By: Dawn Duncan
Photo by Kirsten Cohen Photography
It was three years ago that Chris and Emily Winters tied the knot and embarked on their journey as a married couple, as well as beginning what is now known as the band Last Call Romance. Prior to their meeting, Chris was a “one man band,” heavily influenced and reflective of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, and myriad artists harkening from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Before their meeting, he, as well as Emily, had basically given up on love and were focused on their work, worn out from tough and challenging relationships that had ended. Emily met Chris at one of his shows and bravely went up to him after his set. She told him that she liked his music. He didn’t initially “get” that she was flirting with him, but this would prove to be the spark to their romance and the foundation of their work together in their band. From here, they dated and eventually Emily began to sing along with Chris, her first venture into the world of performing, despite having a natural love (and gift for) singing harmonies along with songs on the radio when she was younger.
Colorado natives, the Winters decided to leave their home state for the beaches of San Diego. There, they performed as a trio which included an upright bassist, Jordi Hereu, until Colorado called them home and they eventually put out a Craigslist ad seeking players to join them in Last Call Romance. Luckily, the guys turned out to be a great fit and the band evolved into the now five-piece act featuring Dave Bauer on upright bass, Ian Morrison on guitar, and Brad Chiodo on drums. Each of these members happened to be the first one interviewed per slot and the match has been extraordinary.
Last Call Romance have escalated quickly, from playing their first official show in Colorado Springs in the fall of 2015 at the What If Festival, to being part of SpokesBUZZ and playing the Linden Stage of Bohemian Nights last summer. “We cannot even believe the opportunities we have been given so far,” Chris Winters stated. “One of our favorite gigs ever just happened on New Year’s Eve when we played at the Tap N Handle and it was packed. It was really reflective of the current scene and we feel valued.”
Their old-meets-new style of putting a modern twist on retro-inspired sounds and themes has made them a memorable standout in the music scene here and respected by their musician peers. Chris Winters commented, “We don’t put ourselves in one specific genre. We just love anything that is retro, vintage, and classic; we’re inspired by a lot of our favorite artists of past eras, but also everything about these time periods. We love the fashion, the attitude, the wholesomeness, and the romance that is sometimes lost in the chaos of today’s music world.” When asked what they write about, the overarching response was simple: “LOVE AND ROMANCE.”
The band most definitely lives by their core influences and even when “dressed down,” you’ll most likely find them in outfits that appear to be a contemporary take on a vintage look. Brad commented, “We want to look a certain way—-suits, ties, pressed shirts, everything. We like to really live what we’re making music about and that is romance and a time that has passed,” Chiodo said.
It was perhaps Ian Morrison who really nailed what this band’s experience is all about thus far when he commented about moving to Fort Collins from Maryland in the past few years. “Coming from out east, I had never been in a place so uplifting and supportive of musicians. Music and musicians are legitimized here. We are not labeled in a negative way, we are viewed as a part (and an asset) of the community.” The band members were quick to comment on the level of musicianship, camaraderie, and professionalism they have experienced in Northern Colorado, something we perhaps forget as we are a bit spoiled living in a place that is so excited about music and blending the industry into the more mainstream business world.
Dave Bauer added, “Here, bands support each other. It’s positive.”
The band has the goal of releasing their first full album together by the end of the year. This will be the follow-up to Chris and Emily’s 2014 album they did as a duo, along with friends from their music network serving as their backing band on the recordings. Now, as Last Call Romance forges ahead as a solid five-piece act, the future seems bright and rather limitless for this group. They represent a unique and special niche of music here and have the musical chops and image sensibility to support their message.
Next up for Last Call Romance is as the support act to Kerry Pastine and The Crime Scene at KRFC FM’s 14th Birthday Bash celebration, March 24 at the Agave Room in Fort Collins. There, they’ll pair up with the retro-inspired band for a festive evening of fun music, dancing, and another chance to pay homage to the bygone (yet not forgotten) eras of music and romance.
LAST CALL ROMANCE’S VINTAGE LOVE PLAYLIST:
1. The Everly Brothers: “Let It Be Me” (Emily)
2. Frank Sinatra: “I’ve Got A Crush On You” (Emily)
3. Randy Travis: “Forever and Ever, Amen” (Ian)
4. Emmylou Harris: “Together Again” (Dave)
5. Harry Connick, Jr.: “Jill” (Chris)
6. Dean Martin: “That’s Amore!” (Brad)
7. Elvis Presley: “Today, Tomorrow, and Forever” (with Ann-Margret) (Chris)
8. Depeche Mode: “Somebody” (Emily)
9. Van Morrison: “Tupelo Honey” (Ian)
10. The Smiths: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (Emily)
11. Ella Fitzgerald: “Dancing Cheek To Cheek” (Dave)
February 4: Globe Hall, Denver, with South to Cedars
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day at Equinox, Fort Collins
March 24: KRFC Birthday Bash, Agave Room, Fort Collins