How often do you find yourself inadvertently – almost subconsciously humming Blister in the Sun, Kiss Off, Add It Up, American Music or just about any of the seminal hits from early alt-folk (alt-punk? folk-punk? Angst-folk?) trio Violent Femmes? I know for me – and a whole sew of folks who were dragging themselves through college in the mid-’80s – it’s nearly a daily occurrence. For those of you unfamiliar with the minimalist (yet over-the-top dramatic, existential, provocative) style of the Gordon Gano–Brian Ritchie–Victor DeLorenzo trio, now’s your chance to introduce yourself to a sorely missing spoke in your personal wheel of American pop music history.
Next Saturday, April 7, the Hi-Dive is going to host a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Denver to see one of the albums that defined a giant chunk of today’s music – if only by being a constant sonic backdrop to so many of us all growing up, going through college (or toilet training, for many of us) and just beginning to really see how music can end up really defining an entire section of your life – and others’- forever. Local trio Dirty Femmes – a supergroup of sorts that features Jen Korte (of Jen Korte & the Loss), Paul McDaniel (of Jen Korte & the Loss, Opie Gone Bad) and Neil Mitchell ( of The Raven and the Writing Desk, Champagne Charlie) – are endeavoring to cover the Femmes’ first seminal LP in its entirety – on the (OUCH!) 30th anniversary of its recording – for what promises to be a crowd of folks who can probably sing every one of the records’ ten songs word-for-word, howl-for-howl – and then add on the two bonus tracks Ugly and Gimme the Car (b-sides from a few single releases, eventually added to the CD when it was released in 1987).
According to Dirty Femmes, the trio was formed by Korte and McDaniel out of some of Denver’s well-known bands “… after having a conversation about the Violent Femmes and the significance it had to them throughout their young adult years. A few cocktails later and they concocted a plan to start the Dirty Femmes. All they needed was to find the right drummer. To their astonishment and amazement, hardly any of the drummers they asked actually knew who the Violent Femmes were. So they decided to put out a bat call to their musical peers. Within minutes Neil Mitchell asked to audition and from there, the Dirty Femmes were launched.”
It’s troubling – but definitely not unusual – that so many musicians Korte and McDaniel asked to take up the skins for the trio before finding Mitchell had no experience with the original Femmes. Genres get added so quickly now, styles change so swiftly and movements seem to get absorbed, transformed and repackaged so easily that way too many of us in the audience have no idea where they all came from. Now’s your chance to get a taste – and a small, important history lesson – about what’s behind so much of the current wave of alt-folk (I’m talking bands like The Avett Brothers, Mumfords, Akron/Family, Devendra Banhart, etc., etc.). This is a rare opportunity to see a real tribute to one of the bands that changed the course of American Music by just a little – but oh so significant – bit.
Check out this cut from the Violent Femmes’ first LP, “Promise,” to get a taste of what you’ll be catching on the 7th, and then get to the Hi-Dive and catch the real thing: