Durango’s Lawn Chair Kings are approaching 14 years together as a band.
What began as a trio in the year 2000 has wavered between trio and quartet; fourth members have been guitar player Steve Stokes, guitar and lap steel player Kelly Rogers and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Moorehead.
The band has exceeded the Spinal Tap drummer joke with five – Matt Joyce, Erik Hopper, Steve Mendias and Chris Dipietro have all sat in the back. Newest drummer Pat Dressen is most known for his longtime bluegrass work around town in various bands. His mandolin playing on acoustic sets and solid drumming while plugged in have helped the bluegrass crowd finally acknowledge a rock band that’s been playing around for years.
Banjo player Hap Purcell also recently joined the band.
The constants in the band have been bass player Dan Leak and guitarist and vocalist Erik Nordstrom.
The Lawn Chair Kings will play tonight at El Rancho in celebration of their third official release, “Zombies Wake!”
“Zombies Wake!” was recorded in Nordstrom’s basement studio in February as an effort to not only record and release something new, but also document the time DiPietro was drumming, knowing he soon would be leaving the band and Durango altogether. It was mixed and mastered by local Dan Szabo.
The sound is classic Lawn Chair Kings, a dozen songs that walk the line between garage punk, cow punk and country ballads defined by the band as suburban rock, western garage or music for aging punk rockers who discovered classic country sometime in the early ’90s.
Some songs are fairly new, some the band has been playing live for years, some came to life in the ’90s when Nordstrom led the Flagstaff, Ariz., punk band “Love Nugget.” The release is a throwback of sorts, a celebration of the early days of the Lawn Chair Kings.
“It goes back to our original trio sound when we first started the band,” Nordstrom said from the band’s practice space on Durango’s south side. “It has a raw, garage rock trio energy to it. It seemed appropriate to get some of the songs that we did back in our early days because we had the trio sound going. It’s a neat project because we are bringing back some older tracks and some new songs.”
The throwback to the trio is for this latest release only; going back to the quartet with Purcell and Dressen allows the Lawn Chair Kings to move in different musical directions.
“I had this concept that it would be really neat to have a drummer that can branch out and do some other things. I do love the current lineup that we have,” Nordstrom said.
“I’m certainly excited about the new direction,” Leak said. “It’s a lot of fun these days.”
At tonight’s show, the Lawn Chair Kings will buck the convention of headliners playing last; they’ll play first, with sets followed by local rock bands Little Wilderness and You’re Welcome.
Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.