There were a handful of somber faces wandering about Laura Belle's Lounge on Sunday afternoon. But mostly, there were smiles heartwarming, contagious smiles as friends and family sat around the bar's tables and booths, exchanging favorite memories of an old friend.
On stage in the back corner of the bar, a band playing classic rock covers paid tribute to the same man.
"In case you forgot what this is all about," the lead singer of the Coyotes said in between songs, "we're all here for Dave."
Nobody had forgotten in fact most everyone in the establishment began nodding in agreement. He was referring to Dave Scudder, whose smiling face adorned the photographs on the bulletin board set up in front of the stage, on the edge of the dance floor.
Scudder, an architect and a drummer in three local bands Johnny Graves and the Blue Waves, the Cellar Dwellers and Jericho's Wall died on Dec. 8 after suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing as he and the Cellar Dwellers unloaded their gear onto the Pine Gables Tavern stage in preparation for a gig.
The gathering at Laura Belle's on Sunday was held not only as a tribute to and celebration of Scudder's life, but also to help raise money for the wife and three children Scudder left behind.
"He was such a music enthusiast," remembered Johnny Graves, the organizer behind this event. "We just wanted to celebrate him. It's all in the name of music and a good time, which is what Dave would have wanted."
For seven hours, from 1 in the afternoon until 8 that evening, five bands and a handful of other performers not scheduled to perform, took to Laura Belle's stage to remember their fallen friend. It was a largely informal gathering exactly what Graves expected and hoped for, even after nearly two months of planning this tribute. No donations were required from the crowd although the event did ultimately raise $500 for the family.
"There's a strong community of musicians here, and it's getting stronger all of the time," Graves says. "When something like this happens, people just band together."
Attendees took photographs of the performances. They filmed the event on camcorders. They stood solemnly around the dance floor and watched intently as the bands played their songs for Scudder.
"He was just a lot of fun," says Scott Gray, one of Scudder's Jericho's Wall bandmates. "An always laughing, joking, never-had-a-bad-day kind of guy. Not playing with him is hard. It's a big hole."
Only as the Coyotes performed a cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" did the crowd's mood sway from its happy, nostalgic feel. As a pair of patrons danced, much of the room fell silent, forgoing chatter in order to rub the tears from their eyes. A moment later, though, all was back to normal and the cheery memorial continued.
"I'm speechless," Scudder's wife Denise said as the Coyotes played on. "I'm just blown away. I don't know a lot of these people I didn't make it to a lot of [Dave's] gigs. I've been overwhelmed."
After catching her breath, she continued: "I couldn't think of anything more appropriate."
Donations for the Scudder family can be sent to Johnny Graves at 490 Anaconda Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919.