Slim Cessna’s Auto Club: Legendary shows

by Jared Curtis

Deep in the woods on the outskirts of Denver, CO, you’ll find a group of musicians creating some of the finest hybrid country music you will ever experience. With so many members and different ideas and influences bouncing around, Slim and his cohorts have created one hell of a band that has been praised as one of the best live bands around by numerous publications. But as Slim will tell you, the group’s rise to fame was not planned at all.

“When we first started we were just horsing, just me and some friends getting together to jam and drink some beer,” said Slim Cessna from his porch during a Colorado thunderstorm. “We had no plans or ambition to become a group and play for people, but over the years it took on a life of its own. It has continued to grow ever since.”

The group — which features Slim, Munly Munly, Lord Dwight Pentacost, Danny Pants Grandbois and The Peeler — have been solid for a while, but that wasn’t the case in the beginning of the group.

“When we first started it was a rotating group of musicians who filled out the band. Whoever was available at the time would come and go,” Slim said. “But for about the last 10 years we’ve been the same group. We have had a few people come and go over the last decade, but we’re pretty happy with the core members.”

In the past, members have been busy with side projects as well as living all over the country, so finding time to make time for the Auto Club can be daunting.

“The Auto Club has always been our main priority, but it’s been hard because we haven’t lived in the same state in a while and it’s hard to communicate,” Slim said. “But since June we’ve all returned to the Denver area, so it’s going to make it a lot easier to get together and work projects.”

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club has been praised by publications as “one of the era’s greatest bands” and “the best live band in Denver, possibly America.” They were praised as “the country band that plays the bar at the end of the world” by Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. The group plays such a wide range of music it’s hard to categorize them, but once you see their beloved live show, you’ll realize they are in a category all their own.

“It was never deliberate to include such a wide range of sounds in our music. When we first started out we discovered we weren’t a very good country band,” laughed Slim. “We used to try too hard, but over time we let the songs speak for themselves and they just kind of evolved into our sound. We’re good enough to make the sound we do and don’t think people can imitate that.”

With so many members in the group, sharing a small stage can sometimes be a tight fit, but Slim would rather be up close and personal than far away.

“We do have a normal layout on the stage, but it all depends on the size of the stage,” he said. “We actually like a smaller stage because it adds to the fun. Besides, when a stage is too big it’s harder to communicate, so the smaller the stage the better!”

The group’s live show has become a thing of legend, creating an energetic and euphoric musical ride. Some have even called their shows a religious experience. The band knows people come to their shows expecting greatness and even though it is a daunting task, Slim and his cohorts are up for the challenge.

“Our live show has evolved quite a bit over the years. We just have a ball performing and that comes across to our fans. We tell ourselves we’re going to have a great show but the reputation we’ve built can be a bit of a burden. I’ll be 49 soon and my knees aren’t what they use to be,” chuckled Slim. “I can’t wait until we don’t have the reputation so I can just sit on a stool and enjoy myself on stage, but for now we just keep acting like young kids enjoying ourselves on stage.”

Fans of all types of genre should find something to enjoy at the group’s upcoming show at The Shakedown on Thursday, Oct. 2, so don’t miss out on a truly unique musical experience.

“We haven’t played Bellingham in years, but the last show we played there was a blast, so we’re looking forward to another great show,” Slim said. “We constantly hear from fans that they have never seen anything like our show, so forget about work or what you read in the papers and come have a good time. A good rock show can give you goose bumps and that’s just want we aim to do.”

LIVE SHOW: See Slim Cessna’s Auto Club on Thursday, Oct. 2 at The Shakedown. For more about the band, follow their Facebook page or see slimcessnasautoclub.com

Published in the September 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine