On December 17, 1987, Twice Wilted played its first show, in an art gallery space in Boulder. Over the course of the next several years, the group, fronted by Kurt Ottoway, grew into one of the Denver area's biggest live draws and piqued the interest of representatives from numerous major and indie labels. But bad luck, bad timing and other bad things prevented the outfit's members from signing the contract of their dreams. So Ottoway formed Gift Records and issued works by Twice Wilted and several other local peers himself. Subsequent music-company contacts raised hopes for a while, but when nothing much came of them, Ottoway finally ran out of gas. As a result, Twice Wilted's upcoming performance, on Friday, April 19, at its warehouse at 776 Santa Fe, will be its last.
"I think it was an inevitable slow kill," Ottoway says about his creation's demise. "We had the band on life support and just kept plugging in new members. In the end, though, everybody just realized that we were sticking together out of loyalty--but as far as doing what we wanted to do as individuals, it really wasn't happening."
Ottoway traces the beginning of the end to the departure from the combo of Todd Ayers earlier this year. "He had a real bad problem with his ears--a bad bout with tinnitus. And after he left, everybody kind of flipped out." Compounding the chaos was a Twice Wilted performance on March 23 at Resurrection, a quasi-rave staged in Thornton. "Fatwater and Sympathy F and '57 Lesbian played--a whole bunch of people," he points out. "But the whole thing took place in the middle of a blizzard. We didn't go on until about four o'clock in the morning, and we played in a paint-ball war zone. It was one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had in ten years of playing. It was a fiasco, to put it mildly."
After surviving Resurrection, conversations among the performers about disbanding took on a new urgency. Ottoway, especially, was restless. He's since made plans to move to San Francisco. "The music scene there is, in a word, vibrant," he notes. He's already made preliminary plans to start a new group in the Bay Area: "I've laid the groundwork for it, anyway. It's very formative, very larval at this point. But I'm definitely going to do something soon."
Despite his eagerness to hit the road, Ottoway insists that his memories of the Denver alterna-scene are warm. "I want people to know that we're not bitter toward Denver. But you keep a band together because of the music, not because of friendships. That's why we need to move on."
As for Twice Wilted's swan song, Ottoway expects that it will be memorable. "There'll probably be a surprise guest or two," he hints. "And it's an appropriate place to finish up. We began in a warehouse. We should end in a warehouse."
Homer Brown, another longtime fixture on the Denver music scene, is recovering from a recent stroke. But the progress he's making is excruciatingly gradual, both for himself and for Peggy Brown, his partner in life and on stage. "I think time is going to take care of everything," she says. "But we still have to watch his blood pressure really closely. He's been feeling kind of ill at times, and we had to take him to the hospital again a couple of weeks ago. It's a mess."
In addition, the expenses that the Browns have incurred since the stroke have been horrendous--which is why many of their peers in the local music community are now rallying around them. The centerpiece of these efforts is a benefit to be staged Sunday, April 28, at the Eulipions Center's new location, 1770 Sherman. The hours between 2 and 10 p.m. will be filled with music by the Denver Jazz Orchestra, featuring Javon Jackson; Sam Coffman; Andy Weyl; Mary Ann Moore; Keith Oxman; Norman Love; AOA; Jackie Delaporte; Ace Butler and the Aces; Rich Chiaraluce, backed by the El Chapultepec band; and Joe Keel. The event will be hosted by Carlos Lando, program director of KUVO-FM, and headlined by national blues icon Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. (Homer served as music director for Gatemouth during the Forties and again throughout much of the Eighties; he also wrote one of Gatemouth's signature tunes, "One More Mile.") Local artists are donating artwork and pottery to be sold at a silent auction. The ticket price is $15, and other donations will be gladly accepted; call KUVO at 480-9272 for more details.
Peggy feels certain that the bash will be a success. "People have been so supportive," she says. "Homer's just a well-loved man."
Allow me to correct a piece of misinformation included in our mini-profile of the new music series at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. The act scheduled on Saturday, May 4, isn't the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble, with Fred Hess; its turn comes later in the year. Instead, the spotlight will be focused on the aforementioned Sam Coffman, appearing with his quintet, known as Cat Unit. Coffman says he'll be playing original avant-funk in the spirit of Steve Coleman's forward-looking M-Base collective. Fortunately, his collaborators are a profoundly skilled lot--they include Artie Moore, Matt Houston, Hugh Ragin and Joe Lukasik, Jr.. Coffman can also be found entertaining at LoDo's Enoteca each Wednesday from 8 to 11 p.m. As if you didn't already know that.
As you may or may not know, KRS-One, the voice of Boogie Down Productions and a hip-hop elder statesman of deserved renown, was scheduled to appear in Boulder this week. His management promised me an interview with him, but after three blown appointments and dozens of phone calls, he canceled his stop. Chuck D, the once and future leader of Public Enemy, jumped in to take his place--but after another interview promise and a dozen more phone calls, he blew me off, too. To prove I'm not bitter about this turn of events, however, please note that Mr. D performs solo at CU-Boulder's Glenn Miller Ballroom on Monday, April 22. The following night he gives the keynote address at the university's first annual African-American Affairs Conference. The theme of the event, also at Glenn Miller: Hip-Hop as a Liberation Tool.
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How magnanimous of me. On Thursday, April 18, Spoon Collection uses utensils at the Blake Street Baseball Club, and Malo reunites at Sloan's Lake Event Center. On Friday, April 19, Five52Fern celebrates the release of a new CD at the Bluebird Theater, with Stir; Sketch draws a crowd at Nederland's Pioneer Inn; the Hate Fuck Trio joins Kingpin, Undecided and Immortal Dominion at the Aztlan Theatre; and the Novembers and Freak Hungre chow down at Cafe Euphrates. On Saturday, April 20, Armchair Martian invades CU-Boulder's Club 156; Damien Promise and many others participate in EarthFest '96, a two-day spectacle at Larimer Square (phone 685-8125 for more info); and Thinking Fellers Union Local #282 picks up the Apples at the Ogden Theatre. On Sunday, April 21, Lyle Lovett and Richard Thompson raise funds for E-Town at CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium, and Wax Trax sponsors the Denver Record Collectors Expo at the Regency Hotel, I-25 and 38th Avenue. On Monday, April 22, Shallow digs deep at the Lion's Lair, with June. And on Wednesday, April 24, Sharri Weissman, ZeYt and Jux County donate their services to the River Heritage Society at the Bluebird. My, but we're generous this week.
Backbeat's e-mail address is Michael_Roberts @westword.com