In Telluride: The Girls in the Band
KOTO-Radio DJ Jim Berkowitz – a.k.a. “Jimmy Jazz,” to Saturday-afternoon listeners – had never put together a nonprofit event before. His first is next week: a wang dang doodle of an evening.
The movie came first, Berkowitz said. It had been on his radar for the past year, this multi-award-winning lollapalooza of a documentary by director Judy Chaikin about female jazz musicians from the 1930s to the present day. “Shining a long-overdue spotlight on the shamefully forgotten women who flourished as jazz musicians at a time when men ruled the beat, Chaikin’s beautifully assembled film gives voice to performers whose names are too often unknown even among their musical sisters of the present day,” wrote New York Times reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis. “Engaging, informative, thorough and brimming with delightful characters,” it is “everything a worthwhile documentary should be, and then some.”
Once Berkowitz secured the film, he approached Scott Doser, the Palm’s programming director (who also happens to be an accomplished jazz drummer). Doser made the venue available. Next Berkowitz spoke to Paul Machado, executive director of the Jazz Fest, who liked the idea of the screening so much “He said, ‘I think I can help you with the music,’” and recruited the Young Razzcals Jazz Project. (The YRJP were middle school students jamming on a Telluride street corner back in 1995 when Machado happened upon them. He invited them to play on the Jazz Festival’s main stage, and ever since, they’ve been frequent Fest guests.) “Palm Arts and Jazz Fest both told me, we don’t need the money,” Berkowitz said. But he knew a group who did: the San Miguel Resource Center, which offers emergency shelter, safe housing and legal counsel for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The SMRC offered volunteers to work at the screening, and is helping to pay for promotion. And several Telluride locals contributed funds to help the secure the film and pay for Palm staffing.
It all comes together next Thursday evening, at a free performance at the joint – I mean, the Palm – to kick off opening night at the Jazz Fest. Donations of $10 are welcome, and will benefit the SMRC. Hep cats with big hearts, and Berkowitz is one cool Daddy-o. “It should be a really good turnout,” he remarked with satisfaction. Just like a finely tuned jazz band, “Everyone’s playing their part.”
For more on Girls in the Band, visit girlsintheband.com. The Young Razzcals Jazz Project plays the Palm next Thursday, July 31 at 7:30 p.m., followed by Girls at 8 p.m.
Peter Rowan and The Tao of Bluegrass in Ridgway
Ridgway’s month-long, summer concert series-under-the-stars wraps next Thursday evening in Town Park, with a performance by progressive bluegrass musician Peter Rowan. As a prelude, the Sherbino Theater screens a documentary directed by Christine Funk about him Saturday night, entitled The Tao of Bluegrass: A Musical and Spiritual Exploration of a Bluegrass Boy.
Peter Rowan was raised outside of Boston, but he’s a tuneful nomad in his soul; he began pushing the musical boundaries in high school, when he formed the Tex-Mex band, the Cupids, and eventually went on to sing and play guitar in Bill Monroe’s legendary band, The Bluegrass Boys (and to release a 1985 tribute to Monroe, The First Whipporwill).
As a solo artist, Rowan’s played bluegrass with mandolin virtuoso Dave Grisman and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia in their group, Old & In the Way, with Dobro master Jerry Douglas (on 1996’s Yonder), and with acclaimed bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice. His latest album, Dharma Blues, came about as the result of a happy accident: music producer John Chewlew stopped by Rowan’s painting studio and listened to him play some unrecorded spiritual songs. Chewlew was so inspired that he booked studio time and invited a few guests, including Gillian Welch, who’d performed with Rowan on his previous album along with David Rawlings, to play with Rowan. The result is Dharma, just released, a rich, relaxed amalgamation of bluegrass, folk, country and gospel. “Rowan is never preachy or overly reverent in these songs,” AllMusic.com reviewer Thom Jurek has written. “He doesn’t offer revelation or realization, just his own experience of everyday life on the road to get there. Even so, their poetry descends directly from the American folk and blues traditions.” In a career as lengthy and musically varied as Rowan’s, “some records come off better than others,” Jurek observes. “Dharma Blues, for all the wily chances it takes, is a jewel, finding the artist at another creative peak.”
The Tao of Bluegrass: A Portrait of Peter Rowan, featuring interviews with Steve Earle, Jerry Douglas, Vassar Clements, Alison Kraus and many others, screens this Saturday, July 26 at 8 p.m. Doors, and bar, open at 7 p.m. Admittance is free; a donation of $5 to benefit the Sherbino and the Four Corners Film Office is appreciated. Rowan takes the stage in Town Park next Thursday evening, July 31, along with Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. The music starts around 6 p.m.
And finally, artists, musical and otherwise – are invited to enter two upcoming competitions in Montrose. The theme of the next First Friday Art Stroll is Blossoming Artists, and downtown galleries and businesses seek artwork to display. Artists from ages 5-12 are eligible (there’s also an amateur category for adults). Any type of art qualifies, but paintings must be framed and hung with a wire. The art may be priced for sale, and prizes will be awarded. Drop off artwork at A+Y Design Gallery by July 28. Contact A+Y at 970/240-7914 or Around the Corner Gallery (970/240-4243) for more information.
Musical artists are invited to compete in the third annual Montrose Troubadour contest, to be held in conjunction with Main in Motion on August 7. Performances begin at 6 p.m. Entries are due next Thursday, July 31. For more on the Troubadour competition, visit maininmotion.org/troubadour or email PearlRoad09@gmail.com.