Thursday, January 7, 2010

Concert in the Pines

by: Teresa Hill

A 10,000 square-foot venue is coming to Grand Lake, but it is still in need of repairs. The Grand Arts Council is kicking off the second annual Concert in the Pines on Saturday, January 23 to assist in the cost of these renovations. "It is exciting to be a part of bringing the arts to the spotlight in Grand County," says Cathy-Walton Smith, President of Grand Arts Council. "To have the space to bring nationally touring entertainment to Fraser Valley, and to offer local artists the chance to share the stage with them is the reason that I am on this Board," explains Teresa Hill.

The first concert in the series will feature contemporary classical band Acoustic Eidolon, who captivate audiences all over the world with their signature blend of Celtic, folk and acoustic sounds. Featuring Joe Scott on a 14-string double-neck guitjo and Hannah Alkire on cello, the duo intrigues listeners with “an evening of brilliant instrumentality,” according to Swallow Hill Music Association.

Their original sound is created by the mixing of their diverse musical backgrounds and unusual instrumentation, including the one-of-a-kind double neck guitjo, an instrument of Joe's own design praised by USA Today as a "beautiful harp-like sounding instrument." Joe has developed his own style and technique, playing both necks simultaneously. Classically- trained cellist Hannah Alkire studied with G. Magyar of the Hungarian String Quartet and is recognized internationally for her stunning tone and emotional delivery. Acoustic Eidolon couples intricate and passionate music with genuine and engaging stories, and is called by some critics as “a sumptuous musical feast.”

Upcoming concerts include Hunker Down on Saturday, February 20, which will include an open house tour of the unfinished auditorium, as well as a chance for the local community to learn about the Grand Arts Council membership program. The Council is currently looking for musicians, artists, and lovers of art to join the Board of Directors.

Tickets are available for the concert online through PayPal at, or by calling 970-531-3055.

Audio samples of the music are available at

Upcoming Concerts in The Pines:


Feb. 20, 2010: HUNKER DOWN

Mar. 20, 2010: JUBILANT BRIDGE

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Unrest" inspires local beetle kill documentary, benefit

Night of fun to finance local film
by Cyndi McCoy

"There's unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees (lyrics from "The Trees," by band Rush)." For Amaurante Montez, the song's first line was a pretty "powerful statement."

Hillsides of stumps, scattered among hillsides with log piles waiting to be burned, surrounded by more red trees than some may know what to do with. The heartfelt loss Grand Countians most likely feel driving along the county's beloved beetle-kill landscape, as well as the hope to find solutions, has been captured in a surfacing local documentary.

After two years working on the project, due out February of 2010, the Winter Park resident and producer known in the local entertainment scene as DJ A-Mon has gathered his talented posse together to celebrate the film's neared completion.

Joining Montez for the Evening of Music and Film, "Unrest in the Forest" benefit will be artisans and musicians to include Cyn Whitworth, Miguel Medina, Jeremy Farmer, Nectaflow, Joe McDonald, and Ernie Roybal. Businesspersons and craftsmen using beetle-kill product are expected and encouraged to attend as well.

The documentary and evening's entertainment has been brought together to get people thinking about their connection to nature and solutions toward healing Colorado's devastated pine forests. Guests will be treated to a dance performance with Medina and the Street Sweepers, as well as a special screening of 16-mm film "Arrow to the Sun." The work is a 10-minute-long Native American animation about a child in search of his father, who, A-Mon says, "discovers himself and his power."

Medina started producing small films and documentaries for Free Speech TV in 1995. With his influences from his Native American (Ute, Southern Ute, Apache, Yaqui, and Aztec) and Spanish ancestry, and his use of modern technology for his storytelling, he called his company Ancient Future Films.

After voicing his idea for a beetle-kill documentary, as well as his longtime dream to teach children filmmaking, a friend suggested he apply for a scholarship opportunity to attend a free press convention on independent film. He won the scholarship trip and last June he headed to Minneapolis, Minn. where he had a chance to meet with other independent filmmakers. The convention platform focused on avenues to expose local issues to larger audiences.

Montez had been thinking about his beetle-kill documentary for some time and said he feels an urgency to share his message. Witnessing the infestation which expands through the county, Montez "could just see that there was ... a big picture going on ... that (the problem) was growing. ... The trees and the people, the wild life, it affects everyone."

Friends of Montez have come together in support of his dedication to finish the project, a digital film. Its creator estimates it will be a half-hour piece, "but I'd like to expand it as well." He estimates he's invested about $3,000 into the production of the work, whose title was inspired by song "The Trees" by Rush, and that "anything" he collects from the event will be appreciated.

Montez said he's already gained some interest to view the work. The Xican Indie Film Festival will be the first ones to air the film next spring. There's also interest from Dish Network to show the film on Free Speech TV, which would give Montez, and Grand County, national exposure.

How to get there: The 490 Steak House is located in the Silverado II Resort and Event Center, sponsor. To get there head west at Cooper Creek Square off U.S. Highway 40 on Vasquez Road in Winter Park. Cross the railroad tracks and take a right onto Forest Trail. Signs are posted and underground parking is available.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fraser River Named the Third Most Endangered River in America

American Rivers has listed the Fraser River in Grand County, Colorado, as the third most endangered river in the United States for 2005.

The Fraser, at healthy flows, is a Blue Ribbon trout stream. In fact, the Fraser was President Eisenhower’s favorite fishing water.

Diversions from the Fraser River have had a dramatic impact on the river, reducing its flow by as much as 65%. At times the upper Fraser is almost completely dewatered. Yet current plans would divert even more water from the Fraser and take it to Front Range cities.

Colorado Trout Unlimited and Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project (CWP) joined American Rivers in expressing grave concern about the future of the Fraser, indeed, for the entire upper Colorado River Basin.

Both Denver Water and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District have plans to take more water from the Fraser and upper Colorado Rivers and move it over the Continental Divide for the rapidly growing Front Range. How these increased diversions are built and operated will determine the fate of these rivers and their Gold Medal fisheries.

Colorado Trout Unlimited and the CWP are actively involved in the planning process for these new diversions and are working to ensure that all potential adverse impacts to the Fraser and upper Colorado are considered and minimized before the new diversions come online.

The Fraser River: Description & Background

The Fraser is the poster child for Colorado’s over-used rivers – its very survival as a flowing stream is threatened.

The Fraser is born at Berthoud Pass, with tributaries flowing in from the Vasquez Mountains and the west slope of the Front Range. It flows down into Winter Park and Fraser, then through ranch land and Tabernash into the Fraser Canyon, which holds a Gold Medal trout fishery. Out of the Canyon it passes through the Sol Vista resort, the town of Granby, and joins with the Colorado River just above Windy Gap Reservoir.

President Eisenhower fished these waters to relieve the pressures of the White House.

The Fraser is threatened both by pollution and diversions. Diversions are its biggest threat. Currently Denver Water siphons nearly 65% of the Fraser’s flow through its Northern Delivery system. In 2002 and 2003 the Fraser very nearly disappeared. Denver has plans to increase their diversions by an additional 18,000 acre feet, bringing their total share of the river to around 85%. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for this planned additional diversion should be released in 2007.

The Fraser’s pollution troubles probably are related to its low flows -- there might not be enough water below the Moffat Tunnel to dilute sufficiently the effluent from waste water treatment plants.

To be fair, Denver Water is not the only diverter from the Fraser, and the Fraser’s condition may not be as dire as the American Rivers report implies. The Towns of Winter Park and Fraser also rely on the river for water, as do large ranches downstream. Ski areas pull water out for snowmaking, and wells deplete the ground water feeding the river during low flow times.

The Fraser is drawn down by many diverters, but the biggest straw is owned by Denver Water.

The DEIS will offer several alternatives by which the proposed Moffat Collection System enlargement might be achieved. If Denver Water opts for a “preferred alternative” that simply takes more water with no consideration for the Fraser River ecosystem or the communities of the Fraser Valley, than the permit for the action should be denied -- as the American Rivers report suggests. Colorado Trout Unlimited and the Colorado Water Project are working with Denver Water and the Fraser Valley communities to make sure the project will benefit the Fraser Valley as well as the Front Range, and keep healthy flows in the Fraser at the same time.

Projects like these are being considered all along the Colorado River headwaters Counties. Much the same scenario is also playing out on the upper Colorado River, at Windy Gap. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is planning a project of their own which will increase their diversion from the river by another 28,000 acre feet, or 10,000 acre feet more than Denver is planning to take.

The Statewide Water Supply Initiative, which has been examining the water needs of Colorado, held one of its Basin Roundtable meetings in Glenwood Springs in March 2005. At this meeting a rancher and a water provider’s representative surprised everyone by proposing a “paradigm shift” in the way Colorado thinks about and uses water.

That is exactly what will be needed if we are going to keep alive Colorado’s rivers, natural heritage, and growing recreation economy. Even traditional diverters now are coming to understand that keeping water in-channel has many benefits and may not harm their water rights. We can only hope, with respect to the Fraser in particular, that this new thinking is translated in action, before it dries up entirely… and permanently.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sky-Hi News

"As simple as that"
by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi News

Oly is a man of few words, but get him on stage and powerful vocals and thoughtful lyrics lead audiences along an acoustic road through rock, folk and Americana.
It is as simple as that.

A self-proclaimed "minimalist," the musician first struck a chord with the Grand County community in 1991. Having fallen in love with the area while out with family during the holidays, Oly came back out after high school, working "as a lifty" and skiing as much as he could. After he returned to his hometown in Minnesota for the summer he found he missed the area.

"So I came back and just stayed," he said.

It wasn't until after a Gnome Shoe Party that Oly found the inspiration to start playing guitar and writing songs. At the locally famous parties, a guy named "Mouse" and some friends who used to live in a house in Ice Box Estates would build a big jump, invite people over for some fun, jumping, and raised money to donate to charities like the local libraries.

"I was hitting it all day," Oly said, recalling that day. As a skilled jumper, he was pulling off heli-corkscrews and tail grabs, and said he just landed wrong. His knee gave out and needless to say he found a lot of time on his hands to rejuvenate a passion for music. That's when he said he picked up the guitar and really started writing lyrics - songs about things like "life, love, loss of love and friendship."

Within two years, he started playing open mic nights at the Crooked Creek Saloon, after Sean Daniels surprised him and signed him up, and nowadays he is usually booked at several gigs a week during the busy seasons. Most of what Oly showcases on stage is his original work, also his favorites to play, and although he jokes he still doesn't know what he wants to be, locals say the singer/songwriter is well on his way to musical greatness.

The small-town character with a great sense of humor (also known as Eric Olson and who is rumored to be Huge in Germany lead singer Max Von Axberg) hails from outside Minneapolis. He started playing drums at age 11 and later traded in his drumsticks for a microphone.

He lent what he discovered his voice to bands around the Great Lakes area, an experience that helped him "develop a good sense of melody." After he moved to Colorado, Oly was the lead singer and songwriter for the band Tunnel6 and now lends his variable talents to a score of local and regional bands.

"Oly has been playing music up here as long as I can remember," said Ali Grayson, who organizes the musicians for Rocky Mountain Roastery's Java Mic Nights (where Oly also plays every now and then).

He currently is guitarist and vocalist for band Stereomaid and he has had the opportunity to record originals with Arnie J. Green (who used to host the Creek's open mic nights), Courtie Barns and George Wagner and for Holly Would. Oly is also currently recording a new, all-original Stereomaid CD (due out this spring).

He lists his influences as Bread, Pearl Jam, Billy Joel, the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, The Guess Who, Jane's Addiction and Simon & Garfunkel.
Whether performing his originals solo or with a band Oly promises to take his audiences "from sweet love songs to in-your-face rock without making any of it seem out of place." He hopes audiences come away from his shows with "Something they can hold onto. When I listen to a song I want it to make me feel something, whether it be happy or sad - something I can relate to."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Compilation CD

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Cyndi McCoy
Sky-Hi News

A new compilation of original music by Grand County artists is creating a buzz.
Titled "This Side of Berthoud," the collection is being put together by Teresa "Tree" Hill and Slopeside Productions in association with other independent producers. It features some of the latest work of more than 18 local musicians and bands.

Volume 1 will be available to the public starting this Sunday at a release event and party, with additional volumes to follow.

The purpose of the project is to expose Grand County music to a wider audience, said Hill, who has recorded and produced bands, including her own music, for five years. She realized that her "passion is to give songwriters the ability to record their music, and share their talents with audiences outside their own" and her company Sacred Herb co-produced four of the tracks on the first album (Mickey Sandora of band 3rd Time Lucky has been helping produce some of the work).

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Profits generated from CD sales will not only benefit the musicians (many who perform free shows throughout the area year-round), but will also form the foundation of the Grand County Recording Fund.

The fund will be used to subsidize recording cost for any musician living in Grand County. Availability starts a year from the release date and is on a first-come, first-served basis.

"The facilitation and encouragement of producing and recording artists living in this area," Hill said, "will enable a larger listening audience and will highlight the Fraser Valley area as a destination to enjoy music."

Volume 1 artists include Ali Grayson, One Time, Stereomaid and Mary Hemme — each who submitted one original song and retain the rights. A year after the album's release, Hill will calculate royalties to be split evenly among the artists (minus the cost of the CD and retailer commission) and at that point the artists can donate to the fund.

It includes One Time's "Long Shot" hit (featuring the late, great "Craigy T" Thompson ..s and Cecil "Peanut" Daniels MIDI horn), "Hello" from Stereomaid's anxiously awaited album, Grayson's joyous and reflective "Just a Glimpse," Hunker Down's perfected "Winter Waltz," and a pleasant surprise with nitty gritty "Travelin' Man" by Hemme and her son Boy Elroy.

"I'm really psyched at the way it turned out," said guitarist Matt Brown of Hunker Down.

"It's really cool to have a nice representation of what's going on in the valley (musically)," added Greg Travis, Hunker Down washboard player.

Stereomaid singer and songwriter Eric "Oly" Olson said he's very happy to be a part of it.

"The whole idea is a good one. It is cool that Tree took the time and initiative to make it happen and put it all together (kudos to her) and all the hard work I'm sure it took," he said. "We have a lot of talented musicians here in Grand County and it's great that someone took an interest and the time to let it be known."

Future artists to be featured in the series include the Sofa Kings, the Andy Irvine Blues Collective, Franklin Brown, Gaia Blue, Royall, Hendrix, Osborne and Key; Yaniv Salzberg, The Hot Jalopys, The Neighborhood Heroes, Simon Nicol, Claddagh, Jed Henry, 3rd Time Lucky, Adam Lynam, Moby, and Lynnea Godfriaux and Brad Pregeant. "As the seeds of this project grow, so does all of our music," Hill said. "We help each other grow, which is the nature of this community already."

The music of participating artists will be widely distributed and CDs will be available at retail stores this fall. CDs will be discounted from $15 to $10 for the release party and albums may also be purchased from the musicians featured on the album, who will have their copies by December.

The party features live music (by Hunker Down, Jake Royall, the Sofa Kings, Henry, Stony Credenza, Lynam, MC3D, the Empty Suits, and Salzberg), guest speakers, buffet and drink specials, and mail-in ballot information in support of the Rock the Vote campaign.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This Side of Berthoud

by: Cyndi McCoy
This side of Berthoud (Pass) is rocking these days.

It was rocking before, but I’m talking about the 20 different Grand County musical ensembles that appear on Volume One of the “This Side of Berthoud” CD, and the many more (CDs and musicians) to look forward to thanks to the new project.

Hostess Tree Hill and Mackinaw’s threw a mighty fine shindig at the release party and it was good to see so many community members showing their support. Artists from the area interested in submitting an original song for future volumes are encouraged to contact Hill through

Best line of the night had to be from Andy Straus of Hunker Down, who termed a new genre of music for one of their songs: “Y’alternative.” Very catchy.

Andy, Greggy, Matty, Yaniv, Mickey, Willy, Oly, Tom, Jake, Gary, Kay and Andy, Ali, Robbie, Jed (and those I’ve failed to mention) — you rock. Thank you. CDs are $15, available at Singin’ Dog, Rise & Shine Cafe, and at 7 Sisters. Musicians should have them available.

The festive atmosphere and creative camaraderie was symbolic of what All Access is about. I’m pleased to say the Sky-Hi Daily News’ arts and entertainment section (and the daily) celebrates its one-year anniversary this week. For All Access, it has been an exciting 52 issues.

The Tragic Ghost of Grand County

by: Teresa Hill
October 21, 2009
Travelers passing through Fraser, Colorado recently noticed a new coat of paint being plied to the Crooked Creek Saloon. Their honks and waves were politely returned by several local musicians, brushes in hand, hired by the new owners of the historic edifice, Toni and Scott Hallgren.

The curiosity of these passersby would have deepened further if they knew that beneath the decades of cracking paint lie the distant embers of a fire, the howls of the Great Blizzard of 1909, and a real ghost story of Grand County.

In the 1900s, the town of Fraser was “complete with a single dusty street, community saloon, gaunt clapboard general store, sheriff, grizzled characters in sweaty Stetsons and a cluster of unpainted board shacks which, in the winter, must surely let the howling blizzard in” wrote Russell Baker of the New York Times in 1955.

As both an oasis to pioneers seeking fortune in the lumber-milling boom and a railroad stop for homesteaders settling the Wild West, Fraser quickly became a destination for weary travelers. One of the most famous and most beautiful denizens of those years was known simply as Rosie. Her stunning portrait as a reclining lady in red still hangs above the entrance to Crooked Creek for all to admire.

After losing her parents in the flu epidemic of 1898, Rosie turned to practicing the world's oldest profession. It wasn’t long before the illustrious madam opened her own saloon and dance hall and found a steady flow of customers among the railroad workers and loggers.
Calamity struck, however, during the Great Blizzard of 1909. Trapped inside her saloon by the mounting drifts, Rosie and several stranded customers and employees inadvertently caught the building on fire while stoking the wood burning stove in an attempt to stave off the merciless cold. In the chaos and confusion of that horrific night, the tavern burned entirely to the ground. To this day, the exact identities of those who perished with Rosie are still clouded in mystery. According to local legend, some of the victims never left.

A quarter of a century later, the Crooked Creek Saloon was rebuilt on the very site of Rosie's former brothel. From the opening of the new saloon's doors, patrons and staff have claimed to see ghostly apparitions, particularly when the wind blows and the temperature drops. Most of the spectral sightings have occurred near the stove in the back dining room, where the fatal blaze started.

On one of these cold nights, Toni Hallgren remembers a family taking portraits near the stove in the back room. Breathless, the mother showed Toni the picture of her daughter next to an eerie phantom ablaze in yellow and orange light. “Oh, that’s just Rosie,” she told the family. “She must like you!”

Keeping in time to its century-old reputation as the heartbeat of Fraser, patrons of the Creek are once again returning for good times with friends, comforting food, and live entertainment.
On Halloween Night, there will be live music by the reggae band Toad King from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. This celebration is free for those ages 21 and over. Don’t be too surprised in you catch a glimpse of Rosie while you’re there.