At a couple of points in his life, Ted Thacker was poised to change the face of the Front Range music scene. His alt-leaning projects Baldo Rex and Veronica were critics' darlings in the ’90s. Both were driven by compelling vocals and gifted songwriting. And while neither act vaulted into the bigtime, plenty of players in the music scene took notice, and Thacker made some notable friends along the way.
The talented singer and instrumentalist never abandoned his craft, but opted to go the solo route, playing well-received local shows when he could fit them into his increasingly busy working life. With decades of songcraft tucked under his arm and a continued knack for expressing himself, he's ready to showcase some of his own material on a recording, this time under the anagram-inspired stage name the Red Tack. The album is titled (K)Night of the Sorrowful Face.
"While we released plenty of stuff with the bands I was in, I never put out anything of my own during that time, no solo material," the 51-year-old artist says. "This new CD is my first effort using my new moniker, the Red Tack. It's an expression of my wanting to put something meaningful out into the world beyond what I do in my day job."
Having worked as an audio technician for the past sixteen years, Thacker is no slouch on the career front. His professional credits include TV series such as The Deadliest Catch, The Biggest Loser and the Academy Award-winning eco-documentary The Cove. Thacker says he enjoys his daytime occupation, but the urge to continue the creative expression that he started as a child and which he has plied over the years with the likes of Nick Urata of DeVotchKa is still strong.
A few of his Denver-area musical compatriots will join in on Thursday evening, for his record release, at Syntax Physic Opera on South Broadway. In addition to Thacker performing songs from his debut Red Tack release, Urata and other Mile High notables, including Andrew Koch, Denise An and Tammy Ealom, will play short acoustic sets in an intimate and comfortable setting.
"It's a really cool venue that was started by a guy who cut his teeth at the Meadowlark," Thacker says of Syntax. "It's a really cool space that has a backdrop of sequined red velvet, where you can eat while taking in the music. And it's a chance to see myself, Nick and a few others play solo. It's got an old cabaret theme to it. I've known all the artists that will be playing for quite a while now. I was a member of DeVotchKa for two months during the summer of 2002, and I've known Nick since we were young."
Thacker, who studied English literature at the University of Colorado Boulder and penned some poetry while a student, says he's been writing songs since he was a child, and he estimates that he's composed more than 600 of them in the last ten years alone. He counts Sly Stone as a powerful influence and lists Brian Eno, David Bowie, the New York Dolls, Elvis Costello and the Pretenders among other artists whose output has inspired him.
"I'm not really into playing covers that much," he says. "I suppose that could change, but I definitely like to create my own music."
He was also influenced by the literary works of James Baldwin, Joyce Carol Oates and Cormac McCarthy, among other writers: "I was an avid reader for a while, so that creeps into my songwriting as well.
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"I would never consider myself a poet, but I find the work of Pablo Neruda and Elizabeth Bishop incredibly good. It's inscrutable literary magic. They perform magic with words. The sleight of hand there is amazing, as far as I'm concerned."
Thacker, who is sometimes referred to as "the glam cowboy," plays all the instruments on his new release, from guitars and keyboards to drums — a process that he says "kicked my ass. It was really hard."
'It's hard to pigeonhole my sound," he says. "I can be kind of dark, but it's also upbeat at times.... The album is kind of all over the map, but it's forceful and pretty fast. It's sort of country rock, but it's got electronic stuff in it, too. I guess I'd say it's a glam-country record."
The Red Tack (K)Night of the Sorrowful Face album-release party, 9 p.m. Thursday, September 14, Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway, $10.