Colorado-based legends Magic Music – dubbed the state’s first “jam band” – have a storied history that truly complements their name. Hailing from various cities around the United States, the group began as a merry troop of renegades whose brotherhood was eternally forged in the music they made.
The story began in 1969 when guitarist and songwriter Lynn “Flatbush” Poyer fell in love with a dark-haired beauty and followed her from Boulder, CO to Middletown, NY, where he met her best friend George “Tode” Cahill, a high school trumpet player and musician. The three headed back to Boulder where Cahill (flute) and Poyer (guitar) eventually teamed up with Will Luckey (guitar), who came to Colorado from Martha’s Vineyard. Together, they added Rob Galloway on bass which created the lineup that became the early foundations of the group.
Magic Music’s sound coalesced in the days when the members lived in Eldorado Canyon in two school buses and a doughnut truck, where they made a better living on the University of Colorado Boulder campus panhandling and busking for the students between classes than they did tossing hay bales and chopping wood to stay alive. Bad record deals came and went. In 1972, after a particularly frustrating gauntlet of hopes being dashed, Luckey and Cahill parted ways with Poyer and brought Chris “Spoons” Daniels into the band, who had been part of the Magic Music extended musical family since 1970.
For the next four and a half years, along with Bill “Das” Makepeace on bass, Magic Music toured all across the country. People who heard them still remember them as the first Colorado “jam band,” performing at places like the 2nd and 3rd Telluride Bluegrass Festivals, sharing the bill with Sam Bush and New Grass Revival. In addition, they played shows with the likes of Cat Stevens, the Youngbloods, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Martin, and more, always chasing the elusive dream of getting into the studio and recording their first album. As the music business of the mid-Seventies turned to the divergent sounds of disco and the Ramones, Luckey, Cahill, and Daniels decided to call it quits on Magic Music in August 1976.
Over the next decades, the band’s members sought their own paths, all while making sure to stay in touch. They followed each other’s careers, came to each other’s gigs, sat in with each other’s bands, and held reunions at former manager Greg Sparre’s mountain home. By 2010, Lynn Poyer’s health made it impossible for him to play the reunions, and sadly, he died in 2011. There was another point at which a Magic Music album looked doubtful when Daniels was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2010, but thanks to a bone marrow transplant from his sister Jane, “Spoons” was given a reprieve.
In the summer of 2011, the band came together on Martha’s Vineyard for musical buddy and friend Charlie “Fritz” Finnerty’s birthday. They practiced at Tim Goodman’s home, and Daniels organized a reunion concert and recording session in November of that year in Colorado. Thanks to the kindness of Scott Roche at Coupe Studios in Boulder, the band began recording an album – a dream for over 40 years.
Tim Goodman, boyhood music-buddy and best friend of Luckey, had developed his own career with years as a session player in Los Angeles and his work as a founding member of the Southern Rock pioneers “Southern Pacific.” Tim’s love for the music he’d shared with these friends perfectly prepared him to assume the mantle as Magic Music’s album producer and a new member in the band. Under the early guidance of Daniels in Colorado, Goodman successfully took the project from basic tracks to a finished recording, taking three years of focused effort to capture the songs and musical arrangements of Magic Music.
The additional contributions of Jimmy Haslip, Tommy Major, John McFee, Scarlet Rivera, Billy Payne and many others (Magic Music’s first manager, Chris “Cemoto” Doyle appears on the album playing bagpipes) has resulted in an astonishing musical journey. If there ever was a labor of love, this music is it.
Magic Music will release their debut album on August 19, 2016.