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Off the Record

Blackwood Creek: 40 Years in the Making, A Power Trio Featuring Kip Winger Finally Offers Its Debut

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Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Blackwood Creek, pre-Winger, pre-Pigmy Love Circus
  • Blackwood Creek, pre-Winger, pre-Pigmy Love Circus

There's so much whining going on in "rock" music these days and not enough growl, spit and scream. All these nice little preppy boys with their sneakers and their V-neck sweaters might be able to hit a (soft, pliable) note, but it takes Men to dig down into their belly and below to scrape away all the bullshit and take you on a frickin' "Joy Ride."

Okay, so here's the deal: Blackwood Creek features Kip Winger from Winger on bass and vocals, his bro Nate Winger on drums and Pigmy Love Circus's guitarist Peter Fletcher, a self-described "peace-lovin' hippie who likes to pick a little guitar every now and then." That description, though, suggests that said guitar is an acoustic one, which you'll know not to be true within the first second of Blackwood Creek's first full length. (Disclosure: Peter Fletcher is a longtime staffer at LA Weekly.)

Though it's the band's debut, the band formed something like 40 years ago. "We started in Colorado in 1970," says Fletcher. "I was eleven, Kip was eight and Nate was the old guy at twelve. Kip and I didn't know how to play. We knew a few chords, but were self taught. We became Blackwood Creek and played together until I was about twenty. We played Mormon dances and Lutheran churches. We played Columbine's prom -- a bunch of proms -- moved into clubs in Denver. We were pretty successful, made some dough, but didn't really think about making a record."

click to enlarge 19birthdaycut.jpg

They split, and, in Fletcher's words, "Kip went on to be the famous Kip Winger, and I went on to be a Pigmy."

Fast forward to 2010, and Blackwood Creek's debut, put out on Kip Winger's Frontiers label. The singer now lives in Nashville, Fletcher's in LA and Nate Winger's in Denver; they converged in Nashville to record, and the result is a 12-song rock album that defines the term "power trio." As in, who needs more than the basics -- bass, guitar, drum and voice -- to get the job done? You don't need no touching string section, you don't need a keyboard player to make it all fancy. You just need low end, high end and something in between.

Or, as Fletcher describes the sound: "It's the real shit. We're authentic '70s-grown players. We cut our teeth on the James Gang, Rory Gallagher, Mountain. We learned by listening to records and figuring it out, wrote our first song when I was in sixth grade and Kip was in fourth grade, in music class."

click to enlarge Blackwood Creek today (from left): Nate Winger, Kip Winger, Peter Fletcher
  • Blackwood Creek today (from left): Nate Winger, Kip Winger, Peter Fletcher

Fletcher says that none of the those early songs made it onto the record for obvious reasons -- the band was young and impressionable. "These are more contemporary. We looked at some of the songs that we wrote at that age. We just couldn't go back that far. It's not that they suck per se, but we were a little directionless, a little too psychedelic, and we play better now. We've been through so much that it didn't seem right for us to sing about wizards and such like we used to."

Unlike now. Here's an MP3 for you:

"We've been wanting to make this record for 40 years," says Fletcher. "It's surreal to me that we got together after so many years. I never thought it would happen, but now I'm tickled to death. And I hope that it doesn't take another forty years to do a second record." Fletcher adds that Kip's keeping busy -- he just wrote a ballet that will debut in San Francisco (!?). "He's a really talented dude, that little Kip," says Fletcher. And Fletcher's hoping to reconvene Pigmy Love Circus at some point to make some new music. He's got a whole album of material ready to work on, but when it will happen is, at this point, uncertain. "That's what happens when you have a high end superstar drummer like Danny Carey." (Carey is Tool's drummer, and has performed with, among many others, Green Jelly, Pigface, Les Claypool and Adrian Belew.)

But for now, Fletcher's cool with doing Blackwood Creek and seeing what happens next. "I am Anvil," he jokes of his career in rock. "I am the whole band. I'm Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star."

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