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Band brings versatile groove to Tugboat

Kelly Silva

— You might see Brian Hull in a middle school classroom or a band room somewhere on the Front Range, but he won’t be studying at a desk with textbooks and study guides.

The 31-year-old lead vocalist and guitar player for Meadowlark Jivin’ is a substitute teacher mostly for middle and high schools in the Fort Collins area and has been singing and songwriting for more than 10 years.

“I once got in trouble in Texas when I allowed students to have a rapping competition,” Hull said.

“I try to be the most exciting sub. Kids have enough boring teachers.”

Students were sent to the basement of the school to be disciplined and Hull’s job was to discipline. When the principal came down and sent the 20-something Hull to his office, he knew his act for music and his liveliness with children went hand in hand.

But aside from making music, Hull said someday he will write a novel about the dramatic and hilarious stories of being a substitute teacher.

Substitute teaching also led Hull to meet future trumpet player Kirk Knuffke. Hull was a substitute teacher for the band instructor when he met Knuffke, a student at the time.

“He claims he loaned me money so I could get a sandwich. I don’t really know if that’s true,” Hull said. “My first reaction was that I wasn’t impressed.”

Hull said because teen-age musicians haven’t really found their own groove yet, he simply thought of Knuffke as just another high school musician.

But Hull later found Knuffke and musician friend Walter Jenkins playing together in a jazz jam session. He saw that Knuffke had come along way.

“He probably wasn’t allowed to play because he was so young, but he can legally drink now,” Hull said.

Meadowlark Jivin’ members range in age from 20-something to 30-something, including Hull on vocals and guitar, Knuffke on trumpet, Quentin Young on lead guitar, Jim Abraham on bass and Audree Dillard on drums.

Jenkins, the band’s keyboardist friend who came to Colorado from San Francisco, helps keep the band rooted in old soul and funk, Hull said.

And they also range in profession. Hull said he does a lot of everything and other members all have their own niche. The drummer can be seen in a couple of other bands, the bassist is somewhat of a scientific genius and the lead guitarist is a journalist.

Hull described their music as funk and rock, weaving a little jazz, soul and even rap into the mix. They present their original material to show people what they’re all about but add some old and new favorites for their fans to dance to.

“Sometimes Audree will surprise people with old raps (such as Lauryn Hill) or we’ll mix in Marvin Gaye,” Hull said when Dillard gets up to rap and Young starts in on the drums. “We’re pretty versatile and a little bit eclectic.”

Hull said Dillard and he played in the band Ezra’s Poundcake years before Meadowlark Jivin’ came into existence.

Hull said female drummers are few and far between but Dillard has been described as one of the best drummers on the Front Range.

“She lays down a solid groove,” Hull said.

Hull said he’s been writing lyrics since he began looking to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix as influences.

When Hull’s father took him to see the Harlem Globetrotters when he was a child, Hull said he thought the player Meadowlark Lemon had a cool name.

He remembered that name until the band came together about four years ago.

Meadowlark Jivin’ collectively began playing in 1997 and released a CD, “Have You Ever Seen Meadowlark Jivin’,” three years later.

Financial obstacles in recording have slowed Meadowlark Jivin’ from releasing more music but Hull said they continue to work on new material while saving money for a new CD.

Hull said the band’s goal is to get in the studio and record more it’s just a matter of dinero. However, mountain towns and cities in this region will have the opportunity to experience some licks and riffs from Meadowlark Jivin’ this winter.


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