The Burroughs is the band UNC was bound to create
By Steve Graham
In hindsight, it was inevitable. At a Greeley open mic, a couple of musicians approached Johnny Burroughs, a charismatic and flame-haired singer with a booming voice, about forming a soul band. After recruiting more musical talent from the University of Northern Colorado, they created one of the hottest live bands in the region.
But it never seemed inevitable to the nine members of The Burroughs, a “sweaty soul” outfit still going strong in Greeley.
“It took off from that first gig, but nobody had the idea that it would keep going for years,” said Briana Harris, who plays alto saxophone in the band.
She said the band has always focused on an uplifting, high-energy live show.
“If you come into a show and are carrying any kind of personal burden, you can throw it up on us and forget about it, at least temporarily,” Harris said.
The band released its first full-length studio album this year, following up on an acclaimed live album. They are playing several summer festivals and planning more tours later
“Our goal is to continue to expand our territory, both inside Colorado and out of it, with upcoming tours and festival opportunities,” Burroughs said. “I am excited to win new audiences over and bring life and joy to a whole new set of people.”
Seven of the nine members are UNC music graduates, and the majority still work in the music world. Harris is an instructor and marketing coordinator for UNC arts programs. Drummer Mary Claxton runs the Colorado Little Kids Rock program, which feeds instruments and arts education into K-12 public schools.
Singer Burroughs is a worship leader at Fusion Ministries in Greeley. It’s not a coincidence that a Burroughs show can feel like a raucous tent revival.
Harris said their professional gigs allow for some flexibility to tour, but also make it a challenge to turn The Burroughs into a full-time effort. On the other hand, she said they have already reached an important milestone.
“We consider ourselves really successful because we get paid to play the music we love to play,” Harris said.
In addition to giving joy and energy to their audiences, they also regularly work in local middle and high schools, and play with their jazz and concert bands.
Catch them on Friday, May 11, at the May Play music festival in downtown Greeley, or in July at the Concerts Under the Stars series. For tour dates and more information, visit theburroughssoul.com.
Steve Graham is a freelance writer and former newspaper editor who likes taking his two young boys biking, hiking and brewery-hopping in northern Colorado.