It's been a couple of weeks since we've spoken. We have some catching up to do.
June 21 was the last day on the Denver airwaves for KBPI's Dean Myers and Roger Beaty, aka Dean and Rog; they've been transferred to KSLX-FM/100.7 in Phoenix, an outlet recently purchased by Jacor (owner of KBPI) as part of a sizable transaction with the Citicasters corporation. KBPI operations manager Jack Evans insists in that deadpan way of his that neither the controversy over the duo's involvement in the desecration of a Colorado mosque (their trial date is set for November 14) nor a recent Westword article that named them the worst DJs in the city was a factor in the move. "The Phoenix deal was a wonderful chance for them to go to a market that doesn't have dominant morning shows," he notes. (Yeah, sure.) Meanwhile, the station's current morning team consists of former afternoon-drive guide Rockfish (the winner of the Best DJ honors in last week's Best of Denver issue) and Joey Teehan, who is doing community service as punishment for his part in the Islamic Center debacle. Thus far, the mix has been an uneasy one: Rockfish's more straightforward approach to hosting is definitely not enhanced by Joey T's trademark juvenalia. Evans is waiting to pass judgment on the pairing, saying, "We haven't made a decision yet whether it will remain as it is."
A day after Dean and Rog beat their feet in a quick retreat, KTCL-FM/93.3 staged its third annual Big Adventure concert at Fiddler's Green--and it didn't take an expert from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine that it was by far the least populated of the three. Station sources claimed that between complimentary admissions and ticket sales, around 10,000 bodies entered the place at some point during the day. That's a figure that the Posies, who pleaded in vain with the relative handful of people present for their mid-afternoon main-amphitheater set to move closer to the stage, would no doubt dispute. In fact, the security guards were so bored that one actually confiscated from me a plastic Baggie containing four Oreo cookies (there were no additional ingredients--I swear), and another couple nearly Rodney Kinged me when I tried to find a shady spot in a grass section that had been roped off due to the weak attendance. Perhaps the latest age of the sprawling outdoor festival is passing; after all, a Lollapalooza date that was to have taken place July 28 in Laramie, Wyoming, is now definitely off the schedule, and sales in many other fest locations are reportedly weaker than ever before. But it's likely that KTCL's long-running personality crisis was a factor in the turnout, too. Only a few months ago the outlet was competing with KBCO and the Peak in a who-can-play-the-most-Hootie & the Blowfish contest, yet last week morning man Brett Saunders boasted that KTCL was now "Hootie-free." You get the impression that they would play Nazi war marches if they thought it would improve the ratings.
The music at the Big Adventure was okay but hardly revelatory; the national acts, in particular, didn't exactly imply that modern rock is entering an astounding new phase. A handful (like Super Deluxe) made a generally positive impression, others (Cast and the Plimsouls, who didn't have much power in their power pop) were tolerable time-wasters, and the rest (Solution A.D., for instance) fell into the BFD category. Colorado acts such as Lord of Word and the Disciples of Bass, the Apples, Idle Mind, the Simpeltones and Sherri Jackson acquitted themselves better and frequently evoked more enthusiasm from those gathered than did the latest grist from the major-label mill--perhaps because they're accustomed to playing to audiences smaller than they deserve.
Barry Fey of Fey Concerts has made a tradition of dealing with young, up-and-coming competitors by hiring them. When Bill Bass began making a name for himself during the Eighties, Fey scooped him up; likewise, Doug Kauffman, of nobody in particular presents, was invited to join the Fey fold a couple of years back. Kauffman declined the offer, but Jesse Morreale of Gess Presents, a company that's graduated from small club shows to the occasional arena date over the past six years, gladly accepted; the company is taking over Fey Concerts' promotion department. The new contract allows Gess to promote shows of its own as well--a key to Morreale's decision to sign it. "Obviously, the relationship will be mutually beneficial," he says. "We get a lot of bang for our advertising buck, which attracted Fey, but we'll also be able to use their infrastructure to make our events better." Morreale adds that the coalition may help lower ticket prices for certain shows, because the two promoters will no longer be bidding against each other. (Don't bet the farm on that one, folks--or before you know it, you'll be sans farm.)
When asked about Morreale's move, nobody in particular's Kauffman responds wryly, "It's like what Jerry Lee Lewis said when Elvis died: 'It's just another one out of the way.'" More seriously, he adds, "It's getting real lonely out here in independent-promoter land, but Jesse did a good job, and I wish him the best." Bass, who recently left his job at Fey to head up his own company, Small Axe Productions, also avoids giving Morreale words of warning. "I think too much is read into my leaving Fey," he declares. "The reason I did it is because I'm fucking old. I'm really old and bald and fat and I don't want to have any bosses--I don't want to take shit from people." The slower pace obviously agrees with him; the onetime curmudgeon sounds positively cuddly as he boasts, "I'm spending a lot of time gardening. I'm the only promoter in town who has vine-ripened tomatoes ready today. And my dog is very happy, because I can spend so much time with him."
On March 3, 1996, at the intersection of Colfax and Vine (near the Lion's Lair), Mike Elkerton, guitarist with Electrolux, was charged with a heinous offense--urinating in public. Recognizing this bust as a golden opportunity to get back into this column, Elkerton decided to fight the ticket, which carried with it a maximum fine of $15 and a permanent black mark on his record. Doing his best to sound earnest, he says, "I think the penal code is in need of reform."
Armed with righteous indignation and an unerring instinct for publicity, Elkerton turned down a plea-bargain offer from the city attorney. (He would have had to pay the fine, but the matter would have been wiped off his record in six months.) After deciding to represent himself, he drummed up support in the local music community. On June 25, the day of his trial, almost a dozen backers appeared on the steps of the city courthouse wearing T-shirts made up especially for the occasion. (The slogans on them read "Free Willy" and "Legalize It.") The upshot of this concerted effort was a decision by the city attorney to raise the white flag. "They said that they lacked evidence," Elkerton reveals. "I'm not sure, but I think that means that they didn't have a urine sample."
A free man at last, Elkerton is now able to concentrate on the release party for his band's latest recording, a cassette-EP entitled Club Wagon Chateau; it takes place Friday, July 26, at Cricket on the Hill. Even though he got off scot-free, however, he resists stating publicly whether or not he was guilty of the infraction with which he was accused. "I'll leave it to the storybooks. But let's put it this way: Was O.J. innocent?" He adds, "For me, this was the trial of the century. And I've been vindicated."
Perry Farrell is an odd duck--just as odd, in fact, as the June 25 Porno for Pyros concert at the Ogden Theatre. The evening began with vocalist Tjinder Singh of Cornershop, the opening act, stumbling off stage, never to return; to cover his absence, his baffled bandmates played twenty minutes' worth of instrumentals before scattering. (A reliable source says Singh was upset that he couldn't hear his hand drums in a monitor.) An hour later, Farrell (dressed in a brocaded jacket and skirt that left him looking like Sandra Bernhard in a remake of Breakfast at Tiffany's) arrived with his Porno mates, supplemented by bassist Mike Watt, and sauntered through smack-rhythmed selections from his latest disc. Compared to Farrell's work in Jane's Addiction, these tracks didn't seem exactly eternal, but somehow he managed to put them over. Unfortunately, he said goodnight after a mere 45 minutes. He returned for an encore, telling fans that he was giving them three more songs "as my gift to you"--but he played only two before splitting again. (Obviously, chronic heroin use doesn't improve one's math skills.) The Ogden's lights were turned up, but the audience refused to exit until Farrell came back at least one last time. When he did, he mentioned casually that Singh's mother had died that day, then launched into an acoustic version of "100 Ways" that he interrupted to tell listeners that they should have children "because when you're gone, you might come back and find that they've created a beautiful world for you." No doubt a lot of condoms went unused that night.
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Crash Worship will soon arrive in Colorado to play a date at a secret outdoor location. (Call 575-5659 for clues as to its whereabouts.) Promoter Tom Headbanger insists, "It should be a night of good taste and common sense." You're invited to read between that line.
And this one, too. On Thursday, July 4, Breckenridge's Dollfish is among the acts playing at the annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and King Rat touts its new CD, The Towne Liar, at the Cricket. On Friday, July 5, the Czars re-establish order at City Spirit, and Roots Revolt rises up at the Fox Theatre. On Saturday, July 6, Wryeteous Pybayk Jammbory hits the Mercury Cafe; Snapcase and Refused go to the Raven; puddleluscious opens for Jux County at Soapy Smith's; Chiwoniso Marimba makes the scene at Dance West, at 1637 Pearl in Boulder; the Christines, Abdomen and Fox Force 5 entertain at the Cricket; and Geffen signee Lode lands on the Lion's Lair. On Sunday, July 7, the Subsonics, from Atlanta, give you an Olympic preview at the Raven. On Monday, July 8, cowboy storyteller Bill Barwick begins a six-night run at the Buckhorn Exchange. On Tuesday, July 9, the Minders follow orders at the Lion's Lair. And on Wednesday, July 10, D-Town Brown headlines at Boulder's new Club Mecca; 2 A.M. gets up early at the Skyline Cafe, and the 'Vengers and Another Barrel of Monkeys swing at Herman's Hideaway. Go ape.
Backbeat's e-mail address is Michael_Roberts@ westword.comMichael_Roberts@