A lot of observers out there still don't believe that the Denver-Boulder area has a dance scene, and Hardy Kalisher of Boulder's Sol Productions knows why. "I see us as having three separate music communities," he says. "One is the promoters, who spend most of their time thinking about how they can throw a party and get a lot of people to show up. Two is the patrons, who are listening to CDs and watching MTV, but they may not be familiar with a lot of the music that's being played at the parties. And three is the DJs and the producers, who tend to be on the cutting edge but who may not have as much of a presence with the other two groups."
In an effort to alter this situation, Kalisher, his brother Lucas Kalisher and producer/performer Mark Read have created Club Records, a Boulder-based imprint dedicated to spreading the word about Colorado dance-music makers. The Kalishers, in particular, sport an ideal background for such a mission: They've fronted their own dance-oriented firm, Sol Productions, and participated in Sol Jazz Massive, a spin-off dance combo profiled in these pages ("Massive Attack, Boulder Style," January 24, 1996). Last December the brothers branched out with Club, a store located at 1521 Pearl Street in Boulder, that specializes in DJ gear, clothing and a large selection of electronic and dance music on CD and vinyl. The label was conceived as a natural extension of the retail outlet, but with the impending release of Melt, a twelve-cut compilation disc, it's already becoming something more--a forum for a wide range of Colorado talent. "The name of the CD is important," Kalisher declares, "because it has a lot of different styles of electronic all melting together on it. But I guess you could say the general vibe is more groovy and less industrial."
The entertainers on the offering are a varied lot. Kalisher describes Sundog, a native of England now living in Capitol Hill, as working in the trip-hop/drum-and-bass mode, while Ben Pound and Sean Biddle, partners who perform under the moniker Technicolour, deliver what he calls "discoey house and progressive techno. They've been playing quite a few raves, and they've been getting requests from some of the bigger names in dance music to do remixes." Kalisher says another Melt recruit, Rockstar Weekend, specializes in "trip-hop on the jazzy tip," while ABA Structure, a Canadian duo that recently moved to Colorado, "is probably one of the most musically oriented of the electronic bands I've heard. One of the musicians will play his violin through an effects processor while the other will be doing other things. Their music goes from dubby trance to drum and bass." Apparatus offers another unique twist on formula: It's a jungle group that features an actual, flesh-and-blood timekeeper. "I only know of one other jungle band in the country that has a live drummer, so people are really interested in hearing these guys," Kalisher notes. Meanwhile, Chris Fonya, a Dallas transplant living in Loveland, issues trance epics; Dan Asti, an alumnus of Boulder High School who's returned to the region after several years in Scotland, creates hard techno; Aquatic Ape, another Englisher with Boulder ties, offers up (Kalisher's words) "anti-establishment conspiracy-theory jungle"; and nineteen-year-old Chachi Bong focuses on the warmer side of trance. "The funny thing is, he has a girlfriend named Joni," Kalisher reveals with a laugh.
The last three artists on Melt have the choicest credentials. Dr. Decent, a Colorado-to-New York transplant, contributed to MTV's Amp and collaborated with big-name turntable jockeys such as DJ Spooky; Aquatherium, who moved from San Francisco to Colorado two years ago, has more than forty singles and a full-length on Moist Records under his belt; and Club co-owner Read is a Philadelphian who has rubbed tone-arms with talents like Josh Wink during his ten years in the electronic-music field. "It's really an amazing bunch of people," Kalisher enthuses, "and most of them had no idea that there were so many other people doing stuff like them so close. It was great to get them all together in the same room."
The official release party for Melt takes place on Friday, October 10, at Millennium in Boulder; call 413-1238 for directions and more details. But if all goes as planned, the CD will be only the first in a series of Club Records products. Kalisher promises that the company will feature each act from the sampler on vinyl EPs that will appear at a rate of one per month for the next year. "We've signed everyone to the CD and EP deal," he goes on. "After that, we're not sure what's going to happen. Everyone has different goals, but I would love to see these guys doing some major stuff. The whole point is that there have been people making electronic music in Colorado for years, but no one's really marketed them all together. And that's what we're trying to do."
Folks who occasionally pay attention to media organs other than this one may have already heard that impresario Barry Fey divulged last week that he's signed a multi-year consulting deal with Ascent Entertainment, the parent company of the mighty Colorado Avalanche and the lowly Denver Nuggets. But for you loyal Westword readers, here's the (relatively) skinny.
According to Fey, he's been quietly pushing along Ascent-related ventures since June 23, well over a month before the August 11 announcement that he had sold his share of his promotions company, Fey Concerts, to Universal Concerts Inc. (Fey will remain a Universal consultant for the next five years.) "There are six different projects with the Nuggets and two with the Avalanche that I've come up with," he says. "The Avalanche things don't happen until later in the season, and I'm more limited with what I can do with them because of the amount of room you've got. You have ice, and then boards and then seats--and between periods, you have a Zamboni taking center stage." By contrast, the Nuggets enterprises begin on October 31--opening day--and while Fey declines to offer specifics at this time, it's clear that they are of far more immediate importance to Ascent. After all, Nuggets fans are disgruntled about the collapse of the franchise and are looking forward to another year of rebuilding with all the good humor of Tipper Gore at a Slayer concert. Fey concedes that "I'm not going to be doing anything that'll be worth the price of admission. It's still going to be about basketball. But they'll be fun. It's a sports cliche that teams are in competition for everyone's entertainment dollars, so you'd better make sure that it's entertaining. But it's the truth."
Music will be only a small part of Fey's brainstorms due in large part to a non-compete clause he signed when making his deal with Universal. But that doesn't stop him from suggesting that the National Basketball Association would be a lot better off if it operated more like the concert business. "When I heard Juwan Howard was getting $90 million, I thought, this is crazy. I mean, the Rolling Stones don't get paid $3 million for playing in Las Vegas if nobody shows up; they get a percentage of the gate. So what the NBA ought to do is, at the end of the season, take the actual expenses off the top of the gross and then give the players 90 percent of what's left and the owners 10 percent. To me, that's a lot more fair."
By the way, the same day Fey joined the Nuggets organization, star forward Antonio McDyess was given a one-way ticket to Phoenix. Basketball buffs out there may not see that as trading up, but Fey implies that it's not as bad as it sounds. "I still have my jump shot," he says.
In another Fey-related item, Universal disappeared eight employees last week, and a ninth jumped before being pushed. Among the victims are numerous members of the accounting department, whose tasks will now be handled by drones at Universal's Los Angeles headquarters, and longtime press person Michelle "Mel" Gibson. This last dismissal is probably the biggest surprise, given the high esteem with which Gibson is held in the Denver concert community. Local Universal types declined to comment on the move, and the only response offered up by L.A.-based representatives was a written statement that reads, in part, "Universal has carefully reviewed its local resources and how best to utilize such resources as part of its national concert operations. This required some restructuring and reorganization, which we believe will result in the most effective and efficient operation possible." Which, in case you were wondering, is a technocratic way of saying that the pink slips were handed out in order to save money. That's life in the Nineties.
Despite a reunion gig at Herman's Hideaway last week, Furious George and the Monster Groove is not a regularly going concern. Moreover, the reasons that the band is not together remain the same as they were when Westword disseminated the news of the combo's impending breakup last year ("The End of the Groove," December 19, 1996). "Our bass player [Luke Davis] is going to school out of town," says James Elias, George's onetime lead singer. "We can really only play when he comes back." However, Elias is hardly sitting around waiting for Davis's next vacation. He's put together a new combo, Bad Rufus and the Ambassadors of Soul, which he describes as "a cleaner, leaner soul band. We're doing more of a fusion of reggae and soul. We sometimes still do funk, but we're not hitting the Bosstones style like we were with Furious George. It's a five-piece with a really sweet sound."
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In addition, Elias runs Euphoric Productions, a firm that he founded following Furious George's demise. "I did it basically to keep my name out there and my new band going," he points out. "But when I realized how many numbers and connections I had and how many club owners and bands I knew, I realized that I could do more with this." Hence, Euphoric has put together a regular series of events Wednesday and Friday afternoons at the Snake Pit. "Basically," says Elias, "we're concentrating on providing a stage for newer, smaller local bands that are still a little wet behind the ears so that they can get working. And we're also promoting camaraderie between the newer bands and older bands by pairing them up together. That way, the newer groups will be able to learn, pick up some tips and be able to compete at some of the larger rooms." Examples of this concept can be seen this week: At the Snake Pit on Friday, October 10, Bad Rufus opens for Brethren Fast, while Wednesday, October 15, finds Mean Old Man in the company of Tequila Mockingbird. And come December, Euphoric will put on a string of Monday night showcases at Herman's. "I'm really excited about that," Elias says. "I'll be able to do twenty bands a month there, and a lot of them will be groups that have never been able to get on a stage like that one--but on Monday nights, they will."
Just where do you think you're going? On Thursday, October 9, Entuoblivion is carefully pronounced at the Cricket on the Hill, with Half-Way There and Freak Boy #9, and Jackson Galaxy can be observed at Penny Lane. On Friday, October 10, Conjunto Colores serves up the salsa at the Mercury Cafe; Patti Larkin headlines at the Oriental Theater; '76 Pinto chugs at the Cricket, with Boondoggle and the Damn Shambles; the Smugglers sneak Scared of Chaka into Area 39; and K Records' own Mocket joins labelmate L.A.L. at the 15th Street Tavern. On Saturday, October 11, the Hate Fuck Trio hosts a martini party necessitated by the release of its new Shaky Records EP, Ol' Blue Eyes, at the appropriately hued blue room; the Emirs and Sizewell play a free show at the 15th Street Tavern in honor of their new split seven-inch (the 8-Bucks Experiment is also on the bill); Chief Broom pow-wows at the Ogden Theatre; Sunshine Blind sees the light at Area 39; Electric Summer breaks out at the Lion's Lair, with aerosol; and the Alison Brown Quartet drops by the Oriental in the company of Chesapeake. On Sunday, October 12, Wendy Woo and Hannah Alkire team up at Boulder's Caffe Mars, and No Knife tries to cut it at CU-Boulder's Club 156. On Monday, October 13, Stiff Little Fingers stick up at the Bluebird Theater, with Gang Green. On Tuesday, October 14, Lycia and the Czars fill Area 39. And on Wednesday, October 15, Mike Watt shines at the Fox Theatre; the Boulder Theater pops the tops on the Royal Crown Revue; and the Wig Farmers brush up at Soapy Smith's, with Red Yak. Hair Club for Men members are encouraged to attend.