Darling Minions are Jamie Bran, Marley Kuyper, Lisa St. John, and Reeve Jones. When they first got together in 1994, the band did not set out to reformulate musical conventions. As interns at Happy Cappy Productions, their days were spent shadowing the engineers and producers -- literally learning the trade through hands-on experience. After working closely for several months on the popular Hingety Slope international recording, the four musicians learned that they shared a mutual love of experimentation, food, and philosophy. After harrassing and pleading with their supervisor and Happy Cappy founder, Anita Williams, the Darling Minions were allowed to use overflow studio time to work on original material. After hearing the single, GoMaryRound Anita signed the band and they recorded the three song EP, Spatula, in 1995.
The EP became a hot local disc, selling over 12,000 units and making the Darling Minions a popular live act. But this was only the beginning of their success. British producer Trevor Lockhurst was visiting Denver, heard the EP, and invited the band to visit London and record a few tracks at his underground studio, Spitshine. Early 1996 was spent laying down tracks for their first album, Darling Minions. While making the recording, the band played various clubs and raves in England, France, Spain, Germany, and Lichtenstein. When the basic tracks were completed, the band returned to Colorado to complete the album -- with Q-top Spinner, Europe's premier recording engineer, in tow.
Released in the spring of 1996, Darling Minions was a worthy follow-up effort. With intense local airplay, the album sold quickly and went into a second "pressing" within 6 weeks. The band then launched a barebones "van" tour of the western United States. Traveling through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and California, the Darling Minions impressed audiences with their incindiary live performances. As a result of their tight shows, the band was named Live Act of the Year by the Independent Touring Musicians Association (ITMA). They also became the first act in ITMA history to sweep all of the major categories -- winning the top prizes in the individual categories as well as Album and Song of the Year. Anita Williams was granted the special Governor's Award for her development of new talent and for providing exemplary creative and visionary leadership.
If the spring of 1996 was a stellar time for the Minions, the fall of that year brought tragedy on a grand scale. Q-top Spinner, the engineer who helped define the band's sound, died as the result of a rare allergic reaction to prophylactic materials. While the case garnered much international scrutiny, the Darling Minions temporarily halted their tour in order to contemplate the direction of the band. During this time off, the members pursued their personal interests. Reeve returned to his native Alaska to study the music of his Inuit ancestors; Lisa dedicated her time to teaching bass guitar to young women enrolled in an experimental youth program; Jamie married long-time love Sunflower Petals (a former "travel arranger" for the Phish Phollowers Phamily); and Marley produced and co-wrote an album of funk percussion with the band, Reverb Thump.
The band regrouped briefly in January 1997 and brought new ideas and sounds to the table. Again, Happy Cappy Productions was the setting for the preliminary groundwork. After several exhausting weeks, the Minions decided to part, rest, gain perspective, and bring a refreshed outlook to the new album. Part of this change was the decision to bring in an untested new producer, Michael Winston, a former associate of Q-top Spinner.
Working with the new producer and incorporating their experiences while on sabbatical -- Jamie, Lisa, Reeve, and Marley imbued wah wah (the title was inspired by the birth of Jamie's daughter, Rossi) with a new spirit and feistiness. Songs like Queasy and You da duck set high standards for musicality, energy, and candor. Currently planning a world tour, the Darling Minions are a popular and daring part of the dynamic Denver music scene.
||Jamie Bran, 24, is a self-proclaimed joking philosopher. His raw and emotional fret-based guitar style has won him several prominent fans in the bluegrass and blues field. He cites guitar greats Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, and Stevie Ray Vaugh as his primary influences. Originally from New Orleans, Jamie traveled to Denver in 1993 while a part of the Phish "family" roaming entourage. "After my first taste of Kapree's fried chicken, I knew I had to live here. Since then, I have eaten my way around the city." Jamie's love of both good music and good food came "natural-like". He grew up on the road with his parents, hardcore Grateful Dead fans and campside gourmets. He and his wife, Sunflower Petals, welcomed a daughter, Rossi, into their family on August 8th.
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||Marley Kuyper (pronounced "ki-per"), has been a jazz drummer and percussionist for most of her 27 years. Introduced to the drums at age 12, she has played with international Spanish sensation Puenteistas Majorca and toured extensively with Funkenheister where she was highly regarded by the all-male band because of her considerable "chops" and was dubbed "kat'n" -- short for "kickin' ass and takin' names". When she is not playing with the Darling Minions, Marley writes and produces for many artists at Happy Cappy. In her spare moments, she works with her hands by cooking, creating candles, and gardening. "I like to consider myself a modern-day Renaissance man -- a little bit here and a little bit there, " she says.
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||Lisa St. John,28, cites the female-led disco band A Taste of Honey (best known for the hit Boogie Oogie Oogie) for her interest in the bass guitar. "I remember standing front of the mirror playing a tennis racket while my little brothers laughed at me," she says. After learning her craft from the legendary Roger Cohen, Lisa formed an all-girl folk band and was subsequently kicked out of Oberon Junior High (in Arvada, Colorado) for inciting a riot. This led Lisa to enroll in the Progressive Musicians' Alternative School where she honed her abilities and where she became involved in youth advocacy -- something she still pursues at Happy Cappy. As for her brothers, they are now her biggest fans with her youngest sibling, Joe, serving as the Darling Minions' Tour Manager.
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||Reeve Jones, is a classically trained pianist and Alaskan native who delights in finding unique chords which are sometimes dissonant, but always intriguing. As a child, Reeve traveled 260 miles round-trip to attend his piano lessons. "The time spent in the car was productive. I would play chords in my head and listen to my grandparents' tales of Inuit traditions. My love of our indigenous music is based on those car trips." At 14, Reeve was mentored by the founder of the Young American Piano Composition Association and later entered the New York Keyboard Society. After a successful symphony debut, Reeve switched gears and joined Happy Cappy where he is free to pursue his advocacy of Inuit political and social issues through his Inuit Advocacy Coalition.
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This page last updated on Wednesday, February 4, 1998