Those of you who frequent Herman's Hideaway have no doubt noticed the disappearance of Sharon Rawles, who toiled at the club for twelve years and was eventually named its general manager by owner Alan Roth. Well, you can relax, as both alien abduction and spontaneous combustion have been ruled out as causes: Sharon's not missing; she's just undergone a change of venue. About two weeks ago, Rawles took up a new nest at the Soiled Dove, the LoDo venue owned and operated by Frank Schultz. According to Rawles, who simply cites "time for a change" as the reason she left her Herman's post, her new position as the Dove's local and national talent buyer will provide more opportunity for her to indulge her love of music.
"At Herman's, I was more involved in management than music," she says. "And I discovered that I really just love working with bands and have a really good rapport with them. I really never thought I would wind up in the music business, but I've found out I have created a kind of niche for myself."
Rawles's description of her role in local music might seem an understatement to the bands that have worked with her; many local musicians are more likely to recognize Rawles's face than Wellington Webb's. With Roth, she helped elevate Herman's as a point of entry for area musicians hoping to secure stage time around town. The club's continuing New Talent Showcases on Wednesday nights have become a breeding ground for new talent, and these days, a Saturday-night gig at Herman's is as fine as any band could hope to score. Rawles was also the organizational force behind more than seventy charity concerts held at the club over the past twelve years, including the massive Rock Out Aids benefit, which last year swelled to a four-day event that included performances by 28 bands. Rawles says she plans to infuse the Soiled Dove -- which in the past year already greatly stepped up its presence on the local scene by hosting more music more frequently, including the Sunday night Locals Launch series -- with the same sort of enthusiasm for live sounds, both homegrown and imported.
"Herman's focus was always on local music, which is cool," she says, "but Frank is also really open to bringing all kinds of national acts. It's exciting for me to go search out some national stuff, bands that we can pair locals with. The Soiled Dove is such a great room -- I feel like we can really do anything there."
One of the first things Rawles will be doing there is another Rock Out Aids benefit, to be held at the Dove on Friday, September 1. The lineup so far includes Carolyn's Mother, Bad Rufus and the Ambassadors of Soul and Colemesis. Obviously, Rawles is present and accounted for. Perhaps someone should notify the authorities?
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Boulder-born muckraker Jello Biafra is certainly no stranger to politics -- albeit a semi-gonzo version of politics. In December, Biafra paired with ex-Nirvana bassist Krist Novaselic and Soundgarden's Kim Thayil for a one-off live performance in the middle of the WTO melee in Seattle; the resulting recording, The No WTO Combo: Live From the Battle in Seattle, was just released by Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label. But beyond the persona of Biafra-the-outspoken-activist, there's Biafra-the-potential-elected-official: Every four years, the former Dead Kennedy (who made a prankster's run for mayor of San Francisco in 1979) garners enough presidential votes to make for an amusing sound bite on MTV news, if not a trip to the White House (or the Kennedy compound, for that matter). And though a growing contingent of Biafra-believers have urged the jellied one to make a bona fide run for office in the upcoming 2000 election, Biafra has politely declined the, um, nomination, noting that "sometimes my supporters take me more seriously than I take myself." (There's also the small matter of a May ruling by the San Francisco Superior Court that Biafra pay more than $200,000 to Decay Music, the administrative arm of AT, after losing a drawn-out, royalty-related battle with three of his former Kennedy bandmates. Biafra has appealed the decision, but it ain't easy to launch a campaign when you're already 200 Gs in the hole.)
Instead of creating his own party, Biafra has embarked upon a nationwide tour in support of various candidates running on the Green Party ticket -- an awareness- (and fund-) raising jaunt that will bring him to the Boulder Theater on Sunday, August 20. Biafra, who was one of three candidates for the Green Party's presidential pick at the group's national convention in June in Denver (he lost to Ralph Nader), will serve as a guest speaker at Green Jam & Jello, a benefit concert for Ron Forthofer, a former professor of biostatistics who's running for the Second District congressional seat against incumbent Mark Udall. (While he's in town, Biafra might consider checking on his newest signees, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, whose excellent new CD Always Say Please and Thank You is...just...about... ready to be released on Alternative Tentacles on September 12. Watch this space for more information.) Boulder-based songwriter Marie Beer ("Natural Light," September 9, 1999) and the Reals will also perform in the name of all things Green, as will an acoustic-guitar-toting Nina Storey. Sounds like a fine evening, even for non-politicos.
Last week, Damien McCarron of the ubiquitous Indulgers sent Backwash some information about the sixth annual Colorado Irish Festival, which will be held at the Lakewood Heritage Center on Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20. In his message, McCarron mentioned the fact that more than 6,500 people attended each day of last year's festival and described the festivities as a celebration where "the Irish get drunk in the afternoon." If that's not reason enough for you to make a day or two of it (remember, you needn't actually be Irish to partake), perhaps the music lineup is: Equation, an English outfit currently on the worldly Putamayo label, Cape Breton's Cuillin, locals Lalla Rookh and Suicre, Boston's Kennedys and, of course, the Indulgers. (Equation, Cuillin and the Kennedys will warm up for the event at the Soiled Dove on Friday, August 18.) Did we mention the festival's free-flowing beer? I believe we did.