“It’s a universal tune that makes everybody happy,” someone finally said.
“Bailey and I wrote that song together,” the singer explained. “It’s more like a triumph.”
The song is called Reflections, and Bailey, of course, is Bailey Vince–a local musician now living in Denver. The singer on the porch was no less than West Slope Rock God Stosch Dembitsky. Both are founding members of Fractalia, a band that has become legendary for musical virtuosity and quirky brilliance, and for a legion of adoring fans that show up wherever Fractalia is booked. Bailey is living and working in Denver at present–but Stosch is back home in Montrose, and ready to rock.
He still practices guitar six hours a day, but he also has a day job that he loves, working for the Acme dispensary fruit stand in Ridgway.
“I have the best bosses ever,” he said. “And I have two steady gigs; I play at Trail Town Still in Ridgway on the first Saturday of every month, and on the last Saturday of every month I play at Taco Del Gnar in Ridgway.”
Stosch said that he still loves the old songs–Fractal Universe and Couch Surfer are still crowd pleasers–but he is writing new ones too. He has kept the sense of humor that has helped fuel the Fractalia fires all along, despite the “worst year ever,” a terrible 12 months that included the tragic, accidental death of his beloved half-sister, the artist Zina Lahr. And he is ready to take it to the next level. Though Fractalia has played countless benefits over the years–they helped raise funds for Ridgway’s skate park with a street dance, among other things–they now hope to play larger venues that can accommodate the crowds they draw.
Stosch, who grew up in both Montrose and Ouray, is the son of retired Montrose educator Jeffra Walters (a Montrose-Olathe teacher of the year) and classical guitarist Steve Dembitsky.
“I was Montrose High School homecoming king of 1999,” he recalled. “I was sure I was going to be a rich rock star.”
He may not be rich, but here in Western Colorado, Dembitsky is definitely a star–though an elusive one who presently has no phone. And while most of his recent gigs have been solo, Fractalia re-united as a band April 18 in Crested Butte for the Freedom Fest, one in a series of concerts sponsored by Acme Healing Centers in honor of the legalization of marijuana.
“We crushed it,” Stosch said. “And my boss got to hear me play.”
For Stosch, stardom was never the lure–it has always been about playing the music, the sound that has kept them at the top of the Western Slope music scene for so long, despite the low pay and lack of job security.
“How do you market yourself when you are busy writing music?” Dembitsky asked. “I just hope people here will really support local music–show up to our shows, and don’t just scroll down when you are on Facebook; if you hear something you like on our site, like it and share it.”
Fractalia’s fans have always been dedicated, but one Montrose resident takes top honors for showing up over the years, Dembitsky said.
“Kit Johnson has been to more Fractalia shows than anyone else on the face of the Earth,” he said. “She has been to more shows, hands down, than any other fan we have got. I know she is Bailey’s mom, but she’s also our biggest fan.”
Stosch’s roommate, Jesse Wilson, has also been a “fan” since the band’s earliest days.
“Many of the songs we still play today were written at the Wilson house when we were still kids,” Dembitsky said.
In many ways, the love of friends and family has helped keep Fractalia on stage over the years. However, it’s also about making new friends and fans.
“It’s not all about the music,” Stosch said. “When you come to see us you are going to run into old friends, and see people you don’t ever get to see. So come on out, take pictures with your smart phones, and share them!
“I try to keep our sets fresh,” he added. “I still write silly songs, and I have always written sad ballads. I still play a lot of metal, but I have gotten better with my voice. Our old songs are so weird that they still sound fresh–I have played Fractal Universe 1,000 times for my fans, but it still sounds brand new to them–I can see it on their faces.”
The friends gathered on Stosch’s porch last week shared some of their own thoughts on hearing Fractalia play.
“It’s like a new style of music,” Augustine Martinez said. “Their old stuff may be “new again,” but it really is a new sound.”
“As Stosch always says, they come to heal, not to hurt,” band photographer Jen McClanahan said.
“We have been uniting rednecks and hippies since 2000,” Dembitsky added. “Come and hear us–we are going to play something you like.”
Though Fractalia has been a Telluride favorite and has won the Grand Junction battle of the bands not once but twice, when it comes to Western Slope venues, Montrose and Ridgway top the band’s list of favorite places to play. And in this case, the geography of the West Central region of the Western Slope acts as a powerful magnet, keeping their talent right here.
“It’s the big boy stripe, as I call it, where the Cimarrons are smashing into the San Juans,” Dembitsky said. “There are not many places you can go to find one that big, unless you head to Alaska.”
In addition to showing up for his gigs and Fractalia’s, Dembitsky has one more request for the people of the communities he has always called home.
“Share that video about my little sister,” he said quietly. “She had such a good vibe. I don’t want her ever to be forgotten.”
Neither do we…here it is …http://vimeo.com/80973511.