Posts Tagged ‘denver’

Emily Frembgen and the Language of Termites at the Sidewinder Tavern, Sept. 14, 2013, a Review of Sorts…

Four people, although geographically separated, have found a way to tap into that mysterious connection the best musicians have with each other. Bassist Victor Foster, singer and guitarist Emily Frembgen, drummer Tim Reed and guitarist Farrell Styers formed a band they call the Language of Termites. They move in and out of each other’s lives in pairs or threes, but all four of them are rarely in the same place and time.

Language of Termites at Old Curtis Street Bar, Denver, October 19, 2012

Language of Termites at Old Curtis Street Bar, Denver, October 19, 2012

The Language of Termites played their first live show in October 2012 to celebrate the release of their second album, Pretérito Perfeito. But only three of the band members were there. They recruited guitarist Travis Stevens, who ably filled in for the absent Farrell. Farrell was in Kyrgyzstan and sent secret tones.

But then on September 14, 2013, magic happened in Globeville, that lost Denver neighborhood between I70 and the railroad tracks. Singer and songwriter Emily Frembgen had scheduled a solo show at the Sidewinder Tavern, a bar that comes with an old-fashioned ballroom attached. Victor was going to accompany Emily on guitar, something he had done at two of her previous shows, Titwrench, the previous Saturday, and the ancient but still beautiful Mercury Cafe, the Thursday before that. Emily was visiting from New York and there was talk that Farrell was going to be in town on a visit before moving from Kyrgyzstan to Belgium. Yes, the Termites travel a lot. And since Victor and Tim actually live in Denver, it was decided: the Language of Termites would play their first ever show with all four members of the band.

A quick rehearsal was scheduled the day of the show. They even taught Farrell some of the new songs in the car on the way to Globeville. It was the first day of any real sunshine after three days of fitful rain. And it was Emily’s birthday. A good day for magic.

Language of Termites at the Sidewinder Tavern, Globeville, Denver, September 14, 2013

Language of Termites at the Sidewinder Tavern, Globeville, September 14, 2013

Behind a multicolored scarf draped over her microphone stand, Emily sang her wistful, beautifully written songs with a detached charm. Tim played drums with a hint of jazz tones. Farrell and Victor alternated on bass and guitar, both adding just the right color to the music.

Despite the lack of any real rehearsal time, the Termites played with quiet passion and captured some of the mystery hidden in their two overlooked albums. There were a couple of minor flubs, and one false start, but the audience didn’t seem to care. They watched attentively and gave each song enthusiastic applause.

Emily’s songs had a different sort of shine than when she sings them solo. They work either way, but this band gives them a surge of energy that removes the hush and deepens their melancholy. To really appreciate what Emily is doing you should experience her songs both ways, solo and with this band.

Should the Language of Termites actually find themselves in the same space for an extended time they would likely become a major force, but maybe part of their allure is the mystery their zigzag geography gives them. Farrell is off to Belgium soon and Emily will return to New York.

Emily Frembgen Performing at the Titwrench Fest, Glob, Denver, September 7, 2013

Emily Frembgen Performing at the Titwrench Fest, Glob, Denver, September 7, 2013

I called this band “Denver’s Velvet Underground” because, although the two bands sound very different, it seems the Termites explore similar dark edges as their beloved forebears. The Termites just look at the shadows in a different way. I think if Lou Reed knew what his mischievous grandchildren were up to he’d be smiling proudly.

You can find both Language of Termites albums at: termites.bandcamp.com

And Emily Frembgen’s music is on Tumblr: emilyfrembgen.tumblr.com

Photos and text © 2012-2013 Joe Beine

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Sinead O'Connor at a Denver Press Conference in 1988 by Joe Beine

Sinead O’Connor at a Denver press conference in 1988 — this is one of the most viewed and favorited photographs on my Flickr stream. She played an emotional show at the Rainbow Music Hall later that night.

Here is another photograph I took at the same press conference.

Sinead O'Connor at a Denver Press Conference in 1988 by Joe Beine

Camera: Pentax ME Super. Film: Kodak Gold 400.

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The Language of Termites by Joe Beine

The Language of Termites taking a break from recording their second album, June 17, 2012. You can download the album from: The Language of Termites at Bandcamp

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Peacock Blue

Photograph of a peacock at the Denver Zoo.

Dancing for rain at the Denver Zoo.

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Spring Fox

Spring fox in a Harvard Gulch drainpipe

I can never seem to photograph the foxes in my neighborhood because they move so fast. But they sometimes hide in the drainpipes that feed into Harvard Gulch. And today I saw this guy peeking out.

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Trumpeter Swan Cygnet

Trumpeter Swan Cygnet at the Denver Zoo

Trumpeter Swan Cygnet at the Denver Zoo, June 30, 2008. The cygnet is about a month old.

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Fading Summer

Willows blowing in the late summer breeze, Civic Center Park, Denver, Colorado

Willows blowing in the late summer breeze, Civic Center Park, Denver, Colorado

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He speeds down Broadway in a borrowed beat up Chevy, listening to the radio. Loud. A song called “If Ya Want My Luv” pumps out from one of those renegade rock and roll stations that breaks all the rules. The song aches, pounds in his head: “If you’re spending time with me, better keep it hassle free.” The pavement glows with a dull sheen, polished by the street lights that line the road. He makes a left turn on Iowa Avenue, pulls over and parks. He walks around the corner and goes into a club called Herman’s Hideaway.

Inside he sees shadows and sweat, the blur of smoke and alcohol, a hard pumping band on a tiny stage. The place is small, packed tight with people. Pairs of dancers litter the dance floor in front of the stage. He buys a beer at the bar and disappears, barely noticed, into the crowd. And watches. The guitar player strangles fast and hard–Hendrix style. A bit of a show-off but it doesn’t really matter. It’s loud enough, tough enough.

From nowhere a woman appears: black hair, black leather, wispy features, slender, rather small. She says, “Wanna dance?” and before he can answer she takes hold of one hand and leads him through the sweat and smoke to the dance floor. He puts his beer down on someone’s table and dances with this woman, lost somewhere amid the clutter. The band is playing Hendrix’s “You Got Me Floatin'” twisted and hard. He yells, “What’s your name?” into her ear. “It’s not important. Just dance,” she shouts back. So he dances.

And watches her dance. Watches her closely. She is wearing a studded leather jacket over layers of lace, sort of a maze of mystery. He looks at her face–so smooth and light in contrast to her dark hair and clothes. She smiles at him coyly. And he smiles back. Tomcat and tomboy on the dance floor, he thinks to himself. And he doesn’t even know her name….

Later, mysteries lingering, he leaves the club and drives home fast–a black streak on the boulevard. The renegade radio station is still playing the right noise: “I’m a little mixed up, but I’ll be all right if I can hear a loud guitar all night.” The city lights blur into iridescence and merge with the woman’s image in his mind. Studs and lace. Coy smiles and pangs of lust. A maze of mystery. He turns the radio up and floats, just floats home.

by Joe Beine, copyright 1987
originally published in The Blind Armadillo #7 (Summer 1987)

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