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Consafos: Just Passin' Through

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: December 10, 2003

For Consafos lead singer Stefanie Drootin, her night at Sullivan's Bar and two years as a resident were only temporary stays in Omaha.

The L.A. native recently pulled up her Omaha stakes for a move to the Windy City, a necessary retreat to keep her band alive.

The night at Sullivan's Bar, 39th & Farnam, came just before Thanksgiving, when Consafos kicked off a tour in support of their just-released EP on Greyday Records Such is the Way of Things.

The acoustic four-piece made up of fellow LA natives blends folk with laid-back rock to produce an ethereal elegance not heard since the heyday of women-fronted, '90s college bands like Madder Rose, Throwing Muses and Mazzy Star. Consafos has those acts' same rural-by-way-of-outerspace rock vibe, held together by Drootin's sweet, sincere voice, and lyrics that celebrate the loneliness that's inherit with personal freedom. Inspired verse from the EP's opener, "Billy's Porch":

Now my heart beats in the heart of the heartland
I've exorcised my demons let them sink in quick sand
And now I think it's time I come home




For Consafos, home had always been the West Coast since Drootin formed the band with former Glasscraft member Alance Ward. Dave Osborne joined shortly afterward on bass, along with guitarist Billy Talbot, an old friend that Drootin "grew up hanging out with."

It wasn't until a year after Talbot joined that Drootin discovered he was the son of legendary Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot. "His dad has really helped us a lot," Drootin said. "He showed up at one of our practices once. It was the worst we ever played because we were so nervous. He'd just nod his head in approval."

So how did Omaha enter the picture and almost split up the band?

"I was in a band called Jay Lewis that went on a little horrible tour in 1996," Drootin said. "Our friend, Paul Rauch from the band Still Life, came along as a roady and brought back a Slowdown Virginia record. Our whole group of friends fell in love with it. We found out about Commander Venus, and discovered that (Cursive and The Good Life frontman) Tim Kasher was once in Slowdown Virginia. We got in touch with him through some mutual connections, and when one of our shows fell through we ended up spending the night at his house in Omaha and became best friends."

Drootin said Kasher eventually helped record some four-track sessions for Jay Lewis, and when Commander Venus toured in Los Angeles, the band stayed at Drootin's house.

Finally in 2000, Conor Oberst asked Drootin to join his rotating Bright Eyes ensemble for a European tour in support of Fevers and Mirrors. Afterward, while preparing for what has become known as the "Prom Dress" tour (where a powder-blue-suited Oberst was backed by an all-female band in prom dresses), Kasher asked Drootin to play bass in The Good Life.

Between The Good Life and Bright Eyes tours, Drootin eventually moved to Omaha but remained determined to somehow keep Consafos alive.

"Right after I moved to Omaha I was contacted by the guy who runs Greyday Records asking to put out a Consafos CD," Drootin said. "I flew back to LA for a couple weeks in October 2002 to write the songs, and we recorded the EP in three days. It's taken until now to get the CD out."



"He showed up at one of our practices once. It was the worst we ever played because we were so nervous."




"...for the boys moving from LA, moving to Chicago was a little less drastic than moving to Omaha."



Drootin ended her brief affair with the City of Omaha a couple months ago, realizing that Consafos needed a homebase if it was to survive.

"We decided if we really wanted to do this we all had to live in the same place, so we chose Chicago," she said. "I liked Omaha a lot, but I needed to be in a little bigger place with more going on. And for the boys moving from LA, moving to Chicago was a little less drastic than moving to Omaha."

In the end, however, it doesn't really matter where Drootin lives since she'll be spending most of her time on the road supporting the new EP as well as continuing her work in The Good Life. After Consafos finishes a tour of the West Coast opening for Crooked Fingers and Azure Ray, Drootin says she'll fly back to Omaha to begin practicing again with The Good Life in preparation of entering the studio to record the band's next CD -- an EP tentatively slated for release by Saddle Creek in May or June, followed by a full-length in August.

Consafos also is preparing to re-enter the studio in early 2004 to record their debut full-length for Greyday Records.

Drootin says she'll turn to Tim Kasher for help juggling the two touring bands' schedules. "Tim is so amazing," she said. "He'll help us coordinate between all the different projects. I'm not concerned at all because he always figures it out."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Dec. 10, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.