By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
The Trio is a regular visitor to Fort Collins; the band's John DeStefano says his group has played there approximately once a month for a year or so. But a February 11 performance at Bar Bazaar, a club located inside Fort Collins's Northern Hotel, was quashed only days before showtime. "No disrespect to the bar," DeStefano says, "but the cops apparently came to them with some fliers that had been put up and said, 'If this band starts any trouble, you're going to lose your liquor license.' And they decided against having us play, just because of all the heat they were getting from the cops."
Bill Starke, owner of the Northern Hotel and Bar Bazaar, frames this anecdote differently. In his version, the root of the problem was the fliers--bold pink placards in which the Trio's name was prominently displayed. "We didn't put up the signs. Someone with the band must have," Starke points out. "They were posted illegally, on lampposts and public property. And one of the places they'd put one was by a woman's business, and she was highly offended. She complained to the police, and they brought the sign back to us. And they were very nice about it."
Starke insists that the police did not tell him to cancel the show, an assertion that Gazlay confirms. "But," the sergeant elaborates, "the name was offensive to a member of the general public, and we asked that all the signs on public fixtures be taken down." Starke immediately directed that this be done, and while he does not deny that the police's involvement may have colored his thinking, he says the choice to drop the Hate Fuck Trio performance was his and his alone: "We're trying to do alternative music on Tuesdays, but I think there's no sense in affronting the public. And I thought it was in very poor taste to post those signs illegally and to have a name like that." When asked if he would allow the Trio to play at Bar Bazaar in the future if the musicians put up their signs in accordance with local ordinances, Starke replies, "Absolutely not. Not as long as they've got that name."
Since this last incident, the simmering conflict between the Fort Collins police and local musicians has been quiet, but it may not stay that way for long. Promoter Beegle has rescheduled the canceled Foreskin 500 date for Friday, March 7, at an all-ages club, Dimmer's. Still, Mark the 3 Kord Scissor King swears that his band will not be baiting the cops. "We were going to play a PG show before, because of the trouble we got into the last time we went there," he says. "And that's probably what we'll do this time, too--unless they cancel us again, I guess."
As for Mather, he can only wait for his sentence. He and his Won Lump Some bandmates were living in San Francisco at the time of his arrest, and even though he likes Fort Collins from a scenic standpoint, he's counting the days before he can return to the Bay area. "I could see myself living in Fort Collins if I wasn't a performer," he allows. "But not if I was. I'd be too scared."
In last week's column, Hakeem Abdul-Khaaliq, producer of a hip-hop/R&B compilation called The Bizness, expressed frustration that the folks at KS-107.5 and KJMN-FM/92.1 (Jam'n) had not yet played anything from his disc and promised to picket their offices until they did so. Since then, the odds that Jam'n programmers would capitulate have gone from slim to none: As we were going to press last week, KJMN switched formats, ditching its urban style for a Spanish-language approach dubbed "Radio Romantica."
Usually when changes like this are made, the executives who push them to fruition claim that their competition had nothing to do with the process. But Mike Murphy, general manager of EXCL Communications, the San Jose, California, company that owns KJMN and another local outlet, KMXA-AM/1090, is refreshingly straightforward. Quite simply, he admits that the determination of Jefferson Pilot--a corporate powerhouse that owns five stations in the Denver area--to put heavy dollars behind its own soulful station, KS-107.5, played a direct part in EXCL's move. In essence, he agrees with a statement recently made in this space (Feedback, January 23)--that Jam'n would have been forced to go to war with KS-107.5. And he believes that such a fight would have cost more than it was worth.
"We had hoped that Jefferson Pilot would not move in the direction of a straight rhythmic contemporary-hits-radio format like ours--but with KS-107.5, that's exactly what they did," Murphy says. "Now, it is my opinion that to make a reasonable profit running this format in Denver, you would need to achieve an Arbitron rating in the mid-threes. We accomplished that in the fall '96 ratings book; we had a 3.3, our best ever. But that was when Jefferson Pilot wasn't really competing head-to-head with us. And when they started up KS-107.5 and supported it with substantial TV advertising and significant cash giveaways on the air, we knew that our shares would erode unless we spent a considerable amount of money. And we were unwilling to do that--so we decided to focus on our core business."