Neither Mr. Goodkat nor Notebook Jones smoke, a similarity that bloomed into the blues musicians’ duo.
When everyone else was outside smoking, the drummer and guitarist broke out in a round of The White Stripes tunes. Just months later, the Fort Collins pair are working on their first album under the name of The Billy Goats, and the are looking forward to being a part of the music festival in Fort Collins this month that will feature more than 240 bands. It’s the city’s largest concert.
“It’s kind of a love story,” said Kevin Ott, with a chuckle of his band partnership with guitarist Adam Smith, 28. Ott goes by the stage name, Mr. Goodkat. “Originally we both wanted to move out of Colorado, but then we fell in love with Fort Collins, and we met and now we want to stay.”
The blues-and-rock band is the epitome of local talents featured in the Fort Collins Music Experiment, which will consume 24 venues in northern Colorado April 19-20.
The massive event is run entirely by volunteers and shows lesser-known northern Colorado bands that often are overshadowed by the Denver and Boulder music scenes, co-founder Greta Cornett said.
Organizers tout the community aspect of the festival, which they estimate will require about 450 volunteers to oversee the expected 6,000 attendees.
In addition to overseeing the event, Cornett will play in three bands over the weekend: Mama Lenny and the Remedy, 12 Cents for Marvin and The 3 Twins.
“There’s people that are playing in more bands than I am,” Cornett said. “That’s part of the northern Colorado scene. I find that’s one of the biggest challenges — people play in different bands, so when we’re scheduling we have to be aware of that.”
The music scene in Fort Collins is so large and intertwined, in fact, that the Experiment had to scale back the number of participants for the 2013 festival from about 350 bands at 40 venues last year.
“We reduced the number venues and bands this year to make it more accessible and less overwhelming,” said Danielle Hastings, marketing and volunteer coordinator for the festival.
Cornett originated the Experiment to help artists of the Fort Collins Musicians Association; all proceeds from the event go straight to the bands, she said. Five years ago, the volunteers did not receive T-shirts or drink koozies for their work like they do now, she said.
“We would have laminating parties in our living rooms,” Cornett said of creating posters in 2008. “It was very intense. We vowed to never do that again because we are still finding hole punches in our cars.”
Hastings was an unpaid volunteer for two years before becoming one of two contracted employees in 2013. She noted that the event would not be possible without the volunteers, who receive bracelets for festival if they commit to four hours of work.
“There’s a lot of great festivals that happen throughout the year up here, but this is one that’s run by the community in every way,” Hastings said.
Though they have only been members of northern Colorado for a couple of years, The Billy Goats could empathize with Hastings on the sense of belonging in the music scene away from the big city.
“I wanted to get out of Chicago so I actually was a nomad for a year, traveling around, and then found myself in Fort Collins and fell in love with it. And Adam was similar. He’s from Vermont,” Ott said.
The pair will take the stage at Surfside 7 at 8:30 p.m. April 20, when about two dozen other bands will play around town at the same time.
“There’s kind of this electric vibe that zings throughout the town on Friday and Saturday night,” Hastings said. “There’s music and dancing everywhere.”