Music Showcase, Take Three

Nominated in Major Label Act

Since re-emerging in early 1995, the Freddi-Henchi Band has reminded plenty of people why the conglomerate was among the city's favorite acts during the Seventies and early Eighties. Led by singers Freddie Gowdy and Marvin "Henchi" Graves, the current lineup (guitarist Louis Chavez, bassist Jerry Krenzer, drummer John Olson, keyboardist Mark Rasmussen, saxophonist Harold Lee and percussionist Tony Bunch) is capable of evoking memories of the glory days. But the band has accomplished things this year that it never managed previously. "We've got our first CD out," Gowdy says. "It's called Get Up/Get Off It, and we recorded it up in Loveland. It's all original stuff that was mainly written by me and Larry Wilkins, who passed away earlier this year. Some of it was stuff that we'd done up at Caribou Ranch before it burned down--stuff that we redid. We're really proud of it." Gowdy's just as jazzed by the combo's appearances at numerous mountain festivals this summer, as well as by its turn at a Fourth of July bash at Folsom Field that drew more than 40,000 people. And then there was that gig at Currigan Hall in honor of President Bill Clinton and other world leaders who were in the area for the Denver Summit of the Eight. No wonder Gowdy says, "The excitement is still there. People know that we put on a show and we entertain, and we love it when they're having a good time."

Nominated in Blues/R&B

Boulder's Tony Furtado is a bit amused at his presence in the country/bluegrass category for the Westword Music Awards Showcase. "The music I'm making right now is influenced by Irish music and blues and old-time music, so I guess that could add up to bluegrass," he chuckles. In truth, Furtado, who made his reputation as a banjoist supreme, goes in so many musical directions that no pigeonhole is large enough to contain him. He's spent the summer bringing attention to his latest album on Rounder Records, the eclectic Roll My Blues Away, via appearances at festivals all over the U.S. of A. In doing so, he's managed to put together a first-rate band. "I've got Kester Smith on drums; he lives in Northern California but comes out whenever I tour. He used to play with Taj Mahal, and so did my bassist, Billy Rich. He's from Denver, and he's got an amazing background. He played with Buddy Miles and John McLaughlin, and he collaborated a bit with Jimi Hendrix. I'm really lucky to have nabbed them. And on lap steel we've got Sally Van Meter. She's from Boulder, and she won a Grammy for this album she was part of, The Great Dobro Sessions, on Sugar Hill. They're all incredible players." Aside from another round of touring, Furtado looks forward to writing material for his next album. But don't expect him to disappear from the Boulder-Denver scene while he's in this creative mode. "I'll pop out of the woodwork every once in a while with the band, or I'll duet with a drummer, Dave Watts, from the band Skin," he says. "Even the people who know me from the banjo albums have been totally into what I'm doing now. It's been a really nice thing. They've had an open mind about it, and I'm really happy about that."

Nominated in Country/Bluegrass
6:30 p.m. Skybox at Jackson's Sports Rock

This year, Denver drum legend Bob Rupp isn't just the co-emcee for the Westword Music Awards Showcase--he's also a nominee as one-third of the Galactix, a neo-billy combo that in February became his three-millionth band. Okay, that's something of an exaggeration. But Rupp has been the driving force behind oodles of acts, including the Rumble, Fear of Sleep and Vinyl Oyster, the Galactix's immediate predecessor. In fact, Rupp describes the Galactix (which includes Paul Galaxy on guitar and vocals and Chris Rogers on bass) as "the same lineup as Vinyl Oyster, but with new haircuts." These changes took place after Vinyl Oyster had a falling out with a local label, Pro T.U. Rupp declines to provide details about that situation, saying only that "we started to write really fun, swinging songs, just to be trying different things. So all of a sudden, our set was half psychedelic pop, half swinging rockabilly. And when the crowds started liking our new material more, we said, 'Let's drop everything and write all new material.' At first it was a little bit of a shock--like, 'Wow, we're a rockabilly band?' But then we realized what a gas it is to play, and how great it was that people of all ages were coming out to dance and swing." Since the Galactix came out of the Oyster, Rupp says, "We've been booked constantly, and we discovered this whole scene that I didn't even really know existed." The Galactix are recording at Club Bob, Rupp's home studio, on analog equipment in an attempt to capture the rockabilly spirit that Rupp's already caught. "The change was definitely for the better, across the board. We're all happy, the work's coming in and the crowds are into it. That's all that really matters to me."

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