Music Review: Chuck Pyle – Cover Stories


By Brian Rill

On Nov. 6, legendary country artist Chuck Pyle passed away unexpectedly. His body was removed from the aquamarine waters of Palmer Lake after he went fly-fishing near his historic Colorado cabin. Mr. Pyle was later pronounced deceased at the age of 70. His 13th album was recorded in January this year. The unprecedented swan song has become a final tapestry in the long tale of an enlivening songwriting career. Two thirds of Chuck’s life had been spent writing songs and traveling, singing around the countryside and playing for packed audiences in his 100 shows a year. Chuck’s legacy includes crafting special pieces for John Denver, Chris LeDoux and Jerry Jeff Walker. Mr. Pyle has performed at the opening sessions of the Colorado State Legislature. He was hailed as the favorite musician of tech giant and philanthropist Bill Gates and also appeared as a guest on the PBS series Spirit of Colorado.

A high-and-dry land drifter from dusty Iowa roads, Chuck scours the land forms searching for evidence left from a perfectly constructed plainsong. The solidly crafted tunes on Cover Stories manage to soothingly respect a Highwaymen vibe, delivering 12 songs at just the right tempo in just the right order. It’s a classic recipe for a hit country CD, duplicating immortal vibrations from 1922 when the first fiddle song was recorded on a roll of wax to the modern twang of country hymns.

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December Sunlight


By Tina Mitchell

The sun rises later every morning. Night falls earlier each day. You walk the dog before work in pitch black, hoping that the local coyotes aren’t prowling the darkness a few feet behind you. After work, what’s left of the daylight fades fast and you do outdoor tasks in twilight. You stare into the seemingly interminable darkness, morosely remembering the long, lazy, languid evenings of summer. Is that what’s troublin’ ya, friend?

The approaching winter solstice, this year on Dec. 21, brings the shortest day of the year because it features the latest sunrise and the earliest sunset. Right? Well, actually – no. After the winter solstice, total daylight does increase a minute or two every few days. But those of us who mourn the waning sunlight can look to an earlier milepost. In early December – this year, around December 2 in Central Colorado – we’ll experience the earliest sunset of the year. On that date, sunset holds around 4:43 p.m. for almost two weeks; after that, it inches back a minute later every few days. 

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A Bike Ride to Where We Are

By Hal Walter

The phrase “No matter where you go, there you are,” could not be more true than it is for an autistic child. For when one is fully contained in his own mind, he truly cannot be lost.

And thus it was for my son Harrison one recent Saturday.

Since Harrison finally learned to ride a bike last spring, it has opened up a new world for him. And for his parents, too – now we can go for a run and he can ride along, sometimes pedaling for many miles. Lately he has gotten even faster and more independent.

Recently, I watched as he rounded a sweeping curve, maybe a half-mile or so ahead of me, and then vanished.

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Down on the Ground Waiting for Snow

By George Sibley

T.S. Eliot was wrong: November, not April, is the cruelest month, teasing us not with lilacs from a dead land, but with flirty little snowstorms that promise much but deliver little.

Yes, it’s the November doldrums again over here on the west side of Central Colorado, where we are waiting, as usual in November, for snow. Lots of snow. Monarch Ski Area, on the east side, opened Nov. 20 on a 20-inch base and a prayer, and Crested Butte opened Nov. 25 for Thanksgiving with about the same, plus some manmade stuff.

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Book Review: Dirt: A Love Story

Dirt: a love story Editor: Barbara Richardson ISBN: 978-1-61168-766-8 ForeEdge: 2015 $19.95, 200pp. An anthology about dirt. How is it possible to have over thirty writers tell us about something that is, well, as plain as dirt? Well, it helps when you’re able to bring in some of the big guns of land-based writing: Pam …

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“Need Food”

by Laurel McHargue “NEED FOOD,” read the cardboard sign held by a woman who appeared to be in her 70s. It’s hard to gauge the age of homeless people, as most do not age well. I was returning from a weekend conference in Denver and stopped by our local Safeway for a few things before …

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The Grave Beside the Old Leadville Stage Road

by Christopher James Note: The following is an excerpt from Silver Rails – The Railroads of Leadville, Colorado, published by Sierra Grande Press. One of the many mysteries that still eludes Leadville historians is the gravestone that stands beside the old stage road to Leadville. Look for it about fifteen miles south of town, …

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Tips For Running for Small Town Mayor

by Forrest Whitman First: Never run against a dog. Ol’ Woody mopped up the floor with me at our debate through his psychic dog interpreter. I never should have defended the city code enforcer. Second: Ask first if you can run. My victorious opponent landed the old-guard oligarchs early. He sure knew who to ask …

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News from the San Luis Valley

Woman Crashes Into Sheep Forty two sheep were killed after a drunk Monte Vista woman plowed into them with her car. Lynn Ann Michel, 47, was driving westbound on Rio Grande C.R. 8 South when she rammed the flock. After fleeing the scene, her license plate was recovered by Colorado State Patrol troopers. In addition …

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Along the Colorado River, Ranchers Square Off Against Cities Over Water Rights

by Charlotte Weiner For rancher Kathleen Curry, the time for hollow reassurances is over. From her chair at the linoleum-topped kitchen table, she looks out to the view that a wide window frames: a small patch of lawn, a lattice of bleached wooden fence and beyond, hills that rise out of the flat plains, waves …

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From the Editor: Hatred Out of Control

by Mike Rosso This is not the column I intended to write. I was thinking of something seasonally appropriate, giving thanks for the past year while looking ahead to the new year. Instead, some 57-year-old white guy from Hartsel decided to play God, forced his way into a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, and …

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About the Cover Artist: Joshua Been

Joshua Been, born in 1974, had no shortage of outdoor adventures that cultivated his appreciation for the natural world. Drawing since he could manage a pencil, he was captivated by animation and cartooning. This interest remained with him throughout high school and an active duty enlistment in the U.S. Army. Been went on to pursue …

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American Lone Wolves: Unhappy, Unlucky Outcasts Seek Packs

By Martha Quillen

Ahhhh, America the beautiful, my country, sweet land of liberty, home of the brave, to thee I sing – even though we Americans sure have a knack for revealing our dark side when things go wrong.

And once again we are splitting into furiously oppositional factions, with an enthusiastic Republican promising to lead us into a stunning victory over “radical Islam.” And the Democrats are pretty much avowing the same thing – except the Democrats are carefully calling ISIS supporters “radical jihadists.” And presidential candidates are taunting our current president. And U.S. citizens and governors are crassly dismissing the horrifying plight of fleeing refugees.

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A Call to Armistice

By John Mattingly

On Nov. 11 we observed Veterans Day, again lavishing praise and gratitude on our veterans. However, the Nov. 11 holiday originated as Armistice Day, a day commemorating peace at the end of WWI.

The European Allies met in Compeigne France in 1918 to sign an armistice with Germany that ended WWI, the “war to end all wars” that left over 20 million dead. Armistice Day was observed with an hour of silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The first Armistice Day in the U.S. was Nov. 11, 1919 following a proclamation by Woodrow Wilson citing the day as an “opportunity given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the council of nations.” In 1938, the U.S. Congress made Armistice Day a national holiday.

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