Local punk musicians never truly fade away, they just form new bands.
Take The Sleights, for example: The group was started by Luke Blanton, formerly of Murder Hat, and Phil "Dez" Dezellem of Dave Mansfield & The LAMFs, who began writing songs that moved away from Murder Hat's ska influences to a more stripped-down punk sound.
"We've gotten the whole, 'You guys must really like The Ramones' comparisons," explains Dez. "We work hard to write good music, creating an ode to what we loved listening to growing up." They then enlisted old friends Abe Groves, Tim Alexander and later, Billy Thompson to fill out the lineup.
The Sleights are currently recording their second EP and have already played opening slots for The Toasters, Teenage Bottle Rockets, and, last weekend, Texas punk band Ese and local sludge/grind metal outfit Tree of Woe.
You can catch their "very loud, very fun, very simple" sound at the Black Sheep on July 3 with California punk act Voodoo Glow Skulls (see interview, here).
Shiii Whaaa is another punk band that coalesced from other groups. Singer/guitarist Pete Sisson and bassist Bryan Webb were members of the Nicotine Fits and the Conjugal Visits, acquiring drummer James Ivy after recording a three-track demo together.
Like The Sleights, they have already had brushes with punk royalty, opening for the Angry Samoans at their very first show. Armed with new material and recently enlisted guitarist Bryan Sespico from Cincinnati's Prohibitionists, Shiii Whaaa will be joining The Sleights in opening for SoCal punk supergroup The Adolescents and first-wave punk band The Weirdos on July 19 at the Black Sheep.
Despite those who espouse the hackneyed view that punk rock is dead, the Sleights and Shiii Whaaa are quite happy and optimistic about the local scene.
"Our music scene always has ups and downs. The early 2000s were more of a downer, but the last 10 years have been more of an up, in my opinion," says Sisson.
Blanton agrees: "The overall scene is as good as it's ever been since I moved here from Wisconsin 10 years ago. There are tons of bands recording and touring, which is a great sign that the Springs scene is growing." However, he also acknowledges the scene is still small given the city's size, and describes the punk scene as "thin at the moment."
"Getting new people out to shows is always a challenge. Too many people are afraid that the heavier punk and metal shows are dangerous. Honestly, they are far safer than riding at the skate park, or even shopping at Walmart."
Blanton also points out the need for bands to support each other.
"There are a number of younger punk bands coming up and they are really doing it right," he says, citing 45 Revolutions and The Youthful Nothings as examples. "We played with both of these bands and they actually stayed after their set was over to watch us, which is wonderful. Many of the older bands we play with bail the second their set is done. 'Always stay, always watch,' is my advice to other bands. We frequently see the members of the best bands in town at shows that they are not playing. This support is remembered by the other bands and definitely helps cement the scene."
Meanwhile, you can personally support the local scene, punk and otherwise, at a wide range of upcoming shows:
For the first time since relocating to Florida late last year, Chauncy Crandall will be back in town to play Saturday's Pickin' on the Divide Festival. Held outside the Church at Woodmoor in Monument, the day-long event will also feature Acme Bluegrass, The Flying W Wranglers, Grass It Up, Out of Nowhere, and WireWood Station, not to mention pony rides, a silent auction, car show and the obligatory church bake sale.
While he's here, the singer-songwriter will also be performing at Stargazers Theatre on Thursday, June 25, joined by the Nouveaux Honkies. You can catch Crandall at Front Range Barbeque, too, the very next night.
Also paying a hometown visit is alt-country singer Annette Conlon, who'll be celebrating the release of her new album, Life, Death, and the Spaces Between at Rico's Cafe on Saturday, June 27. Conlon, winner of the 2011 Songsalive! Songwriter of the Year Award, frequently performs in and around Los Angeles, and has toured nationally behind four albums as a member of alternative rock band Eden Automatic. Conlon will be joined at Rico's by Chuck Snow, who's celebrating his own new release, Death Comes for Ella Mae Pixley.
Jazz bassist Colin Trusedell and the Quartet of Jazz Death will be hitting Motif in Old Colorado City on Thursday, June 25. Trusedell also has a new solo album offering available, entitled All By Myself.
Then on Saturday the 27th, Bear Creek Regional Park will host The Haunted Windchimes, the popular local Americana ensemble who need no introduction. Also performing are retro rock 'n rollers Flash Cadillac, arguably one of the most successful groups to emerge from Colorado, thanks to their appearance in the film American Graffiti.
Finally, the Kiowa Sessions on Sunday, June 28, have been postponed to accommodate the Zodiac's concert on the same night celebrating the life of ItsreaLight Love. The show is all-ages and features an impressive roster of artists, including My Name is Harriet, Bullhead*Ded, Kevin Mitchell, the Charlie Milo Trio and Alphuh Eph.