Wild Colonials Find Touring All The Time Fosters Success
Angela McCluskey, the impassioned voice thrusting the Wild Colonials, is a little flustered.
She’s got three days to finish a soundtrack for an independent movie called “Sparkle” before her band hits the road, again. She hasn’t quite recovered from the holidays and the browning Christmas tree occupying her Los Angeles apartment is staring her down.
“I don’t know what to do with it. I’m four floors up and I’ve got a Christmas tree,” McCluskey says in phone interview this week.
Just chuck it off the balcony.
“I think I will. I’m telling you that is a great idea,” she says with a thick Scottish accent. McCluskey came to the U.S. five years ago from Glasgow, Scotland.
The Wild Colonials have become quite familiar with the road. All through the late summer and fall - for 17 straight weeks - the band toured behind their sophomore album “This Can’t Be Life.”
Now they’re heading back out for another five weeks. After this stint, the quintet will join another tour as a support act. The Wild Colonials will stop at Outback Jack’s with Chalk Farm on Monday.
“God gives you this talent or whoever is up there. He says, ‘I’m going to give you this wonderful talent. You’ll be able to sing. But the horrible side of it, you will have to spend your whole life in Motel 6s without cable.”’
McCluskey sighs, “uh, nightmare.”
Sure beats crashing on some stranger’s floor, however.
“I’ve never actually been there myself,” McCluskey says. “I’m not that dedicated.”
But persistent touring efforts haven’t been fruitless.
The first single “Charm” fared well at alternative radio, especially in key markets like Los Angeles, Seattle and New York. Sales for “This Can’t Be Life” are strong.
The Wild Colonials formed in 1992. The lineup includes McCluskey, Shark (guitar), Paul Cantelon (violin and piano), Scott Roewe (bass, keyboards and everything under the kitchen sink) and Thaddeus Corea (drums). (Incidentally, Corea is the son of jazz legend Chick Corea.)
In Hollywood before it signed to Geffen, the Celtic-tinged rock band became a fixture of a trendy nighthop. Their gigs were regularly attended by people like Timothy Hutton, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves. One night, Hutton invited Bono from U2 to the show.
Although the band knew the singer was in the audience, McCluskey didn’t.
“I didn’t know he was there and the guys in the band played a trick on me,” she says. “They made me wear those fly-guy glasses (the one’s Bono wore during the “Zoo TV” tour). And I came on stage and said, ‘Hello L.A.’ And I did a Bono impersonation.”
Bono wasn’t insulted by the jest. In fact, he invited her over to his table.
“We had a great time. We talked for hours. He’s a darling.”
The four members of Chalk Farm, also on Monday’s bill at Outback’s, don’t want fame, fortune or anything like that.
Right now, they just hope to travel the country in style - in a cush tour bus. They’ve grown tired of tramping from show to show in the cramped conditions of a van.
“We’re not thinking about making money or anything; we’re just thinking about a bus,” says guitarist Trace Ritter in a phone interview this week. “The better we do and the more people who hear us and the more touring we do, the more likely we are to get one of those.”
The four-piece rock combo may be close to fulfilling its dream. Chalk Farm’s debut album “Notwithstanding” is steadily climbing the charts, thanks to the moody hit “Lie on Lie.”
So what piqued the L.A. band’s sudden interest in tour buses?
“We were in Cleveland during that snowstorm a couple of months ago, and we were hanging out with some of the Better Than Ezra guys. And the guitar player said, ‘Do you want to take a look at the bus?’
“They had little TV sets in every bunk. They had a satellite dish on top,” says Ritter. “It was like the plush bus.
“Gawd, that’s what we’ve got to shoot for.”
Chalk Farm says they’ll endure life in a van as long as it takes. On the business end, Ritter just hopes the second single for “Notwithstanding,” which hasn’t been chosen by the band’s label Sony yet, is as well-received as the first.
Showtime’s at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $4. Bring your I.D.
Hard to believe, but without Portland blues singer-pianist D.K. Stewart, there might have never been a Blues Brothers.
Really, it’s true.
In the mid-‘70s, D.K. Stewart, who plays the Waterin’ Hole in Coeur d’Alene tonight through Sunday, belonged to a Eugene-based blues revue called the Nighthawks, which also included Curtis Salgado. At the time, John Belushi, a star of “Saturday Night Live,” was in Eugene filming “Animal House.”
One night, the actor/comedian caught the Nighthawks in action. Like the Blues Brothers, the Nighthawks wielded a blistering Memphis/Chicago sound and they all donned suits.
“Belushi came and listened to the band. After the show, he wanted to meet Curtis Salgado,” says Stewart. “Nobody in the band knew who Belushi was because he was famous for ‘Saturday Night Live’ and we were always working Saturday nights.
“Belushi was interested in the blues and he wanted to find out more about the music we were doing because he really loved the show.”
For the next three or four months while Belushi was finishing the movie, he spent his free time learning about the blues from Stewart and Salgado, who made him several compilation tapes and gave him pointers.
Stewart recalls, “John said, ‘This is what I’ll do for you: I’ve got this idea I’ve been talking to Dan Akroyd about. And we’re going to do this comedy schtick and use a blues band. And we’ll get you guys out to “Saturday Night Live.”“’
Of course, after Belushi and Akroyd formed the Blues Brothers in New York, Stewart says they never heard from Belushi again.
“I kept explaining to Curtis, ‘Curtis, they’re not going to have us come out, man. Have you see what they’re doing? They’re doing our show.’
“Curtis kept calling (Belushi). Finally after a while, Belushi started ducking Curtis. But he did put his name on the record. And that was pretty cool. Lord knows we got plenty of press because of it.”
Following its brush with fame, the band added Robert Cray to the lineup and, shortly after, it became the Robert Cray Band. After one album, Stewart was fired in 1980 because he wouldn’t sign a contract with the band’s management.
Following that stint, he signed on with Portland notable Paul DeLay and stayed with him through the ‘80s. In 1989, Stewart went back to college - at Gonzaga University. He studied music and computer science, earning a degree in music performance in 1992.
In Portland, he plays music fulltime and has three bands. For this weekend’s purposes, he’s bringing along his funky blues band.
Stewart has signed with a management company - a branch of William Morris - and is negotiating contracts with two major labels and a prominent indie blues label.
Music starts at 9:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. The cover is $6.
The Sunday show, which starts at 6 p.m. is a benefit for Coeur d’Alene drummer Carmine Conti, stricken with lung cancer. Conti drummed for a number of names including Warren Zevon and the Beach Boys. He was also a percussive force behind several Inland Northwest bands. He also played with Stewart. The cover is $5.
The Birmingham 6, an industrial band from Denmark that plays the Northern Corner Saturday, reminds us just how stupid and paranoid humanity can be.
If you recall, in the 1970s a group of alleged Irish Republican Army members - the notorious Birmingham Six - were imprisoned by the British for life for alleged terrorist activities. The real kicker is the six individuals were falsely accused. Finally after spending 17 years behind bars, they were freed, but received no apology from the government.
Because of its name and because it rails against political injustice through song, the band has been denounced by the media in Europe. In fact, a major radio station banned the Birmingham 6 from its airwaves based on the band’s name alone.
The duo, which collaborates with Front 242’s Jean-Luc Meyer, is among industrial music’s most compelling bands. The Birmingham 6’s latest album is called “Error of Judgement” and it’s available in the U.S. on stalwart industrial label Cleopatra.
Joining the band on stage are two other mechanical, meat grinders - Philadelphia’s Numb and Olympia’s Rorschach Test. Noise at 9 p.m. The cover is $6.
Sounds from Tattooine
With the “Star Wars” trilogy returning to the silver screen, no band is more excited than Las Vegas’ Boba Fett Youth. The punk band plays both an all-ages show at Westminster Congregational Church and a 21-and-over show at Ichabod’s North tonight.
Virtually everything about the band is themed around “Star Wars.” The cover of its self-titled LP features cartoon illustrations of band members in various costumes. The name of the Boba Fett Youth’s first single is “The Maiden Voyage of Slave 1.” (For those of you who aren’t in the know, Slave 1 is the spacecraft belonging to bounty hunter Boba Fett.) The band even does the “Star Wars” theme song.
Although it can’t be confirmed, Boba Fett Youth is believed to have had a hand in overthrowing the dark, evil empire. It’s just hearsay, though.
PDC 13 and Non-Labeled Existence open for the band at the all-ages show. Admission is $2. Clabberhag, which just released a new tape, supports at Ichabod’s. The cover is $3.
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