My Music Career (Part 12) Scupanon

(This is the 17th chapter in this semi-autobiographical series. All the previous chapters in this series can be found on the column to the right. Go here to start at the beginning.)

In Part 7 of this series, I discussed the beginning of my acoustic band, Scupanon, in 2013. In this chapter will finish the story of Scupanon from where I left off and take it to its end in 2020.

As I mentioned in Part 7, percussionist Sam Caston joined violinist Paul Ermisch and I in 2013, and suggested the name Scupanon. We played several gigs in 2013 and 2014, and then Sam moved to Fort Collins, and could no longer be a full-time member of the group.

Paul and I continued to play as a duo, and we had a couple of upright bass players join us briefly, as well as another percussionist. But none of them stuck. Then towards the end of 2017, I met Janet Lipson, who said she was singing backing vocals for the Wendy Clark Band. I asked if she’d also like to sing with me, and she agreed. For the next two years, Scupanon was a trio consisting of Paul, Janet and I. (Janet would also join my rock band, Electric Poetry. See the previous chapter.)

At the beginning of 2020, Paul Ermisch informed me that, after 10 years of playing with me, he was ready to retire from Scupanon. We quickly found a replacement in Diamond Jim Hewitt, who played fiddle, mandolin and mandola. Jim would play with Janet and I for the next year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By 2016 I discovered that the breweries were a good place to book acoustic gigs. They paid a little bit– more than the conventional venues– and, also unlike the latter, had a built-in crowd which allowed me to reach new people with my music and make new fans. The breweries would be the main venues for Scupanon shows from this point on. Some of my favorites were: Upslope in Boulder, Grossen Bart in Longmont, and the Broken Plow in Greeley.

Grossen Bart Brewery, Longmont, CO Sept 2018
Upslope Brewery, Boulder, CO July, 2019.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, between Scupanon and Electric Poetry, I was playing a gig a month– or more. Live performance was now the main focus of my music career. I didn’t have much time for songwriting. Keep in mind that I was doing all the administrative and promotional work for both bands. And I had a day job.

With all the Scupanon and Electric Poetry gigs, the fan base for my music and my bands was growing. One fan at a time, little by little. No big breaks– no famous person discovered me and told the world about me. I wasn’t young and pretty, so no music biz person took me under their wing and said they would make me a star. I had no rich husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend to open their wallet and bankroll recordings, tours and promotion for me. I was achieving success solely by my own hard work and commitment. Maybe it’s better that way.

In addition to the breweries, I also booked gigs at traditional venues. The most important folk venue in Denver was Swallow Hill. I played solo gigs there solo in 2008, 2010 and 2013, and with Paul Ermisch in 2014 and 2016. In the fall of 2019, Scupanon– Janet, Jim and I– played Swallow Hill Cafe, almost filling the room. This would be the crowning Scupanon show.

At the beginning of 2020, Janet told me she wanted to quit as a full-time band member, and just join on occasional gigs. So Diamond Jim and I played a couple gigs without Janet, and then… all future gigs were cancelled. Covid-19 had begun. Then at the end of 2020, Diamond Jim and his wife decided to move to Wisconsin. It was time to put Scupanon to rest. It had been a long and good ride. I would play acoustic music again, with new musicians. But my focus now was on rock music– an album of rock songs, and forming a new rock band.

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