A dance at Turn of the Century on April 24 will benefit the nonprofit group that brings public art to the streets of downtown Montrose, said Caitlyn Switzer, chair of the Montrose Public Art eXperience, or PAX.
Take a stroll down Main Street or through Centennial Plaza and you’ll see sculptures by well-known artists such as William Sowell, Thad Tuin, Mark Hillen, Michael McCullough, Pokey Park, Mary Zimmerman and Beatrice Villiger, to name but a few.
Having art displayed downtown is important to the community, Switzer said.
“We believe that art can educate, entertain and inspire a community, while bringing a sense of economic vitality to our downtown,” she said. “Please join us at Turn of the Century and help keep us keep this exciting program alive for the benefit of us all -- and dance your socks off!”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $8. Performing for the dance will be The Stupid Band, a long-time group of locals who began as a garage band back in May of 1987, said Michael Erie, who plays guitar with the group. Other band members include Chris Tarman on bass, Tony Kovasic on guitar, Brad Switzer on drums and vocals, and singer/percussionist Byron Hill. The bond between members is so strong that former member Tim Gillilland has even traveled back from his home in Hawaii for performances.
Some long-time fans have called them “the Grateful Dead of Montrose. PAX members hope the band will be a draw to the benefit, which will also celebrate Earth Day.
Carol Lee met her boyfriend Skip Edwards at a Stupid Band performance about five years ago, she said.
“I’ve known them since they started and they are fun to dance to,” she said. “They play a lot of different styles — from reggae to rock and roll — and do covers of the Grateful Dead and others.”
The band also performs original music, Erie said, and covers well-known artists like the Beatles while covering other artists like Delbert McClinton, and lesser known performers like John Hyatt and Peter Himmelman.
“We try to find things that are not really mainstream,” he said.
Erie said the band only performs a couple of times a year, but practices every week through long-standing friendships.
“The bottom line is that it’s got to be fun, and it has been,” Erie said. “And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Fun is the key word for Luann Tyrell, who said she tries to make all the band’s performances.
“It certainly is a Montrose-renowned band who always gathers a large following, and I would be one of those followers,” she said. “I enjoy listening to their music and antics.”
Band member Brad Switzer, who happens to be married to Caitlyn Switzer, said the band’s longevity is part of its staying power.
“The band has turned into a juggernaut that kept on going and rolling,” he said. “It’s a good thing.”
Long-time friendships and a love of music keeps the band going, Erie said, but he wouldn’t share any anecdotes about the many humorous moments in the band’s 22-year history.
“I’m the historian of the band and I’m not talking,” he joked. Neither he nor other band members could remember — or tell — exactly how the band got its name.
“I guess it’s because none of us were real musicians, just a bunch of guys who played instruments in high school and still wanted to have a garage band,” he said. “I guess we wanted it to be sort of facetious, kind of a joke, and to get attention.”
Caitlin Switzer just hopes the band’s draw will bring in some much needed cash for the arts group, a joint project of the City of Montrose, the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and the PAX Steering Committee.
In addition to the year-round sculpture displays, PAX hosts an annual gala to unveil each year’s display that includes the purchase of one sculpture on behalf of the city and a People’s Choice Award given to one artist. This year the gala will be held on Sept. 11. Instead of a silent auction as in years past, this year’s event will feature a “quick draw” by artists and an auction, said Switzer.
“To date we have contributed $20,600 worth of sculptures to our city’s permanent collection,” she said. “We also offer a public speaker’s bureau and support for arts education.”