It’s still a beautiful day in David LaFlamme’s neighborhood. In some ways, little has changed in four decades for this California-based violinist …
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It’s still a beautiful day in David LaFlamme’s neighborhood.
In some ways, little has changed in four decades for this
California-based violinist and founder of the band, It’s a
Beautiful Day — though he has moved down the coast from San
Francisco to Burbank.
During the late 1960s, LaFlamme’s typically beautiful day went
like this: He led a band with his wife, Linda, and diligently
booked the act’s shows himself. In his spare time, he butted heads
with a music impresario named Matthew Katz and travelled the length
of California carrying a box of tapes for a vagabond friend.
Fast forward four decades. LaFlamme arranges live appearances
for his band, which still features his wife, Linda. He continues
exchanging lawsuits with Katz. And, until about four years ago, he
was still lugging around that friend’s box of tapes every time he
moved though the Golden State.
Never mind that the box’s rightful owner is serving time for
mass murder — or that the bandleader is now married to a completely
different woman named Linda. The more things change, the more they
get weird for David LaFlamme.
“It’s been very hard for her,” the violinist said of wife No. 2.
“Because when you’re doing autographs and people are asking all
kinds of questions — on the bill, it’s been advertised as David and
Linda LaFlamme — they don’t know so they get confused about
LaFlamme’s band name has been even more problematic.
Since wrestling back the copyright for It’s a Beautiful Day from
Katz, the California musician, his spouse and his band mates have
been playing a limited number of gigs each year for a limited
number of very devoted fans, whom the bandleader calls
It’s a Beautiful Day plays its mix of folk, psychedelia, jazz
and rock on July 17 at the Swallow Hill Music Association, 71 E.
Yale Ave., in south Denver.
“If I bring 100 CDs, I sell 100,” LaFlamme said. “If I bring
200, I sell 200. But I wish we had more work. Everything is just
media-driven. There was a time when the majority of the music was
just good music.”
Times have a-changed, according to this 68-year-old 1960s
“Now, you see Jessica Simpson and her sister, and it’s all just
about media,” LaFlamme said. “They’re on TV. They’re in the movies.
They have an album. I mean, is there anything they’re not doing?
Stripping on off nights? How do you compete with that?”
Things were different — save for nudity — in San Francisco’s
Haight-Ashbury, circa 1967 when singer Scott McKenzie immortalized
the city in “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your
It was a flower-power climate in which one could even get away
with naming his band something as, well, eternally hippie-dippy as
It’s a Beautiful Day.
“It’s an abortion, for sure,” LaFlamme said of the lengthy
moniker. “I wanted one of those other names like Vanilla Fudge. It
sounded too optimistic, nothing but daisies. It didn’t really
represent what I wanted, either, because I wanted the music to be
LaFlamme’s original group was called the Electric Light
Orkustra, six years before Britain’s Jeff Lynne founded a so-named
band with a more conventional spelling.
The San Francisco outfit later became the Electric Chamber
Orkustra, and finally just the Orkustra, before someone — LaFlamme
cannot remember who — conceived what may have been the first band
name to consist of a complete sentence.
LaFlamme is certain that it was not Katz — then acting
informally as the band’s manager — who thought up the cheery
weather forecast. The savvy producer copyrighted it anyway,
unbeknownst to the band, which wound up having to pay Katz for
using the title.
The Pollyanna-like name would prove ironic in other ways. Among
the players in LaFlamme’s earliest sessions was a Haight-Ashbury
drifter known as “Bummer” Bobby Beausoleil, a talented musician who
was well known for being unreliable, according to LaFlamme.
The last time he saw Beausoleil was in the Haight around 1968
when “Bummer” was walking the neighborhood with another struggling
singer-songwriter by the name of Charles Manson.
“It was the only time I’d ever met the fellow,” LaFlamme said of
the infamous cult leader who later wrote a song recorded by the
Beach Boys. “They were on their way to Los Angeles — the two of
them — and Bobby asked me if I would keep a small box of
possessions for him while he was gone, because he knew I always had
Beausoleil never made it back to San Francisco to retrieve his
possessions. By the time LaFlamme finally returned the box of tapes
to him, about four years ago, “Bummer” was already 35 years into a
life sentence for participating in the Tate-LaBianca murders.
In 1969, while Beausoleil was being held for questioning, things
began to go comparatively beautiful for LaFlamme and company.
Although It’s a Beautiful Day never saw the success of some of
its Haight-Ashbury contemporaries, including the Grateful Dead and
Jefferson Airplane, the band’s song “White Bird” from its
self-titled debut album became a staple of underground FM.
Its composer gradually learned a thing or two about copyright
“[Katz] had so many balls in the air and he was so busy with all
these other lawsuits that in 2004, he just forgot to reregister the
name, It’s a Beautiful Day,” LaFlamme said.
The bandleader quickly registered the name himself. At last, the
man who was most responsible for It’s a Beautiful Day’s music was
able to play and tour unfettered under its auspices. The musician’s
forecast had suddenly gone from partly cloudy to darn-right
But then, Katz rained on LaFlamme’s parade with another
The violinist does not want strings played under his story —
though he still enjoys playing strings with his band. And that
enjoyment is what matters most to him as It’s a Beautiful Day
celebrates its 40th anniversary.
“It’s what keeps my band together, quite frankly,” LaFlamme
said. “There’s no money in it. So we end up doing our own thing,
going around the hard way, like I did originally, building little
audiences, selling CDs, hand to mouth. It’s because the band really
enjoys playing the music. It’s the kind of music that allows them
to express themselves.”
If you go
It’s a Beautiful Day will perform July 17 at Swallow Hill Music
Association, 71 E. Yale Ave., in south Denver.
Advance tickets are $25 for the general public, $23 for Swallow
For more information, call 303-777-1003 or visit swallowhillmusic.org.
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