Thursday, February 19, 2004
You probably have heard the name but never seen the band.
For years, Loose Change made their living playing weddings, private parties and conventions, but recent changes in the local music scene -- more venues and fewer bands -- have the band finally taking its place on the public stage.
Its last bar gig was on Halloween at Old Town Pub, but "I think you'll see us more," lead singer and guitar player Tom Schwall said.
The attempt to play more bar gigs is a big step for one of the longest lasting bands in Steamboat Springs. The first seeds of Loose Change were born in 1985 as an acoustic duo called Legal Tender. Jeff Swayer and Tim Schwall played folk music until 1992 when they added Randy Dodd on guitar (no longer with the band) and drummer Mark Walker.
"We wanted a heavier sound," Schwall said. "And we wanted to play more weddings and more dance-oriented gigs."
As a party band, it has a few original tunes but mostly draws from a set list of more than 200 cover songs.
"People want to hear the songs they know," Schwall said. "But we play the songs our own way."
Schwall's theory on covers: If you play your own version, people will mentally fill in what you're not playing. "You don't have to play it lick for lick. You can put your own personality into it."
Among the band's favorite songs to play are "Hush" by Deep Purple, "3 a.m." by Matchbox 20 and "Suicide Blonde" by INXS.
Since 2000, Loose Change has relied heavily on sound engineer Scott Singer, who the band refers to as its fifth band member.
"We were actually debating whether to put him in the band photos," Schwall said. Singer runs the soundboard for the band at all its live gigs.
"We have good equipment, and we pride ourselves in our sound," Schwall said.
Members of Loose Change all hold full-time, professional jobs and play in the band as a weekend tension release.
"This band is a real important element in my life," Schwall said. "It's a big departure from what we do in our regular day jobs. The band gives us a creative outlet.
"We've all been playing in bands since we were in high school. It's just something we've got to do. The music's in there; we just have to get it out."
Despite that Loose Change is a classic rock band, it was booked as part of a two month line up of country bands at the Hilltop Bar and Grill.
"We're not really a country band, but we do it really well," Schwall said.
Last spring, country musician Trevor Guire joined the band. He brought a soulful voice to join Schwall on lead vocals and a true taste for country music.
"Trevor was born and raised here," Walker said. "He's country to the heart, and he brings that to us."
For this weekend's gig, country fans who like rock and rock fans who like country will hear everything from "Psycho Killer" to Willie Nelson's "Mama Don't Let your babies grow up (to be cowboys)."