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PUBLISHINGS

CORY SIMMONS, ARTIST BEHIND ASTRAL PRODUCTIONS

Cory Simmons is a singer songwriter located in Fort Collins, Colorado and one of the founders of Astral Productions. Astral Productions is a music production company started on April 20, 2021, to help new and current artists produce, record and schedule live events for their music. 

Cory Simmons is not a local from Colorado but has been living in Fort Collins for two years. He is originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina and after moving multiple times growing up decided to settle for the moment in Colorado.

"My favorite part of Fort Collins is the community, it's a city but it'5s still pretty small and well-knit I feel like. As a music scene I think it's always popping off. There's always something going on from Open-Mics to shows at venues. I think why I'm staying is because of that, there's just so much to get into."

Cory Simmons plays an original song at Duncan's Ridge, Fort Collins Feb 14.

I met Cory Simmons at an Open-Microphone night at The Magic Rat stage in Old Town. He stood out from the other artists, slowing the crowd down by filling the room with his voice and conversation ending guitar riffs. He covered songs that weren't his but the care he puts into every song would fool those who haven't heard the tune into believing he wrote it himself.

The levels of artists vary at Open-Mic events because they are free for any person to get on stage and sing a few songs for an audience. Though Cory stood out from the crowd, he stayed to listen to each artist and cheered them on at the end of each set. 

"I really believe that we rise and get by together," Simmons stated, "when you have a strong community its limitless. There are a lot of routes and aspects of getting help for growing and learning but community is how we prosper. I believe in doing a lot of self-work, whatever it may be for self-growth, but I believe it can be put into full effect when you bring it to the community. I just like how activating Fort Collins is with that."

Astral Productions hosted the event, "Spring Get Down" at The Emporium Sports Bar in Fort Collins April 9, 2022, that scheduled seven bands. The event was free entry and hosted artists including Colt Ball, Guerrilla Fanfare, Hand Turkey, and Sasha Stone Band. 

"The goal for this was to make it a donation-based entry but not included, so we're not shutting anybody out," Simmons stated, "so that the artists could get recognition and be promoted. I love music, it's been such a big part of my life, that any way I could be involved and not limit it to certain people, whether you have money or not, offers something great for the musicians and the community." 

Though hosting events can be stressful Cory and his counterpart Patrick Vernsten were at the door smiling in sunglasses and sleeveless Astral Productions jerseys, greeting everyone who entered. Cory was constantly on his feet meeting people, handing out beers, chatting with the musicians and cheering for the bands playing. Cory and Patrick set up a tent outside for the artist full of free food and drinks for the musicans to relax in before and after their show. 

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"I've been working with Cory since the start of this company," Vernsten stated, "We've been friends for a long time, he's the musician and I bring the organizational background. We've run events in the past and have been to a lot of music events so its second nature for us. We love music so much; we've been those fans, so I feel a great appreciation for our artist and our fans as a host."

Patrick Vernsten posing inside the green room of Astral Productions Spring Get Down at The Emporium Sports Bar April 9.

Cory Simmons writes and sings his own songs based off his dreams and past experiences. He practices at home, outdoors with friends and covers music with other artists. Mixing his past experiences with his dreams he creates acoustic music that gives a psychedelic experience mixed with creative chords and colorful riffs.

FORT COLLINS PROVIDES GREAT COMMUNITY FOR ASPIRING MUSICIANS

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Jackson Smith from the band Hotel Wifi performs an original song at Sonic Spotlight Dec. 10, 2021. 

For local artists, Fort Collins is a great place to kickstart a musical career and build a wide audience. 

The options aren’t slim when it comes to venues. With open mic nights all around, people in Fort Collins want to cheer new artists on and see them succeed.

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“My definition of success for being an artist is connecting with community,” said Cory Simmons, a local artist in Fort Collins. “It’s the biggest part because sharing your music with people goes a lot further than money could ever really buy. It really means nothing if you’re not impacting the people that are out there listening.”

Cory Simmons plays an original song at Wolverine Farm during FoCoMX April 23.

Simmons continually attends open mic nights — free venues for any artist to play in front of a crowd — because it is one of the best ways to make connections and introduce more people to his music.

 

“One thing I’ve really noticed and appreciated out here is the amount of open mics that are around,” Simmons said. “They lead us to other parts of the community with people that are gigging and connections can come from that. It’s a very approachable scene, and the more you dive into it, the further you go. It really just involves connecting with those around you.”

Another local musical artist, Julia Kirkwood, knew she wanted to become a musician after taking choir and rock classes as a child.

 

She started recording songs, working with other artists and competing in Sonic Spotlight, an annual local competition for artists 22 years old and under. After she did not make it to the final round in 2020, she didn’t let it discourage her. She improved on her sound and style and gave it her best, leading her to win in 2021.

 

Looking back reminds her of how she got where she is now and the potential she has for the future.

“Don’t get nervous, and don’t be afraid of not being good enough — every single artist in Fort Collins wants you to succeed,” Kirkwood said. “We help each other, and that’s what makes our community so strong, so reach out, and do what you(‘ve) got to do to get the information you need, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are all here to support you.”

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Julia Kirkwood, the winner of Sonic Spotlight, plays an original song Dec. 10, 2021. Sonic Spotlight was a competition for artists under 22 years old that took place at Washington’s in Fort Collins.

A local from Fort Collins, Jackson Smith of the band Hotel Wifi started their music career by playing in a school rock band and moving to a house band before making music on their own.

 

“Just meet people — it’s the most useful advice ever,” Smith said. “We are lucky to have Pat Stryker, the Bohemian Foundationthe Music District and all those people. … I don’t really know a town that pushes music like that. I think going to shows and meeting people in smaller venues such as The Atrium … are fantastic starting points. If you can meet people in any specific music scene, that’s a great starting place in my opinion.”

Urban Monk Studios, run by Saja Butler — that’s a really good place to go if you want good lessons on any instrument,” Kirkwood said. “She’s very talented, but she also knows a lot about music production, so she’s a great person to go to if you want to learn how to record songs on your own.”

“(Their) whole thing is, ‘Do what you want to do,’” Kirkwood said. “You can go and join a band and they can get you on big stages, like Red Rocks (Amphitheatre), with these other people who are just trying to learn more about the business.”

The music community is always looking for new artists and will welcome any with open arms. For these artists, Fort Collins has been a great opportunity to get their music out there, and they think it’s a good place for newcomers too. 

NEW ARTIST? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO KICK START A MUSIC CAREER

TX2 plays live at The Coast Feb 19.

1. I HAVE A SONG I WANT TO PLAY FOR PEOPLE, BUT WHERE DO I START?

Open mic nights: These free, weekly events are a great chance for an artist to play for an audience. The Comedy Fort hosts open mic nights on Mondays, The Atrium hosts open mic nights on Tuesdays, Land of Bands hosts an open mic night the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Magic Rat Live Music inside the Elizabeth Hotel and Lucky Joe’s Sidewalk Saloon hosts open mic nights on Sundays. These are just a few in Fort Collins; there are many more.

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The Magic Rat Live Music bar showcases the night’s entertainment in lights inside the Elizabeth Hotel Jan. 26. The open mic event was hosted by the KCSU FM radio station, partnered with Land of Bands.

2. WHAT IF I'VE NEVER PLAYED IN FRONT OF PEOPLE?

Don’t worry, your audience will most likely be intoxicated. Most open mic nights are hosted at bars or clubs in Fort Collins. Fort Collins has such a large night life that people will always be there to cheer you on. It’s a rare occasion the audience isn’t drinking and enjoying the show.

3. HOW MANY OPEN MIC NIGHTS SHOULD I GO TO?

Go to as many open mic nights as you can — it’s the music community that makes them important.

“It’s like being part of a family, with all the connections out there and showing up to the open mics with the amount of people that show up just to express themselves,” Colorado musician Cory Simmons said. So much talent is in Fort Collins, you’re bound to meet someone who can help you with your career challenges.

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Cory Simmons plays an original song at the Magic Rat’s open mic night in the Elizabeth Hotel Jan. 26.

4. I WANT TO RECORD MY SONGS, WHERE DO I GO?

Places like; Higher Ground Rehearsal StudiosStout StudiosThe Blasting RoomShirty Mastering and The Music District offer recording services to local musicians.

“The Music District has been really awesome,” Fort Collins musician Malek Haltam said. “The bassist of my band has a membership there, and we are able to practice three times a month, and that’s a new program they are rolling out now, so you’ll be able to pay for a subscription and get a few practice sessions a month, super cool space.”

5. WHAT OTHER MUSIC EVENTS ARE IN TOWN?

Competitions like Sonic Spotlight are great events in Fort Collins where music venues like Washington’s host competitions. Sonic Spotlight is strictly for new artists aged 22 and under, but each competition is different. These are amazing ways to build your portfolio and make the connections you need to get your name out there.

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