Last year, as Last Supper was due to play its annual reunion show, things were very different.
Colorado Springs' much-loved "420-friendly, chunk-funk-supper-core band" had just booked its 18th anniversary celebration when Cliff Barvoets, the band's longtime bassist, was unexpectedly stricken with a debilitating disease that left him bedridden with body tremors, muscle spasms and extreme pain.
"It came on fast and he was hospitalized for about a month and a half," recalls dreadlocked singer Teddy Schroll. "I went to see him and all I can say is, he's lucky to be alive. I thought for sure it was the end. But Cliff is the strongest man I know, and he has come a long way to be where he is now."
So what was to be a reunion instead became a tribute fundraiser, where the remaining members banded together and helped raise funds to offset their bandmate's hospital bills.
A year later, and seemingly against all odds, it's time to celebrate. This Saturday at Union Station, the bassist will take to the stage for the first time since his recovery, as Last Supper is joined the Dub Project, Darkness Within and Pain Machine for Reunion XIX.
The show, which will also be live-streamed at ustream.tv/channel/chunkfunk, finds the two musicians getting back together with co-vocalist Pete Schroll (Teddy's brother), guitarist Dave Zahara, and drummer Dean Bolinger for more metallic riff-hop from the band that gave us feel-good favorites like "Puff Good Stuff," "Kill Pot/Smoke a Cop," "Bent Theocracy" and "Breakin' Into Brain Surgery."
In addition to fans, friends and family, the group will no doubt be playing to a contingent of former bandmates. Last Supper's five musicians have cumulatively played with more than a dozen bands, including Expatriate, Blistering Body Pus, Animosity, Strychnine, Bald Naydine, Dyemaniacal, GPM, Evil Genius, Foot, Blasting Agents, AirSick and the Ingrates.
The show is also a homecoming for the Schrolls, who will be coming from Arizona for the gig. "I moved to Phoenix in January," says Teddy. "I was tired of cold weather, and my brother and mother live here, so it made sense to me. Pete and I are getting a project going down here with me singing and him on drums."
There's also talk of recording a third Last Supper CD, the first since the band parted ways a decade ago. "We have enough material from when we split with Cliff," says Schroll, "and we would love to get it on tape before we're too old."
Another performance to watch out for this week is Carley Starr's free CD release show at Stargazers this Thursday. The strikingly talented jazz balladeer will celebrate the arrival of Judge Me, a collection of personal songs inspired by her exit from what she describes as a dangerously controlling relationship.
Meanwhile, just to give fans of old-school New Wave something to live for, I recently dropped by Modbo for the rehearsal of a new Elvis Costello tribute band that features El Toro de la Muerte's Jeff Fuller in the title role, backed by bassist Aaron Retka (Matterhorn), keyboardist Nathan Archer (Rough Age, Sugar Hi-5) and drummer Kevin Johnson (everyone else).
The group plays a spot-on version of "Welcome to the Working Week" (sans horn-rimmed glasses), and is working up covers of favorites from "Watching the Detectives" on up through "Veronica." You'll be able to catch them at this year's "Monsters of Mock" shows, which kick off around Halloween and continue until whenever.
Speaking of which, Mike Stephens' Bullet Head is still refusing to die. The Van Halen tribute group, which got its start at last year's Monsters of Mock, was up in Fort Collins recently, opening for Led Zeppelin cover band Zoso at the Aggie Theater. Rumors that the singer is planning a Bowie tribute for this year's festivities are as yet unconfirmed, but you can't say you haven't been warned.