Live at Earth
The seeds for the hard-to-define Rock band Tarot were sewn as early as 1984 when three highschool friends-- Gary Dunn, Chris Pipkins, and Kenny Shipman-- discovered that their musical tastes often set them apart from their contemporaries. One of the few things they had in common was that they had all been musicians from as early as 4 years old, and that contributed to their respect for bands established as early as the late sixties, such as Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Black Sabbath, Yes, and Pink Floyd, to name a few. These tastes were a bit out of place in an era where Ratt and Poison t-shirts were omnipresent. In late '85, the first of several eras began when Kenny and Gary agreed to form an all-orignal band with a couple of other local musicians, Michael McCann and Mark Albert. Gary's happenstance interest in the artwork on a particular deck of tarot cards, coupled with kenny's sarcastic sense of humor made obvious the name 'Tarot', and so the enterprise began. A four song EP, 'Judgement', was released early in '86, and additional original music ensued, including the thirty-minute epic The World and a song called Forever as the Rain, released on a compilation album of Little Rock area bands. The Song won a call-in poll to a popular album oriented rock station for best local band. The original lineup went their separate ways in 1987, which cleared the way for Chris to join Kenny and Gary to continue writing. Soon the focus turned from the guitar-oriented live performances of the first two years, to a new interest in keyboards, samplers and introspective improvisation. Though Kenny, and later Gary moved to Memphis, improvisation-inspired writing continued between the three and several friends. In Memphis, Kenny met musician Thomas Howard at Memphis State University, and the third era of Tarot began. This new trio would release four albums on their own label, Datablood Coverture, Society Prints, Live@Earth, and The Magistate, and would perform several high-technology club shows in Memphis and Little Rock. During this time, Kenny also wrote his political manifesto: The Answers to All the World's Problems. After Howard's departure from the band in 1997, Tarot took their first break from writing together in nearly fifteen years. Sometime in 1999, the original three began discussions that led to rehearsals that led to writing sessions that proved yet another era for this chameleon of a band. With a new album in the works and expanded live performances also on the board, this underground anomaly moves optimistically toward their twenty year milestone as independent artists.