The Show(case) Must Go On!

It's been several years since the release of Late for School, the combo's most recent CD, and Buckner would like to put another recording in the can. In the meantime, though, he wants to perfect the act's blend of classic covers and finger-popping originals. "We might play straightahead jazz during our first set, and during the second set throw in some Maceo and funk and Latin and our own stuff," Buckner says. "It's like a good stew, man. We mix it up." -- Michael Roberts

CABARET DIOSA
NOMINATED IN ECLECTIC
David Sherman was born with a fairly ordinary name, and he lives in the 21st century -- but he doesn't let these troublesome details cramp his style. As Juan del Queso, self-proclaimed "minister of the New Mambo Revival and professional man of leisure," Sherman fronts Cabaret Diosa, which is less a band than an alternate worldview. As he puts it, "I never really know where the myth ends and the reality begins."

Life became a Cabaret in 1995, and since then, the collective has featured a rotating membership whose recruits receive an eccentric pseudonym just for joining; current players include lead singer Montana del Fuego, trumpeter/vocalist/percussionists Don Grandisimo de la Misconception and Dinkis Con Creama. (Dinkis, by the way, is Jon Gray, formerly with Fat Mama, a much-missed Boulder jazz/groove collective.) Thanks to flamboyant costumes, a refreshing love of theatricality and a stage demeanor borrowed from an earlier, snappier era, Cabaret Diosa instantly established itself as a live act par excellence. "We try to get our freak on, but we do it in the context of a 1950s big band," Sherman notes. "We use a lot of psychedelic rock influences, too -- and bastardize the hell out of everything."

Next up for the Diosans is a busy tour schedule that includes festival stops outside the state they're in -- whatever state that is. Also on tap is the recording of what Sherman describes as "a concept album called Apocalypso, which describes how the New Mambo Revival saves the world from destruction." After a purposeful pause, he adds, "It's semi-autobiographical."

Hope that means there's more myth and less reality. -- Roberts

CEPHALIC CARNAGE
NOMINATED IN HARD ROCK
6 P.M., SERENGETI
En route to a headlining slot at a festival in eastern Germany, the members of Cephalic Carnage made a little stopover in Amsterdam, land of the almighty hash bar. It allowed the self-proclaimed arbiters of "Rocky Mountain hydro-grind" a chance to test their THC tolerance before embarking on a full-fledged European tour later this year.

"Amsterdam was like a practice for what's ahead," says guitarist Zac. "We've got four shows coming up in Holland in October. Leonard [aka Lenzig, vocalist] and Steve [guitarist], they can take more than anyone else. The rest of us will be on the floor, and they're always coming up winners."

While some bandmates may excel in the pot-smoking arena, all four members of Cephalic Carnage have been coming up winners in recent years. A brutal blending of ass-breaking hardcore, metal math death jazz has earned the Denver-based quartet -- rounded out by drummer John -- a contract with Relapse Records, a festering following across the United States and abroad, and a confidence behind the wheel: In the past three years, the band has logged nearly 200,000 miles on the road, playing everything from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, to the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest. The group recently got off a headlining stint with the Contamination Tour, a nationwide multi-bill caravan that showcases Relapse artists.

Having first come together in Colorado in 1992, Cephalic Carnage is currently touring behind its latest full-length release, Lucid Interval; since its release in August 2002, the album has sold more than the band's two previous efforts, 1998's Conforming to Abnormality and 1999's Exploiting Dysfunction, combined. Zac credits the increased numbers to the band's non-stop gigging.

"We absolutely love it, and we get to play all these killer shows," he says. "That's the only way that we're ever going to sell records, unless we want to be stuck in this sub-cult subculture. But it does mean that we spend a lot of time away from home. That's the life that we chose. Let the tears fall where they may." -- Bond

CREIGHTON HOLLY TRIO
NOMINATED IN BLUES
Creighton Holly Trio did not respond to our requests for biographical materials.

THE CZARS
NOMINATED IN ROCK
7:30 P.M., ACOMA CENTER
Ask Czars bassist Chris Pearson what the controlling creative idea behind his band is, and you'll get dead silence as a reply. "Um. Uh. I think I'll have to pass on that one," he says. "No matter how I answer it, it'll make someone else in the band mad."

The Czars make tension sound ethereal, chemistry feel tender. Since 1994, the band -- Pearson, Roger Green, John Grant, Jeff Linsenmaier, Elin Palmer and Andy Monley -- has woven a ragged clutch of threads into an elegant sonic fabric. The members cite as personal influences everyone from Hall and Oates to John Zorn, Alice Coltrane to Ladytron. "If you asked each of us to pick a bunch of albums to take on the road, all six of us would show up with completely different albums," says Pearson.

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