to see shows at, and the sorts of musicians I loved, weren’t really being courted to come to the Springs, so I just kind of decided to do it myself,” she said.
Working with local audio producer friends from the Blank Tape Records label, she also began recording folk & indie musicians performing private concerts in Shove Chapel, and releasing those audio recordings for free download as The Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions. The sessions have hosted musicians such as The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers, Glen Phillips (from Toad The Wet Sprocket), Dawes, Tyler Ramsey (of Band of Horses), Typhoon, Pickwick, David Wax Museum, and Gregory Alan Isakov.
“I didn’t grow up playing music, other than singing all sorts of lame five-part harmonies with my hippie family on car trips in our Volkswagen bus,” Browne says. “But I’ve always loved both writing about how music feels and sounds to me, as well as connecting other people with music that I feel passionately about.” She doesn’t write music, but likes to sing and “play the drum set in my basement poorly, but for fun.”
Browne studied communication and art history at Santa Clara University in California, and currently is pursuing her master’s degree in intercultural relations from University of the Pacific. “I studied abroad in Italy, which helped spark my career in international education for the last 12 years,” she said. “My whole post-college career has been in international education. I love it. I am also so appreciative of rich music parts of my life as a parallel, rewarding endeavor that I pursue for the love of it. I get great delight out of both.
“A few years ago I got to interview Jovanotti, a very well-known Italian rapper who is a bit like the Bono of Italy, for my blog. I had first attended a concert of his when I was studying abroad in Florence in 1999. That was such a surreal day for me, to see how sometimes life all comes full-circle, wonderfully.”
So one can understand why Mulson, of the Gazette, says, “She’s on my Christmas card list for bringing the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, You Me and Apollo, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones to Ivywild School.”