Traveler
(The Reunion of Denim)
Steamboat Springs 1874
March 14, 1981
11” x 17” (27.9cm x 43.18cm)

This is one of four full-color posters commissioned by Steamboat Springs 1874 in 1980 and 1981. It’s been exceedingly rare that I was able to do full-color and I tried to make the most of it here. The vertical white bar that I used to cleave the image into two parts and to draw attention to the stacked lettering of the bands name also serves a second function as an open door. This open door in turn is the centerpiece of a narrative image; narrative in the sense that it is telling a story. The woman is dressed in a pastel magenta evening gown stands before polished wood paneling, her hand holding open a door to a space within. In her left hand, she holds a denim mask behind her back, seemingly ready to don it as a pale blue light emerges washes over her from that white cleft. We are drawn to her and the anticipation with which she awaits the reunion.

  

This was one of four full-color posters commissioned by Craig Hillis of Steamboat Springs 1874 in the years 1980 – 1981. This was the second, the first being Beto Y Los Fairlanes, and the following being Stevie Ray Vaughan. One more, Joe “King” Carrasco, was commissioned and completed, but was never printed, as the show was cancelled just as the artwork went to press. When posters were first done for the Austin music venues, they were the only effective and cost efficient ways to promote the acts and thereby sell tickets. As time went by and money and sophistication increased in those venues, promotional money was better spent on newsprint and radio advertising. Consequently the poster became more and more a vestige of the earlier days, and hardly cost-effective in selling tickets. As a result, many clubs dropped them altogether. Craig was the first to recognize that what posters did do was promote the venue over the long haul, and so – at considerable expense – he not only bucked the trend by continuing to commission posters, but improved their quality by going from two- to four-color (full-color) printings such as this.

Denim was one of many local bands who changed their names periodically – as in this case – and assumed as one of its incarnations, Traveler. This particular band belonged to a group that played a tight spectrum of clubs, most notable among them, besides Steamboat, were The Saxon Pub, Mother Earth and The South Door. Their reunion show was quite incredible, with the venerable Krackerjack opening for them. What really made it all memorable though was the inclusion of a young guitarist in the reformed band – his name was Eric Johnson. And he would become one of the definitive guitarists in this guitar town. On this cold March night downtown, he burned the roof off.

Sadly, Traveler was a viable band for only another year of so, though Eric would go on to much greater fame. So too for Beto, and much later for Joe “King” Carrasco. Craig, like Cliffor Antone, would run into some extracurricular legal problems a few years hence, and even Steamboat, the most venerable of the 6th Street clubs would be forced to leave, though it would reincarnate again after a year’s hiatus at Riverside and Congress, south of the river.


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