Monday, August 12, 2019

I’d Love To Turn You On At The Movies #224 - All That Heaven Allows (1955, dir. Douglas Sirk)


            Douglas Sirk: “This is the dialectic—there is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains an element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art.”

And so it is with the series of melodramas (or more dismissively, “women’s weepies” as they were called at the time) that German emigre Sirk made in Hollywood in the 1950s, retiring after making his most financially successful film, Imitation of Life, in 1959. But 1955’s All That Heaven Allows may even be the better film. On its surface, the film tells the story of a society widow, Cary (Jane Wyman) attempting to move past the lonely mourning that has defined her life for herself, her children, and the community around her by falling in love with her Thoreau-reading, free-living young gardener Ron (Rock Hudson), and the consequent fallout with her selfish children and the gossipy community whose standards she violates by not remaining the lonely widow or remarrying with someone appropriately dignified. But working underneath this the film is relentless in its assault on that community; its ideas of making money to keep up with the joneses, its view of a woman as a possession to be walled up in the tomb of the late husband, its view that a woman must bear the responsibilities of tradition at the expense of her own happiness.
The film opens its credit sequence with a high shot of the town square and the clock in the foreground, then slowly works its way to look down the cozy streets (which we will soon learn are largely populated with malicious vipers) before coming down to ground level to introduce us to Cary and her friend Sara (Agnes Moorhead, who alone stands by her side during the drama to follow), quickly and economically setting up the relationships of Cary, her children, her status as widow, and her place outside the country club set. Cary meets her gardener, invites him for the lunch Sara has skipped out on, and a mutual attraction sparks between the two before he continues on his way to work. Cary later joins Sara for a cocktail party in the company of the deeply respectable and stultifying boring Harvey; she's clad in a scandalously low-cut red dress, which does not escape the notice of her children - or the town’s main gossip, the hilariously catty Mona (Jacqueline de Wit), whose every barbed, bitchy line throughout the film is gold.
Cary soon goes on a date with Ron to visit his friends, a group of bohemian non-conformists who could not contrast more sharply with Cary’s rigid society world, and falls in love with him. But when Cary decides to introduce her social circle to Ron, all hell breaks loose - not only is she an older woman (its implied that the age difference is greater than a decade, even though Wyman was in reality only eight years older than Hudson), but she’s disrespecting the memory of her dead husband, and the false insinuation that this affair may have even begun before he passed away is a bit of gossip too delicious for someone like Mona to pass up. But it’s Ron’s non-conformity that rankles as much as any of the above - his goal in work isn’t to make as much money as possible, he drives a beat-up, purely functional car, he lives in a restored old mill - all qualities which add to Cary’s attraction to him and his lifestyle and place her further outside the society she’s inhabited.
These conflicts with her social circle and her children pitted against her emotions and her inner life are the meat of the film, and far more serious than the light soap opera that Sirk's films were taken to be at the time. Dialogue that seems trivial - for example Cary's daughter home from school talking about the ancient Egyptian custom of “walling up the widow alive in the funeral chamber of her dead husband along with all of his other possessions, the theory being that she was a possession too so she was supposed to journey into death with him. And the community saw to it that she did. Of course that doesn’t happen any more.” is answered by a curt retort from Cary “Doesn’t it? Well, perhaps not in Egypt.” And this idea is reflected by the visual palette of the film - not just the bright colors that may seem unmotivated by the actual sets of the film but are always reflective of the emotional states of the characters, but also the framing and composition, which frequently places barriers - doors, screens, banisters - between Cary and her children or fellow townspeople to represent her mental division from them, or mirrors to open up the space and also symbolize the divide between Cary's actual self and the social image she feels the need to present. It's brilliant, layered filmmaking, as masterful in Sirk's chosen genre of melodrama (Sirk preferred the term “dramas of swollen emotions”) as Hitchcock is with his exquisitely planned suspense. He's aided in this by the great cinematographer Russell Metty, who made eight films with Sirk (and also shot Welles' Touch of Evil, Kubrick's Spartacus, Huston's The Misfits, and many more) and is here given a kaleidoscopic range of color to work with.
The story may seem simple and artificial, but the results are anything but. And it’s Sirk’s exploration of this base story - with the added element of craziness in the heated melodrama that ensues that lifts the film that could be a trashy potboiler well into the territory of art.
-         Patrick Brown

Monday, August 5, 2019

I'd Love to Turn You On #237 - R.E.M. - Reckoning (1984)


Very few bands have been as persistent and present in my life as R.E.M. have been. Just as my mother smothered me with “Love Me Do” in the car on the way back from my first ski lessons, we would come home to find my dad grilling steaks as Lifes Rich Pageant blared from the Luxman. In my youth, the esoteric cover art and political overtness of albums like Document and Green always felt way over my head, like I wasn’t supposed to know about or listen to it – but it was the 90’s and, thanks to “Losing My Religion,” they were inescapable. The group’s cultish second album, 1984’s Reckoning, was the first album of theirs I bought for myself, and it kick-started my own Rapid-Eyed love affair. Written and recorded immediately after the release of their classic debut, Murmur, the record bears moments of a young band fully actualizing their democratic and unified vision.
The band’s signature urgency is immediately evident as drummer Bill Berry hits rapid fire on his snare to usher in the album’s haunting opener, “Harborcoat.” Like many of the best early R.E.M. songs, “Harborcoat” has an anthemic energy, yet it remains abstract and surreal – almost pagan-like in its search for musical divinity and as primitive as the watercolor snake that adorns the album’s sleeve. As with many of the record’s upbeat numbers, Berry’s agile drumming, the fierce jangle of guitarist Peter Buck, and the angular pulsing of bassist Mike Mills drive and decorate the track. As an opaque and sepia-toned portrait of the horrors of war (and loosely based on The Diary Of Anne Frank), the song serves as an entry point into the beautiful brain and inimitable voice of singer Michael Stipe (with a full head of curly hair, no less!)
While some of his performances retain the same mumbling mysteriousness as Murmur, Stipe has clearly begun to write and sing more directly on Reckoning. This can be noted through the album’s reoccurring themes of deep loss, the Deep South, and water; qualities which are prominent on the record’s first single, “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry),” an autobiographical story where “these rivers of suggestion” force Stipe to end his triad with an otherwise heterosexual couple. He also tackles bereavement on the slow and stunningly sad “Camera,” which takes place at the funeral of another girlfriend who died in a car accident. On the fast and fierce “Pretty Persuasion,” Stipe seems to comment vaguely on capitalism in the verse before uttering one of his most visceral and suggestive choruses: “He’s got a pretty persuasion/She’s got a pretty persuasion/God damn, pure confusion.
Sonically, Reckoning has a more organic quality compared to its predecessor, yet it also contains some tactful and subtle experimentation. At the suggestion of producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, much of the album was recorded binaurally in order to faithfully capture the band’s live sound, allowing each band member to be heard clearly in an accurate stereo image. The brash drone of harmonica in the interlude of “Harborcoat” is the perfect counterpoint to Buck’s brisk guitar arpeggios. “Letter Never Sent” is perhaps the most danceable track on the album, as Berry’s four-on-the-floor drumming accents Stipe’s mumblings of catacombs and homesickness. Most interestingly, on the gorgeous “Time After Time (Annelise),” the band dips its feet into sixties-esque raga-rock and utilizes congas and bongos to give the song an exotic and earthy feel. The Americana-tinged “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” written by Mike Mills as a plea to his girlfriend not to leave town, is one of the most straightforward entries in the band’s early catalog, with a playfulness that is accented by the southern twang in Stipe’s singing and Buck’s serendipitous piano. 
Serving as a key entry point into early alternative music, as opposed to the sleek sounds of new wave or the bubblegum excess of Madonna, Reckoning captures a band that had no idea what they were getting themselves into – no idea that they would eventually sign the largest record contract in history. It’s simply the sound of four college kids from Athens: three who were just as enamored with Wire’s arty post-punk as they were with the classic chime of the Byrds’ Rickenbackers - plus a uniquely enigmatic singer, equal parts Jack Kerouac and Patti Smith, who wrote cryptically of history, heartbreak, sexuality, enlightenment, and death. It’s a trailblazing sound that’s had a distinct influence, inspiring everyone from Kurt Cobain to Thom Yorke to Bradford Cox to create arresting guitar music that was muscular and robust, yet seeped in critical thought and emotional depth.
        Ethan Griggs

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dick Weissman - an interview with Paul Epstein


Dick Weissman, Denver, 2000

Dick Weissman is an entirely unique mix of historian, musician, teacher and mensch. He has his curmudgeonly side, but his genuine love of music and understanding of the times he lives in permeates everything he says. His self-effacing manner belies a sharp and incisive wit, whether he is dispensing wisdom to a class full of music industry hopefuls or picking his way through a complicated banjo piece in front of a rapt audience. He is never less than completely honest and authentic. As he speaks, his manner and mind recall a different America and a different type of American. The type for whom art is an occupation not an abstract concept, and to whom civic engagement is an obligation not an antiquated joke. He is part of a tradition of American folk musician that helped define the national character at crucial times in our history. He should be heard and cherished, and he is right here in Colorado. We spoke on St. Patrick’s Day of 2019. As his thoughts unwind in lengthy reminiscences it feels like the history of modern culture is coming alive. His experiences are defining and trace the development of the now thriving music scene we enjoy in Colorado.

Visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame for an edited version of this article and much more cool stuff at https://cmhof.org/

Work Camp Stockbridge, MA, 1959
Q: Tell us about your early life and your first introduction to Colorado.
A: I grew up in Philadelphia… my parents had a commuter marriage: my mother was teaching public school in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and my Dad was a pharmacist in Philadelphia, had a little drug store; it was during the Depression and my Mother didn’t want to quit her job because she was afraid of what happens if this drug store goes under? So my big hobby was collecting travel booklets. I had all of these Western booklets. So I had a box full of this stuff and I was pestering my parents - my father took very few vacations, kind of an immigrant boy who worked 7 1/2 days a week - but, when I was 13 we went to Colorado and New Mexico - driving. This would have been in 1948. That’s where I met this sort of old railroad worker at the state capitol who wanted to talk to me - he fascinated me but frightened my parents. I talked to him for maybe 10 minutes, but it was kind of a peak experience for me at that age because everybody I knew was pretty middle class, my parents palled around mostly with medical people. So that was my first interest in Colorado.
I then went to college in Vermont, which is where I first learned how to play the banjo from a person whose name was Lil’ Blos, whose main claim to fame was her father, Peter Blos who was one of the last living associates of Sigmund Freud. I had heard Pete Seeger at the age of 13, at the Progressive Party convention, because my brother was very active in unions and politics. So Seeger kind of intrigued me and I started to buy all these old records - 78 discs. One of things about me which is different than most of the folkies was that I got equally country-ish and bluesy things. So I had Seeger and Woody but I also had Brownie McGhee and Lonnie Johnson. When 78’s were phased out, Walgreens would have 5 for a dollar and I would buy 78’s by Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie and people like that.

Q: Based on what? How did you know to go buy Big Bill Broonzy?
A: I started doing some reading and also I went to a few Seeger concerts, who was always pretty generous without doing the sort of scholarly schtick that the New Lost City Ramblers did - ‘I learned this from Blind Paul Epstein who learned this from Deaf Dick Weissman, who learned it from his dog.’ Seeger didn’t do that. He said ‘If you like the way I play this you really should really hear Pete Steele do this.' So I would try to find out who’s this Pete Steele, how do I find this out? Seeger was an evangelist that way; that was very constructive and non-egotistical because there’s nothing in this for him to turn people on to those folks.
Weissman observes a set by
Rev. Gary Davis, 1950's
My junior year (1954) at Goddard in Vermont and then The New School in New York City was probably my formative musical period where I took guitar and banjo lessons from Jerry Silverman, who was one of the Hootenanny crowd. In the fall I met The Reverend Gary Davis, who I played banjo with but I never took lessons from him. He was very influential in my understanding. He played at Tiny Ledbetter’s house on Thursday nights. Tiny was Leadbelly’s niece, who lived in the same building that Leadbelly and Martha had lived in. In the spring I had gone to the University of New Mexico and met a guy named Stuart Jamieson. He had collected banjo music from a guy named Rufus Crisp in Kentucky. Rounder later put out a CD called Black Altamont, and Stuart produced a lot of those recordings. So I met these two people, and the way they influenced me was Gary created this atmosphere around himself where you were sort of lost in this world of 1920’s evangelical Black - you know, you’re gonna go to hell if you don’t straighten out kind of thing. Yet there was a schizophrenic kind of thing where he loved to have pretty girls around him, and he’d ask them to hold his hand and do crap. He would sing blues when his wife wasn’t around. After a beer or two and a little coaxing he would do ragtime stuff. So he was one level of inspiration, and Stuart had this certainty about what he did to where the insecurities you associate with people who are struggling - he may have these insecurities, but it’s not apparent. Seeger was not one of those people. I don’t think that what he did came naturally to him. He had to work to do this, and I would, of course, say the same thing about myself. I didn’t grow up in an environment where Blues and banjo music were being played on the predecessors of Dick Clark. So it was partially through Seeger’s influence, partly through buying these records and the radio. I wasn’t a real happy adolescent, so anything that was different appealed to me.

Q: So it was cultural osmosis, sort of the natural alternative to the “grey-flannel 50’s?”
A: Yeah, exactly. So, when I was a senior at Goddard I wrote the first lengthy banjo thing that I had ever done.

Q: Which you learned to do…?
The Journeymen, Photographed
for Capitol Records
A: I made it up. I created a form, that as far as I know no one else has used. It’s called A Day In The Kentucky Mountains, and there’s three instrumental parts and a song. The song does what instrumental music does in most non-classical music - so instead of a banjo break there’s a song break. I don’t know why I did this, and I’ve continued to do it.
So I graduated, came to New York, started working on a degree in Sociology and started to get calls for sessions - there was a music store called Eddie Bell’s and all the session guys would hang out there, and none of them knew how to play 5-string banjo - they all played tenor banjo. I remember I did a session for Raymond Scott that was one of my first sessions. Raymond Scott was this crazy person who wrote experimental music but he also wrote jingles. On the session are Barry Galbraith and Al Caiola who are two of the biggest studio guitar players in New York. They were very curious about what the hell was I doing - they hadn’t really seen anyone paying fingerstyle banjo - not bluegrass banjo but sort of like old-timey music. I would start to get more of these sessions and I took all my credits at Columbia and I wanted to write a thesis on five blind black blues religious artists - Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell and one more. I realized that writing this would be like warfare with my advisor. I had this theory that non-literate blind people - and I was ignorant to the fact that McTell was not non-literate - he actually knew how to read and write braille, and could write music in braille; the idea was that these people who had been blind since birth or an early age were residues of the culture that existed at the time that they went blind. I ended up writing an article, but that was about it.
So that’s sort of where my Colorado thing started. I had hay fever in August for about three weeks, so I tried to get out of New York. The first time I went back to Colorado I was 23, and Dave Van Ronk who was a friend of mine in New York - by the way one of my weird sources of income was that I taught Van Ronk a song called Bamboo, and it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary on a record that sold multi-platinum and we split the copyright, which was a joke because it was a traditional Jamaican song, but that was the game that was being played in the mid-50’s until the mid-60’s. Dave was in ASCAP and I was in BMI and you were not supposed to work together, so after the first pressing my name was taken off everything after the first pressing, but he continued to pay me my half.

Q: On an informal basis? “Hey buddy here’s some more money”
A: Yeah, and years and years later, he made it into a shoe commercial in Germany and I got an additional 10 grand over time. I still get money from it, because after Llewyn Davis (Inside Llewyn Davis) Folkways issued a Van Ronk box set and that song is on it.

Q: What did you think of Llewyn Davis?
Journeymen Publicity Photo
A:  I hated it! It presented folk singers as being just like pop singers. The story I just told you about Dave Van Ronk - that wasn’t part of Llewyn Davis. We had personal friendships and relationships - I’m not saying everybody was honorable - I’m not saying there wasn’t some level of competition, but none of that spirit is in Llewyn Davis.The other thing is that Black people are totally invisible. There is no Black person in Llewyn Davis.
So, Dave told me I could get a job at Hermosa Beach working at this club - I didn’t know anything about Los Angeles at this point - I didn’t have a car, I didn’t know how to drive. Hitchhiking back to New York I get stopped in Colorado because it is illegal to hitchhike, and the state cops escort me to the bus station. So I go to Al’s Loans on Larimer Street, and I bought three cheap guitars, go to the bus station and there’s Tom Paxton. I don’t know what he’s doing in Denver, but we were both going to New York, so he and I played for about an hour until I realized that people were trying to sleep. He would have kept playing. There was no stop sign in his vocabulary for that. So that was my first trip to Denver.

Somewhere in there I met Walt Conley who was one of the three best known folk people in the Denver area. Harry Tuft and maybe Judy Collins. A couple of years later, I had a friend who was a guitar student of mine named Art Benjamin, and I said ‘why don’t we drive out to Denver?’ The first thing I did was to look up Walt Conley who lived in a house somewhere between Capitol Hill and Five Points. His house was a 24-hour-a-day party and there were friends and girlfriends, whatever. This was ’59 and he was slightly older than I was. I only recently found out that Walt Conley was working for the F.B.I., reporting on radical folk singers. Because of the nature of Walt’s house, I met a woman named Karen Dalton, and she and I started a relationship, and my friend Art started a relationship with her sister who was 17 years old and had been married for 10 days to a folk singer named Dave Hamill. Walt was booking the Satire Lounge and I ended up as the opening act - Walt would do a set, and then The Smothers Brothers would do a set, and Dickie Smothers, who was the straight man, his wife was working as a waitress at The Satire - it was so early in their career that his wife had to work as a waitress in the club. The Satire was a pretty wild and woolly place in those days. That was great fun for me. I can’t remember what I got paid - probably 10 or 15 dollars a night, but I didn’t go out there to make money, I went to avoid hay fever.

Q: You were on stage by yourself? Did you have patter? Were you a showman?
Public High School ping pong Champs, 1950
Dick: Front row, far left
A: I had no patter. I didn’t have any show. That evolved in Los Angeles the next year.  At The Ashgrove, the opening act there was Rene Heredia who was 17 years old and on fire at that point. He was this kid who had come from Spain, and I guess he had some things to prove, and he just really impressed me. I didn’t see him again for 15 or 20 years when I moved to Denver. I went back to New York and I lived with Karen for 3 or 4 months; and in the course of that time I met John Phillips who had been part of a band called The Smoothies - I played on a session with them - and it was clear that their label Decca wasn’t interested in them as a folkie-pop thing like The Kingston Trio. John knew a guy named Scott McKenzie, who was lead singer in The Smoothies, and the three of us would form a trio. Because I was living with Karen, I suggested we try and put Karen in the group. John was a lot more worldly than I was, and he knew very well that my relationship with Karen wasn’t going to go very far. We had two of the very worst rehearsals I’ve ever had in my life - which consist of Karen arguing about vocal parts with John. John was a great vocal arranger, and his idea of fun was he’d get five people in a room and give each of them a part, and they might sing anything - it might be The Teddybear’s Picnic, it might be Tom Dooley - whatever, he was really into vocal music. I don’t know that I ever became a great showman but I learned how to tell stories on stage and that was a revelation to me.
Around this time I met a woman named Barbara Dane who was a white blues singer and sang with Dixieland bands. She had a tour of the Northwest and she offered me this tour, so I called John Phillips and said ‘are you serious about this band because I just got a chance to play Portland and Seattle.’ He started to laugh and he said he had just turned down a trip to the beach in Ibiza so that he could start a new group. I said ‘Okay John, I’ll be there.’

Q: Before we get too far, give me a couple of sentences more on Karen Dalton and the different sides of her talent and personality.
Journeymen Publicity Photo
A: Okay, when I met Karen, she used to sing a lot of mountain music, some blues, in fact I think she was doing Blues On The Ceiling by Fred Neil even then, and she sang loud, and not in a lethargic way but in an energetic way. She was never a really good performer because she had a lot of unresolved hostility. The audiences tended to bring that out in her and it got a lot worse if she decided she wanted to be drinking. Years later when I heard her first records, there was this sort of behind-the-beat, lethargic, pseudo Billie Holiday type of phrasing, which has turned into, in a small way a vogue among feminist and music historians who’ve typed her as a white Billie Holiday, which to me was a joke. I thought ‘that’s not what she sounds like.’ She was particularly noted for her wild Mountain harmonies not this (affects slowed down, overwrought vocal) “Blues on the ceiling” type thing, which to me just sounds like a junkie…which she was. It’s what she’s famous for. This French record producer and another guy in Nashville who are enamored with Karen have issued at least 5 CDs of Karen, and only one of them has what I’m talking about, which was recorded at Joe Lupe’s place, The Attic, in Boulder has a little bit of that mountain music - open your mouth wide and just let it out-kind of singing.

Q: Did you think she was a genuine talent or…
A: I think she was a talent for doing that. I think she was not a good jazz singer. This need to create Billie Holidays among Whiteys is crazy, and it also happened with Judy Roderick.
So, now I’m in New York, we (now called The Journeymen ) rehearse for six weeks, we get a deal with International Talent, who are booking The Brothers Four, Kingston Trio, The Limeliters, and later Bob Dylan, and through them we met these managers in San Francisco. MGM was willing to see us - they wanted to sign us, they didn’t think we had any hits. Ultimately we had this scene where we picked up our manager, we went to MGM. He wanted us to be guaranteed two albums a year and a five thousand dollar a year promotional budget, and one of the MGM producers looked at me and said you’ll never get a deal like that in the record business, and 10 minutes later we were singing at Capitol Records, and got that exact deal. That’s when I became interested in the music business, which really didn’t surface ‘til some years later when I started teaching. I filed that in the back of my mind that this business is not what people say that it is. Somebody can say no and what they really mean is, "I’d rather not."
So, we got the deal with Capitol and we toured for 3 ½ years - we never played in Colorado but I would come here periodically because my friend Harry Tuft had moved here and opened The Denver Folklore Center in ’62. At one point Scott McKenzie, our lead singer, got nodes in his throat and we were out of work for six weeks. I just came to Colorado and Harry and I did a week at Crested Butte. So I went from the three of us making $1,500 a night to playing in Crested Butte to Harry and I each got a room and a hundred dollars, and I went from playing to 2-3 thousand people to 20-30 people.
Scott rehabbed, we got back together and our price went up to $1,750 a night.

Q: And the biggest record sold?
Harry Tuft at the Folklore Center
Denver, 1960's
A: Maybe 15,000. We never got any royalties from Capitol at that point. We never recouped the original advance. Later Bonnie Raitt got Capitol to tear up all their contracts before 1970, and so Capitol reissued all of our stuff in their Legacy Series, all three of our albums and some of our singles on the CDs. I probably ended up making $5,000 dollars from these, in fact I got a check last month for $60 because it still gets streamed.
Scott and I decided to leave at the end of ’64 and I go back to New York - playing on sessions, writing songs and then producing records. I did some sessions with Gram Parsons. Gram Parsons was a fanatical Journeymen fan. He and his band used to follow us around. Gram recorded a couple of my songs. I also did a solo album for Capitol 3 or 4 months before we broke up because they were looking for a “Dylan,” and I was the only one that, even mildly in their mind, could do a Dylan thing. I thought it ridiculous because I really was not doing protest songs and at that point that’s all that Dylan was doing. I had written one song called Lullabye For Medger Evers that later Judy Collins recorded. So I did that on the album and four others that I wrote and Gram recorded the one about mining called They Still Go Down.
In ’68 and ’69 I worked as a producer and there’s a big Colorado connection there because I had maintained my friendship with Harry Tuft and he sent me a tape of a band called Frummox and I ended up producing them in New York. Those were really, really kinda cool sessions. I had hired Eric Weissberg to play some fiddle and mandolin and pedal steel, and at the end of the sessions he came to me, and he said, ‘every 5 years I do something I like and this was it for the next few years.’ They were really good. Everything kind of clicked. Harry also sent me a tape of a band called Zephyr. I didn’t produce them but I did go to see them, and I took the tape to my boss and we all thought I wasn’t the guy to do it.

Q: Did you recognize in Tommy Bolin anything?
A: No. I thought they were a sellable white, psychedelic blues thing, and I wasn’t a huge fan of that music, but Harry and , in effect, I were partially responsible for them getting a record deal. But in ’69 the entire label group I was working for (ABC/Dunhill) was fired. I was still playing on sessions, and more and more of them were jingles. I was studying jazz guitar pretty seriously with Barry Galbraith who was the studio guitarist I admired the most. He was number one and maybe Bucky Pizzarelli was number two. I wasn’t playing the banjo very much and began to question why am I even doing this?

Dick & His Instruments,
1990's
Q: So at this point the world of “pop stardom” exists. It is clear. The Beatles and Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan exist. How did you avoid the pitfalls of that lifestyle that both John Phillips and Scott McKenzie suffered?
A: John was in effect my mentor. I saw him destroy himself over a period of years. When I first met him he was drinking too much and taking uppers and it wasn’t real pleasant to be around him. Scott didn’t have a particular vice - whatever he did, he would overdo. It seemed to me like childishness. I started growing up. I got married in ’65 and it never quite made sense to me, that whole business of having to lie to people all the time making everybody unhappy all the time. We stayed in touch after The Mamas And Papas got big, and this must’ve been in ’66 or ’67 and he invited me to a concert at Forest Hills. He forgot to put me on the guest list and it was 10 dollars so I left. I did go to the party at the St. Regis Hotel afterwards. So I got to the party and there’s a table and on the table there’s coke, hash, pills, and another table with vodka, gin, whatever you want. He looks at me and says ‘I’m the perfect host what would you like?’ So I said ‘how about a beer.’ As I’m saying this their road manager was stoned out of his brains on acid and walking on the ledge of the 6th floor balcony. I’m thinking I don’t really want to witness this. So I had a beer and quickly left. I just didn’t see the point in all this.
By the late 60’s I still had my hay fever and came out to Colorado to vacation with my wife. While I’m here I get a call to do a Texaco commercial. I’ve had jingles that end up paying 2 or 3 grand for an hour’s work, cause you don’t know how it’s gonna be used when you’re recording it. So I really couldn’t not do it, plus the fact that if you turn down people very much they stop calling you. I had told Harry, ‘I’m gonna come here.' He said, ‘You’ll never come here, you’ll always get these calls from people, and you’ll end up doing this shit - whatever it is.’ By ’72 I was becoming unhappy enough with the music thing that it was also penetrating a lot of aspects of my work and my life. I came out here. The summer before I had seen a brochure from UCD that they were starting a music business program. David Baskerville was the guy who started all this. I went down and talked to him, and they liked the idea of someone going to school there who had actually had a lot of experience in the industry, so I came out here and enrolled at UCD.
Harry Tuft at Dick's Wedding, 1989
The first thing that happened when I moved here was I started to play the banjo again, which was just bizarre. It wasn’t really a conscious choice.

Q: You immediately got into a music scene in Denver, such as it was, through Harry?
A: Through Harry.

Q: What was the music scene in Denver like then?
A: Well The Folklore Center was the center of stuff. Walt was still sorta in and out, but his preeminence had kind of eroded and he had gotten involved with various clubs where he…somehow he got involved with an Irish pub or something. Harry had a string of people work for him; Kim King who was in Lothar & The Hand People, Mike Kropp, who was a banjo player and ended up in a bluegrass band in New England, Paul Hofstadter a luthier who was a renowned builder, restorer and player of folkie instruments. Those guys had gone by the time I got here, but Harry had a little music school and I taught there about 20 hours a week, going to school, and trying to be a family person. When I stopped teaching lessons there, I pretty much stopped teaching music, except for a very short period at Swallow Hill. I was in a band called The Main Event which was a mediocre lounge group that played Pueblo, Casper, Cheyenne…mostly conventions, I played electric guitar and banjo - did all the Doobie Brothers stuff - whatever was popular at the time-Waylon-some country, some rock, which was basically a paycheck for me, I didn’t enjoy it.
Then I got involved in writing film scores. I wrote 2 feature film scores, I wrote about 5 documentary film scores and I did a TV show for Channel Six (RMPBS). Harry was sort of the executive producer on all this stuff, but I wrote all the music. The main film was called The Edge. It was done by Roger Brown who did Downhill Racer and Barry Corbett who was a film editor who was an Olympic skier who had crashed into a mountain while filming and was paraplegic, and he had a film editing facility on Lookout Mountain. The documentaries were all done with a guy named Dick Alweiss.  I did a number of things for John Deere Tractors - they’d do these little film shows where they’d introduce the new line and you’d come up from Oregon or Missouri in you car, and while we’re trying to convince you to buy a 40 grand tractor we give you some beer, a few pretzels and show you a couple of short films. So these were 3-5 minute films and they were fun to do. So from ’74 to ’80 I was doing that stuff. I was teaching at Colorado Women’s College starting in’75 while still going to school at UCD in music business. Tom McCluskey was the guy who was the head of the department and was the music critic for the Rocky Mountain News, before Justin Mitchell. In ’81 they went out of business.
In the mean time I had met Wesley Westbrooks, who was a Black guy who originally was from Arkadelphia, Arkansas. When he was 10 years old he was driving a wagon delivering milk and ice cream and the guy who owned the store, his daughter ran a retail outlet and people in the town saw Wesley, who was Black, talking to her and she gave him an ice cream cone without charging him. They came to his father’s house that night and said ‘you need to get your kid outta here tonight or he’s gonna get killed…’ He moved to Denver, and he got a job working for United Airlines cleaning airplanes, and he wrote about 4 songs that The Staple Singers recorded, none of which he’s credited with. The most famous one is He Don’t Knock which was recorded by The Kingston Trio. He also did a song called Hear My Song Here which Pentangle recorded in a really nice version. I wrote a grant to The National Endowment For The Humanities to write a biography of him. It’s the only book I have ever written that I couldn’t sell. I got the grant. I spent a year. It was a wonderful experience. I wrote up the whole thing - this was the Reagan years and I still have the manuscript, it’s called A Good Time In Hard Times. I learned a lot of stuff but I couldn’t sell the book.
Dick & Gary Keiski, Astoria, Oregon
Early 2000's
I had written a book called The Folk Music Source Book in ’76. That book came about accidently, where Harry knew somebody who was a writer and she had been at Knopf which was one of the most prestigious publishing companies, and she started talking about - Harry had a written a catalog - The Denver Folklore Company Almanac - or whatever. Knopf said they’d be very interested in talking to this guy. So she came back and talked to him and Harry being Harry he did nothing. So one day I said ‘Look, you’re a moron - here’s one of the best publishers in the whole goddamned world, and they’re asking you to write this book. What can I do to help you to do this?’ He said ‘why don’t you do it? You know how to write, you know how to do this stuff.’ At that point I hadn’t written any books, but I’d written instruction books for banjo and guitar - a lot of them. The book was reviewed everywhere. It was reviewed in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The L.A. Times. Basically, that’s how I got into the book writing game. That book won the ASCAP Music Critics Award.

Q: That’s about the time I started to know who you were because you really started to get a name in Denver as an academic.
A:  I had worked for 14 months at The Grammys as their educational director. That was pretty horrible. I thought I would be some kind of huge hick there. It turned out everybody there was a huge Streisand or Neil Diamond fan and that I was like a left-wing hippie. In the middle of that I taught at Colorado Mountain College - they had a songwriting workshop for 10 years. In Breckenridge - it was great! You got a condo. I brought Steven Fromholz from Frummox in. I was doing the musician juggling act; I was writing instruction books, I was writing books, for a couple of years I taught at Swallow Hill, I did gigs with The Main Event, and I did what gigs that I could get. I ended up playing at Winnipeg 3 times which was great. And I taught at Colorado Institute Of Art for a year.
 I started teaching at UCD in 1990. While I was there, there was a union called the Oil, Coke, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union and I ended up doing music for two of their conventions, a CD and some of the music led to a play about Karen Silkwood, and I did music for a play by a professor named Larry Bograd who was then at Metro about The Ludlow Massacre. So that was all going on. At UCD I taught music business mostly and I created a lot of classes, like my favorite was Social And Political Implications Of Music. A lot of the stuff I taught about - contracts and stuff after 12 years of it - it wasn’t that interesting to me honestly. Ultimately, I was head of the department for 2 years and the turf wars and the politics just drove me crazy. During this time, for some reason, I got good at writing grants, and I brought Peggy Seeger here with a grant, I brought Len Chandler, who was a Black protest singer who was arrested like 50 times. I brought a Native American guy Vince Two Eagles from Montana, and there was no King Center, no performance space, so they were mostly playing in classrooms. I got a grant and we set up a label - CAM Records. The last thing I did at UCD was a class on Advanced Record Production. I brought three kids in from Jamaica - I had taught at a Jamaican governmental trade show and then at two songwriting bootcamps while I was at UCD. So we selected three writers, they came here, the orchestra was a combination of UCD students and faculty, and the producers were students. It’s a good experience for people.

In 2003 Dick moved to Oregon, where he stayed until 2012 when he returned to Denver.
Q: You were happy to come back here and…it’s different from the place it was one you first came here.
Dick, OME Banjo Co.
Boulder, Mid-2000's
A: The congestion and traffic are troublesome. There have been a lot of generational changes that I don’t especially appreciate. There’s no point in getting upset about it because that is the world. That’s not Denver, that’s everywhere. There are other changes that are not Denver like the demise of the recording medium. I’m very into albums. When I do an album it’s not 12 songs, there’s some relation between the songs, and I’m not really interested in having people pop off one tune in a four-part suite, when in fact, it makes no sense. It would be like taking a Hemingway novel, and you’ve read the first quarter and you just throw it away, because ‘well I read the first quarter, what more do I need?’ That’s the way kids consume music.

Q: That’s exactly where I wanted to come back to, because we talked early on how you discovered music, that process, how there seems to be something of value in that archeological process or the organic process that you did of buying the 78s and going to see Pete Seeger, listening to what he said. It seems that the way people gather information and art now has fundamentally changed the role of art.
A: I think it’s changed the role of art, and also another thing that happened is as a musician at the age of 22, I could work at Folk City for a week or two weeks. Where do you work in Denver for a week? Nowhere. You work one day. There’s no money, and worse than that, there’s no development. I was at The Ashgrove for 3 weeks. During that time I basically learned some performance skills. If I had been there one night what would I have learned?
Right now I’m doing a paper on the musicians' union which I’m presenting next week in Nashville at The Music Business Educators Conference. Go to Nathaniel Rateliff who is a pretty big success. Somebody like that in 2019 - let’s make him 22 - let’s say the young Nate is here now and he’s making his own records, he’s booking his gigs, he’s managing his career - what does he need the union for? So, the union has not been able to…what can they do for him? There are things they could actually do. Suppose they bought a new building and make it into rehearsal studios and if you’re a member of the union, the rent is 20 dollars an hour. That would save him a lot of money. But it’s not available to you if you’re not a member of the union. For the hip-hip people you have classes on - this is what ASCAP does, this is what BMI does, this is what SESAC does. Nobody’s ever done that. The union has no contact with managers. Managers run the game now. Managers often confiscate, or own, depending on your degree of cynicism, half or all of the acts’ publishing. He’s making more money, and then he probably turns ‘round and commissions our songwriting money. Kids don’t know that. The Fray went to UCD, two of them in music business, but they had to sue to get out of their management contract. What if the union actually negotiated with managers? There are things they could do.

Q: So is there a bit of positive that you can see in the modern landscape to give hope?
A: There are a couple of dozen musicians around like Bill Frisell, like Ron Miles, and there’s a niche for these people that are doing something new. The challenge is to create, whether it’s radio, whether it’s streaming, whether it’s the union sponsoring some concerts of music for music’s sake, and I think the university has abrogated its role in that regard. OK let them teach tech and music business, but what about music? So how do we make that bridge? The musicians are out there. There is good stuff around.

Q: How do you find young musicians that you like specifically and do you have hope for this next generation? Or will it keep going at all? If there’s no skin in the game because the internet has accelerated everything so much that nobody actually has to learn anything, what is the incentive to become a great musician?
A: With the explosion of Dylan and The Beatles, we had this explosion of a generation that grew up thinking ‘I could do this, I could make 2-3 million dollars a year, own 2 or 3 houses, have 4 cars, go through multiple wives, multiple drugs' - whatever. Maybe what we’re coming down to is a world where we’re going back to the musician in the loft in a way. The people who are going to do significant work are just going to say, ‘I don’t buy into this, and anyway I can’t win this game. What I’m going to do is what I always wanted to do which is to do music.’ I think the music is there, the question is, how do we create the mechanism for the music to be heard?

Trying to understand Dick Weissman as just a musician, teacher, author, philosopher or historian is simply inadequate. Dick is an incredibly rare bird in the world of music. He is an adult. Someone who made his way in the music business by exploring, mastering and then being the smartest guy in the room about nearly any facet of his chosen field. He did what he wanted at the same time he was doing what he had to do to keep home and hearth together. In a world of tarnished myths and rampant bullshit artists, Dick Weissman is a breath of fresh air.
-         Paul Epstein

Monday, July 29, 2019

I’d Love To Turn You On At The Movies #223 - Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006, dir. Goran Dukić)


            While the title of the film may be a touch off putting, the actual movie Wristcutters: A Love Story is far from it. The film is labeled as a “black comedy road movie” which pretty much hits the nail on the head. When describing the film to people I would say that kid from Almost Famous, that girl from A Knight's Tale and a guy who reminds you of Gogol Bordello front man Eugene Hütz set off on a road trip to find an ex-girlfriend and the “people in charge” in the afterlife. Along the way they meet a real cast of characters, jam out to some great road trip tunes and discover that maybe there is a way to get out of this dull version of the world of the living.
            I guess the first thing I should address is the fact that this movie is about people who commit suicide. There is no shying away from talking about suicide in the film; in fact you find out exactly how every character “offed” themselves. In the opening scene Zia (Patrick Fugit) gets up, puts on Tom Waits' “Dead and Lovely,” deep cleans his apartment, goes into the bathroom, and slits his wrists. Zia ends up in this shitty version of the world of the living, where there are only off-brand products, everything is dim, there are no stars, and no one can smile. Zia meets Eugene (Shea Whigham), a Russian musician who lives with his mother, father and younger brother - all of whom “offed” themselves. Zia learns from a friend that his ex-girlfriend Desiree (Leslie Bibb) has also “offed” herself. Eugene and Zia take off to find her in Eugene’s beat up car. The car itself is a character. The headlights don’t work and there is no mechanic that has ever been able to fix them; there's also a black hole of sorts under the front passenger seat - you drop something down there and it’s gone forever. The trio loses sunglasses, cassette tapes, lighters, maps, and flowers into this black hole.
Eugene and Zia pick up Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) who is looking for the “people in charge” and insists that she is there by mistake, claiming she accidently overdosed. The trio encounter a man asleep in the middle of the road (Tom Waits) who introduces himself as Kneller and invites them back to his camp where "miracles" seem to happen. If there is one thing I love about Waits it’s that he pops up in films and proceeds to just be his odd Tom Waits self, almost like the film makers just let the cameras roll on him being himself. Not far from this camp is a large gathering of people who are there to witness Messiah King (Will Arnett) perform the “miracle” of separating his soul from his body. Arnett gives off some serious G.O.B. (his character from Arrested Development) vibes as Messiah King. I’m not going to give away the ending, because honestly it cracked me up the first time I saw it, and hopefully the hard left turn in story line will crack you up as well.
            I can’t talk about this film without talking about the music in it. What’s a good road trip movie without some seriously great tunes? Even before the road trip there are very strategically chosen songs in the film. Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and Christian Death’s “Deathwish” are heard playing in the bar Zia and Eugene frequent. Both bands were fronted by singers who committed suicide and it seems these songs were chosen exactly for that reason. Artie Shaw’s version of “Gloomy Sunday” - also known as the “Hungarian Suicide Song” - makes an appearance in the film. The song's lyrics of longing for a past lover and a vow to meet back up in the afterlife fit in with Zia’s drive to find his ex-girlfriend Desiree. Del Shannon’s “Cry Myself to Sleep” and Gram Parsons' “A Song for You” add to the melancholy feeling of the film. A cassette tape of Eugene’s band (pre-“offing” himself) provides most of the soundtrack for the drive. The fictional band is in reality gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello. This was my introduction to Gogol Bordello, and more specifically the song “Through the Roof 'N' Underground” which is featured multiple times and also happens to be my favorite of their songs. The slow-moving, twangy, somewhat sad song fits in perfectly with the drab, desolate desert world the characters find themselves road tripping through - there is even a fun little singalong in the car to it! The character of Eugene is based in part on Gogol Bordello front man Eugene Hütz, which makes sense seeing as three of their songs are in the film. "Occurrence on the Border" and "Huliganjetta" are both featured, though not as heavily as “Through the Roof 'N' Underground.”
            Wristcutters: A Love Story was one of the first “black comedy” movies I felt like I understood both the black and the comedy parts. The use of a very bleak setting for this version of the afterlife plus the fact that the characters were still put in situations that are humorous give the film a lighter touch. I say it is well worth a watch, not just for the soundtrack and wonderful cast of characters but also the idea that even in this afterlife there is a chance these characters will find love and possibly a happy ending.
-         Anna Lathem

Thursday, July 25, 2019

2019 UMS Band Interviews #7

Twist & Shout recommends The Underground Music Showcase from July 26th to July 28th on South Broadway!! We asked some of our favorite local bands when they are playing, and much more!
Catch these live performances, and much more at The UMS! 
See link for tickets:

It's Just Bugs

Where and when are you playing at the UMS? 
We’re playing at 1am at the Hi Dive on Saturday night (you can come nap at our house before our set).

How long has your band been together? 
About two and a half years now.
What was your band's first live show/ performance and what was memorable about it?
Our first show was a battle of the bands in Fort Collins. We ended up winning the competition and taking home a giant check with our stupid band name on it for $1,000.

What was the first album you purchased?
It was honestly probably Now 5 on CD in 5th grade (Don’t tell the rest of the band this).

What album was your most recent purchase?
I bought a new record by Faye Webster called Atlanta Millionaires Club. A very nice lil record.

Do you have any advice for new bands?
You’re not gonna make any money, and it’s a lot of work. Don’t be a dick.

Besides your own band- who do you want to see at the UMS?
Yves Tumor
Earth Gang
A buncha local acts

Best past UMS experience?
Playing 3 Kings last year and almost passing out during our set from the heat. Great show, but too hot.

Do you have any tips for festival goers?
Stay hydrated, pace yourself, wear comfortable shows, come watch us and tell us we sound like Rage Against the Machine afterwards

What's the best food people can find on Broadway during the festival?
Honestly we’re going on a strict White Claw diet for the festival.

Who is your all time favorite Denver band?
Muscle Beach

If you were behind the counter at Twist and Shout, what three albums would you recommend to our customers?
Muscle Beach - S/T
Fathers - S/T
Bud Bronson & The Good Timers - Between the Outfield and Outerspace

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Just remember that we are going to be the best act of the festival by far, and if you miss us, your whole festival experience is ruined. Sailor Records forever. Thank you.

Boss Eagle

Where and when are you playing at the UMS?
I'll be playing at Blue Ice for the second year in a row. Sunday, July 28th at 8pm

How long has your band been together?
Ha ha. I've been a performer all my life! But I started making music as Boss Eagle in 2017.

What was your band's first live show/ performance and what was memorable about it?
My first live performance as a music artist was at a Mishawaka OpenJam at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre (indoor stage). I'd acted and danced on stage before, but hadn't ever rapped...especially my own music. I didn't even take the mic off the stand or uncoil the cord wrapped around the mic stand! I even had a false start with the track! LOL But it was all love from the folks there.

What was the first album you purchased?
Wow! I have no clue. It was probably some 90s hip hop or R&B though.
What album was your most recent purchase?
Hold on, let me check my iTunes account! LOL It was probably Echosmith...I have kids, so...

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Just keep making music. Follow your heart, and know that it's okay to be in your own lane. Heck, you probably don't see many hip-hop artists wearing 1965 Temptations-esk suits on stage. But it's me. I'm thankful for all the artists, hip hop and otherwise, who came before me and paved the way.

Besides your own band- who do you want to see at the UMS?
Always love seeing Bevin Luna, the Burroughs and OptycNerd. I played the Louisville Street Faire with Los Mocochetes earlier this summer, and those guys are great.

Best past UMS experience?
My first UMS experience was actually as a volunteer (2017). I got to discover so many cool acts that I'd never heard of. Last year was my first time playing, and that was an amazing experience. A lady came up to me before my set and said they were excited to see me. Her husband heard my interview on CPR/OpenAir and she'd been listening to my album online. And another group of people came to my set because one of their friends heard my song on the UMS Spotify playlist. Such a cool honor to have people want to come spend their valuable time with you and listen to your music.

Do you have any tips for festival goers?
Plan out who you want to see. You probably won't get to see every set you want to, but just take it in and enjoy the moments. There are so many local acts on the lineup, and just know that we truly appreciate the support. And stay hydrated!

Who is your all time favorite Denver band?
Come on, don't do that to me! Denver specifically?...The Fray. (OneRepublic if we're counting the Springs separately!)

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Just thank you, thank you, thank you to UMS and TwoParts for giving local artists like myself an chance to play!!


King Cardinal

Where and when are you playing at the UMS?
We'll be playing at the South Broadway Christian Church  on Sunday at 9pm. It's the perfect time to sit and decompress after a long weekend.

How long has your band been together?
The bands been around since Fall 2013, but this lineup wasn't nailed down until summer 2015.

What was your band's first live show/ performance and what was memorable about it?
Actually, the first show we played as the current incarnation of King Cardinal was at the UMS in 2015. We played at the Eslinger Art Gallery on Sunday afternoon. It was super hot (as it is every UMS). We had the packed gallery sit on the ground for the last song of our set. It's still one of our favorite UMS experiences!

What was the first album you purchased?
Brennan: Barenaked Ladies - Stunt
Scott: Presidents of the United States of America - Self titled
Andrew: Weezer - Blue Album
Texanna: Nickle Creek - This Side
Ben: Blink 182 - Dude Ranch

What album was your most recent purchase?
Brennan: Saves the Day - Through Being Cool
Scott: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits
Andrew: Floating Action - Old World Camels
Texanna: The Carpenters - Greatest Hits
Ben: John Prine - Tree of Forgiveness

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Go to as many local shows as possible and be a part of the community. Denver has a thriving music
scene because of the support we get from the community and each other!
Besides your own band- who do you want to see at the UMS?
It’s too many to list! We’re super psyched to just walk around and catch all our friends bands. It’s like summer camp for Denver bands.

Best past UMS experience?
There's so many!
The Night Sweats playing at the Centennial Day party back when they first got going. I just stumbled onto the party randomly and was surprised with a set from one of my favorites! The horn section climbed up on the roof and played while A Tom Collins held a mic in front of them.
Bud Bronson and the Goodtimers rocking through the fire alarm at Illegal Pete’s.
Also, the Dudebabes Turkey Leg party at the Hi Dive!

Do you have any tips for festival goers?
Pace yourself and lots of sunscreen!! I made both mistakes last year. There was a nasty tank top sun burn by the end of the weekend.

What's the best food people can find on Broadway during the festival?
The Yuca bread at LEÑA. Go for happy hour and get some tacos and maduros!

Who is your all time favorite Denver band?
Brennan: Sawmill Joe
Scott: Science Partner
Andrew: Five Iron Frenzy
Texanna: Science Partner
Ben: Robby Peoples

If you were behind the counter at Twist and Shout, what three albums would you recommend to our customers?
The Band - Self-titled
Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Third Eye Blind - Self-titled (this is a controversial subject within King Cardinal)


Bluebook

Where and when are you playing at the UMS?
We are playing a showcase for our tape label Grouphug at 1pm Saturday at the Hi-Dive and hosting our own stage on Saturday evening from 8pm to midnight in the basement of Metropolis Coffee (Broadway and Ellsworth) where we are creating an immersive set. We’ll be playing at 11pm Saturday there.

How long has your band been together?
Julie Davis has been playing as Bluebook off and on since 2005. Jess Parsons joined the band three years ago this coming November.
What was your band's first live show/ performance and what was memorable about it?
The first time we played together as a duo was when we adapted some nursery rhymes for a family event presented by Warm Cookies of the Revolution at the McNichols Building. Our children are the same age, and while the other children listened, clapped and danced to our songs, our children chased each other around, completely ignoring the music.

What was the first album you purchased?
Thriller, by Michael Jackson
What album was your most recent purchase?
 Big Thief - U.F.O.F.

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Follow your instincts and have fun!

Besides your own band- who do you want to see at the UMS?
I’m hoping to see Jess Parsons, Florea, Downtime, Spirettes, Y La Bamba, and more. We both have babysitters for the whole weekend, so watch out!

Best past UMS experience?
I love thinking about all the years I played seven or eight sets, running from venue to venue playing and seeing friends play. I remember watching Nathaniel Rateliff and Joseph Pope III push their gear around in a shopping cart.

Do you have any tips for festival goers?
Bring earplugs, drink water and wear sunscreen!

What's the best food people can find on Broadway during the festival?
Sweet potato fries at Sputnik

Who is your all time favorite Denver band?
Land Lines

If you were behind the counter at Twist and Shout, what three albums would you recommend to our customers?
Radiohead, In Rainbows; Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou, Ethipopiques, vol. 21, Paul Simon, Graceland

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Come out and celebrate all the amazing Denver (and touring) bands! We are so fortunate to have such a fun weekend ahead.


Heavy Diamond Ring

Where and when are you playing at the UMS?
Friday- 7:30pm-Knockout Stage @ Punch Bowl Social

How long has your band been together?
About 1 1/2 years

What was your band's first live show/performance and what was memorable about it?
Some of our earliest shows were at Syntax Denver (RIP). We were still getting the band lineup together, and each show seemed miles beyond the one that came before it. It was fun to feel the wind start to fill the sails.

What was the first album you purchased?
Too embarrassing. Hootie & the Blowfish. Cracked Rearview.

What album was your most recent purchase?
I found some Buck Owens & George Jones LPs at a thrift store in Laramie on tour.

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Don’t quit your day job. Actually do. You won’t miss it, and you can always get another.
Have fun. If you’re not having fun, get a job. That’ll give you some perspective.

Besides your own band, who do you want to see at the UMS?
All my friends bands. All my friends’ friends bands.  Y La Bamba.

What's the best food people can find on Broadway during the festival?
Corn dogs at Sputnik, duh.

Who is your all time favorite Denver band?
Oh man. Too many good ones to choose.

If you were behind the counter at Twist and Shout, what three albums would you recommend to our customers?
Favorite new records?
Courtney Marie Andrews
Sam Cohen
Wand

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Wear sunscreen. Don’t forget to go see bands in between corn dogs.