Coming back home
EAGLE – At first glance, it seems J.E. Borgen forsook the path of least resistance and opted for the long road to reach his musical destination.”Nothing has been straightforward about it,” Borgen said.The 28-year-old, who headlines the Show-Down Town free concert tonight in Eagle Town Park, grew up in Denver and racing for Ski Club Vail. His two sisters live in Edwards, and has a built-in fan base in Denver. Borgen sees his return to Colorado as a happy homecoming.”We’re very excited,” said Borgen’s brother-in-law Misha Moritz, who lives in Edwards. “I think his music’s great, especially for the young, college group. The same people that are into the Dave Matthews of the world are soon going to be into the J.E. Borgens of the world.Borgen has spent the last year piecing together a talented group of musicians to form a band that is quickly carving a niche in the grassroots music scene in New England and beyond.With his debut record, “Outside,” released last year, Borgen’s groove-based, swinging folk-rock sound conjures up images of intimate singer/songwriters he discovered in his youth, long before his own dream would be realized.A glimmer of hope found its way into Borgen’s eye when he tagged along with his mother to a John Denver concert at Red Rocks. Borgen was just 5 years old, but not too young to recognize Denver’s ability to connect with the audience.
“My mom exposed me to a lot of music,” Borgen said. “Not only John Denver, but a lot of singer/songwriters in that same arena, like Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, a lot of Dylan. They inspired me.”He dabbled with the piano and even took up the guitar at 14. But it was lacrosse, not music, that the young Borgen was smitten with.”I didn’t really get into it until my senior year of high school,” he said. “I took this course this jug-band type course. It was the first time I was really playing with other people and feeding off the musicianship and creativity of other people.”He went on to attend Middlebury College in Vermont to play lacrosse. He still pursued music in his spare time, performing in a small acoustic band called Sweet Jesus, named for an expression one of the band mates frequently used.”We wrote a lot of songs and we sucked,” Borgen said. “We just played at parties and had fun.”Borgen eventually graduated with a psychology degree and moved back to Colorado where he accepted a position with a nonprofit and then an accounting firm, all the while taking guitar lessons and music classes.It was not until a friend asked him to go on the road as a guitar tech with his band, Dispatch, that Borgen had an epiphany that would redirect his career.”It really turned me on to, not being on the road, but just being in that business,” he said. “I got to see all angles of it and it was really inspiring. I became interested in the business side.”
Borgen applied to Berklee School of Music in Boston and was admitted into the music business management program. Since Berklee requires all students to actively play an instrument, Borgen continued his writing songs and studying the guitar. His curiosity to understand how the business operated from all sides led him into the studio to record his own material. “I had these songs and I wanted to lay them down. I thought it would be eye-opening,” he said. “I wanted to know what it’s like to be an artist in the studio and what it’s like to be an engineer and produce a record. It turned out that a lot of people really liked the record.”Not only did he garner support from listeners, it gave him permission to explore his talents further.”I was a little scared to jump in that body of water of being an artist,” Borgen said. “I love writing songs. I love performing. That’s really what it came down to. It outshined getting into the business side.”Getting a music business management degree valuable”I just think when you’re a young artist you have to know how toself-promote,” Borgen said. “A lot of these young artist are greatmusicians but they don’t know how to book a gig or promote themselves in a grassroots way. I knew the avenues. I knew the language of how to speak to booking agents and club owners. Hopefully I’ll get big enough where I won’t have to worry about booking and promoting. But right now I’m in such an infant stage, I have to do all that myself.”
“From what I know, J.E. puts so much hard work into it, and he just loves it,” Moritz said.Borgen plans of releasing a new album this fall, material he’ll be playing tonight. He wants to stay on the East Coast for at least another year and try to stir the waters a bit more. “I’m totally pouring my heart into it. It’s something I will always do but whether I do it as a career is yet to be seen,” Borgen said. “I’m really not trying to think too far ahead and getting caught up in all the what ifs, and focus on small steps that lead to bigger things. You can get really overwhelmed in this business if you’re measuring success by where you are 6 months out, and if you don’t make it it’s so easy to get dejected and leave all your hopes and dreams behind.”Groove-based folkJ.E. Borgen6 p.m. todayShow-Down Town free concert series
Eagle Town ParkCatch him on the Zephyr Friday at 10 a.m.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado