It’s a Beautiful Day will burst onto the Egyptian Theatre stage
A coin toss changed violinist David Laflamme’s life forever.
His San Francisco-based, folk-rock band It’s a Beautiful Day was supposed to perform at the original Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969.
Laflamme and the festival producer Michael Lang had known each other long before the festival and had a verbal agreement.
"Michael approached me about playing at the festival and I told him if he could pull it together, we would play," Laflamme said during an interview with The Park Record. "We got to Woodstock and Michael had promised us a slot, but [legendary music producer] Bill Graham, at that particular time, was managing Santana and he wanted Santana to play."
The two agreed to flip a coin and, as fate would have it, Graham won.
"When I told the story to my physical therapist, he said, ‘Yeah. You could have become one of those rich jerks,’" Laflamme said with a laugh.
No coin toss will prevent Laflamme and It’s a Beautiful Day from performing at the Egyptian Theatre this weekend. The band — Laflamme, drummer Val Fuentes, bassist Toby Gray, keyboardist Gary Thomas, guitarist Rob Cunningham, percussionist Michael Prichard and vocalist Linda Baker Laflamme — is planning to play three evenings of music that span It’s a Beautiful Day’s career.
"The show is a little bit of all the It’s a Beautiful Day albums," Laflamme said. "I run the gamut and then we’ll play some new songs from more recent CDs that some people may not be familiar with."
The violinist and bandleader said he doesn’t stray too much from his signature sound that most people know from the Top 100 hit "White Bird."
"Every few years, there have been TV shows or a film that use my ‘White Bird’ song as background music," Laflamme said. "That’s been a blessing."
Some of the films and TV shows that have used the song include Craig Griffin’s 2013 documentary "Uncharted Waters," which is about Australian surfer Wane Lynch, Tony Goldwn’s 1999 romance drama "A Walk on the Moon," Scott Coffey’s 2013 romantic comedy "Adult World" and the TV show, "Knight Rider."
The song’s style is what Laflamme calls his formula.
"First, the song needs to have a good vocal part, unless I write an instrumental," he said. "At the same time, it has to be a song where the violin sounds good in the mix." Laflamme also prefers to have a tight structure in the songs.
"When [the band members] play their solos, they play over a certain amount of time so the music doesn’t get too long and the audience doesn’t get weary listening to what we’re playing," he said. "The musicians are able to play different solos, but they have to be played within the time and fortunately I’ve been able to attract musicians who enjoy playing over these nice changes."
Fuentes has been with Laflamme the longest — 45 years.
"Toby’s been with me for more than 30 years, and those two are quite a team," Laflamme said. "The rest of the cast has been with me for more than 15 years."
Then there is Linda Baker Laflamme, who has been with the band for 40 years, and is not to be confused with a former band member who was also named Linda Laflamme.
"We’ve been through everything together," David Laflamme said about his current wife Linda Baker. "When it works, it works."
David Laflamme, who was raised in Salt Lake City, began playing violin after his aunt gave him one when he was a kid visiting her in Connecticut.
"She told me that one of her daughters played it for a little while, but got discouraged and it was just sitting around," Laflamme said. "She knew that I was one of those kids who walked around humming all the time."
At that time, Laflamme lived near Nibley Park.
"A piano teacher lived a couple of houses down and her son played violin and he helped me get the violin in working order and I started to play," Laflamme said. "When I practiced, I noticed that there was a more peaceful atmosphere around the house. It had a calming effect in a crazy, young family’s existence."
Laflamme trained and performed with a young orchestra called the Utah Symphony before joining the military. And that led him to San Francisco.
"I moved to San Francisco after I was discharged from Letterman Hospital where I was treated with hearing damage from the guns that were fired around me during the service," he said. "I walked out of the hospital with my duffel bag and a few dollars in my pocket. I knew I wasn’t going to go back to Utah, and made my way back to North Beach and caught the tail end of a big folk festival."
One night, Laflamme wandered into a nightclub.
"I did not know if I was going to spend what little money I had on a cheap room or stay up all night and keep the money," he said. "Lo and behold, sitting there was a girl I used to date when I attended Utah State University. She told me I could stay with her for a while, and that’s how I got to San Francisco."
During his tenure in the City by the Bay, Laflamme met Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Joe McDonald and others who were in the folk-music scene.
"A group called the We Five that came out with a record called ‘You Were On My Mind,’" Laflamme said. "They were a local folk group that put drums to their tune and [started] the folk-rock movement.
"That’s the type of music I’m particularly fond of," he said. "It was good songs, good lyrics, good melodies, good vocals and catchy tunes, you know, the stuff people still listen to today. It’s a simple and lasting art form and kept a passion for the music I have created over the years."
Not only will fans get to hear that music during the concerts this weekend, but they can purchase a CD/DVD package called "The David Laflamme Story" that will be available at the shows.
"The CD is a performance at the Fillmore West in 1968 and it’s accompanied with a DVD, which is a beautiful essay about my career," Laflamme said.
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present It’s a Beautiful Day, featuring violinist David Laflamme, on Friday, Oct. 10, through Sunday, Oct. 12. Friday and Saturday curtain will be at 8 p.m. Sunday’s performance will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $29 to $50 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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O.P. Rockwell’s summer concert season has begun.