By this time, while most of the national press has moved on and the TV cameras are all wearing local station logos, and chocolate-brown waters are lazily carrying pieces of Boulder County toward the Missouri River, Colorado’s northern Front Range communities are figuring out how to reconstruct themselves.
Natural disasters are cruelly binding events — everybody in the area has a story, a loss, a reaction so surreal that it sears its own place into the memory. For Big Gigantic’s Jeremy Salken and Dominic Lalli, who were on tour when the thing went down, it may have been that disabling frustration of watching your neighborhood getting drowned — on TV.
“I think we were in … Missoula, one of the big nights we did, when we heard about that 30-foot surge coming down the canyon,” Lalli remembers. “It was just crazy, watching videos and watching the news on our computers. It was just … yeah. It was awful.”
For their part, though, Salken and Lalli count themselves among the fortunate who lost nothing in the deluge.
“Nothin’, man,” says Lalli. “I felt guilty for one, being out of town, and then nothing happening.”
“I was OK, luckily,” adds Salken. “Where I live on Iris, everything was good. But yeah. … We’ve heard more and more about people who lived in Jamestown who had to get helicopter-ed out, and Lyons getting practically destroyed.
“It was really crazy, the line [of destruction]. Houses down the block from mine had their basements flooded, the whole living area, the whole first floor, just had mud everywhere.”
It didn’t take long for the duo, who had a two-night run in Colorado (Rowdytown II at Red Rocks on Saturday, Sept. 28, and a Friday, Sept. 27, pre-Rocks gig at the Fillmore Auditorium) already on the books, to turn what should have been a conquering hero run through their backyard into a relief gig. (And not the only one — Todd Park Mohr and Brian Nevin hosted a charity event at Chautauqua last week called “Colorado Bands Together.”)
The band teamed up with local charities, including the always-there Conscious Alliance folks, to set up relief efforts at both gigs, collecting cash and food donations, as well as household items, clothing and cleaning supplies. They are also setting up a Big Gigantic Cleanup Day, with details to emerge as the local relief organizations’ needs are more tightly defined.
The band and its crew were on this thing themselves, pretty much immediately.
“Yeah,” says Lalli, “it was pretty much our idea right from the start — the band, the crew, our manager. And we’ve got a really strong connection with the Conscious Alliance guys; they’re local to Boulder. They’re kind of our go-to guys, if we’re trying to do anything like raising money or helping people out. They obviously have their own thing going, but they’re really great at connecting to other organizations or other non-profits that are doing cool stuff. They’re always about teaming up.
“We’re so lucky to be in a position to help, and we’re incredibly grateful to Colorado. It’s just awesome to be able to do it.”
But for anyone in the Colorado music scene, without lapsing into saccharine platitudes, this is a nobrainer. Big Gigantic, another in a long succession of unlikely Colorado music success stories, was bred within a vigorously generous and mutually supportive and open local music scene. It may be too long ago for many of its current players to remember, but some of us in the press recall the days when bands spent a lot of their off-stage time trying to figure out which city they needed to relocate to, to get their careers off the ground. Austin, maybe. Los Angeles, if necessary. New York, if we can find a couch to sleep on the first few months. Nashville. Because, and everyone said it as nicely as they could: It wasn’t happening here.
Well, it is now.
“Yeah, definitely,” says Lalli, who spent some years in one of Boulder’s key musical petri dishes, The Motet. “It’s very diverse, from bluegrass all the way up to really heavy bass and pretty much everything in between. … You know, everybody loves living here, and everybody just loves music. We’re all really fortunate, because not every town is like that.”
Salken reminds that the scene was built by players and venue owners alike.
“You also have guys like Kevin Daley and the Mountain/Southern Sun,” says Salken, “and their free shows. That’s where Dom and I played our first shows together, just these funk gigs. And I know Yonder used to play there. Everybody does little side projects. That’s [the kind of thing] that really keeps the scene alive. Just having a place to go hang, meet new people.
“And there were people like Mark Diamond and the jazz jams. That’s where I first went when I got to town. I didn’t know where to go, I just went and hung out there, met new people. And people I eventually ended up in a band with.”
Salken thinks a moment.
“Somehow we’ve gotten pretty far from that whole scene,” he laughs.
Big Gigantic plays the Fillmore Auditorium on Friday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. Ages 16 . The band also plays Red Rocks Auditorium Sept. 28. Tickets are sold out. The band and promoters will be giving a portion of the proceeds from both shows to the Conscious Alliance´s flood relief fund, which is set to help provide basic necessities to community members affected by floods. Conscious Alliance will be on site at the Fillmore and Red Rocks, collecting food and monetary donations as well as new or lightly used clothing, cleaning and household items. At this time, pasta meals and canned meats are the most requested food items — organic options are always encouraged. The most requested personal and household items are toiletries, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.