The sweet sounds of a fiddle, mandolin, guitar and bass fill Denver’s Cerebral Brewing every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. And when local band Turkeyfoot plays, they convince all in attendance that this form of music is worth paying attention to. “I’ve always loved bluegrass, but just kind of quit playing all together when I moved to Oklahoma City,” explained lead singer and mandolin mastermind Jordan Brandenburg. “Then I moved here to Denver.”
Brandenburg’s move to Denver was the catalyst in rekindling his love for music. It was an experience at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, however, that caused him to dive back in.
“I had an experience at Telluride Blue Grass festival that totally changed my life. I was watching Sam Bush, who I’ve always been a fan of, and I was standing having this conversation with myself, and I was like, “why are you not playing music, man?” It was like this whole conversation. So I got home and the chick I was dating at the time broke up with me a few weeks later and it really pushed me into the music scene here in Denver. This was like three years ago.”—
Turkeyfoot, the four-man band that came from that festival epiphany, has only continued to grow since. Founded in June 2016, the band has locked down gigs across the city from festivals to Cerebral Brewing, Cervantes’ and Stem Ciders. “In June of 2016, I formed the band with some of the people that I met in the Denver picking scene,” said Brandenburg. “And it was good for me because I was meeting new people and making new friends. So I met some people in that group and we were like, ‘hey we should do a gig together'”
Only two of the original five founding members remained — Brandenburg and Michael Rudolph, otherwise known as “Dr. Bass” — until December of 2017 when Brandenburg met fiddle player Bridger Dunnagan and guitarist Dave Pailet at the Rocky Grass Festival. Soon after banjo player Alex Koukov joined the clan. The Turkeyfoot we know and love today has been jamming ever since with rich lyrics and memorable instrumentals — though, with a name like Turkeyfoot, they’d be hard to forget either way.
“It’s a unique name, you can do an emoji with it… you know with the turkey and the foot thing,” laughed Brandenburg. “Turkeyfoot is another name for the big bluestem grass that grows in the Great Plains. It’s a special type of grass and I am just paying homage to my former time in Oklahoma and being from Texas, too.”–
The band recently released their very first EP on June 1 following a release party at Stem Ciders. You can listen to all five tracks on Spotify above. “Stem’s always super supportive of the community and with their new space, it’s just a place that we wanted to try. It’s always a fun place to play because I feel like people who come here actually listen to the music,” explained Brandenburg. “Sometimes you’ll play gigs and people are just yapping and that’s fine but Stem does a really good job of creating this space for people to listen.”