Virgil Dickerson, founder of Suburban Home Records, is something of an unsung hero in the annals of Colorado music. However, his legacy speaks for itself. The label has released over 190 records from a diverse collection of bands worldwide, including Frank Turner, Minus the Bear, Tim Barry, Drag the River, Austin Lucas, Two Cow Garage, Portugal The Man and Colorado Springs' own Nobodys and Laymen Terms.
Through a case of kismet, Dickerson founded Suburban Home in 1995, just two weeks after his friend and fellow music fan Pete Turner founded the original Boulder location of beloved restaurant Illegal Pete's. It wasn't too long before they joined forces under the Illegal Pete's banner.
"Throughout the years, we would meet up at shows," Dickerson says. "His staff worked at Suburban Home, some of my staff would work at Illegal Pete's, and as my business started suffering, I had reached out to Pete to see if there were any opportunities to work together. Luckily for me, he hired me as a freelance music marketer and, within a year, the marketing director."
On Sunday, Sept. 6, Illegal Pete's will commemorate its 20th anniversary with a multi-band mini-festival at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, featuring Lucero, Built to Spill and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.
"I asked Pete what he'd like to do to celebrate, and he came up with a list of his favorite bands on the planet. Somehow, the bands were all available. It just seemed logical to try and do the show at one of the most legendary venues on the planet, Red Rocks. To our surprise, they were interested in allowing us to do a show, and the date we wanted was available. It's pretty magical that this all came together."
Indeed, as Dickerson explains, the bands performing all have various ties to the Illegal Pete's family.
"Lucero played our seventh anniversary party, they've played our restaurants, and we even helped release a live, short-run 7-inch from a performance at one of our stores. Built to Spill is also one of those bands whose music has been played most in our restaurants. Nathaniel Rateliff is a good friend of all of us, and he's a musician we have loved for years. It's incredible that the only day off they had on their northwest tour is the day we are throwing our party! The Night Sweats are about to have an incredible year, and we could not be happier about having them as a part of our celebration."
Illegal Pete's has a long history of being supportive of musicians; for one thing, Dickerson's "Starving Artists" program feeds any out-of-town band for free when touring Colorado. There's also the Greater Than Collective, Illegal Pete's own record label, which focuses on assisting Colorado musicians and comedians, such as Esme Patterson, who has recently found success co-writing "Dearly Departed" with Shakey Graves and touring prolifically.
"We do our best to give local artists the tools to hopefully get national and international recognition," says Dickerson. "We have very artist-friendly deals with our acts and just want to see them succeed. It's a tough industry, but luckily for all of us, you can't download a burrito and a beer on your computer ... yet!"
Meanwhile, here's a few local show highlights for the week ahead: On Thursday, the Pikes Peak Center hosts a true legend, country singer Merle Haggard. (See interview, p. 36.) Also that evening, the Black Sheep presents a full night of hip-hop, featuring Vancouver emcee Madchild and a plethora of supporting acts.
Then on Saturday, Denver alt-rock quartet Ides of Mae celebrates their album release at the Black Sheep, where they'll be joined by fellow Denver art-rockers Woolgather, singer-songwriter Arwen, and Colorado Springs' Atlantic Panic. Over at the Triple Nickel, the glam-rock-tinged Biters are joined by Denver's The Bad Engrish, Colfax Speed Queen, and local punk act Shiii Whaaa.
Finally, on Sunday at Flux Capacitor, one of Colorado Springs' newer punk bands, femcore group Cheap Perfume, is part of an eclectic lineup that features The Nervous, Belly Belt, Leftmore and Coolzey.