IFA Talks to Will Luckey about Magic Music
Hey folks we have a very unique project to talk about today, with a story that goes back several decades. The band is called Magic Music and they’ve been living a small footprint, off-grid lifestyle since before there even was a grid. It’s one of the most surprising and heart warming stories in music this year, and we’re very happy to be able to tell you about it.
Magic Music is a Colorado-based collective of artists and forward thinkers who have been dubbed the state’s first jam band, and their story goes all the way back to 1969 when guitarist and songwriter Lynn ‘Flatbush’ Poyer teamed up with George Tode Cahill and Will Luckey. These three Magic Music members moved to Eldorado Canyon and lived in two school buses and a doughnut truck, where they made a living partly by panhandling and busking for the students on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, as well as tossing hay bales and chopping wood to stay alive.
Their story took a winding path through the world of record deals and real-world challenges, with Chris ‘Spoons’ Daniels replacing Lynn Poyer, and then the band went all across the country, performing at places like the 2nd and 3rd Telluride Bluegrass Festivals, and sharing the bill with the likes of Sam Bush and New Grass Revival, Cat Stevens, the Youngbloods, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Martin, and many more.
But times were changing and a big record deal never materialized. So, in August 1976 Luckey, Cahill, and Daniels decided to call it quits. Over the next four decades, the band’s members sought their own paths, and followed each others careers, coming to their gigs, sitting in with their bands, and holding reunions at their former manager’s mountain home.
Lynn Poyer’s death in 2011, and Daniels’ Leukemia diagnosis in 2010 made it look like a true reunion was not going to happen, but in the summer of 2011, the band came together for the birthday of Charlie Fritz Finnerty, after which they practiced at Southern Pacific’s Tim Goodman’s home, and began making plans for a reunion concert and recording session.
Tim’s love for the music, and the times he’d shared with his friends, perfectly prepared him to assume the mantle as Magic Music’s album producer, and to be a new member in the band. Soon the band was working on the album they had waited for 40 years to record at Coupe Studios in Boulder, thanks to the kindness of Scott Roche there. More people came together and helped, and suddenly the idea that Magic Music had planted those many long years before grew and blossomed into a mighty lifetree.
The additional contributions of Jimmy Halsip, Tommy Major, John McFee, Scarlet Rivera, Billy Payne and many others including Magic Music’s first manager, Chris Cemoto Doyle allowed the album, and the family, to finally get completed. After 40 years of waiting, Magic Music’s debut album is now available and like a rare vintage wine, it’s poignant, rich and sweet. With so much history and so much humanity involved, the music on this album is really special because it means so much to the people involved.
IFA was very lucky to get a conversation with Will Luckey about the journey and the light at the end of the tunnel. This is a great album, even more so because of the story, and the community behind it. When people come together with a vision that has been shared for a lifetime, it’s very rare. When they do it so beautifully, it’s precious beyond compare. Magic Music’s debut album will get your toes tapping and will warm your soul like springtime sunshine.
IFA: Wow, so 40 years in the making. After such a long journey, what was it like for you to finally get in the studio with such a supportive group of people?
Will: What was amazing was that, even though we wrote and played this music 45 years ago, all the parts were still embedded in everyone. The result was a familiar musical journey, but we were all so much more developed as players and singers. This gave us the opportunity to really dig in and play parts that truly reflected the song. We were also mature enough to allow Tim Goodman to help guide the production,while adding his talents as a singer and player. Like any incredible experience, having the privilege play with this awesomely talented crew of folks yields unbelievable end results. I for one feel totally blessed to have finally had this opportunity.
IFA: We recently talked to Andy Myers from The Scenics, a band from a similar era, who said they were discouraged not to have gotten signed in their youth, but that perhaps it was better because it allowed them to make their music, their way, without a big company interfering. How do you feel about the music on your new album? Is it the way you wanted it to be?
Will: So back in the day Magic Music was also of the mindset that the music should be derived from the heart. We were floating through the breath of youth and were not interested in having anyone outside altering our sound for commercial opportunity. The album we did today was produced by our dear friend, Tim Goodman, who participated in our world as a family member and player, and certainly experienced the vibe totally. Consequently, he strove to maintain the essence of what was, and to reach into the present to capture what we are today. My opinion is that he did a brilliant job. There was a fine line to walk and he balanced all the parts and pieces with sensitivity and control. The record is most defiantly a reflection of our vision. It still does not follow the standard outline expected by the industry, but then we never did, so it’s a time capsule of sorts.
IFA: Is there any one person that you want to say thank you to? Somebody who made this session special, or brought something unexpected to the music?
Will: Here again, I would have to thank everyone in the band for never letting go of the dream, and specifically to Chris Daniels and Tim Goodman for their guidance and perseverance. Chris and I wrote these songs a long time ago, and many would have let it go after 45 years, but magically the songs are timeless so here we are.
IFA: Is there one lesson (surely there are many) from your years in Colorado that you can share with young artists? Maybe some advice? What is it about being an artists that really matters to you?
Will: A strong lesson to take away from our experience is that if you follow your creative heart, don’t do it with blinders on because somebody, somewhere will have a similar vision and it may not take 45 years to realize your dream. Remain open to ideas, shut doors lead nowhere.
IFA: Thanks so much, last question, is there a favorite instrument of yours that has been on this crazy journey with you that has a story or two to tell? Can you tell us just a little about it? Thank you!
Will: Well we all have these beautiful guitars made by NBN in the early 70’s. They are warhorses and still hold their place at the table through thick and thin. Also Mr. “T”‘s (George Cahill) Haynes flute which I proudly can say was given to him by my Father indirectly, through me. He plays it beautifully today and has always kept it a part of his life. So yeah, all the instruments deserve a round of applause for completing the circle with us. Perhaps the most sentimental instrument is Lynn Poyer’s NBN guitar which came to me after Lynn passed away, through the generosity of his family. I keep it armed and ready for what comes it’s way because it witnessed an unbelievable journey, from beginning to end. He would be happy and proud to see it today!