At times this column seems like an obituary page for local bands. And so it goes as another area outfit calls it quits, at least temporarily: Chief Broom, at the approximate age of 3.5 years, suffered from self-inflicted disbandment after a final show at Quixote's True Blue on Sunday, January 2. The Boulder-based six-piece, which released a self-titled CD in 1998, enjoyed success as proud purveyors of the tried and true (and, some might say, tired) jam-band tradition after discovering one another at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The relocation of several bandmembers has been identified as the cause of the band's passing: Guitarist and co-vocalist Putnam Murdock has left town to attend Boston's Berklee School of Music, lead guitarist Bruce Chester Bell is heading to the San Francisco Art Institute and drummer Brian Ravitsky is returning home to Florida. Survivors include pianist/vocalist Dave Cieri, bassist Bill Dube and vocalist Jessica Goodkin. Our condolences to the family of fans.
Congratulations, however, to the ska stalwarts in Judge Roughneck, who have earned themselves a recent streak of good luck. After winning the Colorado bout in the Ernie Ball Warped Tour Battle of the Bands, the group had bio info, photos and samples of their skankin' sound posted on www.rollingstone.com, where site visitors voted them into the competition's third round, to be held in Texas this weekend. The band travels to Dallas to perform with other finalists on Saturday, January 14, and you can bet Johnny will be blowin' his horn especially well that day: Should the Roughnecks progress to the next phase of the competition (which began with about 7,500 bands), they'll compete for a cool $25,000. Heck, with that kind of cash, they could probably afford to buy some clothes for the bare-bummed lass on the cover of their latest CD, Skankin' Naked.
What is the sound of 2,000 acoustic guitars being strummed in unison? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. At least Dave Baker, guitarist for local rock-and-roll outfit Slim Margins, hopes it will be, but that depends on whether he's able to actualize his dream of bringing 2,000 acoustic players together for a live, synchronized rendition of the famous Dylan tune. Here's Baker's vision: Sometime during this year, he and 1,999 other players will converge on Cheesman Park, where everyone will be charged $20 for the opportunity to participate in the experiment. A crew of professional soundmen and engineers will mike and run the show, and the song will be recorded for posterity (or, possibly, to thoroughly freak out Mr. Dylan). Baker, the sole mastermind behind the plan, hopes to attract players from around the country and the world; the only requirement is that each be proficient enough to handle the song. Those interested are encouraged to contact Baker at Acoustic2K@aol.com.
Things online, they are a-changing for a few local music hubs that have improved and relaunched Web sites just in time for the new year. And seeing as we all have plenty of snowstorms and indoor camping to look forward to in the coming months, there should be plenty of time to check them all out. First, the Colorado Music Association has made over its already exhaustive site, still located at www.coloradomusic.org, with a cleaner design and more user-friendly navigation. The site's content, happily, remains largely the same, functioning as a digital bulletin board for working musicians. Among announcements of musicians needed or available, good places to look for gigs and various other news items, the site offers general features of interest to the local music microcosm: articles on MP3s, promotional tips, etc.
Elsewhere, local scribe Alex Teitz is the force behind Femmusic Web magazine (www.femmusic.com), a mostly all-woman digital space that focuses on local and national recording artists who bear the X chromosome. Teitz, who offers concert and CD reviews and lots of links, is also behind the Colorado Music Initiative, a project she shares with the folks at www.denvermusicplus.com. The idea is that while there are plenty of publications that include music coverage, there aren't any devoted solely to it. Should the response indicate that people want such a thing, Teitz is prepared to attack the project with gusto.
Coming very, very soon, courtesy of Ariel Hyatt and the hardworking folks at Ariel Publicity, is The Colorado Connection, an appendage to Hyatt's already comprehensive Web site at www.arielpublicity.com. As publicist for the Fox Theatre and local bands Chupacabra and Cabaret Diosa, Hyatt has proven she knows enough to offer advice to local upstarts, and that's what she'll do on the Connection: Listings of venues, record stores, labels and promoters, as well as advice on touring in Colorado and beyond, are the types of things Hyatt intends to post regularly. Good stuff for minstrels in and outside of Colorado. Morris Beegle of the prolific Fort Collins-based Hapi Skratch label is also jumping gracefully onto the digital bandwagon with the company's slick new site, www.hapiskratch. com, where fans or the simply curious can peruse an index of Hapi Skratch CD-production services as well as new and forthcoming releases. (For example, Dave Beegle's experiments with his curious transperformance automatic tuning guitar are captured on A Year Closer, while the world needn't wait much longer for offerings from A Band Called Horse and Blinddog Smokin'.) And for those who need something to counter all of this downright useful information, there's always the new and improved fan site from Acrobat Down (www.acrobatdown.com), which finds everyone from Bill Gates to President Clinton chiming in about the band's latest CD release, RE:Dereliction. Sure, it is an excellent recording, but we didn't realize Gatesy was into that sort of thing.
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As the Wu-Tang Clan's most absurdist MC, Ol' Dirty Bastard has been known to exhibit some unpredictable behavior. He often doesn't show up for interviews, he sometimes beats people up, and he sports an Elvis jumpsuit and operatic wig on the cover of his recent solo release, N***a Please. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that his scheduled appearance at the Gothic Theatre on Friday, January 21 (along with all of the remaining dates on his national tour) has been canceled. The clan's manager announced last week that a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on January 10 and 11 was to blame for the nationwide flakeout and that the outcome of the hearing would determine whether dates would be rescheduled or canceled altogether. His Dirtiness is no stranger to run-ins with law enforcement or the justice system, having been convicted last year of making terrorist threats and possessing body armor. The latest charge against Bastard is for possession of narcotics. (At press time, the hearing had not concluded.)
Jason Miller, vice president of the talent division at House of Blues Concerts, the show's co-promoter with 3 Deep Productions, says that about 200 tickets had been sold; if Bastard reschedules, they will be honored at the new date, and if he cancels for good, ticket buyers will receive a full refund. Yet in some ways, Miller says, the damage done by these types of cancellations isn't easily repaired by refunded money or promises of new dates. Fans of hip-hop and rap artists have learned, show by show, that the old maxim "The show must go on" doesn't always apply to the genre. "People are really hesitant to purchase tickets in advance to rap shows," Miller says. "This [cancellation] is not going to impede my passion or ability to book other hip-hop shows into this city, but it is bad for the community and scene when something like this happens. People stop believing that artists will show, and the credibility on the street goes down." Miller has helped bring such urban artists as Method Man/Redman, the Pharcyde, the Roots, Master P and the No Limit Army through town -- successful shows for which everyone turned up where and when they were supposed to -- and he rejects the notion that fans should simply expect the unexpected from rappers and hip-hop acts. Instances such as the latest from the old messy one, he says, are the exception, not the norm.
"A guy like Bastard -- he's a loose cannon, but we were willing to take the risk. Now he's got a court date, and it turns out he can't make it. What can you do?"