Music

How I Almost Lost My Colorado Cool Kid Card

I know what you’re thinking, how could the Mayor of HeidiTown ever lose her Colorado Cool Kid Card? Well, there are a few ways to lose this card and one of those is by not attending an event at Red Rocks and another is by not attending a concert The Mishawaka.

How I almost lost my Colorado Cool Kid Card. The Mishawaka concert venue. HeidiTown.com

After living in Colorado for 16 years, I’ve been to Red Rocks a couple of times, but a show at the famed Mishawaka Amphitheater in the Poudre Canyon outside of Fort Collins had alluded me.

I’d driven by about 85 times, and even stopped in once for lunch, but I hadn’t seen a concert there until last Friday night which means my Cool Kid Card is safe and has another Awesome Stamp.

A couple of weeks before, my girlfriend texted me, “Toad the Wet Sprocket and Rusted Root at The Mish. Wanna go?”

As a quintessential child of the 90s – I graduated high school in 1995 – I responded with an emphatic yes. Continue reading

Top three songs that represent HeidiTown, Colorado

Stan Carm Heidi 1970s.  HeidiTown.com

My parents strongly influenced my musical tastes, so I decided to embarrass them by using this photo of them (and me) in the 1970s.

The key to blogging professionally is that you have to do it regularly. I typically blog two to three times a week, and I aim for three. Not an easy task since I am also a full-time freelance writer.

This week I was struck down with the plague, and when I’m sick I’m about as creative as a rock. And it takes more than a few ounces of creativity to do any writing, unless perhaps you’re writing a mathematics textbook.

When creativity has taken a backseat to a runny nose, some writers (me) turn to top five lists. The reason you see so many top 3 , top 5 or top 10 lists on the Internet is because they are relatively easy to put together, although I did have to ask my readers’ help via Facebook on this one.

One of the hosts at KRFC 88.9 FM, asked those of us with a show to put together the top three songs that we felt represented our programming. This got me thinking”¦ what three songs would I pick to represent HeidiTown? Continue reading

Giving the gift of music – Colorado Symphony Orchestra

Part of violin on music sheetNobody beats my husband at birthdays, nobody. And that’s impressive because I’m a tough customer. After all, I travel a lot, and I go to dinner theater on a regular basis, and as a media type I get a first glimpse at a lot of cool stuff happening in Denver.

So how does he do it?   He listens to me”¦ when it counts.

For the past six months or so, I’ve been lamenting the fact that we don’t have a lot of live music in our lives. In fact, after visiting Steamboat Springs during All Arts Fest, and getting a chance to hear their amazing Symphony Orchestra play at Strings, I was even more hell-bent on adding more live music to my life.

I have a lifelong love of classical music, stemming from my childhood. My father, a guitarist who loves singer/songwriter material, also instilled in me a serious appreciation of classical music. I remember my dad asking me, as we listened to Tchaikovsky one evening, what imagery does this bring to mind? That’s the game I still play when listening to an orchestra.

So what does this have to do with my husband?   Last week was my birthday and he presented me with a season ticket package to Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Years ago we had a similar package, but this time around I’ve got tickets to more concerts, and wonderful seats.

The best thing about this gift, other than bringing beautiful music back into my life, is that a night out at the CSO in downtown Denver is a built-in date night opportunity. Going to the symphony is a classy night out with my husband. We’ll have to dress up a little, shine our shoes and look presentable, not something we do on a regular basis, after all we are casual Coloradans.

If you are looking for a refined gift for your loved one, consider the gift of music, because it is also the perfect excuse for a monthly, romantic date night.

Featured Festival: Golden Music Festival (June 14-16, 2013)

Golden Music Festival LogoI love music. I grew up in a family where guitars were played on a nightly basis and a singalong accompanied by the piano was commonplace. I don’t, however, go to a lot of music festivals. There are two reasons for this, and the first reason is that they tend to be pricey. Second, like beer festivals, there are a lot of them. They happen all the time, especially in the summer, all over the state. I just can’t keep up.

I’ve known about the Golden Music Festival, formerly the Summer Solstice Music Festival) for a few years. The event features folk, Americana and bluegrass. I have a soft-spot for singer/songwriters and I love acoustic guitar – if you throw in a fiddle, I’m in heaven.  When Visit Golden invited me to attend this 3-day music festival over Father’s Day Weekend, I jumped at the chance.

I am happy to report that tickets to this event are very reasonably priced. A 3-day admission to the fest is just $35. Tickets for Friday and Saturday are $25, and to attend just one day is $15. The best part? Children under 12 are free.

The event is a yearly fundraiser for the Golden History Museum and is held at the natural amphitheater at Clear Creek History Park, a beautiful setting right downtown. Picnics are allowed, but alcoholic beverages may only be purchased onsite.

I know this is an event that will appeal to lots of music-loving fathers out there. I hope that you will join me!

I plan to dance.

Golden Music Festival

June 14-16, 2013

Clear Creek History Park

Golden, Colorado

GO HERE for band line-up & to purchase tickets

Join the Golden Music Festival on Facebook

Golden Summer Festival Crowd Shot

Golden Summer Festival at Clear Creek History Park. Photo from Golden Music Festival’s Facebook page.

 

Featured Festival: Denver Record Collectors Expo

Old fashion record player

Nothing moves us quite like music. If you are anything like me, music is one of the most powerful memory triggers. While certain tunes take me back to college or high school, other songs take me back to a specific place and time. To this day if I hear “Every Morning” by Sugar Ray I have a vivid memory of driving through the hills of west Seattle with my girlfriend Rachel, singing at the top of our lungs.

Our relationship to music is often deeply personal, emotional and truly powerful. I cry anytime I hear “In the Arms of an Angel,” by Sarah McLaughlin because it was sung at my uncle’s funeral.

With this intense relationship i mind, it’s not surprising that people are crazy about collecting music. And records are gaining popularity again. Some claim it’s the baby boomers who long for the nostalgic items of their youth. Perhaps it’s the hipsters and their fanaticism about everything retro, but whatever the reason there is a renewed interest.

That’s why this year’s 20th Annual Denver Record Collectors Expo should rockin’. This is the Rocky Mountain region’s premiere music collector’s show because more than 40 dealers from around the country attend the one day event.

This expo will have everything from records to 45s and even CDs, and every style of music is represented. Whether you are a hardcore collector, often called audiophiles, or just a fan of music in general, there will be something for you at this event. In addition to music there will be posters and memorabilia for purchase.

So without further ado, here’s the nitty gritty:

Denver Record Collectors Expo

Sunday, April 14, 2013

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ramada Plaza

Just off of I25 at 120th

(directions here)

Admission $2

DRCE is a brought to you by Big K productions.

www.bigk.com

Big K Productions logo Denver Record Collectors Expo

Featured Festival: KRFC Birthday Bash

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been on the radio at KRFC 88.9 FM for over a year and a half now. They came to me during the summer of 2011, asking if I’d be interested in doing a community segment, and I jumped at the chance. For 80 weeks I produced nearly 100 percent new material for the five minute show. With an increasingly active travel schedule, at the end of January, I decided to cut back to two shows per month.

My show is pre-recorded and then produced by either Dianne Fishman or her assistant Mickey. They make me sound like a professional before the show airs twice a week, once on Wednesdays just prior to 6 p.m. and Fridays at 5 p.m.

It’s been a fun experience and I look forward to continuing my relationship with KRFC.

KRFC is Fort Collins’ public radio, and it is supported entirely by volunteers and individuals who make contributions via memberships or one-time donations.

This week’s featured festival is the KRFC 10th Annual Birthday Bash, taking place on April 6 at the Sunset Event Center starting at 6:30 p.m. The musical lineup includes Great American Taxi, featuring Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, Mama Lenny & the Remedy and Michael Kirkpatrick from The Holler! This is a fundraiser for KRFC, so come ready to spend some money on auction items.

10th Annual KRFC Birthday Bash

April 6, 2013

Sunset Event Center

General Admission $20

Purchase Tickets Now

KRFC BASH POSTER

Featured Festival: Estes Park Winter Festival (Jan. 18-21, 2013)

Four years ago, Ryan and I decided to go snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, and afterwards we stopped in Estes Park and stumbled into what has become one of our favorite winter festivals.

Me & Jack at Estes Park Winter Festival 2012 HeidiTown

Goofing around with Jack at the 3rd Annual Estes Park Winter Festival in 2012.

At that time the Estes Park Winter Festival was a small affair, a lot of local cooks serving up chili and just a few beer and wine vendors, but what fun we had. We tasted every chili under the tent and then, like kids, took pictures all around the ice castle in the park.

We’ve watched this event grow and grow, but the organizers have done a great job keeping it organized. Why is it a favorite? We love chili – who doesn’t? And we love beer. This event combines beer, wine and chili and new this year, mac “˜n’ cheese. Yes, in addition to the massively popular chili cook off that pits restaurant against restaurant and amateur cook against amateur cook, the event organizers have added a mac “˜n’ cheese cook off.

chili cook off pic Estes Park Winter Festival 2012 HeidiTown

A chili taster at the Estes Park Winter Festival in 2012.

Not only do guests of the fest get to taste all the chili and mac “˜n’ cheese, they get to vote for their favorites. So put your New Year’s resolution on hold and go crazy!

Another great feature of Winter Festival is that it really is fun for all ages. There are activities for kids that include ice skating and an amazing interactive ice castle. Last year we attended Winter Fest with friends who have two little boys. The ice castle kept them entertained for hours.   There’s even more fun for the kiddos this year including a toboggan run and an interactive snow globe.

Having fun in and on the ice castle at Winter Festival 2012 Heiditown

Our friends' kids love the interactive ice castle at the 3rd Annual Estes Park Winter Festival in 2012.

4th Annual Estes Park Winter Festival

Location: Fairgrounds at Stanley Park

Date: January 18-21, 2013

Festivities get underway on Friday with the FREE Ceilidh Barn Dance that includes live music, a caller, dancing, a bar and more.

Saturday & Sunday enjoy the MAIN (ticketed) event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s the Block Party across from Bond Park at the ice skating rink. There will be pony rides, a petting zoo, balloon artist and FREE ice skating. Monday is also a FREE day at Rocky Mountain National Park.

For the entire lineup of events & to buy tickets go to

www.estesparkwinterfestival.com

Avenue Q at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre – Like nothing you expect

Avenue Q Kate & Christmas Eve

Avenue Q at Boulder's Dinner Theatre runs through November 3, 2012. (Courtesy photo)

Dinner theaters often produce shows that will appeal to a mass audience, and old Broadway musicals are the norm. So when I go to dinner theater, I’m usually familiar with the production. Last weekend was the exception to that rule, and it was refreshing to have no preconceived notions about the show I was about to see at Boulder’s Dinner Theater.

In the spring, we saw “Cinderella” at BDT, and were pleasantly surprised to find a new, expanded menu. This time we started with the artichoke spinach dip appetizer, and I have to admit to enjoying the hummus platter on our last visit much more. Our entrees, however, were both outstanding. I opted for the potato cod served with Spanish rice and vegetables. The cod was flaky, and the chipotle aioli drizzle was packed with flavor. Ryan ordered the chicken cordon bleu, because it never disappoints.

As we ate dinner, we admired the stage set. It’s an authentic looking New York apartment building, complete with trash can and fire escape. It reminded both Ryan and I of Michael Garman’s Magic Town in his Old Colorado City studio.

“Avenue Q” is a puppet show for adults, and the winner of three Tony Awards. While the presentation is something you’ve probably never seen before, the story is ages old.

Avenue Q entire cast

Courtesy photo

Princeton is fresh out of college with a BA in English, and finds the only apartment he can afford is on Avenue Q, a not-so-trendy part of New York City. While he searches for his purpose in life he meets his neighbors, an eclectic bunch that includes an engaged interracial couple, an assistant kindergarten teacher, an odd couple, a porn-junkie and Gary Coleman as the apartment super.

The last character is somewhat confusing, but the creators of “Avenue Q” thought the Coleman character epitomized the play’s central themes, and those themes involve the misconception that we are somehow special and the painful realization that comes with learning life is much harder than anyone told us it was going to be when we were children.

There are only six cast members in “Avenue Q,” but they have more talent than most much larger casts – they sing, they puppeteer, they change characters and voices on a dime, and they keep the audience in stitches.

While Princeton (Brett Ambler) and Kate (Ellen Kaye) are the two main characters, I can’t pick a favorite in “Avenue Q” because the entire cast works their butts off in this show. MariJane Scott, new to BDT, plays Christmas Eve, one of two “humans” in the show, and Scott Beyette is her fiancé Brian. Beyette proved his comedic chops when he was Don Lockwood in BDT’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain” in 2010, while Scott proves hers in this musical.

puppets in Avenue Q

Courtesy Photo

Joanie Brosseau and Seth Caikowski round out the cast, and these two often perform together as one puppet – each taking an arm. They are also two of the funniest characters in the musical, the Bad Idea Bears. These are the friends we’ve all had (or have been) through the years, the ones who suggest shots at 2 a.m. just before leaving the bar.

“Avenue Q” is much more relatable and poignant than you might think. Numbers like, “We’re all a little racist,” points to the hypocrisy that is rampant in today’s society. “I Wish I Could Go Back to College,” reminds us of how easy we had it in college, and why we can’t go back.

This musical is not for children, so unless you want to explain what those puppets are doing in that bedroom scene, leave the kids at home. However, “Avenue Q” reminds adults, in a not-so-subtle way, to take life less seriously, and live in the moment, because all you’ve really got is now.

I’ve been attending Boulder’s Dinner Theatre for a decade, but BDT is celebrating its 35th year in Colorado, and they set the bar for professionalism in the industry. “Avenue Q” is on stage at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre through November 3. To buy tickets go to BouldersDinnerTheatre.com  and be sure to like BDT’s new Facebook page.

Fiddler on the Roof ““ delights through song, inspires through art

Fiddler on the Roof

Patrick Sawyer & Melissa Swift-Sawyer as Tevye & Golde in Fiddler on the Roof at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. Courtesy photo.

My parents were fairly strict about movies when I was a child, but the 1971 musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” was allowed in our home, and it became a childhood favorite. As a child, I also saw the play, and was enamored with it as well, so as you can imagine, I was looking forward to Candlelight’s production

Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is in its fifth season, and the well-appointed theater is located in Johnstown, Colorado, just south of Loveland, near the famed Johnson’s Corner.

We saw “Fiddler” on a Thursday night, and much to my delight our drink server was Bren Eyestone Burron. I’m a big fan of Bren, who appeared in my favorite production of “Chicago” a number of years ago at Boulder’s Dinner Theater.

Bren convinced me to try the one of the show’s drink specials, but I failed to write down the name. It was a twist on a Cape Cod, and arrived with a garnish of freshly sliced apples. Candlelight’s specialty drinks are always a delight. Ryan ordered a margarita, and was disappointed that it arrived in a pint glass. However, the marg was quite tasty, despite the glass.

Candelight changes up their menu to complement the show, and for “Fiddler” they opted for stuffed cabbage rolls and roasted green peppers, in addition to a chicken and fish dish, as well as the upgrades.

The stuffed cabbage rolls were delicious, but the roasted green peppers with quinoa, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, feta cheese and onions, served with a potato latke and steamed vegetables is a real winner. It may be a vegetarian dish, but it’s so flavorful you won’t miss the meat. Ryan declared it was the tastiest meal he’d ever eaten at a dinner theater – high praise coming from a serious meat eater.

Once the show got underway, the audience was transported to Russia, where a tightknit Jewish community is faced with changing times. The most unique part of this production is the set. The set design was influenced by the work of artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985).

Chagall’s art has a childlike whimsy, and his most famous paintings were of Jewish villages. His work was bright and simple, filled with nostalgia and a slightly fantastical picture of his people and their ancient religion.

The Candlelight has brought this whimsical approach to the stage with a quirky set that serves as functional art. I’m not going to try to describe the set in this review, but it adds a wonderful sense of joy to this story.

For those unfamiliar with “Fiddler on the Roof,” it is the story of Tevye, the dairyman, his wife, Golde and his five daughters. Tevye and Golde are played by real life husband and wife Patrick Sawyer and Melissa Swift-Sawyer. Their onstage connection is palpable, and their duets are the best in the show.

The music and dancing in this production had the audience tapping their toes, and at times, even singing along. After all, “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset” are well-known and much-loved tunes.

As Tevye struggles to do what is right by his five daughters and by God, his good intentions are thwarted at every turn. His frustration comes out in song, and Patrick Sawyer’s portrayal of this exasperated father is truly moving.

I always talk about scene stealers when I write theater reviews, but Sawyer holds his own in this production of “Fiddler.” He is the star, and he lives up to the job. However, Barb Reeves as the matchmaker, Yente, has great comedic timing and managed to get the audience hooting with laughter on more than one occasion.

Despite being set in a Jewish community in Tsarist Russia, the 1964 musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” is timeless. We can all related to Tevye struggles with a changing world, and his desire to do the right thing, even when the right thing proves to be the most difficult.

With an inspired set and standout performances “Fiddler on the Roof,” at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, should be on your schedule this fall. It is playing now through October 28, 2012. Visit ColoradoCandlelight.com for show times and ticket information.

All aboard the “Titanic” at the Union Colony Dinner Theater in Greeley, Colorado

Titanic LogoGreeley never ceases to surprise me. It’s an unassuming city, better known for beef than almost anything else, but then there’s the music. From the city’s inception, it has embraced music.

The last time I visited the Greeley History Museum, I learned that the city is home to one of the nation’s longest running orchestras. The University of Northern Colorado is also well-known for an outstanding School of Music, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that Greeley has a talented pool of musically inclined people to fill out the cast at Union Colony Dinner Theater.

This wasn’t my first evening outing in Greeley, but it was my first visit to UCDT, located upstairs in an historic building on 9th Street Plaza. The current show is “Titanic,” and I had never seen a stage production of this story.

Union Colony Dinner Theater is intimate and there’s no such thing as a bad seat. The cast uses the entire room, so don’t be surprised if someone starts singing right behind you during this show.

UCDT has a straightforward menu including a chicken Caesar salad, vegetarian pasta, shepherd’s pie and two upgrades of salmon and prime rib. You order your meal when you book your tickets.

We went with the salsa sampler appetizer, and were not disappointed – the mango salsa is a real winner. The chips are out of the bag, but the salsa makes up for it. The dinner salad came with a roll, and the lettuce was fresh and crisp.

I ordered a chardonnay, and my husband, Ryan, who has been obsessed with margaritas lately, ordered one on the rocks with Hornitos tequila. The UCDT bartender has some skills because Ryan raved about this margarita for the rest of the evening an into the next day.

I had preordered the salmon filet, and having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to salmon – thankfully it was cooked perfectly. I highly recommend upgrading to this delicious and savory dish.

Ryan raved more about his margarita than his shepherd’s pie, but the apple pie got high marks from both of us – Ryan liked the filling and I loved the light and crispy crust. UCDT also has very good coffee, always a plus at dinner theater.

The show opens with UCDT owner, Brandon Bill, on the piano, accompanied by violinist Alison Reifschneider. In fact, this duo provides all the music for this show, a real display of devotion by Bill to this production at his theater.

The cast waves goodbye in Titanic at UCDT

This is the largest cast for a production at Union Colony Dinner Theater. Courtesy photo.

The cast for this production of “Titanic” is the largest they’ve had at UCDT, and there are 36 bios in the playbill. The songs sung by the full cast sent shivers down my spine.

Nearly the entire script is sung, which takes a bit of time to get used to. All the musical numbers are accompanied by just the piano and violin, and with my own background in music, I believe this adds a layer of difficulty to being a part of the cast in this play.

There is little dancing in “Titanic,” but there is a bit of humor, despite the grave ending we’ve all known about since childhood. The character development is excellent, and by the time the ship goes down, I felt attached to several of the individuals on stage.

As I’ve mentioned in other dinner theater reviews, there’s also a scene stealer or two in every musical, and “Titanic” was no different. Kahlie Metz, plays Alice Beane, a middle-class passanger who is obsessed with the celebrities onboard the ship. Metz has good comedic timing and keeps the mood in the theater light with her comedic talents.

Owner of the Titanic saves himself.

The owner of the Titanic, Bruce Ismay, saves himself by boarding a life raft in front of women & children. Courtesy photo.

John Sonsa, who was also our waiter, plays the overbearing, power hungry owner of the Titanic. Thankfully he’s much nicer in real life than his character whose onstage outbursts startled the audience more than once.

I also enjoyed the performance by Mike Pearl, cast as ship steward, Henry Etches. Pearl has a consummate onstage presence that really shines.

At times, the musical abilities of the cast of “Titanic” stands out above the acting talent, but this is a solid musical that connects with the audience on multiple levels. I’m excited to see what is in store for UCDT with Brandon Bill at the helm.

“Titanic” plays through August 26, so book now before it sails away. Up next at Union Colony is “Once Upon a Mattress,” “5 Course Love,” “39 Steps,” and “Hello Dolly.” Learn more at www.ucdinnertheatre.com or call (970) 352-2900. You can also find UCDT on Facebook.

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