Behind the News Desk, and the Guitar: Get to Know Denver7’s Shannon Ogden
We spoke with Ogden over email (thanks, COVID), and got to know the Country-Americana artist who's performed around a handful of Denver venues.
We're excited to welcome him to Fort Collins' living rooms in a different way than we're used to seeing him — behind a guitar, instead of the news desk, tie optional — on the virtual show that airs on Friday, July 24.
Q: To a lot of us, you are a familiar face because we’ve seen you on Denver7’s news broadcasts for a few years now. But, you are also a musician, so for those who haven't heard your music (yet), Shannon Ogden is for fans of:
SO: However I answer that, I’m going to sound arrogant. So I’ll put it this way: The artists I’m always aiming for (and missing) when I write are Jason Isbell and James McMurtry. Both are such great wordsmiths with deep stories in their songs. Jack Blades from Night Ranger and Martin Sexton both told me I remind them of Cat Stevens. While I don’t personally hear the similarities, I’m awfully flattered by the comparison. So I’ll take it.
Q: You have a very successful, award-winning career in broadcast journalism – congrats on the CBA award for Best News Anchor your first year in Denver, by the way – and you have a family. Tell us about when you picked up a guitar and started writing songs, making that another passion in your life.
SO: Thanks. I went to college on a music scholarship for drums. Drums were my whole life growing up. Then, years later when my wife and I moved to Florida, I discovered that Florida doesn’t have the thing that makes neighborhood drumming possible: basements. I just couldn’t do that to my new neighbors. So I bought a much quieter acoustic guitar, learned to play and I was off and running.
And yeah, songwriting and performing (Dear God, I miss performing!) have become a restorative refuge from news. Because you really have to focus completely on it or you’ll make a fool of yourself on stage. So that means when I am writing or rehearsing or performing I am not thinking about anything but that. And especially right now, that has becoming increasingly important.
Q: I saw on Facebook that you shared Angels & Airwaves ‘Everything’s Magic’ as a suggestion for a family dance party song during quarantine. We are pretty big Tom (and Blink) fans here – Yes, this is just an open invitation to share thoughts on Tom DeLonge, Blink-182, aliens, your quarantine dance party playlist (or all of the above).
SO: Hahaha yes, posting that on FB sort of backfired. That song is like the perfect mood-changer, gotta-dance song right alongside Robyn’s 'Show Me Love.' So, I grabbed the song’s music video from YouTube and posted it to my FB page not bothering to look at how racy the still image from the video appeared. So it looks like I’m some disgusting weirdo inviting people to gather round and enjoy a pervy song with kith and kin.
Editor's note: 😂 😂 😂
We do a lot of dancing in the Ogden home. Our 5-year-old usually dictates what is danced to. 'Jalale' from the Coco soundtrack (which is a jam!) comes up a lot. As does 'Video Killed the Radio Star' by The Buggles. Any of Elsa’s big numbers from the Frozen movies. And if I’m playing my usual sad-sack songs on the guitar she’ll just yell, 'Play something fast' and I always do. There’s a terrific song cover by Randal Bramblett called 'End of the String,' that makes her and my wife dance their faces off. It’s pretty great.
Let’s talk about Colorado’s awesome venues.
Q: Your favorite place to perform?
SO: I’ve had a couple of really special shows at The Walnut Room. That room is the perfect size for singer-songwriter stuff and when it’s packed it’s a terrific vibe. For a sweaty rock club, you can’t beat Herman’s Hideaway. I also love playing the big room at Swallow Hill. It’s 500 people but everyone who comes to a show there, comes to sit and listen. Real music nerds go to those shows. It’s so rewarding to perform there.
Q: Somewhere you haven’t played yet, but want to?
SO: Well, Red Rocks, of course. I’ve almost played the Paramount Theatre in Denver a couple of times, but for different reasons the shows didn’t come together. So I’d still like for that to happen. And I would love to play the Folks Festival up at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. That setting against those red rocks on the St. Vrain Creek is magical. That was my first Colorado music festival. I had only been in town a couple of weeks and I couldn’t get over watching the Decemberists and Mavis Staples and Lucinda Williams and all the rest while sitting IN a creek with a local beer and staring at the mountains. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over that.
Q: Favorite place to see live music?
SO: Red Rocks on a nice evening will change the trajectory of your life. My first RR show was John Prine and it was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve ever had. And I was raised Southern Baptist! I also love the Blue Bird Theatre. And this one will sound weird but a packed house when the AC is out at the Ogden Theatre is just what you want from a night of rock and roll. It’s just one of those great rock rooms like the 9:30 Club in Washington.
Q: Did time at home lead to any musical creativity for you?
SO: That’s a really interesting question. When this nightmare began, I expected that all that extra time at home would just be guitar guitar guitar guitar. But I hardly even took it out of the case. I just didn’t have whatever the thing is that makes me want to play or write. And then in the last three weeks I kind of woke up and have written two songs I’m really proud of and now cannot wait to get back on stage. So I guess reduced desire to play music was another symptom of COVID.
Q: Have you been up here to Fort Collins?
SO: I love Fort Collins! I think it’s gorgeous and has an amazing music/arts scene. My pal Chris Kresge introduced me to it. I rarely get up there because on a weekend with that I-25 traffic, there may as well be a moat between Denver and there. I’ve played there once at a charity concert outside of a really cool, old ice cream place. Walrus, I think?
(Yep, that's Walrus! It is supposedly haunted.) While we won’t get to see you on stage here, we are excited to have you be a part of our online Taste of Fort Collins on Friday, July 24. What can we expect from your set?
SO: As for my set, I’m still working it out. Some of my best songs have some um… adult language in them. So I’m figuring out what to do and not do. But I’m so excited to be part of the event this year.