The Burroughs Get Sweaty With Raucous New Live album of Soul

hi-dive | October 9
Bohemian Biergarten | October 23
Aggie Theatre | October 24
Moxi Theater |October 31


By Hap Fry

There is certain swagger – a bravado, if you will – that comes with being a 20-something lead singer of one of the most entertaining bands in Northern Colorado.

As Johnny Burroughs enters Right Coast Pizza in downtown Greeley, he appears to certainly fit the profile. There are a table of college kids who flag him down to say ‘hi,’ and there is a group of older-looking folks who demand his attention as well. There is little doubt Johnny Burroughs is a well-known man around these parts.

That goes with the territory of being the lead singer of The Burroughs, which just got through releasing a 13-track live record titled Sweaty Greeley Soul and playing lead support for the iconic Steve Miller Band at the annual Fort Collins’ Bohemian Nights NewWestFest in mid-August.

But just two days before Burroughs and his nine-piece soul/funk band blew the doors off the NewWestFest main stage, in between bites of pizza, he hinted as to why he gets pulled in so many different directions.

“I’m actually a worship pastor, so I’m a worship leader at a church in town,” Burroughs said during a recent interview with The Marquee. “I do sacred music, and I also do sweaty music.”

Burroughs went on to explain, “I grew up in church. The reason why I play music is because of the church. My spirituality is the biggest aspect of my life. My faith and love are the biggest things for me. I kind of just live with what’s honest to me.”

That’s quite refreshing for anyone to say, let alone a 27-year old, who has been called a contemporary James Brown. But Burroughs has a lot of refreshing — if not just downright different — views.

For starters, Greeley isn’t exactly considered a destination place by many, but Burroughs proudly defends the town where his band was born just over two years ago at the Moxi Theater.

“We’re not afraid of being from here,” he said. “We know a few bands that are a little afraid of the stigma of being a Greeley band, but we’re not afraid of it. Our music sounds the way it does because it’s made here, because we live here and because of the people here who are involved in it. We’re proud of where we’re from.”

“We” is the operative word there for Burroughs, who was joined in the interview by saxophone player Hayden Farr and trumpet player Alec Bell. Burroughs and his bandmates aren’t just providing lip service about playing music with their friends and they think that solidarity is a big part of the sound that they have on stage.

“Whenever I get on stage, I just forget about everything,” Farr said. “I’m just having fun with eight people who are like my best friends.”

Bell added that being close friends is particularly important for such a large band, simply because the odds increase that someone might be having an off-day. “With more people, it’s bound to happen every now and then,” Bell said. “There are just better odds for someone having a bad day. But, at the end of the day, we all still love each other and work through whatever problems we may have – whether it’s with the world or with each other.”

And the group is making lots of plans to take on the world. They just signed a two-year commitment to be part of the 2016 class of bands for SpokesBUZZ — a Fort Collins-based non-profit that promotes and incubates local bands in various capacities.

“SpokesBUZZ essentially is the community of bands that we’ve been tapped into – all great artists and all great groups,” Burroughs said. “I would say the biggest thing SpokesBUZZ has done for us is make us make a two-year commitment. Most of the commitments that we’ve made to date have been like play a show, then play another show, then play a wedding and then make an album. The biggest commitment we’ve made as a group, other than SpokesBUZZ, was to make an album.”

Lack of long-term commitment just seems to go with the territory when you’re a nine-piece band made up of members whose ages range from 20-33.

“We’re not completely sure what’s next – we’re talking about doing a studio album, but for us it’s anything that gets us excited as a group of creatives,” Burroughs said. “We’re not just going to do anything just because. There’s no pressure in this band. We’re doing things because it’s what we want; it’s fun for us, and it’s creative for us.”

Of course, more often than not, the creativity The Burroughs exudes comes from performing live on stage – something which they fully realize.

“I think our biggest goal is we want to make everyone feel good about life,” Burroughs said. “We just have a ton of fun playing, and I think that is infectious. People pick up on it and people want to see that. People want to see people enjoying life.”

And as Burroughs alluded to earlier, at least for himself, much of his enjoyment comes from his faith and knowing who he is. “I honestly think it helps me, especially with this kind of music,” he said. “Soul music is just so rooted in sacred music. Soul music was blues music and sacred music coming together. They just sang about sex instead of Jesus.”


The Burroughs

hi-dive | October 9

Bohemian Biergarten | October 23

Aggie Theatre | October 24

Moxi Theater |October 31


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