If you go …
What: Live show by Denver band Mono Verde
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: The O.P. Sports Bar & Grill, 534 E. Victory Way
— The band is a 10-piece Latin reggae group with songs primarily in Spanish. There is a $5 cover charge. The O.P. will stop serving food about 9:30 p.m., when people younger than 21 will be asked to leave. For more information about the show, call 824-8918. For more information about Mono Verde, visit www.facebook.com/monoverderoots or www.myspace.com/monoverderoots.
When Randy Runyan first picked up a horn in Craig, he was primarily playing the basic marching band songs every middle school and high school music student learns.
Since then, he has expanded his musical education, as well as his expectations of what kind of sounds are possible across various genres.
Runyan will be playing tonight at The O.P. Bar & Grill with his band, Mono Verde, a 10-piece Latin reggae group based out of Denver.
Runyan plays trumpet within the dectet, whose music hearkens back to ska bands of the 1960s.
“A lot of Jamaican reggae was played with horns,” he said. “I love the harmonies. They’re pretty simple, which makes the lyrics and melodies powerful. Trumpet’s primarily a support instrument, but I take quite a few solos and I sing backup sometimes, too.”
Mono Verde’s repertoire consists almost entirely of Spanish lyrics in original songs written by singer/guitarist Rafa Torres like “Sueña” and “Lucha Con Tu Ritmo,” which translates to “Fight with your rhythm.” They also perform a handful of cover tunes like the Cuban standard “Guantanamera” and Manu Chao’s “Mr. Bobby,” a tribute to Bob Marley, arguably the best-known performer in the reggae world.
Runyan is somewhat of a minority in the group.
“Only three of us are Anglo,” he said. “The rest are Latino.”
Mono Verde’s members have roots in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia and other Central American and South American countries.
Runyan said celebrating other cultures is what reggae is all about, and the group’s latest show gives him a chance to get in touch with his own roots.
“I’m excited to come back to Craig,” he said. “I haven’t been able to keep in touch with all of my high school friends, and it’ll be my first time performing there since 2002.”
Runyan graduated from Moffat County High School in 2002. During his time in the school, he was involved in music, playing trumpet in the band, and singing in the school choir.
“I owe a great deal of my musical ability to what I learned in band from Bill Toovey and Jim Gunn,” he said.
Runyan continued his interest in music through college, graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in 2007 with a degree in music education. He joined Mono Verde in 2008 after seeing an online listing.
“There were a lot of people in the group before me,” he said. “We’ve had up to 13 people.”
Runyan is a music instructor at Denver’s Kepner Middle School. Becoming fluent in Spanish has been a snap for him, between teaching at a school with a high amount of Hispanic students and playing with the band.
Mono Verde released the album “Ensamblando Culturas” in early 2010.
“I think it was a really good effort for a self-release,” Runyan said.
The group is working on releasing a second album, “Ecos de Fe y Esperanza,” for the fall. Until then, the group is content to perform live around Colorado.
Their format works best live, Runyan said.
“Our music is very danceable,” he said. “For people who don’t speak Spanish, it might not be as accessible but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. With live music, it’s hard to understand the lyrics, anyway, so it’s not a barrier so much as an asset.”
The group will be performing on the stage of The O.P.’s “No Float Showboat,” located behind the building. Owner Delbert Knez said he is hoping for a crowd of about 400 to 450 people.
“I’m not sure what to expect, but I think they’ll be cool to watch,” he said.
Runyan said he hopes to make Craig a regular stop for the group.
“It’d be cool to have a bigger live music scene there,” he said. “We’d definitely like to come back if the market’s sustainable.”
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