Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Way Forward (Standing Next to a Mountain...)

Sorry for the lengthening delays between postings but I've been busy busy busy...and now I'm packing to begin a 3 week working holiday family cruise through Northern Europe--so my postings will be a little erratic for the rest of the month...

Last weekend I played at the Copper Mountain Guitar Town Festival in Colorado solo acoustic with my 1920's National steel--Colorado was a revelation. Copper Mountain is certainly one of the most beautiful spots in the world I've ever visited, very alpine-esque, bracing vistas....took the Rocky Mountain Express van from Denver airport with a bunch of Harvard Medical School students on vacation who, sad to say, were a most drab, uncommunicative lot...but the natural beauty of the mountains more than made up for the dead air in the van.

My pal from the Grammys/MusiCares Foundation Scott Goldman was waiting for me at the ski resort--he's one of the guiding lights of this fstival event, a great player himself, and he made a fine emcee during the two day festival--a totally up, positive guy who gladdened my spirits right away--as did the first-class suite they put me up in... despite the occasional downpour that first afternoon I had entered such a warm and friendly environment...and as the temperatures plunged during the on-off downpour we went and bought some lightweight ski parkas... the rooms all had electric fires too, so the temperature fluctuations weren't a big problem...

Gary dazzles on solo National steel guitar at the Copper Mountain Guitar Town Festival, Copper Mountain, Colorado, 7/28/07

photo by Mike Calkins | Click to enlarge

The next day I played an early afternoon set in a light mist that evaporated half-way through, and the sun finally blazed forth--yeah! A nice visual correlative for the power of perseverance--especially as one played facing the slope of the great Copper Mountain itself, a tremendous inspiration...received a great reception from the crowd who hung in there during the occasional drizzle, I played my usual eclectic 45 min. set witht the emphasis on country blues, Chinese pop, and my own songs--and went down really really well! Members of the crowd who were there for the entire festival came up to me throughout the next couple days (such open and warm folks in Colorado!) to chat and compliment my playing (Scott opened, and was amazing playing acoustic with a touch of electronics--I joined him and improvise on a number as well...we're going to be playing together here in NYC at the Gershwin Hotel on October 9th, all you folks in New York should try and catch this as he is really an excellent player)...

As were all the other guitarists I caught throughout the weekend--especially UK acoustic whiz Adrian Legg, who I played on a bill with back at the old Lonestar some years ago...John Jorgerson, who did an amazing Django/Gypsy jazz set the first day and turned on the blues power the next day....Junior Brown, who was stunning on his "Guit Steel", hunched over, his eyes rolling back in his head, mesmerizing the crowd with hot lick after hot lick (including an amazing "Steel Guitar Rag")...the great bluegrass legend Peter Rowan--what a gentleman and what a sweet vocalist--who here played with two comely young female virtuosos on mandolin and standup bass respectively (Tony Rice was ill unfortunately)--had a great chat with Peter backstage about his days on the road playing with Bill Monroe-- I was a big fan of his psychedelic 60's band Earth Opera and used to spin "The Great American Eagle Tragedy" alot back in high school...)

The first day was mainly acoustic in focus, the next day it was way heavy on the electric side of things-- the stand out player of the day for me was Johnny Hiland, a porky little guy with a big cowboy hat who fronted a trio and played the absolute living daylights out of his Tele--he was scary--one of the most astounding cats (from Nashville of course) I've ever heard, kind of a cross between Hendrix and Speedy West...the great David Lindley mesmerized solo on oud and other custom built acoustics...Mark Selby, who writes alot for Kenny Wayne Sheperd (who Jerry Harrison produces) was a blues-rock slide maestro and a compelling songwriter/vocalist...and Dickie Betts did an amazing two hour set at the end with his son Duane Betts on slide and another guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, and 2 drummers to lovingly recreate the Allmann Brothers lineup and sound--he was definitely the crowd's absolute favorite and played his heart out until the sun went down...

All in all, hospitality shown to the artists was just so overwhelmingly good, the friendly staff at the Copper Mountain resort made you really feel at home (I'm not a skier, but I'd go back there in a second during the winter just for the good vibes)...and the food was out of this world...not to mention the great folks I met who had come to dig the music, especially Mike Calkins and his wife who took me for a ski lift ride up to the top of Copper Mountain where I saw the entire valley spread our before me in a sunny shimmering haze...what a lovely weekend!

Woops, got to finish packing now...




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