Dave Arvizu reunites Colorado Springs’ Big Back Yard 

click to enlarge Reunited and it feels so good: Colorado Springs ‘90s stalwarts Big Back Yard will be back together for a free show on June 1. - SHERRY ARVIZU
  • Sherry Arvizu
  • Reunited and it feels so good: Colorado Springs ‘90s stalwarts Big Back Yard will be back together for a free show on June 1.
The Colorado Springs music scene of the early 1990s probably won’t ever get mentioned in the world at large with the same reverent tones as, say, Seattle’s. For one thing, there was never a local, snappy soundtrack album to capture all the up-and-comers in a convenient place, à la Singles. After all, Security, Colorado was a low-budget Dogme 95 film, while Dee Snider’s locally shot Strangeland, alas, failed to utilize local musical talent.

Of course, none of this really matters all that much to the faithful who caught the likes of The Autono, Zen Radio, Random Spex, Former Fetus and Evie’s Edge at the Underground and the Deluxe Tavern — it remains a special time in the minds of many. And soon, one of the most prominent fixtures of the scene will be reconvening for a reunion show.

Big Back Yard, who won several awards and earned plenty of regional airplay in their eight-year career, will be reuniting for a free show on Friday, June 1, at Whistle Pig Brewing Company. Tri Lakes Radio will be on the scene to broadcast the band’s first set, and the group is also planning on giving away some memorabilia.

“It’s going to be fun,” says singer/songwriter, guitarist, and bandleader Dave Arvizu. “You know, a bunch of old guys get to rock.”

For the uninitiated, Big Back Yard was formed in 1993 by Arvizu after his late-’80s tenure in the New York-based band Under the Ice. Upon returning to Colorado Springs, Arvizu had new material he was eager to explore, and soon enlisted his brother Mike Arvizu on bass and drummer Steve Schaarschmidt to “flesh the songs out and see how they were going to sound.” As it turns out, the sound was popular with the scene and fans.
“We put out a disc called Wide Open, and it turned out we got a lot of airplay,” recalls Arvizu. “It was a good time for local bands back then — the cool thing was that we were playing almost all originals and managing to play The Ritz, José’s [Muldoons], Becketts, Springs Spree ... it was a lot of fun back then. A lot of different bands going on at the same time, and we had a good camaraderie with them.”

As the band continued to work on material, they also started adding new members, beginning with guitarist Jim Aycock and, at various points, enlisting a veritable who’s-who of Colorado Springs musicians, including Dan Nelson, Jerry Minson, Kevin Johnson and Donna Mauer.

“Of course, we’re sadly missing two members,” says Arvizu. “Mr. Ivor Young [also a former member of The Autono, who passed away in 2015 following a long battle with leukemia], and Bob Tracy’s health hasn’t been great for quite a while. We’re obviously going to miss them.”

The band released three albums before eventually parting ways in 2001, as the musicians started exploring different musical directions. However, most of those involved in Big Back Yard have remained musically active — particularly Arvizu himself, whose most recent solo album, 2017’s Guiding Star, was recorded with Dan Nelson and has received overwhelmingly positive praise in a variety of music blogs.

Aside from the Big Back Yard reunion show, you can catch Arvizu performing solo and as an acoustic duo with Nelson later this summer. And while he’s enjoying a little downtime to regroup from the recording of Guiding Star, one suspects anyone with his unbridled level of enthusiasm will be moving on to a new project sooner rather than later.

“Whether [I’m] in the studio or if I’m working on my old 4-track, it’s a lot of fun,” says Arvizu. “It seems like you can look at the clock and suddenly ... what? It’s 4 o’clock in the morning? You’re just so wound up, you’re not even tired. You’re just creating.”

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