Monday

DIME BOX BAND / KRISTI CALLAN INTERVIEW




GOING MY WAY: After a most successful run as co-founder of the much missed Wednesday Week, composer and vocalist Kristi Callan now brings her ambitious and inspiring vision to the forefront in that capacity with the Dime Box Band, pictured above in concert earlier this year. Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell recently dialogued with Callan about the band's promising debut album, Happy. Their exchange follows below (Click on above image to enlarge).


C'MON GET HAPPY:
A CONVERSATION
WITH THE DIME BOX BAND'S
KRISTI CALLAN
By Michael McDowell

Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how good we once had it.

During rock and roll's last collective gasp of consequence (the so-called Punk/New Wave movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s), there was one particularly noteworthy development, borne of such periphery as geography. For it was during that extremely fertile period of creativity that a wealth of musical promise manifested itself on an ongoing basis throughout Southern California.


From the ambitious and autonomous offerings of such hardcore-driven greats as the Germs, the Minutemen, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks to the roots-inspired passionate offerings of the Blasters, Long Ryders, X, Lone Justice and reinvigorated rockabilly pioneer Ray Campi, the multi-genre relentless optimism of the Go-Gos and the Heaters, as well as the purist leanings of the Salvation Army/Three O'Clock, the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate, there was enough of a wealth of promising new music on hand to keep the faithful in the record stores and clubs on a daily basis. And of course Blitz Magazine was there in the thick of it all, covering developments in each successive issue.


Concurrently, there was a small but determined cadre of artists who didn't really limit themselves to the collective visions of any of the sub-groups indicated above. Ultimately, these artists opted to profess solidarity with the ideals of their colleagues, while maintaining keenly defined independent visions that earned each a devoted following. Among their number would be the Art Students (later known as the Balancing Act, the band that launched the storied career of ongoing session pro and Thee Holy Brothers co-founder, Willie Aron), the Point, the Last and the determined and promising Wednesday Week. 


Co-founded by sisters Kelly Callan (drums) and Kristi Callan (lead vocals, guitar), Wednesday Week persevered on the Southern California club circuit for many years. To their considerable credit, the band continued to champion their engaging original repertoire to one of the more diverse fan bases extant at that time.


"There was the Paisley Underground and that wasn't us, though it was our friends and we played on those bills", said Kristi Callan, who presently fronts the Dime Box Band.


"(Wednesday Week was dubbed) the Calico Underground. But I am afraid we were the sole members! So it wasn't a scene or a genre".


Sadly, genre myopia between the various factions began to take its toll on the movement at large. Most opted to either call it a day or reinvent their respective mission statements in the idealistic hopes of achieving the ultimate futility of ongoing mainstream acclaim. 


While not affected as dramatically in terms of their artistic vision, family commitments and other pursuits nonetheles eventually prompted Wednesday Week to embark upon a protracted sabbatical. Since 1995, Kelly Callan has devoted much of her considerable acumen as a drummer in her role as co-founder of the utterly stupendous supergroup Dragster Barbie. The ambitious trio also includes renowned bassist and long time Adam Marsland and Evie Sands collaborator, Teresa Cowles, who is also known to film devotees for her acclaimed portrayal of Wrecking Crew bassist Carol Kaye in the Brian Wilson biopic, Love And Mercy.


And since 1992, Kristi Callan has brought her thinking outside of the box perspective to her mission statement via the Dime Box Band. The band has taken it to the next level with Happy on the Avebury label.


As usual, the band doesn't fit neatly into any categories or a scene", said Callan. 


"Of course that is easier said than done!"


Thankfully, Happy pretty much addresses and resolves such concerns on its own merits. From the opening Last Train To Clarksville-inspired strains of All Of Nothing to the band's sublime interpretation of Patti Page's Detour, the Happy album more than lives up to its title. Callan is joined in this project by lead guitarist James Nolte, along with Lyn Bertles on violin and mandolin, as well as bassist Alex Vincent and drummer Nick Vincent.


Blessed with one of the most mellifluous voices to emerge from the greater southern California musical movement, Kristi Callan herein absolutely soars with the rare combination of grace and authoritativeness (with each of those seemingly disparate facets showcased at full strength in the Point Of Grace-like plaintiveness of What Went Wrong? and the hard driving Bo Diddley beat of the Callan sisters' and Don Williams' Going My Way). 


Even so, throughout the proceedings, Callan's approach largely brings to mind the pioneering work of the late, great and much missed Holly Dunn. The one time MTM and Warner Brothers composer/vocalist was a towering figure throughout music's overall last collective gasp of consequence, country's New Traditionalist movement during the late 1980s and early 1990s. 


"I haven't heard anyone talk about Holly Dunn in years", said Callan.


"I did like her, and was so sad that she died a few years back".


Interestingly enough, carrying that mission statement into the present day setting has not been without its challenges.


"We tried to work the Dime Box Band CD to Americana and non-commercial radio", said Callan.


"Surprisingly, we did better at non-comm than we did at Americana. We were considered not Americana enough for Americana radio!"


Sadly, as the Christmas season approaches, Callan and her colleagues (along with many others) are taking time to remember the tremendous loss incurred in April 2019 with the passing of beloved former Rhino Records Vice-President, Gary Stewart. Altruistic and selfless almost to a fault, Stewart hosted an annual gathering at his Santa Monica home each Christmas night for friends and industry colleagues. Blitz Magazine's Michael McDowell was regularly among the hundreds of attendees at the annual gathering, as were Kristi and Kelly Callan and their families. 


"I think about Gary most every day", said Kristi Callan.


"Christmas without him is going to be painful for all of us".


On the positive side, there is no doubt that Gary Stewart would have been pleased with Callan's ongoing work with the Dime Box Band. In the words of a couple of the album's standout tracks, it is a most promising collection that is certain to produce Butterflies of joy among those who rightfully recognize it as a Keystone of great things to come.

HOW TO REACH US



Blitz Magazine's web site is lovingly dedicated
to the memory of my beloved Princess,
Audrey J. McDowell
(19 June 1960 - 30 October 2014)






Questions? Comments? E-Mail Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell (above) at BlitzMcD@aol.com. Or write us at P.O. Box 626, Dearborn Heights, Michigan 48127 - 0626 USA.

Blitz Magazine's web site is also dedicated to the memory of some of the finest people to ever walk the face of this earth, who are greatly missed and whose contributions to Blitz are immeasurable: Kenneth E. McDowell (1914-1966), Virginia J. McDowell (1919-2004), Stella O. Brockway (1916-2001), Anna Sawchuk (1885-1978), Michael Cichonsky (1888-1973), Catherine Cichonsky (1896-1962) and Boris "Lash" Loupishansky (1916-1960).

Blitz also remains grateful for the unconditional love that was given by the three best friends that one could ever ask for: our late cats Doctor (02 June 1991 - 28 June 2001) and Baby Lee (02 April 1992 - 23 January 2006) and our beloved family dog, Peeps (01 May 1990 - 02 May 2007). 

From all of us at Blitz Magazine, may you and yours have a blessed day. Jesus is Lord!