Music Showcase, Take Three

Nominated in Alternative

Tony Achilles has decided to step back. Sweet Water Well, the pop-folk act for which he sings and plays guitar, has absorbed all of his energy for so long that he feels he's lost perspective on it--and he says that singer/guitarist David Jackson, singer/bassist Molly Bowers and singer/percussionist Chris Helvey feel the same way. "We're trying not to take things so seriously right now. We had been striving for some sort of measurable success as opposed to just doing it for fun, and when we tried to harness that and give it a name, the music stopped being as free-flowing and enjoyable as it's always been. So we've decided to slow down a little." The musicians certainly deserve a break: They've spent most of 1997 pounding the drum for 1996's Watermelon, their debut CD on Denver's Alley Records. "We're pleased with how it's gone," Achilles claims. "It's been a big seller on the road, and a huge seller in town. Plus, Alley Records is really behind it. They're getting some national distribution, which is great." Since Watermelon is not yet long in the tooth, Achilles feels no urgency to cut a followup. "I love the studio, and I'm jonesing to get back in there. But we've got this new record that we need to work with a little more." So the bandmates are going off in their own directions for a while: Bowers is performing as part of Molly Universe, a group that also features Andrew Koch, while Achilles is focusing on his other vocation, fine art. As he puts it, "We're tapping other resources, so that when we come back together, we'll all have fresh ideas. The last thing we want to become is boring or monotonous. I don't know what the future holds, but I think that Sweet Water Well can be a fulfilling thing for everybody involved if we just take it easy."

Nominated in Folk/Acoustic
6:30 p.m. Comedy Sports at the Wynkoop Brewing Co.

A few years back, vocalist/guitarist/roots-rock pioneer Rex Moser led the Throttlemen. Then he became the central figure in Jetredball. Now he's with the Throttlemen again. What up? "Those guys in Jetredball wouldn't rehearse with me," Moser says. "That's basically it. It went good for a while, and then they wanted to stop rehearsing and just play at the show, which didn't cut it for me. But I didn't press it. I just went and got some younger guys who had more time." Presently, Moser's accomplices are drummer Mike Minnick, formerly of Aggression, and Tyson Murray, whose work on a standup bass floats Moser's boat. "It's so hard to get a good standup player in this town. There are a few who can play jazz, but that slappin' stuff is a whole 'nother ball game. And Tyson can really slap it." The skills of Murray and Minnick have allowed Moser to take the Throttlemen into virgin territory. "One of our problems was that we were kind of one-dimensional, but now we can work it all around. We've been doing a couple of swingy things and a few new surf songs, and we work in some jazz chords and a cheesy number now and again. I think that's good. The crowds appreciate it." A Throttlemen CD is in the works, and Moser would like to swear that you'll see it by year's end. Unfortunately, he can't. "It's the same old story--I really don't know when it's going to be ready. But we'll be out there playing. That I can promise you."

Nominated in Rockabilly/Roots
10:30 p.m. Skybox at Jackson's Sports Rock

Universo Dos has been around for so long that even Denice Rivera, the group's spokesperson, has trouble figuring out the length of its life span. "Let's see--they celebrated their eighth anniversary in 1994. So I guess it must be eleven years, right?" Right--but Denice's husband, Jesus Rivera, who serves as Universo's accordionist, keyboardist and director, and lead singer Adalbarto Terrazas have been partners for even longer. They first paired up in 1984, forming Universo two years later. Since then, the group has appeared on television programs in Denver, Florida, Texas and Mexico, put together videos for the songs "Siempre Lloraba" and "Cuando Comprendas," and issued seven discs, including Greatest Hits, which became available earlier this month. Today's Universo, which finds Rivera and Terrazas in the company of bassist Marcelino Villarreal, guitarist Juan Gonzales and drummer Sergio Soto, "plays a little bit of everything," Denice says. "They play a lot of ballads, and they play what some people might think of as Spanish country, and Spanish rock and roll." Just as important, they show no signs of hanging up their hats--meaning that keeping track of Universo's age will keep getting harder.

Nominated in Latin/Tejano
8:15 p.m. Blake Street Baseball Club

Jazz bassist Paul Warburton isn't simply into making music; he's into making the instruments on which music is made. With Bob Ross, he's begun manufacturing custom basses--and beginning this month, the two are marketing their creations internationally. "They're such specialized things that you could never survive selling them locally," Warburton says. "You have to look beyond that." He's moving forward musically as well. His most recent disc, Speak Low, featuring the contributions of trumpeter/fellow Showcase nominee Ron Miles, has won considerable acclaim, and he hopes two new projects will receive the same reception. "I'm making both of them for the Synergy label. The first one is a duo CD I'm making with Eric Gunnison [who's also on Speak Low] within the next couple of months. And I'm also doing a solo project. The one complaint I heard about Speak Low is that there weren't enough bass solos on it. But on that one, I wanted to spotlight the interplay between the musicians, because that's so much fun. On this one, though, there will be a lot of soloing. The bass will function almost as a horn player." Between these studio visits, Warburton expects to maintain his busy performance schedule in the company of talents such as guitarist Mark Klastad and pianist Art Lande. After all, such shows give him a chance to show off his bass. "The one I'm playing right now is a five-string, but instead of a scroll on top, it has a dragon's head. It's a really beautiful instrument."

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