The Black Legacy Project - Denver edition at eTown Studios in Boulder, Colorado. (Back L-R): James Tuttle, Martin Gilmore, Nick forster, Lee Clark Allen, Dzirae Gold, Trey Carlisle; (Front L-R): Sarah Rose Reynolds, Todd Mack, Simone Elise.
Many of you know that I enjoy gardening and plant a big vegetable garden every year. There are a lot of great life lessons that come from gardens, and harvest time provides many of them. Mainly, that investing your time in things and being patient pays off. September was unbelievably busy for me, filled with things I expected and things I didn't. That’s a good thing when you’re a musician. I’m not complaining.
Early in September I was lucky enough to be one of the Black Legacy Project’s musical directors for their Denver Residency. Lee Clark Allen, Dzirae Gold, Sarah Rose Reynolds, and myself collaborated to re-imagine music from Denver folk music pioneer Walt Conley, and we wrote an original song all together. It was an intense two days of writing and collaboration followed by two days recording at eTown, and finally a performance on the last day at Swallow Hill Music Association.
The Black Legacy Project is a “musical celebration of Black history to advance racial solidarity, equity and belonging.” They work with communities across the United States to bring together Black and White artists, as well as artists of all backgrounds, to explore the history of race in their communities. They were recently featured on a segment on CNN, and they will be traveling to many other places in 2022 and 2023.
The week started with a round table discussion focused on the history of African American communities in Denver, Colorado. Topics from that discussion were used in our original composition. We recorded at eTown in Boulder and my friend James Tuttle engineered the project. He was the engineer on Long Road Home’s first record and many other projects I’ve been involved in. Nick Forster was kind enough to play bass and steel guitar on the re-imagined song I was part of. Overall, it was an enlightening and fulfilling week and I feel so lucky to have been able to work with such talented Denver artists. Please make sure to check out Lee, Dzirae, and Sarah if you get a chance. I’m sure there will be a lot more news about this project in the future, but for now you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
September 9th my honky tonk band played a super fun show at the wonderful Gold Hill Inn. The place was packed, people danced, and we twanged away until midnight or so. I have been writing honky tonk songs left and right in hopes of making a record of this material in the next year or so. Nick Amodeo has been bringing ideas for some great songs as well and I’m pretty excited about this new stuff. More of these kinds of shows are on the horizon, so stay tuned.
October has fewer performances, but I’m excited for my class for the University of Denver Enrichment Program. I’ll be offering a four week course about cowboy music and music of the American West. We will explore the unique history and culture of the cowboys and how they influenced music. From there we will discuss how their music came to be an important influence on the sounds of the 20th and 21st century. From Harry McClintock to Marty Robbins to The Killers, we will see how this music is still with us and explore its influence on broader culture. There is still time to sign up, our first class is on October 12th, and the course will be offered all online.
Most of my performances this month are in collaboration with my friends John and Julie Pennell who will be coming from Nashville to play some shows in the area between October 9th and 15th. I’ll be playing with them at Deerprint Winery in La Veta, Colorado on October 9th. I will sit in with them at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor in Arvada, Colorado on October 13th and I will play at least a few songs with them at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming on October 14th sponsored by the Cheyenne Guitar Society.
John Pennell has written several songs for Alison Krauss and played in her band for several years. His songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Dan Tyminski, the Infamous Stringdusters, Harley Allen, and many many more. Julie is a fantastic singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter as well. Their new album Keep on Walking has been well received and is highly recommended by me!
A new session of classes starts at Swallow Hill at the End of October and I will be offering a bluegrass ensemble class. These classes are incredibly fun. If you want to play music with others, this is a great way to get started.
Otherwise, I’m hoping to get back into the studio in November to finish up some work on a solo album, and working on booking for next year. If you know of a place near you that would be a good fit for a songster like me, please let me know. I’d love to make it out your way.
Stay well this fall and enjoy the harvest season!