Fresh on the mountain music scene with a mature indie-rock sound is Public Picasso, a new project for brothers Ethan and Grey Schapiro. Though their band was just officially formed this summer, the Schapiro brothers have been regulars around the open mic circuit and won the popular vote in this year’s Evergreen’s Got Talent competition. Having refined their sound—and picking up a bassist and a drummer—Public Picasso is scheduling shows and making plans to record music.
Ethan, who graduated Clear Creek High School in 2020, has turned his full attention to musical pursuits, a passion passed down through his family. “Our grandfather joined a band as a teenager and passed on the feeling of music through the branches of our family,” he says. “All it took was a guitar as a Christmas present or a birthday gift, and we’ve been hooked.”
The love of music was a given, and Ethan said, “hypothetically,” he and his brother always planned to take things to the next level. “Then one day, we just picked up our guitars and tried our luck.”
Grey, who is 15 and a student at Evergreen High School, graciously suggested that his brother was waiting for their musical talents to align. “I always wanted to play with my brother, but didn’t have the skill set to do it,” he says. “But now I’ve gained enough skill—and my brother’s trust—to do it.”
Both brothers were students of Evergreen’s own Joe Bye, who is known for nurturing natural talent in young musicians. Ethan studied with Joe after he’d mastered some basic skills, so Bye’s focus was on encouraging intuition and an ear. “I really got a feel for rhythm and songwriting,” Ethan says. “The ‘by-the-book’ teaching style went out the window and we wrote songs [together] every single day, walking away with something I was proud of.” Grey began working with Bye as well, and with a similar experience, quickly caught up to his brother’s level.
Being a young musician in school has its challenges, but Grey has made the most of it and even credits school for infusing his life with musical opportunity. “School has always been a large part of our music journey. Throughout our school years, we’ve had guitar classes, competed in talent shows and even small school events.” These outlets, coupled with Andy Potter and Mark Swaim’s open mic nights, have prepared the Schapiro brothers for their Public Picasso venture. “Whether it was showcasing with other musicians and making new connections, or a chance to practice stage presence and try out new songs, [these opportunities were] monumentally helpful and we got amazing support from all the people coming and listening to us.”
I had the chance to watch a Public Picasso debut at Evergreen’s Got Talent where Ethan and Grey both coolly and gracefully dealt with technical issues before their performance. They kept their heads. Their first show was shortly after in June, in Salida. They were invited back on the Fourth of July to open for some other bands. Now, they’re looking to book around Evergreen and block some studio time to record some of their music. Not limited to any certain genre, Public Picasso is committed to creating original music with its own unique sound. “For the most part, Public Picasso will be playing all original music. There will always be one or two covers thrown into the mix to keep things interesting,” says Grey. “Nothing is set in stone for this band, which really means we can move in any direction we want! We could be a completely different style of band next summer,” he jokes, “but I think we are really comfortable with how we’re playing right now.”
Ethan also sees this youthful potential for growth as a positive. “I think the best part about our young age is that our musical tastes and original pieces are unique. We can really widen our horizons and keep pushing ahead.”
Public Picasso has a brand-spanking-new Instagram, so you can follow along with upcoming shows and the band’s unfolding career. Visit @public_picasso and watch for a website launch soon as well.