Earlier in month, music fans in this town witnessed a small handful of return performances from the legendary Tripping Daisy inspiring a flurry of very deserved superlative adjectives and, we are sure, new fans.
Having not set foot in front of an audience for 18 years, post the untimely passing of guitarist Wes Berggren, remaining members, Tim DeLaughter and Mark Pirro (both founding members of the Polyphonic Spree), and drummer, Bryan Wakeland, along with Spree guitarist, Nick Earl, Brandon Curtis and Phil Karnats (Secret Machines) rose valiantly to the occasion, closing time and space to deliver a set, at once, inspired by the past and by the present.
As for the near future, well, there are more opportunities for fans to experience a repertoire of Tripping Daisy classics which includes faves like “Trip Along,” the current opener, “Our Drive To The Sun,” “Piranha,” and “I Got A Girl,” among others, when the band takes to the open road with shows slated for 6/8 Houston, 6/9 Waco, 6/10 San Antonio and 6/11 Austin, and another Dallas area show 7/7 at the NYTEX Sports Center.
DeLaughter is letting things happen organically and focusing on his love of the songs and memories to mandate what happens next.
Says Tim, “I’ve missed Tripping Daisy since the day it was done… I’ve loved it from afar. A lot of those memories shaped my life, all those good times. It was an amazing time for me.”
Tripping Daisy was more than a band; it was an exclusive club that only a select few were ever members. Tripping Daisy had an intangible spirit that was undeniable. The band began at an open mic night back in 1990 in Dallas, TX. From the outset it was about more than the music. It was a high energy musical and visual spectacle. The vivacity in the room demanded your participation at their shows.
KDGE began playing their song “Lost And Found” in heavy rotation in 1992. 1993 saw the release of Bill, their debut album. The album’s sales and notorious live shows caused the major record labels to court the band.
Ultimately Tripping Daisy signed with Chris Blackwell and Island Records. Bill was re-released and the band’s already exhaustive work ethic increased tenfold. The band was constantly on the road.
Tripping Daisy found the time to record its second album I Am An Elastic Firecracker which spawned the hit singles like the aforementioned, “I Got A Girl” and “Piranha.” The band continued to traverse North America and abroad. They performed twice on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, hosted MTV’s 120 Minutes, and scored a gold record in the USA and platinum in Canada.
The band took a bit more time to craft its third album Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb. It was critically acclaimed but criminally overlooked due to Seagram’s acquisition of Polygram/Island Records at the time. Ultimately the band were released from their recording contract as were countless acts at the time.
The band continued touring and making music independently on their label Good Records. They released an EP that showcased their uncanny knack for improvisation entitled The Tops Off Our Head.
On October 27, 1999, Berggren passed away. Soon thereafter Tripping Daisy officially disbanded on December 14, 1999. The band was hard at work on what would be their self-titled album when Wes passed which was released posthumously in 2000.
Tim DeLaughter took a bit of time off to reflect before venturing back into music. He started The Polyphonic Spree July 15, 2000. An innovative band that continues on to this day. Throughout The Polyphonic Spree the band has covered Tripping Daisy live and on record. Tim also formed a band with Phil Karnats in 2011. They recorded the Preteen Zenith album Rubble Guts & BB Eye, which exhibited the characteristics of the anthemic psychedelic rock Tripping Daisy was known for. It seemed inevitable at some point Tripping Daisy would be revisited.
Tripping Daisy and the world suffered another incredible loss when member Benjamin Curtis passed away in 2013 after battling Lymphoma. The thought of Tripping Daisy reuniting became even more of a far-fetched passing idea.
For the past few years a local promoter and superfan of Tripping Daisy, Josh Florence had pitched to Tim having Tripping Daisy be a part of his Homegrown Festival, a Dallas festival that predominantly celebrates local and Texas music. “If it didn’t happen now, it was never, ever gonna happen. My kids and their friends have been listening to Tripping Daisy and they never got to see Tripping Daisy. I think it has a lot to do with them – why I decided to go ahead and go for it. They kept saying dad you should do Tripping Daisy,” reflects DeLaughter. Tim called members Phil Karnats and Mark Pirro to make sure they were on board with doing a show before committing. Mark Pirro looked at it as opportunity “to share that spirit once again with long standing fans and transform some of the tragedy and loss we've endured into a positive, healing experience for all.” They enlisted another Tripping Daisy alumni Bryan Wakeland for the drumming duties to cover the span of Tripping Daisy’s musical output.
With Phil taking over the majority Wes’ guitar parts, they needed someone to play some of Phil’s exploratory contributions to the latter day sound of Tripping Daisy. Nick Earl one of the current guitarists in The Polyphonic Spree was the right man for the job. “I am truly honored to be a part of this, and I sincerely hope that Wes would approve of Phil and I’s interpretation of the music Tripping Daisy created,” Nick declares.
With Bryan tackling Ben’s incendiary drumming there were still a few elements needing to be filled to round out the Tripping Daisy sound. Ben’s backing vocals and Wes’ keyboards were still needing to be represented. As those were no easy shoes to fill it took a moment to figure out but one person came to mind. Brandon Curtis, Ben’s brother who toured with Tripping Daisy as part of UFOFU and went on to play with Ben in Secret Machines post Tripping Daisy, seemed the right candidate.
“We’re friends,” DeLaughter says. “The sentiment was right. I love Brandon as a musician. I’ve been a fan of his from the get-go. The fact he is Ben’s brother kind of tied it all together. He was more than happy to jump onboard.” The band did a preliminary set of rehearsals in March to assure the chemistry and sound were there once all six were on board. “This experience has been profound to me. I have loved being able to sing Ben's parts and trying to recreate Wes's keyboards,” interjects Curtis
"I can't say 'never' about anything anymore," he says. "Because too many things I've said would never happen are happening all the time now. There’s definitely a place for Tripping Daisy and Polyphonic and my family. You never know. I never thought this was going to happen. Yet here I am doing it. Anything’s possible. Until I figure anything else out, I just hope people enjoy the songs and have a good time, because that's really the point."
6/8 Houston, TX Warehouse Live w/ Motorcade and Frog Hair
6/9 Waco, TX Brazos Nights w/ Quaker City Night Hawks
6/10 San Antonio, TX Paper Tiger w/ Clifffs and Pinky Swear
6/11 Austin, TX Mohawk w/ Mind Spiders and Pinky Swear
7/7 North Richland Hills, TX. NYTEX Sports Centre