The Tin Angel Café co-owner Robin Fairchild’s musical obsession took root during her childhood on an eastern Colorado farm, fertilized by spinning wax and blossoming in her music-crazed father’s basement. Fairchild says her father was constantly making music or playing old records, especially The Rolling Stones and other cutting-edge acts. “When punk first started in the ’70s, he turned me on to The Clash and the Sex Pistols,” says blue-haired Fairchild.
Skip forward some odd years, and like attracts like. In the early ’90s, Fairchild met Kestrel Hansen, who later married Jerry Liedtke, and a tight bond formed. After years of restaurant work, the trio wanted to create a restaurant that embodied their collective vision. And in 2007, they went for it.
When converting the old Wild Mushroom Pizza building south of Pioneer Park into the funky nook it is today, they blared early punk like the Minutemen from the speakers. The Minutemen’s DIY approach and community-based attitude are mirrored in what Tin Angel is all about: local food, art, music and community.
“It’s just an extension of our personalities. We’re a bunch of bohemian weirdos that want a place for people to enjoy high-end food without it being pretentious,” Fairchild says. Above all, the three co-owners want folks to have fun, because that’s all they want.
Music flows easily into Fairchild’s life. During the past three years at Tin Angel, she’s been able to meet and feed some of her musical heroes. Last year, after seeing Mike Watt—originally of The Minutemen—she invited him to her restaurant. “In my mind, he’s famous and there’s no chance, and he totally shows up.” A few days later, she heard Watt’s podcast: He talked of visiting the Tin Angel as his band was leaving town, despite having already eaten breakfast at his hotel. His second breakfast was, he said, the most amazing food he had ever eaten. “That made me cry. It was pretty huge,” Fairchild says.
She also recounts meeting Doug Pinnick of King’s X when his band played at Club Vegas; his band also came in to eat. “They are special to me. I’ve been through many life experiences listening to that band: 10 years of growing up, different relationships, being drunk, falling down, the good and the sad,” Fairchild says, “It was really cool to give back.”
The Tin Angel’s vision of music and food blends itself into a sensory satisfaction, especially Thursday through Saturday evenings, when local singer-songwriters—like Bronwen Beecher, Patrick Briggs and David Williams—sing over customers’ soup and salad. In the summer, the patio opens and full ensembles perform. With the 2010 Twilight Concert Series at Tin Angel’s doorstep in Pioneer Park, that patio will be a hotspot on Thursday evenings.
Additionally, the monthly art exhibits frequently have music nodes. Some of the artists are musicians, like James Shuman, aka Poo P Dee, whose abstract art—acrylic on canvas—is hanging through May. Later this year, Wes Greaves of Tough Tittie will display his digital fantasy art. And Sandria Miller’s photography show of the 1980s Salt Lake City punk scene just came down.
Whether stopping in for music, art or food, Tin Angel customers always hear an eclectic mix of tunes—currently 972—shuffled out of an iPod Nano. Fairchild talked about five songs while we munched on some tapas.
THE TIN ANGEL CAFÉ
365 W. 400 South
Robin Fairchild writes about her iPod picks:
|Tom Waits, “Whistle Down the Wind,” Bone Machine
He’s very special to Kestrel and Jerry. When the iPod is being psychic, and they aren’t getting along, it plays a lot of Waits and it reminds them how special they are to each other. When I lived in Seattle, Kestrel came and we went to see Waits both nights. On that tour, she saw him like six times and every time she’d put a rose on stage and he put it in his lapel.
|David Williams, “I Have Learned How to Let You Go,” Western Interior Seaway
This is new to the iPod, and he’s new to playing here. We have a special connection. The very first time I met him he said he spends a lot of time in Torrey, Utah, [and the Rim Rock Patio]. I got married there. It’s the only place I’ve been able to relax. We gushed over how much it meant to each of us. Now, I consider him an amazing man and, hopefully, a friend. I’m able to hear the desert in his music.
|Sonny Boy Williamson, “Too Close Together,” King Biscuit Time
He’s this old-school 1930s harmonica dude. This type of music is just fun. I really like the old-school, classic and simple blues. You can almost hear the Depression going on through the music. It’s not complicated; I like that. It is what it is—even though I don’t like that saying—there are no games, yet it still evokes emotion. The images are amazing.
|Calexico, “Two Silver Trees,” Carried to Dust
My parents turned me on to Calexico. This song reminds me of sitting on their patio outside of Denver drinking margaritas and looking at the mountains. They’d talk about the band in concert, and how awesome it is to see them. Calexico is so diverse and talented: One minute they’re playing mariachi and the next it’s mellow rock & roll. Awesome.
|Television, “Friction,” Marquee Moon
When I was really into punk, I was reading the book, This Band Could Be Your Life, and they kept mentioning the band Television. I hadn’t heard much Television and bought this album. I listened to it every day; it’s an amazing album. The vision is amazing. It was made in the mid-’70s and it’s totally different than what was going on at that time ... well, except for Black Sabbath, but different in a different way.