Entertaining. Eloquent. Euphonic.

These are three words to explain what Denver’s Leon art gallery will offer this Friday, May 11 as they host three “E” performers for a night of music, poetry and collaborationEsmé Patterson, Emily Ritz and Eleanor Perry-Smith are coming together for just the one night, forming a powerhouse of talent in the small (but active) art gallery for only a few hours. Though the event is free and open to the public, there is a suggested donation of $12 at the door — which is still a great deal for catching three performances in one.

A Denver original, Esmé Patterson recently broke out into the national spotlight with her NPR Tiny Desk Concert which has almost reached 500,000 views on YouTube. She started her musical career in the Denver-based band Paper Bird, playing folk music with her sister and several friends until she and her sister left to pursue solo careers and different paths. A few years later, Paper Bird broke up. At that point, Patterson had already released three albums on her own. Perhaps one of the reasons Patterson removed herself from Paper Bird was that her musical tastes were veering away from the banjo-laden vibe — steering instead toward an electric-soul sound.

READ: Q&A – Denver’s Esmé Patterson is Reviving Feminine Rock 


According to Eric Dallimore with Leon, “Esmé has been one of our longest standing performers to play at Leon several times over the past six years as both a Paper Bird member and during her solo work. I can’t recall how many time she has performed here, but we definitely consider Esmé to be family. We are excited to be working with all three of these women, but it especially feels good to have one of our dear friends back as we work to bring back the intimate music performances at the gallery.” Patterson’s voice is honey-sweet, covering a wide vocal range in each song. Her lyrics are relatable, and as a Coloradan, unavoidably nature-inspired. Songs like “No River” — one of the Tiny Desk performances — have Patterson crooning “I can’t sit still, ’cause I’m no mountain” with a mesmerizing tone. Her voice is deep and clear and enticing, and it reminds you of warm summer nights spent on patios.


Leon also welcomes native New Yorker, musician and artist Emily Ritz to Denver for the evening. For the better part of a decade, the eclectic Ritz played music with Yesway, Honeycomb and DRMS in California, also painting and making ceramics. In 2016, she moved back to the East Coast and recorded her first solo album Pattern Recess under her own name. Ritz will play her musician role for the Leon event, creating “other-worldly soul music” with an electric guitar. The way Ritz modifies the electric guitar verges on experimental, but her finished songs are fluent and ethereal and don’t make the listener feel barraged by sound. Patterson and Ritz are sure to compliment one another if they happen to collaborate on a few songs.

To complete the night of “E,” long-time Denver creative Eleanor Perry-Smith will display her poetic abilities through performance and spoken word. Patterson and Perry-Smith are long-time friends, having started the Zephyr Press short fiction and poetry journal — a launch that happened at Leon in 2014. When Perry-Smith worked in Denver, she also edited for Modern in Denver magazine. In 2016, she presented at TEDxMileHigh and blew away the crowd with her musical interpretation of three original poems. Her most recent endeavor was a photography-poetry book called Revelry & Rhyme. 

For those who might be intimidated by poetry, especially spoken-word poetry, don’t be shy about seeing Perry-Smith. She employs a distinctly sing-songy style — approachable because it could easily have a light piano or guitar behind it — that reminds us that all the songs we know and love and listen to every day are actually poetry.

Together, these three women are going to transform Denver’s little Leon into a soulful, intimate and audibly beautiful art piece.

Leon is located at 1112 E. 17th Avenue and door open at 7 p.m. Performance begins at 8 and lasts until approximately 11 p.m. 

 

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