As part of its mission to support and promote the bluegrass music scene and bluegrass aficionados and musicians across Colorado, every year the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society awards a scholarship that covers the cost of attending the ever-popular RockyGrass Academy held each summer in Lyons.
CBMS is pleased to announcement that this year we'll be sending Jennifer Archer to study bluegrass vocals at the Academy. Jen's essay described her work as an educator and performer. She is entering her sixth season of founding, establishing and nurturing a bilingual arts education school called Ascential Language & Arts School (ALAS), which was founded December 2012 in Ometepe, Nicaragua.
Jen has been a part of the local jam scene and worked to incorporate bluegrass into her work with schools both here and in Nicaragua so we're happy to help her on her bluegrass journey.
Here is her winning essay:
It is with hope, excitement and gratitude that I write you this application letter for a RockyGrass 2019 Scholarship. I would like to be considered as a vocal student candidate, representing our diverse, creative and gifted Colorado community.
In May 2010, I was invited to be a part of a concert series with my professional dance company called Ascential Dance Theatre Colorado (ADTC). We were asked to collaborate, opening for Taarka during Elephant Revival’s CD release, with the GypsyGrass Fusion band, The Gristle Gals. At the time, I was heavily into creating World Fusion choreographic works using Celtic, Folk and African contemporary and traditional songs. In the first concert in the series, we were partnered with a local, 5-piece band called Noodle Soup led by Adrian Bradford Alexander. That night was the first time I had ever seen BlueGrass music performed live. I was instantly enchanted. A few months later, and after mentioning how much I have always wanted to sing, I found myself in the studio with Mitchell Ryan rehearsing my very first vocal tune, “There Ain’t No Easy Way” by Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott (Real Time/2000). As if the challenge were not daunting and intimidating enough, I continued on to play my very first, ten-song live show as a vocalist on New Year’s Day 2011 at The Skylark Lounge in Denver. Mitch has become a long-term artistic collaborator, and eventually my band mate, in BabyWood HatBox, Dust Stompers and El Huracan y Los Ojos. All of these projects are working regularly in Denver and Boulder, featuring our beloved BlueGrass influence in some form.
I started attending open BlueGrass jams (Int/Adv) in 2011 and cut my teeth under the supervision, direction and subtle criticism of the Littleton pickers (Majestic Dental meetups, eventually manifesting into the Jake’s Jam). While running two businesses and homeschooling my son Jeylin, I managed to quickly learn almost 100 songs in one year. Because I began working as a professional choreographer at age 12 in 1985, I have a unique gift for being able to swiftly memorize song structures. In the short eight years I have been hustling my vocal/musical desires and skill set, I have had the privilege of playing songs on stage with the likes of The Sweet Lillies, Chris Thompson/Coral Creek, Bill McKay/True Blue Band, Tyler Grant/Grant Farm, Dust Stompers, Mountain Strange, The Gristle Gals, Dee Dee & the Shakers, Last Sheets on the Roll, Evolucion, El Huracan y Los Ojos and my own band BabyWood HatBox, to name a few.
I am a graduate of Florida State University (Interdisciplinary Social Science, 1997) and I am an arts anthropologist, researcher, lecturer, producer, writer, director and career educator with experience in developing programming specifically designed to suit the needs of any community that calls on my services. For most of my life and career, I have been known as a dancer, choreographer and school director.
Currently, I am entering my sixth season of founding, establishing and nurturing a bilingual arts education school called Ascential Language & Arts School (ALAS), which I founded in December 2012 on Ometepe, Nicaragua - a dual volcano island located in the middle of Lago Cocibola/Lake Nicaragua. Even Mark Twain has visited and written about the island! Commencing with eleven Kindergarten students in the village of Merida, ALAS now serves over 250 students in six different villages annually. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the world and our classes are tuition-free to anyone who attends. Our students learn English and Spanish through Dance, Art, Music, Yoga, Martial and/or Theater. ALAS is the only program of its kind to ever operate on Ometepe and now features programs in the US. All of these blessings combined are beyond what I ever imagined for my life and work.
While building this dream, my family of three has lived without power, internet, running water, flooring, beds, cars and even a refrigerator in order to provide these vital services to our “Isleno” friends and family. Local schools have now started offering us positions as full-time developers and collaborators, featuring specific focus on American arts traditions. Now embraced as members of the local community, our return is anticipated annually. It is widely known that we represent the great state of Colorado and we are frequently referred to as “NicaRados.” Our next tour we plan to venture further into the process of building teacher housing intended to host our growing annual roster of Colorado and Florida guest professors.
One of the most colorful truths about this experience is that my husband bought me a washboard for my birthday in 2012 and I ended up washing clothes on it for six months while living a half mile up a volcano! Living “off-grid” is not easy, but our family has highly developed survival and construction skills. Because of our commitment to our school and lives on Ometepe, and the fact that we cannot yet legally work in Nicaragua, we have to be extremely vigilant about saving and raising money while in the United States. ALAS is a humbled, triple recipient of Burners Without Borders competitive grant award, this year receiving one of twenty four grants out of 340 global applicants. All fundraising monies go toward ALAS construction projects.
My husband Jamey, our son Jeylin and I are focused and committed to continuing to enrich ourselves through artistic education experiences that we can bring back to our beloved Nicaraguan communities. BlueGrass culture has enveloped us and we are hungry for a deeper understanding and study. There are only two professional bands on Ometepe and I am a guest artist (vocalist/percussion) in both of them, performing traditional and popular cover songs in both English and Spanish. I am often asked to share my BlueGrass talents. These treasured opportunities have provided ALAS a vehicle to reach more families, students and potential venues for classes and performances. I am a native English speaker who chose to learn Spanish fluently in order to better serve my students in Nicaragua.
I believe I am a strong candidate for a 2019 RockyGrass Scholarship because the unique, priceless training I will receive will be implemented into my diverse outreach, educational and professional performing opportunities. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Nothing warms the heart like some hot bluegrass music during the cold winter months here in Colorado and the hottest music is coming your way in the best venue for live music on the Front Range, the Broomfield Auditorium.
The Colorado Bluegrass Music Society announces its 2019 line up of artists in this ever popular concert series.Read More
What’s Happenin’ on the Western Slope?
By Veta Gumber, aka Vetabluegrass
July 6, Jenny Hill & Sam Pankrantz, Gunnison
July 6, Rapidgrass, Mad Dog Café, Crawford
July 6, Clyde (of The Milltaillers), Blink Coffee, Mesa
July 7, Copper Mountain Music Festival, Copper Mountain
July 7, Bonnie & the Clydes, Crested Butte
July 8, Rapidgrass, Aspen
July 12, Billy Strings, Ridgway Town Park
July 13, Stray Grass, Palisade Brewing Co
July 14, Clyde & the Milltailers, Delicious Orchards, Paonia
July 15, Colebrook Road, Aspen
July 17, Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, I- Bar Ranch, Gunnison
July 18, Michael Martin Murphy, I-Bar Ranch, Gunnison
July 19, Stray Grass, Fruita Civic Center Park
July 20, I Draw Slow, Moab
July 22, Woodbelly, Aspen
July 20-22, Mud Springs Bluegrass Camp Out, Near Grand Junction
July 27, The Hackensaw Boys, Warehouse 25sixty-five, Grand Junction
July 29, Bluegrass Offenders, Aspen
Don’t be a closet picker! Jams are a fun place to listen to or engage in bluegrass with local musicians. Jams are held weekly at various locations. For more information check out info on the Grand Valley Acoustic Music Association site. Or just ask a local picker!
By Cathleen Norman
Like the return of the robin and Pasque flowers blooming beside the trail, MeadowGrass signals the end of spring and launch of summer. For ten years in a row, Rocky Mountain Highway and Steve Harris have brought a winning mix of Americana genres—strong on string bands and acoustic duos and drawing from local, regional, national and Canadian talent.
The music fest takes place May 25-27 on the pine-forest acres of Le Foret in the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs. New this year is a Friday beer tasting that surely showcases Pikes Peak Brewing and their newly debuted MeadowGrass Brew—a pleasant ale in a collectible can.
Lizzy Plotkin and her fiddle open the festival Friday afternoon. Plotkin played MeadowGrass two years ago, appearing with standouts Free the Honey band plying us with dazzling harmonies and musicianship from Western State University of Gunnison.
Local flatpickin’ bluegrass trio Mike Maddux & The Headliners play their first MeadowGrass. Maddux, a past award winner at the legendary Winfield National Flatpicking Championship, he also penned a column for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Mike plays in both the city and in mountain venues, and he also sustains a jazz career.
The Steel Wheels out of Virginia play almost-bluegrass with fast-paced guitar-bass-banjo-drums, joined by horns and drums and often keyboard. The band received Indie Music Awards, Americana category, for Best Song and for Best Album, They regularly take the stage at the Walnut Creek Music Festival at Winfield Kansas. The Tejon Street Corner Thieves close Friday night with their vaudevillian raunchgrass. A Pikes Peak Region staple, they also regularly play a circuit through Kansas-Missouri and tour out to Idaho-Washington-Oregon.
Saturday afternoon begins with two local singer-songwriters—sultry country songster Sandy Wells, followed by Edith of Colorado Springs’ Edith Makes a Paperchain. Texas-based Blue Water Highway Band liven things with their rhythmic indie-country vocal harmonies, accordion and drums.
Tallgrass play tunes that range from Kansas-style dirt-stomp to eloquent ditties. They perform at Front Range BBQ in west Colorado Springs a couple times a year. Grass It Up bluegrass return—the guys who popularized local bluegrass during their dozen-plus-years career in the Pikes Peak region. Their electric acoustic set with cigar-box instruments handcrafted by banjoist Jim Marsh was a memory-maker at MeadowGrass four years ago.
Funky folky Musketeer Gripweed bring along their “kindness factor.” The philosophy of peace and activism was created by bandleader “Reverend” Jason Downing, who teaches sociology at Colorado State University.
Saturday night headliner Ron Pope is a troubadour crooner raised in Marietta, Georgia. He plays all-original material around the country, alone and accompanied by a folk trio.
MeadowGrass continues its songwriting tradition with Sunday morning’s three songwriters-in-the-round, acousticians Edie Carey, Justin Roth and Sarah Sample. Indie-folk quartet Wild Rivers from Toronto roam between unplugged acoustic and all electric with drums.
Birmingham-birthed Banditos tickle the banjo, tap the drums and carry on with electric guitar, kazoo, tambourine and campy lyrics. Their specialty? Unleashed roadhouse played by six-piece honky tonk band spiced with Mary Beth Richardson’s sizzling vocals.
Nicki Bluhm caps Sunday evening with her new four-piece band. The alt-folk songstress has shared the stage with Ryan Adams and The Infamous Stringdusters, and she toured and recorded with her band The Gramblers, 2008-2014. Her “Remember Love Wins” became an anthem last year during the immigration protest.
Sunday after sundown Clem Hammond & The B3’s bring their boisterousness to the stage. The alter-ego of two strong Colorado Springs singer-songwriter-bluesmen Grant Sabin and Joe Johnson. Both play solo at Palmer Lake’s SpeedTrap acoustic cafe and also play large stages with impeccable bands.
So come on down and MeadowGrass with us. I’m going with eyes wide open since I realize I saw Nathaniel Rateliff perform in 2015 before he got huge.
Looking for an awesome day camp that will get your string students jamming, playing by ear and LOVING their orchestra experience?
Pickin in the Peaks is in its 5th year of offering international level bluegrass jamming, playing and singing instruction to campers and families of ALL ages and ALL abilities (even beginner beginner) in the Front Range of Colorado, tucked in the hills of our favorite little mountain town in Boulder County...Nederland!
This year, we feature Canadian songbird Tracy Lynn (guitar/vocals), east Tennessee educator Jodi Harbin (mandolin/vocal harmony) and longtime camp director Annie Savage (fiddle/viola/cello) with Colorado Music Society president Kevin Slick (guitar/song-writing) housed in the beauty and convenience of the Nederland Presbyterian Church and beyond!
Starting each day at 9:00am with a community breakfast and jam, each camper will enjoy one hour sessions each of focus instrument (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bass, viola, cello or voice) plus an hour of secondary interest (song-writing, vocal harmony, improvisation techniques and more) each day!
There are lots of opportunities for jamming each day and students are invited to bring a lunch to eat while they get a performance from each of the instructors over the noon hour.
On the last day of camp all participants are invited to lunch with us at the great Kathmandu restaurant and participate in our camp concert!
It's a four-day intensive experience filled with music, laughter and sun that will kick start your festival season! Ages 8-100+ and discounts provided for multiple family members. Register today for an early bird discount that runs through May 15 or drop off your deposit and finish payment on the first day of camp.
To sign up, ask any questions, make special requests...contact Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VIVA COLORADO BLUEGRASS!!
To register immediately and take advantage of the early bird rate, click here:
The Colorado bluegrass community will enjoy a rare treat when Lyons local Sally Van Meter takes the stage to headline the February 24 "Bluegrass at the Audi" concert. Sally is widely known for her slide talent on the steel and resonator guitars, and for her expertise in the recording studio. She earned a GRAMMY for her work on The Great Dobro Sessions and can boast quite an impressive resume as a performer, studio musician and producer. She’s also known as quite a private, humble person, and one who generally doesn’t seek the limelight for herself. We certainly feel privileged to host her at the Audi.Read More
The Stanley Hotel is pleased to announce its first concert weekend dedicated to bluegrass, friends and family. Stan Jam is a two-day festival event February 23 and 24, featuring a collection of many of the best Colorado musicians set alongside some of the biggest legends, including headliners the Del McCoury Band and the Jeff Austin Band.
Individual tickets and discounted room packages are available at Stanleylive.com.Read More
Don’t miss ‘Bluegrass at the Audi’
By Kevin Slick, CBMS President
While the weather’s cold and we’re working on all those new tunes to pick at the festivals, remember there’s some great bluegrass happening during these cold winter months.
The next one is on February 24th with Sally Van Meter and the True Bluegrass Band. Opening the evening will be Follow The Fox. Tickets are on sale now.
If you've somehow missed shows at the Audi, make plans to get to one or all of the upcoming shows. You won't find a better venue to enjoy bluegrass music on the Front Range.
Hope to see you all soon.
Western Slope shows and jams
By Veta Gumber, aka Vetabluegrass
SAVE THE DATE
- January 27, Pea Green Saturday Night, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- January 27, Leftover Salmon, Mesa Theatre and Club
- February 2, Head for the Hills, Created Butte Center for the Arts
- February 4, Tony Furtado, KAFM Radio Room, 970-241-8801
- February 23, Clyde and the Milltailers, Palisade Brewing Co
- February 24, Clyde and the Milltailers, Cruisers Bar, GJ
- February 24, Pea Green Saturday Night, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- February 28, Front Country, KAFM Radio Room, 970-241-8801
- March 21 & 22, Elephant Revival, Crested Butte Center for the Arts
- March 23 & 24, Elephant Revival, Belly Up, Aspen
- March 24, Pea Green Saturday Night, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- April 13, Stray Grass, Sherbino Theatre, Ridgway
- April 28, Pea Green Saturday Night, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- April 20-22, Durango Meltdown
JAMS AND MORE
- January 19 & 26, Del Taco GJ, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- January 25, Copper Club Fruita, 7:00-10:00 p.m.
- January 26, WCCC Bldg B, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- February 1, 8 & 22, Copper Club Fruita, 7:00-10:00 p.m.
- February 2 & 16, Del Taco GJ, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- February 9 & 23, Taco John’s GJ, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- February 9 & 23, WCCC Bldg B, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
As jams sometimes happen without much notice, I recommend you check GVBluegrass.com for the latest schedule and to schedule your event.
NEW MUSIC AT KAFM