Pure Sunshine: Celebrate the life of Rick Kulwicki this weekend at the Bluebird Theater

A little more than a month ago, I attended the memorial service for a Rick Kulwicki at Fairmount Cemetary, the same place where my grandparents and my favorite aunt happen to be laid to rest. The place doesn't really hold a lot of fond memories for me.

Barely ten years old, I remember wiping tears from my eyes as I watched my grandfather being lowered into the ground. I also remember my dad pointing out the unmarked grave of my grandmother, as I tried to wrap my young mind around the whole concept of death. Some twenty odd years later, we repeated the process with my aunt, only this time, I fully grasped the frailty of life. Death represents sadness and loss. That's what I learned in the intervening years.

And while that is certainly true, there's a flip side to that coin, as Rick's memorial service proved. Seeing all of the people who came to celebrate his life -- the lifelong friends, family, fans of his bands, neighbors, co-workers, baseball buddies -- and listening to those dear to him share their anecdotes and give heartfelt testimonies to his selfless, kind-hearted devotion and to hear just how full of life he was... well, that was probably one of the most profound experiences I've had in recent memory. We should all be so lucky to have impacted so many people and to be remembered so fondly.

Kindness. That was the word most commonly used to describe Rick, who, I learned, was an avid wrestling fan (and not the WWF, but the old school All-Star Wrestling, which they used to show on Sunday mornings on Channel Two. I appreciated that, as I was a huge fan myself and often missed church to watch to matches on TV).

I also got a kick out hearing how Rick showed up to his sons' baseball practices with aviators, blue jeans and motorcycle boots, and the other parents didn't really know what to make of him -- until they got to know him, and then they loved him. Like everybody else. Universally, everyone seems to remember Rick as a bright spot in an otherwise dark existence.

From the sounds of it, the world could use more Rick's.

But that's going to be tough. He was one of a kind, an analog soul in a digital era. Didn't have much use for the things that some folks just can't live without, cell phones, Facebook, the Internet. Instead, he focused his time and energy on the things that actually matter, people and relationships. Trust: The irony of memorializing Rick on a blog is not lost. Nonetheless, in advance of Pure Sunshine this weekend, the shows tonight and tomorrow night at the Bluebird Theater celebrating his life and benefiting his twin boys, we asked some folks for a few words on Rick.

Click through to read their thoughts, and then please feel free to leave some of your own.

Visit DenverPunk's Facebook page for tons more awesome photos of Rick.

"Laughing -- that's probably one of things we did together the most. That is truly one of my favorite things about him. He was the epitome of a great person. Everybody gets talked up after the die. Most people don't necessarily deserve it, as much as others. But Rick was definitely everything that everyone says he was. And more. He was one of those really, geniunely, positive, happy people. Playing music with him was easy. That's what I love about the guys in the Fluid and the other guys I'm playing with now, is just the ease of just getting together and finding a groove and just playing. I don't ever remember it being anything but easy and fun." -- James Clower, bandmate in the Fluid

Visit DenverPunk's Facebook page for tons more awesome photos of Rick.

"We all kind of get up in our own selfish perspectives. Rock and roll can be a selfish endeavor, but it doesn't have to be. You can say what you want about the brotherhood of rock and roll and music, and that's all it's ever really been about. Rick would just constantly - not intentionally - remind me that, 'Hey, man, relax. Focus on what you can do to make this better for everyone.' And that's what he did. Always.

"He took us [Overcasters] out to New York. I was giving those guys [the Fluid] a practice space, 'cause I wanted to, and the money thing came up, and I'm like, 'No! No way. I don't want any money, man. I can't. You guys are the people that instilled all of this in me, and I finally get a chance to give you something back. Thank you! So that happens, and then Ricky calls me and says, 'Hey, you know, we're doing these shows in New York... Overcasters want to go?' I was like, 'Oh, man!' And it all came back, like tenfold overnight. It was just ... that's the kind of stuff you don't even need to talk about. It just happens.

And that's just how Ricky was, man. He could just look you in the eye, and he always had integrity, and never, ever, ever, for one day, hyped himself. So there's a lot to be said about that. And his sons are the same way. They're practicing over at the house right now, and for fourteen-year-old kids to be that well adjusted and just kind hearted, speaks volumes about who that guy was.

I'd have to say anytime there's any friction between band people and musicians, Ricky had this saying - I don't want to throw any bouquets at anyone - but he always had this saying, 'Life is too long.' Instead of 'Life is too short,' he said, 'Life is too long to go through the struggles that you do.' You know, the domestic issues. If you hung around those guys - especially Rick - your mood would be instantly elevated. You'd just suddenly feel good about being alive and playing music." - Kurt Ottaway, Overcasters

Visit DenverPunk's Facebook page for tons more awesome photos of Rick.

"Celebrating Rick is sort of impossible in a way. The world would have to stop everything, and have a party for a hundred years in his honor -- and even then, it wouldn't really honor him the way he deserved. But Rick just wasn't flashy like that, so in so many ways, this celebration at the Bluebird tonight would be much more his speed... A bunch of friends gathering up and playing music, it's fitting... that's what he loved, a good old fashioned rock and roll show in the town he loved: Denver.

The best way we can honor him is by following his example: Smile when you don't have to, laugh a little more... take joy in the simple pleasures of just being here, being present, being alive with unfiltered joy... Be kind to everyone who crosses your path. That was Rick, a friend to everyone. You never heard him utter a cross word about anyone. It wasn't in his make-up. Fluid singer John Robinson really said it best, 'If you ever needed an example of how to live your life, you only had to look at how Rick conducted his.'" - Bart Dahl, former manager of the Fluid

Visit DenverPunk's Facebook page for tons more awesome photos of Rick.

"Met Rick a few years back on the front porch of a party. I didn't realize who he was at first. He introduced himself as Rick and was saying he was into what Swayback was doing. And then someone leaned in and said, "Rick played with fluid," and I got pretty excited he was down with us because I was a Sub Pop freak and had Fluid records growing up in chicago. I worked at an indie record store in the suburbs in highschool and used to rock Fluid tapes in my car... just meant a lot to me that he was so mellow and encouraging about what we do. Ended up driving him and friend home that night, and Rick was easy going and genuine and just cool that night, and every time I hung out with him after." - Eric Halborg, the Swayback

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera