Each week this summer the Express Eight will feature the upcoming Kirksville Arts Association Summer on the Square group.
Friday’s show features No Apology, which will perform at 7 p.m. on the Adair County Courthouse lawn. The concert will be moved inside WrongDaddy’s in the event of inclement weather.
Here is our Q&A with Clifton Kreps of Deadwood.
How did your band get started?
In the waning years of the previous century, Ian and I started jamming with another guitar player named Ed Tyler. Ed has since moved to Louisiana, but he is one of the original co-conspirators. A student in one of my classes found out what we were up to and asked if we wanted to open an upcoming show for his band, which was named Your Mom. So we borrowed a drummer from a band called Steel Rivers and did our first show in Kirk Gymnasium, April 1998, to an audience of about 12 people, including the guys in the other band. I think we only had seven songs but somehow we stretched it out to an hour. A good time was had, and somebody there asked us to play a bandfest the next weekend at Rainbow Basin – they were calling it Kirkstock. That turned out to be a ton of fun, lots of people heard us, we got a positive notice in the Truman alternative newspaper (the Monitor), and Deadwood was on its way.
How would you describe your band's music?
We started out playing blues, and still do a lot of that. But over time, as personnel changed in the band, we've added other stuff as well: some original music, some boomer-rock stuff from the ‘60s and ‘70s, a bunch of Dylan songs, some instrumentals, and lately we're trying to get a grip on a few Steely Dan tunes.
Your band is incredibly popular in this area. What do you think it is about the group that appeals to audiences?
Well thanks, that is very nice to hear. It's true that we have a good fan base and we're very grateful to all our friends who come out to have a good time with us. I guess I would say that our repertoire is somewhat diverse and peculiar to ourselves, so we don't really sound like anybody else. Even when we play familiar songs, they get a distinctly Deadwood treatment. We've got the horns now, which adds a lot, and we really try to make the vocals stand out as well. There are some legitimate, formally trained, highly skilled musicians in this band, present company excluded. And we like to rock out when the time comes. But probably the biggest thing is we just refuse to go away.
What do you enjoy about performing?
Performing gives you an opportunity to experience the thrill of making music – of being inside the music – along with the additional thrill of seeing the audience get caught up and involved. I love to see the whole room move, that makes me happy.
What are some of the more difficult aspects of performing?
It's the stuff leading up to the show that gets on my nerves sometimes. I don't mind practicing and rehearsing, that's enjoyable for me, but packing up and hauling the gear, setting it up, waiting around for the show to start – sometimes after a full day at work, you know – that can get old. There's so much you have to get through before you even play a note. Not that I'm complaining.
When did you personally get started in music?
I had some piano lessons when I was very young thanks to my parents – my dad was nuts for ragtime piano, Jelly Roll Morton was his main guy – and a few guitar lessons in my early teens. Then when I was in college I started really listening to things and trying to figure out for myself how to play them: folk music, country blues, then electric blues and rock and roll. I had just enough musical background to make very slow, painful progress. All these years later, I'm still trying.
This is a side project, I would imagine, for all of you. How often do you get together to rehearse and what are those rehearsals like?
Normally we get together one evening a week in a designated room at my house and go at it. We can be businesslike if we have to – if we have performances to prepare for, or a recording project; but there is usually a significant amount of socializing, attitude adjustment, and bliss-chasing involved.
Any message you'd like to send to Kirksville about your upcoming concert?
Well, we all know how difficult life can be. Worry and stress are all around. The members of Deadwood feel lucky to be part of a community like Kirksville where peace, joy, and harmony still seem possible, and we have found that music helps us zero in on those positive feelings. We are very grateful to the Kirksville Arts Association for an opportunity to contribute to the creative life of the 'Ville. We're gonna do our best and we'd love to see our old friends there and make some new ones, too.