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YoteFort: C of I bands take Treefort stage

Guitars and banjos sang and music notes twanged. Boots tapped the beat and couples moved their feet in a dust devil motion under the low glow of wrought iron lamps. The scene looked circa 1800s on Main Street in downtown Boise as Curtis/Sutton and the Scavengers performed under the golden arch at Pengilly’s Saloon. 

“That’s allllll, that’s all, baby that’s all,” the band sang as its set came to an end. The crowd chanted “one more song!” but it was time for another one of the 400-plus bands to take the stage at Treefort Music Festival.

Over the course of five days, music reverberated off the buildings of downtown Boise as Treefort came to town. The festival, which started in 2012, also featured events such as Film Fest, Comedyfort, and a giant squid puppet that lit up and roamed the streets at night. And where there are giant squid puppets, there are sure to be Coyotes.

Check out photos of Yotes at Treefort on the C of I Flickr page.

Several College of Idaho students, alumni and faculty members performed at Treefort, including junior Chelsea Walther, who sings in Curtis/Sutton and the Scavengers. Walther also sings in both the C of I Chorale and Chamber Singers choirs, but she originally started out in soulful bands.

“Bluegrass and Americana are really my favorite types of music,” said Walther, who enjoyed the active and excited crowd at Treefort. “It’s what I listen to in my car.”

A few hours later, street lights filtered in through tall windows at The District Coffee House on the corner of 10th and Bannock. The whirl of coffee beans gave way to a mix of traditional Mexican music mixed with jazz saxophone and synthesizers as Urquides took the stage.

Urquides is comprised almost completely of C of I alumni with Lauryn Medeiros ’11, Mike Ward ’11, Erin Nelson ’12, Ricardo Osuna ’12 and Katy Stewart ’13 occupying five out of the six spots. Osuna’s brother, Abraham, rounds out the ensemble.

The band started out as a side project for Osuna, who also plays in another alumni band that made a Treefort appearance—The Green Zoo.

“About six months after graduating, I realized, ‘Hey, I’ve never taken the time to get to know the music of Mexico and Latin America,’” said Osuna, who moved from Mexico to Idaho as a nine-year-old.

So he immersed himself in the music, literature and poetry of those cultures, and the influences became apparent in his work. Thus, Urquides was born as a way for Osuna to get in touch with his motherland.

All of the band members played music with each other during their time at the C of I, whether it was in choirs, bands or jamming out in each other’s apartments. While Urquides is drastically different form the music the group played at the C of I, there are some jazz influences that can be found in their music. But how do they describe their sound?

“Bilingual atmospheric rock,” Nelson said.

The bilingual aspect can be heard in songs such as “Mula de Metal,” (Metal Mule) based off of band-namesake Jesus Urquides, who packed mules around the city of Boise, and “Las Campanitas,” (The Little Bells) which is a narrative of the change Osuna faced when first coming to Idaho as a fourth grader.

When he moved here, Osuna only knew basic English (“Where is the bathroom?” “Yes.” “No.” “Okay.”) Not speaking English presented a particular problem at recess and lunch. Unable to understand his classmates, Osuna felt lost, he said. But, he found comfort by sitting on a bench and listening to the soft sound of wind chimes that clanged in the distance.

And during Treefort, the crowd of music goers found comfort in the tones of the up-and-coming band that hopes to release an EP album this summer.

“It’s so cool to be a part of (Treefort)…and the local music in this community,” Osuna said. “We haven’t been a band too long, so we are just stoked that they would even have us.”

Other C of I-related bands at Treefort included alumni groups Innocent Man, a rock-n-roll band with an Americana influence, and 208 Ensemble, a classical group. C of I English professor Scott Knickerbocker and his band, the Hokum Hi-Flyers, also serenated crowds with old-time mountain music.

“It was a good turnout, and it was really inspiring to hear so many other good bands the whole weekend,” Knickerbocker said.

Treefort was a giant party to show off the beauty of Boise and the Pacific Northwest music scene, Knickerbocker said. And it also showed off the vast musical talent found on a small liberal arts campus in Caldwell.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars and 14 Marshall, Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College’s beautiful, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit