Local Music

Sparkle … dim … and fade to black

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Doug Frye, far right, with Sparkler Dims bandmates (from left) Chris Fredianelli, Aaron Bredlau and Louie Thomas at the group’s final show in 2008.

The Las Vegas music scene woke up with a heavy heart today. Doug Frye, also known by the stage name Doug De Nada, died late last night following a battle with cancer. We'll miss hearing him DJ and watching him play drums, but mostly we'll miss bumping into him at shows and chatting about music and life. The following is a reprint of a 2008 story about his band's final gig. R.I.P. Doug.

“It’s hard in this town because there’s a lot of competition,” muses drummer Doug De Nada. “But a lot of the people that appreciated us were critics and artists that recognize something different when they hear it.”

Take, for instance, the debut of his newly defunct band, Sparkler Dims. “When we played our first show at the Art Bar,” vocalist/guitarist Aaron Bredlau recalls, “[guitarist] Sean [Thompson] had gotten this new amp, and he wanted me to connect his old amp and my amp together. He wired it all wrong, and right in the middle of our first song, all my equipment died. Took us about 30 minutes to get it back working. The place was packed, but nobody left.”

Now, four years later, founding member Bredlau is pulling up stakes and heading to Tacoma. “My son’s moving up to Washington, and I’m going to be with him,” he explains. “I’ve got to do the fatherly thing, and the right thing.” Born and raised in Vegas, Bredlau calls the decision “the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Thus this past Friday night at Sin City Saloon, the always intense, frequently deafening psychedelic drone-rockers—Bredlau, De Nada, vocalist/bassist Louie Thomas and late-joining guitarist Chris Fredianelli—said goodbye to friends and fans with a dense, bone-rattling hour that featured such favorites as “So They Say,” “Silent Time” and “Where’s the Sun?” “First Time,” “Without a Word” and “Vacancy,” the three cuts composing the Dims’ sole demo, made the cut, as did covers of Joy Division’s “Insight” and Can’s “Mother Sky.” But it was closer “Into Your Eyes,” that, though ostensibly written two weeks ago about Thomas’ ex, hit hardest with its repeating “Now you’re gone/Life goes on” chorus.

The band’s history reads like a who’s-who of Vegas music. Following the demise of Thomas and De Nada’s previous band, The Latest Flames, Bredlau and Thomas began experimenting together. But it wasn’t until Thomas introduced Thompson to Bredlau in 2004, reminisces the latter, that “it instantly just started clicking.” (The song “My State,” having emerged from the trio’s first jam session, appeared fourth on the Sin City Saloon set list despite not having been publicly performed in years.) Courtney Carroll (The Clydesdale, Love Pentagon) served as the group’s initial drummer; previous guitarists have included Mike Gonzales (The Furs, The Come Down), Gold Machine Studios’ Chili Bob, Justine Bellinsky (Moonvine) and Mike Miller (The Laymen).

It’s the casual hanging out and writing songs together that Bredlau says he’ll miss most, but he’s open to exploring options in a new musical environment. As for his ex-bandmates, Fredianelli might guitar-tech for brother Tony on Third Eye Blind’s fall tour, while De Nada will focus on Ninety Proof Trio, his side project with Blue Man Group/Uberschall’s Mike Burns. But, as De Nada promises, “In the fall we’re going to pick back up where we left off, start fresh with just us three and write more esoteric material. And when Aaron comes back, we’ll always regroup.”

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Julie Seabaugh

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