Life and limbs intact, the Kings stage a return

About eight years ago, a local publication printed a letter criticizing local rock band Lawn Chair Kings.

In that letter, the author referred to their sound as “three-chord shriekings.” As a friend and fan of the band, I took offense to this negative review, no doubt coming from some amateur concertgoer whose live music résumé probably ends after one or two ecstasy-influenced Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks. This naysayer probably had no idea that behind the Lawn Chair Kings is a band that carries a vast knowledge of music, from country to obscure rockabilly to everything from the indie rock canon.

If you want a Replacements, Camper Van Beethoven or Doc Watson cover mixed in between some original Alex Chilton-reminiscent pop music, you can hear it. The band’s repertoire carries hundreds of songs, both covers and originals. Set lists can contain up to 50 or 60 songs, and the band will remain on stage for hours.

Tonight, the Lawn Chair Kings will play only its third show since September. You might have noticed it has been absent from any bills over the winter and spring, but there are reasons for the hiatus. It has been breaking in new drummer Chris Dipietro, who joined in October, but, more importantly, has been waiting for the rehabilitation of bass player Dan Leek, who almost cut his left ring finger off in a Dec. 16 saw accident.

The newbie and the recovering bassist are joined by founding member Erik Nordstrom on guitar and vocals and Jeff Moorehead on guitar, dobro, lap steel and banjo. As a result of the accident, the Lawn Chair Kings had to cancel a handful of shows and reschedule others with Nordstrom’s other band, Farmington Hill, filling in. It also missed out on playing KDUR’s Led Zeppelin cover night in January, the first cover night the band has ever missed.

Musicians shouldn’t moonlight as builders. Leek’s accident happened while he was working on his house, operating a DeWALT table saw. It resulted in an intra-articular fracture, surgery the evening of the accident, a metal pin going into his finger and many stitches.

When it happened, panic was taken over by seeing if his hand, despite the blood, was actually hurt.

“I knew I had hit it, and I looked down and saw blood and started freaking out a little bit,” Leek said during a recent rehearsal at the Lawn Chair Kings’ south-side practice space. “I thought to check function, wiggle my fingers, and that finger could not move like the rest.”

Practicing with the band wasn’t even a reality until recently.

“I couldn’t move my hand with that pin in there,” Leek said. “Once that came out, I could start playing. It was only a month ago before I could start using it like I would like to use it. I think it’s back to 100 percent.”

If you miss tonight’s show at the Balcony Bar & Grill, the Lawn Chair Kings will play the Balcony again Aug. 24 and at Moe’s on Sept. 7.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.

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