Lessons in Guitar and Compassion

By Hal Walter

The guitar has three major cracks in its soundboard and bears the scar of some unknown impact to the rosette that encircles the sound hole. The saddle to which the bridge is attached appears to have been retrofitted from a piece of thin wood paneling, perhaps an attempt to hold the entire thing together, and an analogy for what Longfellow called “the universal language of mankind.”

It was handed to me by Don Pinnella when my son Harrison and I showed up for our first guitar lesson at Custer County School. Don had told me how this instrument had been a “camping guitar,” and had traveled around Colorado in the backs of vehicles and strapped to roof racks. A friend donated it to his music program at the school, and he refurbished it. Don also provided a smaller guitar for Harrison, whose neurodiversities include autism and perfect pitch, and who has taken piano lessons for several years.

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Rok Skool

By Mike Rosso

Since 2011, many Chaffee County teens have learned the fine art of rockin’ out, thanks to Rok Skool, a musical education program offered through Articipate, a Salida-based nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping arts education alive and thriving in the 21st century. The founders, Jill and Trevor “Bones” Davis, saw an alarming trend in the defunding of the arts in public schools and have created a variety of programs and scholarships to provide these needed artistic experiences to young people who may otherwise not have the opportunity.

Rok Skool currently has three levels; Junior Varsity (Middle School), Varsity (High School) and Collegiate (upper classmen). Each band meets once a week for an hour and a half; members are also required to be studying their instrument outside of Rok Skool and must practice Rok Skool material a minimum of 15 minutes per day.

Bones directs the bands, and the program also has a horn teacher, Mathias Roberts, and a string teacher, Alan Mueller, a sophomore who plays guitar, bass and drums for the Varsity and Collegiate bands.

“We let the members arrange [the music] as much as possible with a “guided discovery” teaching approach,” says Bones. Band members choose the songs they’d like to learn and perform, and those run the gamut from ‘70s classic rock to contemporary rock and pop.

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Alamosa’s New Venue: Society Hall

By Mike Rosso

Back in 2014, a small group of Alamosa residents began considering the possibilities of buying and converting an old Christian Science Society building into an event and performance center. By the spring of 2015, they formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, The Society Hall Foundation, and purchased the building in August that same year.

They dubbed the building Society Hall, and today it is Alamosa’s newest venue for concerts, plays, workshops, weddings and other community uses.

Board president Ruthie Brown first considered the building, constructed in 1922, after seeing someone actually leaving the building, something she’d not witnessed in her 40 years in Alamosa. She immediately called local musician Don Richmond and his wife Teri McCartney to share her thoughts and once the couple had a look at the building, they decided it would be a great facility for the city.

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Ancient Tones: The Lithophone

By Marilyn Martorano

Several years ago, a number of very interesting and unique artifacts were identified in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve museum collections and in private collections throughout the San Luis Valley. A cursory study of these artifacts suggested that some of them may have been used as tools called pestles. Pestles were utilized to crush a variety of materials in a vertical up-and-down motion, likely in a mortar made of stone or wood. However, at the time of this initial study, it was not clear why many of the sample artifacts did not exhibit significant use-wear similar to those known to have been utilized as pestles, and why some specimens were so long, heavy and very carefully shaped for a simple utilitarian purpose.

The possible function of some of these groundstone artifacts remained a mystery until recently, when the work of a French researcher, Erik Gonthier, was examined. Gonthier’s research on long, cylindrical stone artifacts collected from Africa confirmed that certain specimens had acoustical properties. Gonthier determined that these acoustically-active artifacts were very likely utilized as portable lithophones, a musical instrument consisting of purposely-shaped rock artifacts that are struck to produce musical notes. Lithophones have been documented from numerous cultures around the world including Europe, the Far East, Africa, the South Seas and South America. Portable lithophones can be made of unmodified stone or can be formally shaped. They are played by being suspended vertically and horizontally, held vertically, played horizontally across the lap, or placed horizontally in groups similar to a marimba or xylophone. While some lithophones from around the world are portable, others are stationary and include large boulders and even stalactites and stalagmites. There are at least two locations in the North America that exhibit concentrations of stationary rock/boulder lithophones: Ringing Rocks Park in Pennsylvania and Ringing Rocks in Montana.

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George Sibley: Down on the Ground with Old Movies

I know this is the music issue, but there are a lot of other things kicking around in my mind these days. So my musical focus for this column is going to be short and sweet. Last week, Netflix failed us one night, so my partner Maryo and I watched Casablanca for about the fifth or tenth time. One of the great moments of that movie is when the Nazis are singing their Horst Wessel song in Rick’s Café Américain, and the resistance hero trying to escape to America gets the band to play the French national anthem; the crowd of Free French and other hangers-on drown out the bad guys. Where’s Victor Laszlo when we need him?
That’s what music ought to do for people, it seems to me – unite them when they need uniting. I find myself dredging for inspirational music these days, or inspirational anything; but it may be that January, especially this January, is no time to expect inspiration, time to just hunker down and wait for the planet to again remember to tilt us toward the sun. A good time too to think about old movies, maybe not so old as Casablanca (1943), but old enough so it’s a little surprising to find them still current, or current again, today.
I’m not thinking about The Manchurian Candidate, although that twice-made movie (1962 and 2004) was back in the public eye in December because our new president espouses admiration for a Russian dictator whose minions allegedly interfered electronically in the presidential election. This was seen by some as a parallel to the movie story of an American hero who was brainwashed by the Chinese Communists into serving as an agent for them. That seems to me to be too far a stretch – to think that Donald Trump could be made to cleave to any ideology more complex than “Look out for Number One.”

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Rockin’ the Rope: The New Lariat Bar

Blue Recluse rocking the house. Photo by Scott Anderson.

By Mike Rosso

When Court and Robbie Johnson rented a cabin near Hartsel back in 2009, little did they know it would eventually lead them to a successful enterprise in Buena Vista.
“We were actually ski bums at the time,” said Court of the decision to buy the cabin. Previously in the home construction business, they were both living in Beaver Creek in the Vail Valley and needed an escape from the fast pace of the I-70 resort corridor. The couple were looking for investment property somewhere in the mountains of Colorado when they received a phone call “out of the blue” from a real estate broker who wanted to show them several apartment buildings in Buena Vista. They didn’t think much of the apartments but were drawn to the charm and vitality of the small town. Thus began a search on the internet which led them to an old bar which was for sale on the main drag, The Lariat. Court, who had managed and driven the bus for his son John Paul’s band for many years, and had seen his share of bars and music venues, immediately saw the potential of the old saloon.

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Quillen’s Corner: Orchestrating a Better Tomorrow, Or a Worse One

By Martha Quillen

What a coincidence; the theme of this month’s magazine is music, and I’d been planning on writing about harmony for more than a year now. Of course, I hadn’t planned on writing about our local music scene, because I don’t know anything about it.
But I’d been reading about some of the ways various economists, psychologists, historians and journalists think we can address our political problems without undue discord. And I’d intended to share some of their ideas once the election was over. At this point, it seems as if the hubbub over the 2016 election may never subside.
This is clearly not a good time for harmonizing. In recent years, our world has been transformed by a seemingly limitless flow of information which provides enough material for people to compose whatever reality they want, and Americans clearly aren’t choosing the same one.
In previous Centrals, I devoted considerable space to fretting about people’s increasing tendency to embrace highly partisan, diametrically opposed views regarding news, issues, facts and even truth itself. A lot of critics blame social media for that trend, because users tend to form like-minded communities, but I’m not so sure about that.
I figure journalists, networks and websites are just as responsible, since they often rely on gossip, sensationalism and controversy to build their audience. And political campaigners certainly play a role, because they tend to get derailed by financing, and who’s with them and who’s not, and what’s wrong with their opponents.
And the tendency of public officials to focus on their own agenda – rather than on workable solutions for the voters – encourages gridlock, stasis, lies, corruption and anger.
So is our process oriented toward picking leaders? Or fights?

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John Mattingly: Rock and Roll

By John Mattingly

“My-my, hey-hey, rock and roll is here to stay…”
Because a lot of the great rock music is now regarded as classic or oldies, Neil Young may be right; that rock will always be with us, though it may elevate to a truly classic status, in which the great rock and roll of Mayall, Cream, Stones, Beatles, ZZ Top, Hendrix, Doors, and a host of others will rise to the same historical atmosphere as Mozart, Chopin, Schubert, Bach, and Britten.
The term rock and roll gained wide popularity from a Cleveland-based disc jockey, Albert Alan James “Moondog” Freed in the 1940s who played a blend of country, rhythm and blues, and “race music” from black artists. Freed’s sponsor, Leo Mintz, encouraged him to call his show The Moondog Rock & Roll House Party in an effort to spread race music to a wider, whiter audience. In the late ‘20s and 30s, black artists had produced a host of popular songs, including the titles Rockin’ Rollin’ Mama and Rock and Roll. Freed and Mintz were instrumental in re-branding race music as rhythm and blues that eventually became rock and roll.

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Making Tracks

Don Richmond at the control board in the Howlin’ Dog studio. Photo by Duke Sheppard.

By Anthony Guerrero

In the early 1980s, Don Richmond and his friends played music in a location next to some rowdy canines. The howling dogs made an impression, and some of the musicians suggested should Richmond ever open a music studio it should be called “Howlin’ Dog Records.”
A short while later Richmond did in fact begin operating his own record company, called it Howlin’ Dog Records, and the name stuck.
Despite the name, the recording studio is actually located in a very serene location near Alamosa. “It’s really peaceful and quiet here. There’s not many interruptions, which is great when we’re recording music,” said Richmond.

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The Leader of the Band Honored: Kincaid’s Decades of Life, Music and Friends

John Kincaid is pictured practicing with the Colorado Brass Band.

By Chris Rourke

Kincaid is honored with the Edwin Franco Goldman Memorial Citation in 2012 during the Colorado Brass Band Concert in Gunnison. The award, given by the American Bandmasters Association, recognizes conspicuous service in the interest of bands and band music in America. Photos by Chris Rourke.

For the better part of a century, music has been the lifeblood of John Kincaid. The Western State Colorado university professor emeritus has devoted his life to uniting people through melody and sound, and the legacy that he will leave behind is forever etched on the concert venue at Western’s Quigley Hall that bears his name.
Kincaid – now 96 – still resides in Gunnison. His kind blue eyes sparkled as he retold stories from his past recently. His hands are strong and his fingers straight, fortified by decades of playing cornet and other instruments. His words came slowly, but his mind is still sharp and clear.

Musical Roots
Kincaid spent his childhood years in La Veta, Colorado. Through music, he found his way out of his small town and landed at Western State Colorado University. But as many who were a part of the Greatest Generation, Kincaid’s life took a turn with the outbreak of World War II. Pearl Harbor had been attacked, and Kincaid – a junior at Western studying music – enlisted in the U.S. Marines.
As a member of the third division, Kincaid was not only a stretcher bearer in an assault battalion, but a bandsman whose job was to provide a musical backdrop and cadence to the military action. He saw first-hand the Stars and Stripes raised atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. He still vividly remembers his time spent in fox holes – the sounds that surrounded him – and the arms he bore. He described perhaps his finest hour of service, which came during his departure after two and a half months. “I was one of the last to leave,” said Kincaid. “I stood there and played taps over the graves of those who had been lost.”

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Pint & A Half: 20 Ounces of Tasty Music

Duke and Tami in the practice room at their home. Photo by Mike Rosso.

By Mike Rosso

“The first time I heard her sing, I thought, ‘that’s it,’ I wanted to marry her.”
Those are the words of Salidan Duke Sheppard describing how, nearly 30 years ago, the early seeds were sown for the arrival of the musical duet Pint & A Half on the contemporary Colorado music scene.
It was in Union, Missouri, back in 1987, when Duke and his future wife Tami went on their first date while still in high school, after a talent show where they were both scheduled to perform. He was playing in a heavy metal band, Damage Incorporated, and she was singing classical music along with her church choir. Not exactly a pairing one would expect to have a musical future together, but life can be full of unexpected surprises. Two years later they were married.

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The Way It Really Was

By Virginia McConnell Simmons Colorado Territory had screeching, squealing, banging, bumping Spanish carretas that came with early settlers, long before the rattling covered wagons, clattering stage coaches, tooting trains, rumbling trucks and thumping boom boxes in low-riders. A handmade, wooden carreta had two wooden wheels with no grease to muffle the unearthly racket it created …

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Reviews: even now

even now
By Jill Sabella & Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Lithic Press, 2016
978-0-9962170-9-5; 90 pp.; $20

Reviewed by Lynda La Rocca

It’s called “synergy.”
And it’s a fancy word to describe what happened when Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Colorado’s Western Slope Poet Laureate, and Snowmass-based visual artist Jill Sabella joined forces to create the poems and drawings of even now, a collection that epitomizes the idea of a whole becoming greater than the sum of its already-lovely parts.
Published by Fruita’s Lithic Press, an independent small press founded by Colorado poet Danny Rosen, this 6×6-inch book, printed on heavy, cream-colored paper, is a collaborative exploration of the concept of “threes.” It pairs 45 three-line poems by Trommer – whimsically referred to as “haikulings” – with an equal number of Sabella’s elegant, Japanese-style, sumi-e black-ink paintings, all executed using just three brush strokes.
Continuing the tripartite theme, even now is divided into three sections subtitled “undoing another button,” “given wings,” and “unruly blossoms,” lines that strike me as a poem in themselves. And, as Trommer and Sabella write in the book’s introduction, this poetic and painterly “journey into three” forms a collection “in which the poem is one piece, and the image is another, and you, dear readers, are the third.”

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KLZR: Small Town Radio Success

By Elliot Jackson

The Central Colorado region is rich in community radio – small public radio stations that cater to the musical tastes and talents of their listening areas. Some of them cover a wide listening area; others, like Salida’s KHEN, are LP (low power) stations that might cover only a few square miles. And at least one has made the transition from LP to full-power station: KLZR in the tiny town of Westcliffe (population 568, not including cows), formerly KWMV-LP. That a town this small has a community radio station that has not only survived since its inception in the early 2000s, but thrived as an all-volunteer station, is a testament to the vision and devotion of a handful of folks who were there at the beginning and continue to guide the station’s development.
The handful of folks include KLZR board members Joanie Liebman and Gary Taylor, station manager Bob Thomason and long-time DJ and correspondent Shanna Lewis. But it was Westcliffe businessman Lou Kravitz who got the ball rolling in 2001. According to Liebman, Kravitz took note of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to open up some LP licenses, and made the decision that “Westcliffe needs a community radio station.” He worked with Thomason and others to create the application. Instead of forming a separate 501(c)(3) (non-profit) organization to apply for the license, they decided to approach the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts, located in the town’s historic Jones Theater, to make the application on the group’s behalf. The WCPA agreed, and the group applied for the license in 2001. It was successful, and KWMV, as it was then known, built its broadcast studio in the southwest corner of the Jones Theater.

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From the Editor: Staff Notes

By Mike Rosso

When I was growing up, my Mom often had the radio on, usually tuned to one of the top 40 stations from one of the nearby cities.
Some of my earliest memories are formed around the pop songs and singers of that time Aretha Franklin, The Dixie Cups, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys and little Stevie Wonder. Then it happened: the night I entering the Garden Theater with my big sister on a summer night in 1964, and stared at the big screen, watching the hijinks of four young British musicians with shaggy hair in glorious black and white cinematography and a great sound track.

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TUNING IN: Music Organizations in Central Colorado

Central Colorado is rich with musical organizations and it would take several pages to list them all, so here are few of note. Apologies to the many we left out. You are appreciated!

Arkansas Valley Music and Dance
Since 2004, this Chaffee County-based nonprofit has been promoting and organizing educational events for the joy of community dancing and live music for dance in the upper Arkansas Valley. They envision the community as healthier, happier and brighter as each person participates daily in music and dance. They began putting on events in 2004 and have been a 501(c)(3) non-profit since 2007. Their events include contra dances, country-western dances, swing and waltz classes, old-time music jams and weekend festivals. They are also an affiliate of the Country Dance and Song Society, a national organization committed to “continuing the traditions, linking those who love them.” avmad.org

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The Real Deal Music Review: Natalie Gelman – Streetlamp Musician

By Brian Rill

Natalie Gelman has become a working class heroine, tirelessly perfecting her craft over the many years. The guitar strumming starlet is a singer and songwriter who plays a starring role in all her own music videos. With natural talent and rare beauty, Natalie is the type of artist who is easily adored. Dedicating her life to the muse, she reveals many hidden gems locked inside bunkers beneath formality, perpetually seeking the soul of the matter. Her album Streetlamp Musician beautifully expresses a courageous finesse like a brilliant flower blooming in the sun, singing out glory for a new day. Natalie embraces the essential creative spirit effortlessly with a staunch compassion for those of us who could be easily embarrassed by revealing our true natures.
A startling sense of innocence and an imploring consolation combine to ingrain Natalie’s character with an imminent gracefulness. She shares this pearl of understanding through melody, and marks heartbeats down in her rhythm. Her subtle essence sparkles with stardust, singing confidently but with a sense of humanity that is born of wounded loss. A brand new power is uncovered during every breath while shifting the mantle comprising Ms. Gelman’s unceasing profundity.
Streetlamp Musician converts old black and white film into new colors. An upgrade to the classic acoustic singer-songwriter of the seventies like Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith and Carly Simon, Gelman presents this epic song style with sincerity and honesty. She becomes a young admirer, driven to walk mountain roads while crafting lyrical ballads. Devouring the essential vitamins of sunshine and laughter, she adds an immortal ingredient into her freewheeling tone.

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About the Cover Photograph

The portrait of Duke and Tami Sheppard, whose musical act Pint & A Half is featured in this issue, was taken by Salida photographer Tim Brown exclusively for our cover using a historic photographic technique called a tintype.
A tintype, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s.

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Places: Music Pass

Story and photo by Ericka Kastner

Some of the best places in Central Colorado become even better in the stillness of winter. Cold temperatures and deep snow often mean fewer people, ice sculpted over creeks varying in appearance daily, and trees cloaked in frost creating the illusion of a magical wonderland.
At 11,446 feet in elevation, Music Pass is one such place. In the summer the road is heavily traveled by ATVs and dirt bikes, and Front Range visitors flock to the area for camping and hiking near the southernmost end of the Rainbow Trail. But on a recent winter day, I had the place all to myself. My pup and I parked at the Grape Creek trailhead and, donning snowshoes, trekked up the mostly snow-covered road towards Music Pass amidst blessed tranquility. To the north, the jagged peaks of South Colony Lakes and Broken Hand Peak beckoned me to plan a backpack route next summer. Looking south and west, the road ahead was flanked with wide open, high mountain meadows illuminated with sunlight.

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The Natural World: Songbirds

By Tina Mitchell

Water hopscotching over rocks in a creek bed. Leaves crackling underfoot. A squirrel chatter-scolding as you walk past its tree. The slap of a beaver tail as its owner disappears under water while you move past its pond. The wind howling and swirling the new-fallen snow. Music in nature takes many forms, many tones, many timbres. But the featured artists in Nature’s symphony are the avian maestros. Birds have the greatest sound-producing capabilities of all vertebrates, generating songs that penetrate dense cover and carry long distances. Moreover, the vocal repertoires of birds rank among the richest and most varied of any in the animal kingdom. How do birds make such complex music?

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The ARK Magazine: Music, Arts and Culture of the Upper Arkansas Valley

By Mike Rosso

Music and art lovers of the Upper Arkansas Valley will be glad to hear about a new arts and music website launched in August 2016. Ark Magazine is the brainchild of Jamie Wolkenbreit, who saw a need for a central outlet to find out about events, art shows and musical happenings in the region.
After moving to Chaffee County with his family in 2015, Wolkenbreit began asking friends where he might find resources for event listings. Realizing others had the same questions, he decided to create an online magazine specifically to promote and support the arts in Leadville, Buena Vista and Salida.
“I’d love for the communities of Salida, Leadville and BV to experience more of a kinship, cultural interaction and shared identity … we’ve got a wonderful opportunity to steer our growth into a fun and prosperous place,” he said.

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The Real Deal Al Bundy

Al Bundy playing the Alpine Harp, made of a unique branch he found while elk hunting.

By Tyler Grimes

“My son, Trace Bundy, who’s a professional musician, just travels the world everywhere and puts on concerts,” said Al Bundy on the inspiration that started his hobby of crafting instruments out of found objects. “He’s played in 28 countries so far. He’s had five or six sponsored guitars given to him, some of them $6,000 a piece. I was just joking and said I could make something like that for a lot less money.”

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Mark Rostenko: An American Songwriter

Photo by Paige Madden

By Joe Stone

At first glance, Mark Rostenko may seem like one of the least likely people to win a nationwide songwriting contest. While he’s been involved with music for a long time and has been playing for fun with a local jam group for a number of years, he only started taking his music seriously thee to four years ago. Even then, it took encouragement from a friend before he “got more serious” and began creating his own songs. Now, a little over a year later, American Songwriter has awarded the Cotopaxi, Colorado, resident grand prize in the magazine’s 2016 Lyric Contest for his song “Billy (Off the Line).” First glances can be deceiving, and for this writer, it only took one conversation and a listen to Rostenko’s lone demo to realize he’s the real deal. He is a man fulfilling his destiny to write and perform music that can make a difference, music that can change people’s lives.

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