By JOHN LEHNDORFF
(April 28, 2015) I grew up long ago under the auspices of Pete Seeger and Johann Sebastian Bach. I listened to Cream upstairs while Dad played with his string quartet downstairs. I thought every kid got to go see Leonard Bernstein. My brother Pete wrote funny modern folk songs. My brother Paul was a piano savant. My first rock concert was James Taylor and Carole King. I started writing about music in the late 1970s in Boulder because I wanted to talk to my musical heroes, get free records in the mail, and get into concerts for free and have good seats.
In the following years for various publications – the Colorado Daily, Daily Camera, Rocky Mountain News, Aurora Sentinel, Bluegrass Unlimited – I wrote about music, covered the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for 30 years, and was blessed to chat with the late Earl Scruggs, Levon Helm, John Hartford, Jesse Winchester, Doc Watson and Charles Sawtelle. I share the names of these artists and those that follow with whom I talked not to be braggy, but to say: Hey, this is where my musical mind and conversation wandered with Merle Haggard, Mickey Hart, Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris, Graham Nash, Mavis Staples, Randy Newman, Ian Anderson, Susan Tedeschi, Ani Difranco, George Winston, Joan Armatrading, Jerry Douglas, Otis Taylor, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and members of Hot Rize, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, Old Blind Dogs, Los Lobos, Beausoleil, and Guster.
I’m listening to an Astor Piazzolla as I keyboard this, which is to say, you never know what will grab your ear. I know longer write about music for publications, but I realized I still had the need to talk about it. Acousticity – a term I think I stole from David Grisman – is simply a column/blog/curated content/post or whatever we are calling writing today – for the music stuff I’m interested in from my particularly rich audio vantage point in Colorado. Thanks for listening to me occasionally.
ALL THE FOLKS
I attended the first Folks Festival in Estes Park and will be on hand for the 25th Annual Rocky Folks Festival August 14 to 16 by the creek under the cliff in Lyons, Colorado. I’m looking forward to hearing Kasey Chambers, Peter Yarrow the first day; Jason Isbell, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Shawn Colvin, and Lucy Kaplansky & Richard Shindell the second day, and any day you get to listen to Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, The Wood Brothers and The Waifs sing is bound to be a very, very good day. Details: bluegrass.com.
INTO THE COODER VALLEY
I was introduced to the music of Ry Cooder almost as soon as he was introduced to the world and eventually introduced us to “world” music before that was a term. I loved listening to Into the Purple Valley, Jazz, Chicken Skin Music, The Buena Vista Club and so many more with brilliant mandolin and guitar playing including that signature slide playing. When I was a music critic for the Daily Camera, local venue bookers I knew would ask me annually who I’d like to hear live. After a few years the conversation would begin: “Besides Ry Cooder, who would you like to hear …” I still have never gotten to interview him and I’ve still never heard Ry Cooder perform but this summer I may get my chance. I won’t be at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June when Cooder with Ricky Skaggs and his Skaggs’ wife, singer Sharon White. However, the trio will also perform June 19 at the venerable Chautauqua Auditorium and June 22 at Denver Botanic Gardens. chautauqua.com concerts.botanicgardens.org
A FLASHBACK: 20 YEARS ON
August 10, 1995, Knight-Ridder Tribune Newspapers
By John Lehndorff
BOULDER, Colo. – For those of us who were fans, the passing of the Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia on Wednesday feels like a death in the family.
Others may wonder what the fuss is all about, why it should cause such grief that yet another hippie musician has died – apparently from his personal lifestyle excesses.
Members of another generation who mourned Elvis Presley may understand. We mourn not only the loss of a man and the end of a band, but also an era and an idea.
The faint ember of our glorious, rebellious, communal ’60s youth was fanned and kept glowing by a yearly dose of Grateful Dead. That fire is now extinguished.