Dustin Jones and Wes Malvini first collaborated when they were teenagers in Twin Falls.
Malvini, then a student in the high-school drama department, was asked to put together a homecoming show for the sports teams. Although they didn't know each other well, Malvini asked Jones to create the special effects for the event, which became a "GWAR wrestling thing."
"It was bad, because I'd made [the special effects] a couple of days before," Jones said, "and it was all corn syrup and ketchup and stuff. That stuff rots when it gets hot. ... There's still pink stains on the basketball court." A production company--and an ideology--were born: "Our philosophy has always been, 'If you can't leave a mark, leave a stain,'" Malvini said.
In addition to producing four feature-length films, Evil Wine has had its own Radio Boise show, produced two seasons of The Evil Wine Show--an Internet-based program featuring music videos and subversive sketch comedy--and helped bring such disparate acts to Boise as actor-performance artist Crispin Hellion Glover, cult musician-actor-puppeteer David Liebe Hart and X-rated parodist and hip-hop originator Blowfly. On Sept. 29, Visual Arts Collective hosted the third annual Evil Wine Carnival, an all-day event featuring "adult-themed carnival games" and performances from 20 bands.
The carnival taps into Malvini's passion: live performance.
"When you do a lot of film, you don't get immediate rewards," he said. "Same with music promoting. ... I was starved of that."
Malvini and Jones got their first taste of performing soon after their high-school homecoming debut, when they started working at the Lamphouse Theatre, which specialized in showing foreign, independent and cult films.
"For me, the Lamphouse Theatre was my college education," Malvini said, recalling with pride that he worked there from its opening in 2000 to its closing in 2006. During that time, he and Jones put on the first Evil Wine Carnival (then the Evil Wine Films Carnival), a few theater performances and their first feature-length film, The Fear in the Freezer (2002).
Working at the Lamphouse also gave Jones--who started playing in bands when he was 12--the chance to try his hand at booking concerts, though his enthusiasm for the Twin Falls scene waned over time.
"You have to do everything yourself," Jones said. "You are the promoter, you are the performer, you are the writer. And everyone else is kind of like, 'I'll show up and do whatever.' And that just doesn't work."
Malvini and Jones moved to Boise in 2007, where they spent the next two years making the film Nausea, which was screened in San Francisco and Philadelphia. About a year later Malvini began organizing "little concerts."
"I didn't think I was doing music. I just thought I was doing events. And I started integrating music [into those events] because I got to know all the musicians," Malvini said.
Eventually, he started holding concerts at his home, which became a venue known as Gramma's House. These efforts landed him a job booking music for the Red Room in 2012.
Meanwhile, Jones rediscovered his passion for music. He now plays guitar or bass in eight groups, including Sneezzbole, Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars, The Hand (led by Scott Schmaljohn of Treepeople and State of Confusion) and Green Jellÿ (pronounced "Green Jello"). The latter, most famous for its early-'90s hit single "Three Little Pigs," played last year's Evil Wine Carnival after Jones contacted leader Bill Manspeaker.
"[Manspeaker] credits me with starting him back on touring again. Since that show, he's been touring pretty much nonstop, grabbing bands where he can," said Jones, who helps organize backing bands for Green Jellÿ's tours.
Malvini and Jones' career together has had some complications. Evil Wine Radio, which ran on Radio Boise from June 2011 to January 2012, featured content that touched on sensitive topics like sex and religion. The show ended with what Malvini and Radio Boise station manager/founder Jeff Abrams agreed was a "mutual cutting of ties."
"Personally, I felt that our respective means toward a goal were not aligned, even though we may have shared a common goal," Abrams wrote in an email. He declined to comment further on grounds of Radio Boise policy.
Malvini described his split with the Red Room in July less amicably.
"I left the Red Room because I did not agree with the owners' treatment of bands and their expectations of me on how I needed to treat performers and staff," he said.
Christine Reid, co-owner of the Red Room, declined to comment for this article.
Rough edges and all, Evil Wine has earned the respect of many in the Boise scene. Sam Stimpert, owner of Visual Arts Collective, considers them "a bit unorthodox in method, but I have personally had nothing but pleasurable dealings with them." Eric Gilbert, booking agent for Duck Club Presents, stated that he "[appreciates] the energy they bring to the scene, [which] makes for a vibrant, and often weirder, ecosystem for sure. And I dig weird, so that's why we probably get along just fine."
Plans for a Green Jellÿ documentary are stalled due to lack of funding (an Indiegogo campaign didn't reach its goal) and Malvini's upcoming relocation to Seattle, but Boise will not exorcise Evil Wine. Two shows--UZALA's CD release show Tuesday, Oct. 15, at VAC and the Guantanamo Baywatch show at The Shredder on Nov. 19--will bear the Evil Wine brand. The premiere of a third season of The Evil Wine Show is also planned for next fall.
If Evil Wine "leads," it's by example.
"People who complain about their music scene, their film scene, their community not having enough going on? Guess whose fault that is? Yours," Malvini said.