Written by David Fickas

I Made You a Mix Tape was back at Room 5 on February 9th, and folks, it was a gooooood one! There were some stellar performances, including brand new tunes from Denver Milord and John Bobek. Scott Fickas got the house all weepy when he revealed that his 7 year-old daughter, Sara, was seeing him onstage for the first time; his song “She’s the Girl” (about her) brought on the waterworks. Danielle Woodrow and Marisa Echeverria killed it with their cover of Madonna’s “Borderline.” Kirk Zipfel backed up Brice Beckham and me on our epic rock space opera theme, “Eagle 9 and the Space Platoon,” then we returned the favor for his scathing hillbilly exposé of Scientology founder “Lil Ronnie Hubbard.” Add solid sets from Sarah Zanotti (especially her tune “Animal“) and Lia Richardson (who reminded everyone to not be a dick), and you’ve got a hell of a great show.

But for me, the highlight of the night had to be the Beamer Brothers and Will Todisco. They always bring their A-game to I Made You A Mix Tape, but this time they surprised everyone with a cover tune by my teenage idols, Sierra Madre’s own WINTER KILLS.

For most of our lives, my brother and I have been on a crusade to prevent this tragically unknown local band from fading into obscurity. Some of the most influential experiences for us and our Arcadia friends were our trips to Sunset Boulevard to see Winter Kills in the late-’80s and early-’90s, and I’ve always thought it would be a damn shame if their music was forever relegated to 4-track demos and crappy VHS tapes…

Redemption! At my urging, a dedicated group of Mix Tape regulars has been helping me expose these classic tracks to new ears. Previous shows have seen Lia Richardson perform “Flowers in Hell,” Scott Fickas perform “This World” and Scott Pitts and I brought “I’m Fine, Thanks” into the mix, one of many WK tunes we covered in our Komic Strip days. This time, however, the Beamer Brothers and Will Todisco really dropped the gauntlet with their revamp of the WK ballad “Whisper Darling Blue.

You can’t imagine my delight at receiving an 11th-hour surprise Facebook message asking me to sit in and play the guitar solo. My brother leapt to his feet at the song’s conclusion. As far as we know, “Whisper Darling Blue” had not been performed in front of an audience since 1991. It was a musical treat for the whole crowd, and only the beginning of the Fickas Brothers’ plan to introduce Winter Kills to a new audience, nearly 25 years after they disbanded.Sadly, our mission became that much more compelling when we learned that Josh Schwartz, one of the founding members of Winter Kills, was diagnosed with ALS. After Winter Kills, Josh went on to become a local legend in L.A.’s underground music scene, especially with his band Beachwood Sparks. There have been several benefits in his honor over the last year which have helped bring awareness to a beautiful life and body of work interrupted by a terrible disease. Check out this review of one of those benefits — put together by Gwen Sanford (sister of WK front-man Tom Sanford) — which featured an all-star lineup including John C. Reilly, who became friends with Josh during the production of Walk Hard. The night was a huge tribute to Josh’s extensive career and proof of how far his music has already reached. I Made You a Mix Tape and I See The Frog are thrilled to continue broadening that reach, by sharing Josh’s incredible talent and honoring his legacy, one Winter Kills song at a time.

“And even now 
You need not speak a word
I’m hearing all that must be heard 
Inside your sultry autumn waves.”
– from “Whisper Darling Blue”

lyrics by Tom Sanford, Winter Kills

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