After the devastating Marshall fire swept through his beloved Colorado Hills, Andrew McConathy, guitarist and songwriter for The Drunken Hearts, has turned his February 4th show at the Boulder Theater into an all-star fundraiser for the region. L4LM’s Rex Thomson caught up with the hard-working musician and promoter as the smoke still curled from the last few embers only to find he was already working to help his devastated community rebuild.

L4LM: The most important question first—are you and yours safe?

Andrew McConathy: “Yeah, everyone I know is safe. I do know like ten people who lost their homes…everything…in the fire, just in our circle. In the first couple days after the fire we were still learning about another friend, another family we knew who lost everything. But yeah, it finally seems like we’re all safe. The devastation is pretty unbelievable.

It’s not just the fire. The recent New Year’s Eve show cancellations, Covid/Omicron…it’s just been tough. And here in Boulder in our scene we’ve just had a tough time. The shootings, the death of our friend Jesse Aratow all just hit us hard and we were just trying to roll into the new year with a little hope, and then we got hit with the worst fires in the state’s history. People are pretty in the dumps, and for good reason.

L4LM: More than a thousand homes and something like 6K acres of forest were gone in almost an instant. How close did the blaze get to your home?

Andrew McConathy: Oh, I could see the flames from my street. Between that and the threat of losing power for a couple days it was pretty scary. Add to that, as the fires died out, then it started snowing. So, everyone was out, trying to sort through their belongings in the wreckage, freezing as the snow fell. All these people are just trying to get back into their homes. It really took like four or five days to really know just how bad it was. It’s beyond tragic.

L4LM: How soon after that did you go to work trying to not just rebuild physical structures but also lift the spirits of those now rebuilding their lives?

Andrew McConathy: We already had this show booked for February 4th at the Fox. I immediately reached out to everyone I could find in the community to see if we could use this show to help in some way. There’s a lot of folks out there who need help. It’s pretty sad.

All the artists who were already on that bill—The Drunken Hearts, Buffalo Commons, and Pick & Howl—were ready to donate their time. So I put on my festival promoter hat and I made some phone calls. Basically I checked with folks along the Front Range mountain line. I invited a slew of guests and found out a lot of them were unavailable at that time. We’ve got ten or so on there now though that is really gonna make this a special, special night.

We ended up with Bill & Jillian Nershi from the String Cheese Incident, Jason Haan also from Cheese,  Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon, Charlie Rose from Elephant Revival, Shawn Eckels from Andy Frasco & The UN, Silas Herman and more. That’s when we realized a couple things…there were enough names to make this show something people would really be into and the green room at the Fox wasn’t gonna be able to handle all these special guests during the COVID safety protocols.

We got the okay to move the show to the Boulder Theater, which could hold almost double the amount of people but most importantly could keep all these different artists who wanted to participate safe in the backstage area. We were just lucky it was open.

So we rebranded the show as “Music For Marshall.” We got Mike Tallman to make a great poster of a bluebird just sitting on a wire looking at the Flat Irons. We partnered with Conscious Alliance, Backline, Andrew Brewing Company and we partnered with Jack Daniels. The artists and performers are donating their time so this is a full on charity show.

We’ve got NOCoast confirmed to stream the show so everyone can watch the show. There’s a donation link in the stream as well if you’re watching and want to help from home. There’s a silent auction with donated items from Billy Strings, Planet Bluegrass, Winter WonderGrass and lots of other cool stuff from bands like Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass,  the Lil Smokies, Infamous Stringdusters, Kitchen Dwellers, Leftover Salmon… Pretty much all my favorite friends and bands have kicked in something cool to help.

Related: ‘Come Alive For Colorado’ Marshall Fire Benefit Taps Members Of Umphrey’s, SCI, Big Gigantic, The Motet, More

L4LM: What organizations will the fundraiser benefit?

Andrew McConathy: It all goes to The Community Foundation Boulder. It’s the non-profit we’ve determined really does the best job for helping people impacted by the fire, as well as Conscious Alliance. I’m excited to play some good music…especially for a good cause. I am sure I am ready for some change.

L4LM: Before we let you go, we did want to touch on the reason The Drunken Hearts already had the gig booked in the first place—the new music you have ready to debut.

Andrew McConathy: Yeah, The Drunken Hearts recorded a new video EP at Planet Bluegrass and we’ve been releasing those through the pandemic. We’ve put a couple of those out and we’d love to take this opportunity to give your readers a first look at our newest release, “Nightmare In Raton” We’re really happy with this new material and we were already really looking forward to sharing it with folks, and now we have a really special audience to share it all with. [Note: Enjoy the new video for “Nightmare In Raton” by The Drunken Hearts below].

The Drunken Hearts – “Nightmare In Raton”

L4LM: One last question–are there any lessons you’ve taken away from everything that’s happened over the past couple years?

Andrew McConathy: If you’re lucky enough to survive…be grateful. Because you just never know…y’know?

Tickets to Drunken Hearts & Friends – Music for Marshall: A Boulder County Fire Benefit at Boulder Theater on Friday, February 4th are on sale here.


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