Music Showcase, Take Three

Nominated in Jazz/Swing

SLIM CESSNA'S AUTO CLUB
When he was interviewed for last year's Westword Music Awards Showcase guide, Slim Cessna said that the Auto Club, an eccentric country outfit that features guitarist/accordionist Frank Hauser Jr., drummer Jon Killough, multi-instrumentalist John Rumley and pedal-steel player Glen Taylor, was looking forward to completing a successor to its much-admired self-titled CD. So it's only appropriate that, twelve months later, he's talking about the same topic. "Believe it or not, that's still the most important thing on our agenda," he says. "We're just trying to figure out how to finish it up." Local recording ace Bob Ferbrache is behind the boards again, and aside from a proposed cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night," the material slated for memorializing is original in nature. "I have no idea what to say about the new songs," Cessna confesses. "But I think they're a lot more nuts. We've become fairly manic, I'd say. Frank has taken on a new role in the group as far as being absolutely insane." He adds, "The first CD was finished almost two years ago, and since then, I feel like we've really improved. We weren't really that good at the time, even at playing our instruments. So things should turn out well." Day jobs and family responsibilities have prevented the Club's members from touring outside the area as much they would like, but Cessna keeps his fingers crossed that in the near future, they'll be able to return to California, where a previous tour was well-received. Meanwhile, he says, "We're still playing, and we're still upbeat. We're having a really nice time."

Nominated in Country/Bluegrass
9:15 p.m. The Sports Column

CHAOS THEORY
Mike V., the human tattoo who directs Chaos Theory, hasn't forgotten the tongue-in-cheek charge levied against his band by the Hate Fuck Trio at last year's Westword Music Awards Showcase. "They said we stuffed the ballots to win" in the Hard Rock category, he says. "But that's a vicious rumor. We didn't cheat." Because Chaos Theory continues to be one of the stronger draws in Denver, his words have the ring of truth. Since taking the Showcase prize, the band--guitarist Dave Martinez, bassist Miles Marlin, drummer Psycho and the aforementioned Mr. V.--has completed a regional tour with the Urge, opened up for national artists such as Suicidal Tendencies, Biohazard and Fishbone, and won invitations to appear at KTCL's Big Adventure and the Colorado date of the Warped tour. On other fronts, the Theory is still pushing its self-titled 1996 CD--a video of its third single, "Wha'Cha Gonna Do," just hit the market--even as V. readies material for another opus. "We'll probably start recording in October," he divulges. "We're not sure if it's going to be a whole album or an EP right now. But the songs are a mix of heavy stuff with some things that are lighter. We have one song, 'Insurance,' that has nothing to do with rap or metal. It has a new flavor--sort of soul-sounding, with me singing on it instead of just rapping." He concedes, "It's hard for bands to keep everybody in line, but we're trying to stick together--and we seem to be doing a pretty good job of it." He pauses before adding, "We hope to win again this year. And we want to do it fair and square."

Nominated in Hard Rock/Industrial
6:30 p.m. Rock Island (all ages)

CONJUNTO COLORES
Any band that's been around for nearly twenty years is bound to undergo some changes now and again--and that's presently the case with Conjunto Colores. The Latin jazz/salsa mainstay, brought to life during the Jimmy Carter administration, has been fronted for as long as anyone can remember by vocalist/percussionist Gary Sosias. But with Sosias moving to Washington, D.C., vocalist/percussionist Francisco Mejias is taking the helm--and he doesn't expect the group to skip a beat. "Definitely," Mejias says. "This is a very good time for us." Indeed, the boom in dancing to big bands seems made for Conjunto Colores, in which Mejias is joined by bassist Jimmy Trujillo, pianist Justin Adams, trumpeters Rick Peron and Tony Rodriguez, trombonists Wade Sanders and Terry Verano, new singer Danny Olizola and percussionists Victor Nieves, Roberto Quintana and Jose Espino. "We've been getting a very mixed crowd, and they're very appreciative of the music," he declares. "They dance to every song." With its membership on solid footing, Mejias is eager to start working on the act's long-delayed CD project. He doesn't want to rush into anything, though. "We're still in transition. But we've got such good musicians that it makes everything easier."

Nominated in Latin/Tejano
6:45 p.m. The Great Room at Wazoo's

THE CZARS
The name of the new album by the Czars, The La Brea Tar Pits of Routine, was inspired by the area music environment. But the reference isn't exactly flattering. "It's something John [Grant], our singer, came up with," reveals Chris Pearson, who plays upright bass for the group. "It's like having something special, like a national monument, but having it stuck in routine--which is how he feels about us being in Denver. There are a lot of good qualities here, but the routine of being in a small city without a bustling music scene keeps you stuck in your own tar pit." Despite Grant's feelings, though, don't expect the Czars to be on the first train out of town. Pearson, drummer Jeff Linsenmaier and guitarist Andy Monley have convinced the vocalist to remain in these parts at least until they can gauge the reaction to the latest disc, which was recorded over a seven-month period with Bob Ferbrache. Pearson is pleased with the platter. "There are a lot of interesting things on it. We have a violin player, Matilda Song, who plays on five tracks, and we have a couple of Russian immigrants talking on one track, kind of whispering in your ear. It reminds me of Wings of Desire. And the whole thing sounds big and grandiose--very spacious." The players have garnered some interest from a handful of music pros on the coasts, and they see Europe as a market that might be receptive to the band's dramatic mood-pop. On other fronts, Pearson, Monley and drummer Smith continue to play under the Jux County moniker, and they're in the process of putting together a third project, Velveteen Monster, with a female singer to be named later. With so many balls in the air right now, it's no wonder Pearson says, "It's hard for us to just pick up and go. So I think we're going to stick around for a while."

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