Monday, September 12, 2022

Tuscadero resurfaces!

Tuscadero used this promo photo for forever if I recall correctly. Photo by Will Weems.
One of the more pleasant byproducts of our current era in music is the ability for unsung or under-recognized bands from decades past to get their music back out there. Olds like me get a chance to snag some things that were either long lost to history or provide a new glance into what the band was doing at the time. And everyone else? I'm guessing most have no clue who is and isn't active when they're streaming music, so it reintroduces bands to the cultural conversation after sitting on ice for a while.

At the beginning of the pandemic I had started planning a whole series covering these resurfacing groups, and those plans never died so much as they just kept getting shunted aside. So while this isn't technically part of the series I planned, maybe it'll spur me to start sharing more of these discoveries with you.

Tuscadero was a band out of the D.C. area that could be both twee as all get out and muscular as fuck when they played live. I saw them a few times and watched them grow from a shaky but fun indie act into an excellent live act that could could command a room and still feel more nuanced even as the volume of the music increased. 

Tuscadero pretty much disappeared after their Major Label debut, and I always suspected their years on the indie Teen-Beat label were probably more fun for the band. Maybe if I was smarter I would've asked them that when I interviewed them in the mid-'90s for one of the Chicago dates they played. For a while they were one of my favorite bands, and I still return to their albums every once in a while. But I never expected to hear from Tuscadero ever again.

But then!

This morning I stumbled across a live release from the band's 1996 tour, which might've been the tour I interviewed them on (though I am having a hard time remembering, and the UIC newspaper digital archives for that era don't exist). But more importantly it clued me into the fact that Tuscadero had a Bandcamp page and there was music there I'd never heard before! It appears the group is sharing their early Teen-Beat EPs and singles for now, so if you are new to the band I would HIGHLY recommend starting with those.* But the 1996 NYC show below is a brand new discovery of a time capsule for me, containing a nice overview of their material as the band was starting to stretch beyond their original comfort zone. 

A word of caution to set context—this is a show recorded at an indie club in the '90s. Back then, most of the time, if you wanted a live recording you just patched into the soundboard. And that seems to be the source of this recording. So this doesn't sound like you might now expect a professionally recorded gig these days, and it misses some of the more nuanced bits with the flatter board mix, but to my ears it's a glorious revisiting of a different time. And it brings back all the feels. Hopefully we'll hear more from the band, but if not this was a nice coda for me.

*In fact, I'm reasonably sure someone at Teen-Beat started the Tuscadero Bandcamp page, but I'm not 100% certain. I don't really care who started it as long as it gives other people a chance to fall in love with this little band too!

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