By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
Singer/guitarist Michael Daboll loves garage music. He loves to play it in his band, Element 79, and he loves to listen to albums by other artists who love it, too. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Daboll has created Treble Fest! '96, a celebration of all things garage that takes place Thursday through Saturday, August 1-3, at the Raven--and why he's also starting (yes, you guessed it) his own garage-oriented label, 360 Twist Records.
"Denver has been mysteriously quiet on the garage front for a while, which is why I'm so excited by all this just as a music fan," says Daboll, who spent time in Minnesota and Washington state prior to his mid-Eighties arrival in Colorado. While attending high school in Grand Junction in 1988, he began working as a DJ at KMSA-FM, the adventurous station affiliated with Mesa State College. After three years on the air and an extended period spent hanging out, he moved to Fort Collins and started Element 79 with his brother. Daboll's sibling is no longer in the band; the lineup currently consists of bassist Michael Gilligan and drummer Jeff Learman. One night last year, these three began lamenting the difficulties of being a Nineties garage act. "There are so many bands out there, but not many that have a chance to put out records," Daboll affirms. "So we decided that we should start a label and try to rectify that situation a little bit."
Fortunately, Daboll and company had some experience in the record-making game. They'd self-released a three-song vinyl EP, Upstairs, in 1995, and collaborated with a German company, Screaming Apple, in the pressing of a four-songer titled My Love that hit stores last month. Moreover, the players had made connections with garage rockers across the country, and these relationships paid dividends when the newly dubbed 360 Twist Records contracted to issue full-lengths by three groups. Fifty Thousand Dollar Hand Job, by Philadelphia's Mondo Topless, a self-titled offering by Marshmallow Overcoat, a Tucson, Arizona, outfit, and Rock Songs, by Denver favorites Boss 302, should be available for purchase for the first time during the Treble Fest! weekend. Future releases by Fest participants such as the Albuquerque-based Drags and Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats are in the planning stages.
The event itself is intended to serve as 360 Twist's kickoff, but it means much more than a simple marketing opportunity to Daboll. Rather, it's a chance to carry on in the tradition of Garage Shock, a garage festival born in Seattle four years ago. Aficionados from as far away as Japan traveled to the annual Garage Shock get-togethers, but when the bash outgrew the bar where it had been held since its inception, organizers decided to forgo staging a 1996 version. "That was a shame," Daboll says. "So we thought, 'Let's have something in Denver.'"
Performers responded enthusiastically to the Treble Fest! idea; as a result, Daboll was able to construct a roster that should make garage-rock fanciers happy. The bill on Thursday, August 1, consists of Denver's the Hectics, Mondo Topless, Sugar Shack (an Austin project that previously shared a split single with Boss 302) and the Henchmen, from Michigan. In the spotlight on Friday, August 2, are Element 79, Orlando, Florida's own Hate Bombs, the Drags, and the Swingin' Neckbreakers, a Hoboken, New Jersey, project that Daboll describes as "one of the best new garage bands. They're a really great band to see live." For the grand finale on Saturday, August 3, Daboll and company present Boss 302, Fortune & Maltese (born in Kalamazoo, Michigan), the Woggles, from Athens, Georgia, and Man or Mono Mann?!, a configuration put together just for this date. "Mono Mann" is actually Jeff Conolly, the leader of an especially noteworthy East Coast unit, the Lyres. "He's a legendary wildman," Daboll enthuses. "The Lyres have had something like 25 different members over the years; Conolly is the only original. That's how he got his nickname--by throwing all these people out of his band." The Swingin' Neckbreakers are slated to serve as Conolly's back-up musicians for Treble Fest!; they'll be followed to the stage by Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats (see Critic's Choice, page 80), which Daboll sees as the spectacle's biggest fish. "Billy Childish has put out tons of vinyl, he's done a lot of art and prints--he has a couple of coffee-table books out--and he's a poet on top of that. He does everything."
If Treble Fest! goes over well, Daboll intends to bring more garage bands to the area; tentative plans are in the works to promote a September appearance by the Monomen (named in tribute to Conolly) and Sweden's the Nomads. In the meantime, he's hopeful that 360 Twist will help induct a great many more listeners into the garage-rock cult. "All these bands have rewritten 'Louie Louie' a hundred times," Daboll says. "But you've got to admit, it's a pretty great song."
On the record.
The new vinyl single by the Dalhart Imperials finds the band expanding upon its rockabilly vocabulary. The A-side, "There Ain't No Place Like the Panhandle," an ode to Texas, is a bouncy slab of Western swing made especially charming by the contributions of steel guitarist Tim Whitlock. But don't worry, bop cats: The flip, "Me, Myself and I" (written by Whitlock), is reassuringly speedy, proving that the Imperials aren't about to leave their roots behind (Wormtone Records, 3339 West Moncrieff Place, Denver 80211). The most valuable player in C-Ment Gypsy (represented by an EP dubbed 1996 Promotional Compact Disc) is Robert Adkins, whose trombone adds needed juice to "Love and Tolerance." The former is far and away the most enjoyable track on the package, which is otherwise filled with your ordinary, everyday neo-hippie-style cuts. Which is not what you'd call the most unique approach for a Colorado band to take (771-0824).