“We want to bring in groups we haven’t seen here before and get another music venue going in Telluride,” Richards said. “We’ll bring independent recording artists if we can, and higher quality acts that you don’t usually see on main street.”
Though Richards’ own musical tastes range from reggae to country, Llama Presents expects to specialize in indie rock. “That’s the gap that we saw in Telluride, the niche that wasn’t being filled,” said McCusker. “It’s new, its risky, but we think it will go over well given the age group in Telluride and their history of appreciating bands outside the mainstream. Frankly we’re surprised no one else has thought of it.”
McCusker defined indie rock as a sub-genre of modern rock and roll. The term initially referred to independent artists working without the backing of a major label. McCusker says that today’s indie rock “is pop; it does not have an edge per say. It’s very lyrical, very musical. These are talented bands who write well, play well and have lyrics that you can understand.”
In his former life, Richards stayed busy running the restaurant, booking music and co-sponsoring events such as KOTO’s Yankee Doodle Doo Dah and the Jazz Festival. When it got to be too much, he let someone else take over the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, and he and McCusker started a new business together.
“I had my own restaurant and my own club,” Richards said, “now I get to be a rock promoter.”
At first, the company’s objective was to book bands for the club at Las Montañas. They have expanded their vision to include other venues and bigger bands throughout Telluride and Mountain Village, and possibly southwest Colorado.
Llama’s first event will be an all-ages New Year’s bash at the Telluride Conference Center, featuring indie rock bands Rooney and Mayday Parade.
“We’re excited; we think this is the first time anyone has done anything for kids for New Year’s Eve in Telluride,” McCusker said.
New talent Mayday Parade, from Tallahassee, Fla., will take the stage at 8 p.m., followed by headliner Rooney. Originally from Los Angeles, Rooney just returned from a whirlwind European tour, where their first single from Geffen Records, “Calling the World,” is a top ten radio hit. Tickets are $60 and are available at ticketweb.com.
In the future, Llama foresees a multi-venue music festival where indie bands will play Telluride’s smaller clubs, the Sheridan, the Conference Center and maybe even the slopes of the ski area, all for one price.
“We’ve talked with the ski area about doing something like the Cajun Fest or the String Cheese concerts, and they are interested,” Richards said. “But it may just be a festival in the various venues in town. When you’re trying to start a new festival in an outdoor venue, if the weather doesn’t cooperate you’re hurting.”
Richards said that after the New Year he’ll have more time to work on planning such an event. Until then, he’s got most of the winter booked at Las Montañas, with regular après-ski acts and bigger, late-night shows every other week.
Though their stated focus is indie rock, Llama Presents’ lineup for the winter includes an eclectic array of music. Flamenco/rock/jazz band Nosotros will play Dec. 27, 28 and 29. Alt-rock performer Sheila Sondergard follows later in January, and jam-band Eoto, featuring String Cheese Incident drummers Michael Travis and Jason Hann, wraps up the month. Latin music will return to the Las Montañas stage in March with Cuban jazz band Tradiciones. Tickets for all shows are $20, available on ticketweb.com.
More band and scheduling information is available on Llama’s website, www.llamapresents.com.