By Dave Herrera | Aug. 19, 2016 | 5:17 a.m.
Wow, that went by fast. Next month, Mile High Soul Club will be celebrating its eight-year anniversary. Eight years!
Seriously, it seems like just yesterday that Tyler Jacobson had retired from Lipgloss and started playing soul records with Mile High Soul Club's co-founder Tim "Dogboy" Wieser (who is actually the one who came up with the original idea to launch the night, Jacobson points out). Jacobson, it turns out, sort of feels the same way, he says.
"It still feels like the brand new thing that I'm doing after Lipgloss," says that night's co-founder. "It still feels like it's in kind of its early stages, which is really weird, because I've been doing this almost as long as I did Lipgloss.
"So it's a really weird feeling," Jacobson continues. "I mean, again, it still feels like it's a growing concern. It's something that could still have miles ahead of it. So that's one thing that I kind of carry around with me all the time right now.
"It's also really weird being a 41-year-old man and having success as a DJ and seeing this party continue to grow and continue to attract people and continue to get us on these really big stages, in front of these very popular acts. I mean, it's always kind of a shock that I can do that. I never would have guessed it when I was in my mid twenties and started deejaying."
After co-founding Lipgloss with Michael Trundle and Tim Cook (aka the Denver 3) and keeping the dance floor packed for a number of years, Jacobson was introduced by mutual friends to Wieser, a scene veteran, who had hosted parties like Botanic and been a resident at Ninth Avenue West (aka La Rumba), and who had been wanting to start a night devoted exclusively to soul music.
He'd originally planned to DJ the night with a friend of his, but when, for whatever reason his friend opted out, he and Jacobson linked up. Shortly thereafter, the two started spinning records once a month at Rockbar on Tuesday nights, and the night gradually developed a following from there.
The crowd didn't appear overnight, though, which frustrated the founders. There were a couple iterations of Mile High Soul Club, which moved around several times. From Rockbar, it moved over to Shag and then to Paris Wine Bar for a few nights, followed by a stint at Mario's Double Daughter Salotto, before finally finding a home for a healthy run at the Meadowlark. It was there, says Jacobson, that Soul Club finally started picking up some steam.
Jacobson says there were several factors that contributed to that. Around that time, the crew had expanded to include Steve Cervantes, who started a guest DJ, and he was such a great fit, that he ended up signing on full time. The Meadowlark likewise made for an ideal pairing at the time.
"I think it had to do with location. It had to do with Steve becoming a part of it and adding his style and a genuine love to it. Also moving to a weekend night, rather than a weekday night helped."
As the crowds became thicker at Meadowlark, a move eventually became in order, and so, the night moved again to Beauty Bar for a time, before settling into its current home at Syntax Physic Opera. "We kept outgrowing our spaces," Jacobson explains. "You know, we would have never left Meadowlark, if it could have accommodated the number of people who were coming."
Looking back now, Jacobson says his favorite highlights include being on the main stage at Red Rocks, where Mile High Soul Club played as part of the annual Film on the Rocks series, as well as appearing on the main stage at the UMS. His favorite moments, though, he says, have really come from just hosting the party itself every month.
"I call it opening a bottle of happiness," he says. "That's really what it is to me. I leave there, and I feel elated. I feel like ... yeah, when it's all done, it's just, like, that was an incredible experience, and I get to go do it again next month."
Jason Heller, who sat in with Soul Club a few times when it was at Shag, is now part of the crew. Jacobson says Heller inspired him and set the bar for a good soul night with Chit Chat, the wildly popular soul night Heller used to host with Big Al.
Every time Heller guested, Jacobson let him know that if he ever wanted to join Soul Club full time he was welcome. Eventually he took him up on the offer, and he's kept Jacobson on his toes ever since. "He's a Denver legend for many reasons," says Jacobson. "He makes my job so much harder, because he just kills it every time."
With as much as the night has grown, the prospect of turning the night into a weekly event might seem enticing, but Jacobson says he and Wieser agreed from the beginning that it would always remain a monthly. "We wanted to have some scarcity and be a little bit rare," he says. "I think that has really paid off."
Keeping a party going for nearly a decade is impressive. Only a handful of nights around town have made it this long, including SoWhat, which has been going off and on for more than two decades, Lipgloss, the night he co-founded, and the Solution. So what's the secret to longevity? "I don't know that I can really pinpoint why it works," says Jacobson, "other than to say, it's really hard to have a bad time when you're listening to soul music."
Indeed. On a related note, Jacobson's other party, the appropriately dubbed Casual, which has been happening sporadically over the past five years, is happening for the last time on Saturday, August 27, at the Meadowlark. Mile High Soul Club's anniversary party, meanwhile, is slated for Saturday, September 3 (note: Jason Heller is on tour with Howling Hex, and so he will not be on hand).