Weblog of Leland Rucker
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Sweet Lunacy Now Seems From a Galaxy Far Away

Flash Cadillac: "Lunacy, but sweet lunacy" -- G Brown

Flash Cadillac: "Lunacy, but sweet lunacy" -- G Brown

Friday night Billie and I went down to the Boulder Theatre for the 40th Reunion of Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids. It was a great show, but for me the coolest part was the the alumni set, which featured the original members of Flash back in the days when they ruled the Tulagi stage. For one brief moment, among the rush of fantastic oldies, I got to experience the memories of a band that I have only seen on film.

I think it was 1999 when Don Chapman and I were first approached to do a documentary film about the history of Boulder rock’n'roll. The Boulder Arts Commission, which approached us, was exploring ways to approach documenting the town’s musical heritage, and it was a subject in which I was interested, at least in part because I had done such a poor job of it in my days as a reporter back in the print days.

Don and I produced and directed the film by ourselves. I made a huge list of names, and among the first people we contacted were Harold Fielden, onstage Friday night as the drummer for the original Flash Cadillac and unofficial keeper of the flame as head of the 4-Nikators, the longest-running local band and probably worth a movie all its own, and erstwhile Denver music historian G Brown, who served beer to Glenn Frey and Don Henley in Tulagi in 1971 while they told him how famous they were going to be. We followed our noses from there, and went off from there, finally interviewing about thirty people in the next couple of years while amassing all the archive, period photographs, videos and recordings we could appropriate or transfer from Super-Eight technology.

It took us about three months to pare down thirty-five hours of interviews into some kind of cohesive story. Included are glimpses into long-shuttered dives the Blue Note and Shannon’s and recordings studios like Caribou and Mountain Ears amidst long-ago tales and period footage of the Astronauts, Flash, Tommy Bolin, Candy Givens, Zephyr, Otis Taylor, Steven Stills, Stevie Wonder, Richie Furay, Chris Daniels, Woody and the Peckers, Woody and the Too High Band, Firefall, Poco, Joe Walsh, Chris Hillman, Judy Roderick and Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Dusty Drapes and the Dusters, a bunch of hippies who cut their hair and played country swing, among many more.

Steve Swenson, who fronted Dusty Drapes and the Dusters in the 1970s here in Boulder, called us in late 2000 with plans to bring the Dusters, all ten of them, back to Boulder for a reunion show, and we quickly decided that the documentary would be the perfect fit as an opening act. That happened March 24, 2001, when I stood amidst a sold-out crowd at the Boulder Theatre to see the premiere of Sweet Lunacy: A Short History of Boulder Rock. I hadn’t seen the film in its entirety — Don had put the finishing touches on it that morning — and witnessing it there, among more than a thousand people, most of whom it was made for, was about as good as it gets for this music historian.

I mention all this because Sweet Lunacy is screening this Friday night in the main auditorium at the Boulder Public Library,  1000 Canyon Boulevard, at 7 p.m.  It’s FREE – and the filmmakers will be on hand, too. Hope you can make it.

If you can’t, Channel 8 has the documentary available for streaming here.

You’ll need a fast internet connection and QuickTime Player on your computer to view it.  Scroll down the program drop down to “Sweet Lunacy”; load the program and click play.  With a slower connection, it will become a slide show with good audio.  With a dial-up connection you may be out of luck to view on the internet.  The DVD is available for check-out at the Boulder Public Library.  DVD copies are available for $10; Contact me at leland.rucker@gmail.com.

My colleague and friend David Kirby, who is writing a story about the film in this week’s Boulder Weekly (out on Thursday), turned me onto this 2001 Westword story. Hope you can make the show.

March 9, 2009   1 Comment

It’s All Too Much: Beatles Night in Lyons

It was standing room only by the time we got to the Beatles tribute in the basement of Oskar Blues brewpub in Lyons, Colorado, last night. The concept was simple enough: From 7-11 p.m., musicians who signed up beforehand each got to play three songs by the Fabs.

Squint and you're in the Cavern Club - or not.

Squint and you're in the Cavern Club - or not.

We got there about 8:30, just in time to catch a duo turning “Got to Get You Into My Life” into a sweet acoustic number. The music ran the gamut from classics like “Nowhere Man” to late-period John Lennon blues, and it was fascinating to hear pick-up bands composed of people, most of them small children or not born when the Beatles ruled, imitating their idols just as the Beatles emulated their musical heroes on tiny stages in Liverpool half a century ago. The torch continues to be passed.

Everybody knew the words to the songs, and many sang along with each and every one. Easily the best moment for me was when a rock quartet wound itself around George Harrison’s crunching, droning “It’s All Too Much.” Between the bar noise, the aroma of beer brewing and the low ceilings, I squinted, and for a quick moment, I thought I might be in the Cavern Club.

Or maybe it was just the Christmas lights and those pints of Dales’ Pale Ale.

And whom should I find making his way from the stage to the sound booth? It’s my old friend Dave McIntyre, a tireless supporter of music in this area, columnist for Blues Access back in the day and in charge of live music at Oskar Blues, which features a smorgasbord of blues, bluegrass, western swing, jazz and Americana, depending on the night, in this intimate room. Last month Oskar’s saluted the music of Neil Young, and next up is Bob Dylan on February 18, with more to be added.

January 22, 2009   2 Comments

Boulder County: And I Bring You Fire

I was out on my bike awhile ago, and as I was crossing Foothills Highway on the bike path near Eisenhower Middle School I noticed the tell-tale signs of white smoke moving from east to west across the southern sky, most likely in Jefferson County. As I turned north there was a cloud of black smoke drifting west toward the foothills. From my low elevation it looked like it could be near Lyons.

Smoke from a controlled burn near Lyons drifts westward about 1 p.m. this afternoon in this photo taken near the East Boulder Rec Center.

Smoke from a controlled burn near Lyons drifts westward about 1 p.m. this afternoon in this photo taken near the East Boulder Rec Center.

Fires are serious business in the West, and it has been relatively quiet in Colorado on the wildfire front this fall, coinciding with a spectacular, memorable autumn along the Front Range. So seeing two fires at the same time put me on caution, especially the black smoke in the north. First thought is “controlled burn,” but it was also coming from the direction of the Cemex plant southeast of Lyons, a notable county polluter whose idea of making a buck is burning tires in the midst of a rural residential area.

But Cemex is innocent this time. When I got home I dialed up the website of the Daily-Camera, which had a story that said both were controlled burns.

October 29, 2008   No Comments