Rock band Lawn Chair Kings have been a vital part of the Durango music scene now for close to 20 years. Their sound has remained appealing to anyone who may carry a niche interest in music that lives comfortably outside the flavor of the week.
They can do the country thing, capable of banging out classic outlaw country if the mood fits. The punk and indie rock résumé can include Black Flag, Camper Van Beethoven and The Meat Puppets, and the current lineup, which includes the founding duo of Erik Nordstrom and Dan Leak, also includes banjo and guitar player Hap Purcell, who can play rock guitar and bluegrass, and longtime Durango musician Pat Dressen, who has been well known in these parts for the last 30 years for his contribution to local bluegrass but can also hold it down behind the drum kit.
During their tenure, there’s been countless shows and a handful of records, all of which have been recorded in the basement/practice space of the band under the watchful eye and ear of Nordstrom. They are a do-it-yourself band through and through, from those in-house recorded albums to the hand-made marketing materials; the band is currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next record, a first for them as it’s been recorded in a proper studio with a proper recording engineer. Still very much a DIY effort, but its just another step in the musical travels of The Lawn Chair Kings.
“We’re hoping to raise $10,000; that would cover the recording studio costs, mixing and mastering,” Norsdstrom said. “The CD duplication is a couple thousand dollars; we need to include art, promotion, mail it to radio stations and, on top of that, we’d like to make merch to sell. I think the money goes fast, but that would be a step in the right direction.”
Over the years, the Lawn Chair Kings have recorded and played as a trio and a quartet, have gone through a handful of drummers and guitar players, and even had a fiddle player for a hot minute. This lineup has been set for a number of years, and it’s a lineup Nordstrom remains stoked about.
“I love this current incarnation. In many ways it’s the best it’s ever been, and I’m also struck by the fact that we haven’t really recorded much,” Nordstrom said. “We did the acoustic thing, but we haven’t captured our electric sound at all. So, I’m just excited to get it down in a professional studio and get our sound down.”
The Kickstarter method is an interesting way to put art and its production into the hands of the fans. This is a community where artists are flourishing, a place where people know and respect the value of a painting, a sculpture or a song. Nobody wants to work for free, especially musicians, and if a music lover can help out financially on the front end, then the band and music fan can win.
“I feel like the state of music has changed a lot in the last few years. In the old days, you used to be able to make records and sell them at shows, but nowadays, people don’t buy CDs,” he said. “I am inspired by local groups like StillHouse Junkies and Caitlin Cannon, I think it’s an interesting way to approach music, to have people support a recording before it actually happens, as opposed to after it happens. I think there’s a good sense of community here, people want to support arts and music here, so it appeals to our better side, to want to make this a nice creative place to be. I hope in that sense it can work out.”
Lawn Chair Kings will play Friday in Cortez, and the Kickstarter campaign will expire at midnight Sunday.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.