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Alice in Wonderland, Bedlam

Wren Wertin

It’s since become an annual tradition. Every year Little Hercules plays for the Saloon’s Oct. 30th Halloween party, and this year is no different. The action begins heating up at 8 p.m. and goes late.

“Minturn always starts a day early,” said Plummer. “It’s good to try out your costume and see if you can drink with it and piss out of it. We always try to pick a theme that will get the most women out of their costumes.”

This year they’re celebrating Alice In Wonderland. Plummer toyed with the idea of being the Cheshire Cat, but is having costume issues. He may scrap the Wonderland idea and go as Frankenstein. He says themed costumes are optional, and people should come no matter what their costume is. (They always do.)

This year’s party is both a Halloween bash and the grand finale of the Live! in Minturn series. Gift certificates for the best costumes will be given away, as will the ski pass raffle.

“Halloween is lots of fun, but I always leave my costume for the last minute,” said Cristian Basso, bassist for Little Hercules. “Last year might have been my favorite costume – I wore a diaper. It gets kind of hot up there on stage, so it’s nice to have nothing on.”

The parties have grown over the years, as has Little Hercules’ popularity. They’ve just returned from their first West Coast tour, having already established faithful followings in the Rockies, Midwest and New Orleans.

“It’s been a big year for us,” said Basso. “Whether we know it or not, all of the music we’ve experienced has inspired us. We’ve taken on that feel, that New Orleans feel. We’ve played with Leo (Nocentelli), Papa Grows Funk and Zigaboo (Modeliste). Being in front of that music…”

One music producer described their sound as “music for tomorrow.” Basso felt good about the description. In fact, there’s not a lot Basso can feel bad about these days. They were well received in the west, they’re in the middle of planning a new album and they’re negotiating with their producer of choice for the project.

“I think the LIttle Hercules’ sound is getting a little bit more sophisticated in a sense, but only because the experiences of the past year,” said Basso. “In my opinion, the radio is still pretty terrible. People are trying to find the next big thing instead of looking for music of the heart and soul.”

Basso and company are striving to record an album that is in keeping with their musical ideals. The project brings to mind Santana’s “Supernatural,” as they’re gathering artists to collaborate with on a track-by-track basis. This summer they had a regular spot at The Bridge, and every week they brought in a new guest artist. It was so successful they’re using it as a format for their CD. Confirmed musicians include guitarist June Yamaguishi from Papa Grows Funk and Wild Magnolias, trumpeter Ron Haynes and Peter Harper, a harmonica virtuoso from Australia with a penchant for Crescent City roots rhythms. Still waiting to confirm are musicians with Liquid Soul and Leo Nocentelli of The Meters.

If all goes well, Little Hercules will be working with DJ Headfridge, Afroman’s Grammy-nominated producer. According to Basso, no matter how accomplished or creative a band is, they can still profit from the experience of a producer.

“The artist typically tends to pursue their creativity and get their ideas out,” he said. “But with a producer, he’s not only excited about the music and ideas, but he has his or own ideas and can begin to organize a smoothness of flow.”

He used Pink Floyd as an example. On some old bootlegs, it’s obvious that they took three of their songs to create “Breathe.” According to Basso, that idea came from a producer.

“Someone came in there and said, “Hey, these ideas are so strong, but let’s keep it in this realm,” he said. “And look what happened to that. That is what you pay a producer to do. And the sound tricks. It’s the difference between a really good demo and a professionally cut CD if you hook up with the right people.”

Among their West Coast highlights was playing the Elbow Room in San Francisco. When Sunset Promotions, responsible for a film festival, got wind of Little Hercules, they asked them to play a Friday night gig in the Mission District.

“It always blows my mind,” said Basso. “You go out and do a show and never know who’s going to be there and how it will go. A crew from New Orleans came out who had kept up with us, and it was just really good. I guess you could say we’ve been harvesting the fruits of our labor.”

Other highlights included staying in a haunted inn in Northern California, and meeting some witches.

“The only spirits we ran into were the spirits who wanted to party,” he said. “The ghosts boogied down.”

Local ghosts will be boogeying down, too. The Saloon’s Alice in Wonderland Halloween Party will kick off at 8 p.m.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.


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