A Behind the Scenes Chat with Arthur Lee Land
A Border Collie named Griffin, sunken leather chairs and ambient lighting fill Arthur Lee Land’s eclectic mountain townhome. His hometown gig is a quarter mile down the road at a brewery that fits his trio’s unique style. Arthur, his wife Carol, and bandmates Zach Jackson and Will Trask, bring twang back to life.
Q: In your own words, tell me about your band.
Arthur: We’re where the Colorado twang meets the funk. It started out as a way to mentor young, talented musicians to play with my other band project Great American Taxi. When Taxi needed a new drummer, I talked to my friend Will and he was available to do the gig, but Americana jam was new territory for him. From there, Will brought Zach, our bass player and background vocalist, on board and The Arthur Lee Land Trio was born. From there it was a clean segway into opening for the Grateful Dead documentary at Red Rocks and our side project Twang is Dead.
Q: Where do you find your musical inspiration?
Arthur: Where don’t we find musical inspiration is probably a better question. It’s an interesting question because life brings so much inspiration, but then in the musical realm once I heard the sound of the Fender Telecaster, that was a pivotal moment — what is that and how do I get it. The unique sound of the Telecaster inspires a lot of my music and brings our music to life.
Q: So it’s safe to say that the Telecaster is your favorite instrument?
Arthur: By far. I want the sound of the Telecaster to be my thumbprint. It’s a specific technique and style. I want people to be like, “Oh hey, that’s Arthur.”
Q: How long have you been playing?
Arthur: Five-years-old I was playing drums with chopsticks on pillows while watching TV. I have pictures of me air-drumming as a kid. I started playing guitar when I was 16 and music was always a part of my life — it was something I found myself. I love the feeling of improvising and once I got that feeling with music, I couldn’t let it go.
Q: Zach and Will, tell me more about “Camp Arthur.”
Will: I ran into Arthur in the green room of the Fillmore and he pitched me for the Great American Taxi gig. He’s my mentor. I ate up the pitch and jumped on board. I knew Zach at the time and after bringing him on, we put a lot of time into making what our trio is today. This band is Camp Arthur.
Zach: I met Arthur at a barbecue, jammed a little and then a year or more goes by before Will recommended me to Arthur for the trio. I hold down the bass and sing the harmonies. I grew up on rock and roll, but now I know country, Americana and how to twang. It’s been an amazing experience learning genres with Arthur and playing the part.
Q: What is the inspiration for the song ‘Lil Shake?
Carol: I was in the Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans and I’ve always known about Congo Square, but then I saw the sign. It’s just a teeny corner now, but it was the place where slaves could play their instruments on Sundays and even get married. I sat there for awhile while emotion came over me. It was that spot that I wrote the lyrics to ‘Lil Shake.
Q: Arthur, you referred to Carol as a “clairvoyant lyricist.” Why?
Arthur: I call her that because she has an ability to transport herself into a whole different space. She taps into energies. Her lyrics line up to certain historical events that we both never knew about beforehand. Our song “Hawthorne Tree” was written without even knowing what a Hawthorne tree was and the Celtic history behind it.