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Frida Authentic Mexican Food Restaurant opens in Glenwood Springs

Jose Luis Rico has lived in mountain towns and worked in Mexican restaurants for the better part of his life.

After owning and operating El Pollo Rico in Carbondale for 16 years, the restauranteur and his wife Emma Rico recently opened their second eatery in the Roaring Fork Valley – Frida Authentic Mexican Food.

Located at 1814 Grand Ave., near Sayre Park in Glenwood Springs, Frida welcomes customers for lunch and dinner seven-days-a-week.

Raised in Michoacan, Mexico, it was there that Jose Rico learned the ingredients that go into authentic Mexican recipes while working alongside his mother Argelia and father Alberto in their restaurant, Argelia’s Senaduria.

“Every chef has their own taste and their own dishes,” Jose Rico said. “But, you’re still going to find tacos, carne asada and chile relleno.”

Like the colorful dishes that emerge from Frida’s kitchen, the dining area’s flashy booths, flowers and mariachi figurines make for an equally colorful ambiance.

After all, Jose and Emma Rico named Frida after legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

“[Frida] is part of our culture,” Jose Rico said. “And, we were looking for a name everyone could pronounce.”

While Frida’s menu offers an assortment of seafood, steak, chicken, pork and vegetarian options, the Ricos – throughout their tenure in restaurants – have never looked past the “easier dishes.”

“If a customer asks for chile relleno, it’s got to be good. If a customer asks for enchiladas, it’s got to be good,” Jose Rico said.

Ironically, the Ricos said chicken enchiladas were the most popular menu item at Frida since the restaurant opened in December.

Other customer favorites included: chile relleno, pork and green chili burritos, fajitas, fish tacos, homemade tamales and fried ice cream.

“We’ve been practicing these dishes for 16 years,” Emma Rico said.

Additionally, Frida’s bar offers frozen and on-the-rocks margaritas made with specialty tequila and fresh limes.

Well aware of the large number of Mexican restaurants already in Glenwood Springs, Rico said he was not looking to compete but instead hoped Frida’s cuisine would complement the city’s already thriving dining culture.

“We have two communities here; we have the Anglo community and the Hispanic community,” Jose Rico said. “We’ve been working so hard over the years trying to make great food for everybody.”


New Castle Diner closes, at least for the time being

For New Castle Diner owner David Souders, the end of 2019 was bittersweet.

After owning and operating the Diner for nearly a decade, Souders decided it was time to move on.

“I am just feeling tired,” Souders said. “And, I wanted to go out on top.”

On Dec. 27 the New Castle Diner served its last meal — at least for the time being.

Souders, who rents the space at 820 Castle Valley Blvd. in New Castle near City Market, said he plans on selling the business.

“It was a turnkey operation,” Souders said of when he purchased the eatery in 2010. “I own everything that is in here; the landlord just has the building.”

From the neon-lit memorabilia to the red-and-white barstools and soda fountain, Souders plans on selling the ’50s-themed diner just like he bought it — ready to rock and roll.

“I have somebody now that is supposed to be interested,” Souders said. “I can’t guarantee [anything] because we’ve just talked a few times.”

New Castle Diner owner David Souders sits at the eatery’s bar after working his final shift. Matthew Bennett / Post Independent

Having worked in restaurants practically his entire life, Souders said the 14- to 18-hour days of cooking and cleaning had taken its toll.

“I love my staff,” Souders said. “That was the hardest part.”

As for Souders, the New Castle resident said he had no plans other than to take some time off.

“I’m all finished. I’m moving on,” Souders said. “I don’t know what I’m doing; no plans … it’s all going to take its place and work out.”

According to Souders, over the years, the Diner’s most popular dishes were its biscuits and gravy and huevos rancheros.


Silt’s chili cook-off heats up Friday

When the new Silt Branch Library opened in 2012, the plaza between it and town hall quickly became a coveted community space.

“It just seemed like we should have events there,” Janet Aluise, town of Silt community development director, said. “One of our staff members said that she had been to a chili cook-off in another locale and mentioned it about eight-years-ago so we got to work planning it, and it’s been going strong ever since.”

This year’s chili cook-off, put on by the town of Silt, will take place Friday, Nov. 1 from 5-8 p.m. in the town hall/library plaza.

Several participants from Silt and neighboring communities will each prepare at least three gallons of red or green chili for attendees to sample.

“It’s not a tremendously serious competition, but there is some seriously good chili at the plaza,” Aluise said.

As of Thursday morning, Aluise said 10 chili cook-off competitors had signed up for Friday’s event but expected a few more entrants.

“We fill the plaza and sometimes it’s just packed,” Aluise said. “Other times it’s just a great event with a couple hundred people.”

Tasting fees are $7 for adults, $4 for kids between the ages of six and 17 and $4 for adults 62 and over. Additionally, chili cookers pay an entry fee of $20.

Fees allow attendees to sample both red and green chilis.
The event offers free coffee, water and hot chocolate as well as beer for purchase.

Local Girl Scout Troop 244 will offer baked goods for sale as part of its fundraising efforts, too.

“Any nonprofit gets to enter for free because that’s the least we can do for our nonprofits,” Aluise said. “Most every year we’ve had the Girl Scouts making chili or putting on a bake sale and it’s nice because it allows the community to see how hard these girls work.”

This year’s chili cook-off will also feature a DJ courtesy of Two Rivers Productions as well as a kids’ tent equipped with foosball, table tennis, basketball and skee-ball.

“It’s just an area that the kids can escape to if they’re not into chili, which some kids aren’t,” Aluise said.

Aluise recalled one year when the temperature dipped to nearly zero degrees, however a couple hundred attendees still showed up for the annual chili cook-off.

“Having it as an outdoor event definitely gives it some flavor,” Aluise said.
One of this year’s chili cook-off competitors includes Silt resident, Lindsey Sidener.

“I hear the fire department puts out a really good chili every year, so we’ve got some stiff competition,” Sidener said.

Sidener planned on utilizing locally sourced vegetables from Peach Valley CSA Farm, local brisket and a few other secret ingredients for her red chili.
Six cash prizes will go to the top three red and green chili concoctions, as determined by a handful of judges.

“The prize for first place in each category is $175. Second place is $100 and third place is $50,” Aluise said. “We’ve had the whole gamut. We’ve had the young cookers come out, and they’ve never done an event before, and then we’ve had the people who are seasoned and have done several events.”
“It’s just a great social event.”


Glenwood Springs Arts Council’s 19th annual Culinary Arts Festival set for Friday at Hotel Colorado

Local art, live music and plenty of food and drink offerings.

This year’s Culinary Arts Festival presented by the Glenwood Springs Arts Council will feature all of that and more.

“It is just a very nice event,” Judy O’Donnell, Glenwood Springs Arts Council treasurer, said. “Everybody just has a really wonderful time.”

The 19th installment of the Culinary Arts Festival will occur from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Hotel Colorado.

People have until noon Friday to purchase tickets online for $50. Tickets will be available at the door for $55.

O’Donnell expected a turnout of approximately 250 people and said that tickets were still available.

All proceeds, including those from the event’s silent auction, will go toward the nonprofit Glenwood Springs Arts Council.

“We have a lot of local artists who have donated work,” O’Donnell said of the silent auction items. “There are many things that are available.”

Other items include a weekend stay in Seattle as well as tickets to performances by the Sopris Theatre Company and Thunder River Theatre Company.

In addition to the silent auction, several local restaurants such as Masala & Curry, The Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar, Smoke Modern BBQ, Uncle Pizza, The Pullman, Sundae, Ironbridge Grill and Sunshine & Moons will provide a variety of dishes.

“Food is an artistic expression,” O’Donnell said. “These people will be serving a special display of their food.”

To compliment the cuisine, Casey Brewing & Blending, Cooper Wine & Spirits, Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, Upslope Brewing and CTS Distributing will offer a wide selection of craft beer, wine and spirits.

“You won’t need to go out for dinner,” O’Donnell said.

Since 1982, the Glenwood Springs Arts Council has strived to create visibility, support and opportunity for the arts within the community.

Additionally, this year’s Culinary Arts Festival will feature live music from Carbondale’s own LET THEM ROAR.

According to the band’s website, LET THEM ROAR’s original music “weaves a tapestry of progressive-folk from threads of tradition.


EAT Bistro & Drinks in New Castle adding barroom expansion in 2020

Chef Molly Mogavero prepares fresh bread every morning before most people start on their first cup of coffee. 

“My day starts really early,” Mogavero, who co-owns EAT Bistro & Drinks in New Castle with her husband Jeff Ellis, said. “It’s so important for me to provide a gathering space where people can just sit down and break bread.”

Since opening in September 2017, EAT Bistro & Drinks has served entrees that span the globe including blackened Alaskan halibut, homemade lasagna rollatini and even Philly cheese steak out of a building, which dates back to the late nineteenth century. 

“It was built in 1890 and it’s still standing today,” Mogavero said. 

However, with an indoor seating capacity of just 24, Mogavero and Ellis plan to add a 900-square-foot barroom to EAT Bistro & Drinks’ existing location at 316 W. Main St. 

Ellis, a professional architect, has doubled as the mom and pop eatery’s bartender since the restaurant’s inception.

Following a couple years of preparing customer favorites like the Cosmo Kramer out of a small space in the restaurant’s kitchen, the couple decided it was time to add a barroom.

“A lot of people, they come in and see the restaurant is full and they don’t want to wait,” Mogavero said. “We are expanding because we want to accommodate everybody.” 

The addition, which will practically double EAT Bistro & Drinks’ size, will include a bar and lounge area where patrons can enjoy craft cocktails, wine and beer.

“You’ll enter into the barroom and you’ll be able to walk through to the dining room area,” Ellis said. “We’ll be keeping the same ambiance and atmosphere but it’ll be a little bit more casual.” 

The new barroom, like the restaurant’s dining room, will not include TVs but instead provide a community gathering space where residents and tourists alike can converse over hot food and cold drinks.

“It’ll be a place to gather and have a really nice conversation,” Mogavero said. “Those things seem to get lost nowadays with modern technology.”  

Mogavero and Ellis hope to open EAT Bistro & Drinks’ new barroom in January 2020 and may start serving drinks a little earlier and stop later than the restaurant’s traditional hours.

EAT Bistro & Drinks serves dinner from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 

“We’ve got the most amazing staff,” Mogavero said. “People feel like they are coming home when they come in to EAT.”


Carbondale’s oldest festival, Potato Day, celebrates 110 years on Saturday

Celebrating over a century of tubers, Carbondale’s Potato Day celebration returns Saturday for the 110th installment with a “Ghosts of Potato Days Past” theme.

The town’s oldest festival, which began in the early 20th century, was a time for the community to come together following its annual potato harvest.

“All of the ranchers around here and farmers who grew potatoes, they lived in outlying areas,” Carbondale Historical Society President Sue Gray said.

“When everybody harvested their potatoes they would put them on their wagons and bring them into town to load into storage to later put on the trains.”

The ranchers and farmers also took the time to enjoy a picnic that included barbecued beef roasted in a pit — and plenty of potatoes.

“We are going to have barbecued beef that is provided by a local rancher, Nieslanik Beef, and we’ll have the potatoes that will be baked,” Gray said.

“There will be a vegetarian potato bar for those who don’t eat meat and there will be a little coleslaw and beans to go with that and some rolls.”

According to Gray, festivalgoers will consume nearly 300 pounds of russet and Yukon gold potatoes at this year’s Potato Day.

Proceeds from the $10 plate lunch will go to the Carbondale Historical Society.

“We were one of the biggest growers of potatoes in the United States back in the early 1900s,” Gray said. “We picked the theme, ‘Ghosts of Potato Days Past,’ so that we could educate some of our community members about how the town of Carbondale was formed and by whom.”

Beginning at 9 a.m. festivalgoers may enjoy a farmers and craft market in Sopris Park followed by the Potato Day parade, which kicks off at 10:30 a.m. The parade also doubles as the Roaring Fork High School homecoming parade.

The parade forms along Second Street and then travels down Main Street before concluding at Sopris Park.

Additionally, live music featuring local singer-songwriter Wes Engstrom will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Sopris Park. Pam and Dan Rosenthal will perform their brand of Americana beginning at 1 p.m. and Tami Suby and numerous local student musicians will conclude the Potato Day live music schedule with a performance slated to begin at 2 p.m.

“It’s one of my favorite events of the year,” Gray said. “Just like in the old days when it was first celebrated, it’s a chance for me to see all of my friends and neighbors and have a big party together.”

The Potato Day festival ends at 3 p.m.


Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Glenwood celebrate completion of newest South Canyon trails

Volunteers cleared debris as Guns N’ Roses “Welcome To The Jungle” blared over a loudspeaker at South Canyon’s cleanup and ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday evening to mark the opening of new trails.

Standing on a recently installed new bridge, Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes and Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA) Executive Director Mike Pritchard cut the red ribbon to celebrate the addition of three new trails to the South Canyon Trail System.

In 2015, RFMBA worked on a concept trails plan for areas surrounding the city. The plan studied how to evolve current trails, but also identified land for potential new trail systems.

Shortly after its completion, the city and Garfield County helped with getting the wheels rolling even more so by contributing funds to RFMBA and its partners’ efforts.

“We hired some professionals who helped us identify the unique opportunities and constraints within the canyon here,” Pritchard said of the way funding facilitated the South Canyon trails plan.

“We were able to come up with a trail system that’s maybe about 18 miles of trail, over the coming years,” he said.

A significant portion, 8.5 of those 18 miles, were completed last fall and include three trails known as Tramway Trail, Lightning Bug and Coal Camp.

Tramway Trail

Classified as easy, the shared use Tramway Trail features a 780-foot ascent spanning 3.2 miles. The two-way trail utilizes the Canyon’s eastern slopes with portions following the same route that was once used to transport coal to the railway at the Colorado River.

The Tramway Trail, in particular, begins with a repurposed bridge that was moved from its former resting place on Red Mountain.

“Part of the project was to install this new bridge and to get trailhead map signs in at two locations,” Pritchard said. “And, we have intersection signage at each of the trails so that people can find their way. The trails are bike optimized, but we do see hikers and runners enjoying the trails.”

Lightning Bug

With a 450-foot descent spanning 1.7 miles, Lightning Bug earns a “more difficult” classification and travels downhill only.

According to the South Canyon history description, Lightning Bug was the name given to the electric locomotive that ran on the original South Canyon coal mine tramway’s gauge tracks.

The name was coined by miners who saw sparks fly when the trolley’s overhead lines transitioned between circuits and wires.

Coal Camp

Also categorized as “more difficult,” Coal Camp ascends and descends 915 feet over 3.6 miles. The trail begins in the canyon’s lower meadow before a steep climb takes users through shady spruce and a pine forest. Coal Camp was a nickname given to the 1903 company town that took shape to support the area’s mining operations.

Future South Canyon trails, not yet completed, include the Alpine Slide, Red Onion, Gem Trail and Horse Mountain.

“It’s really awesome to see these dozens of volunteers just taking the bull by the horns and saying, ‘we want this asset to be nice, welcoming and safe for everybody.’” Mayor Godes said. “If you are going to take an area like South Canyon and develop something on it, having a low impact, non-motorized use is a great asset.”

According to Godes, all of the new South Canyon trails were designed to respect other uses and facets of the canyon, including the Glenwood Springs Gun Club, the city-owned landfill, historic coal mining artifacts and wildlife habitat.


Jazz Aspen’s June Experience moving from Benedict Tent to downtown venues this summer

The Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience is leaving the Benedict Music Tent in 2019 and planting its flag in downtown Aspen.

After a decade at the 2,000-seat West End concert hall that also is home to the summer-long Aspen Music Festival season, Jazz Aspen is reimagining its June event as a four-day, multi-venue festival featuring as many as 15 artists playing more intimate venues in the walkable downtown core.

Jazz Aspen President Jim Horowitz said Tuesday that the shows will be comparable with the ones featured in the nonprofit’s popular JAS Cafe series, which hosts artists working in jazz and related genres at pop-up venues like the Little Nell hotel and the rooftop cafe at the Aspen Art Museum.

This reimagined Jazz Aspen June Experience will run from June 20 to 23. Jazz Aspen will host concerts at the established JAS Cafe venues at the Nell and the museum, with hopes of confirming the Aspen Cooking School, St. Regis, Belly Up, Harris Concert Hall and adding other stages to the mix.

“We are looking for unique collaborations,” Horowitz said. “Hopefully a lot of things will pop out, in terms of collaboration, that we’re not thinking about yet.”

The festival’s long-running collaborative concert with the Aspen Music Festival, scheduled for June 29 with a yet-to-be-announced program, will stay at the Benedict.

In 2020, as Jazz Aspen celebrates its 30th anniversary, the festival is planning to host the downtown June Experience in conjunction with Benedict shows.

Festival organizers expect to tally a cumulative attendance that is on par with the crowds it has hosted since 2009 at the Benedict, only spread across multiple venues seating a few hundred people or less.

The decision, Horowitz said, was based on the popularity of Jazz Aspen’s seasonal JAS Cafe, which runs through the summer and winter high seasons. Horowitz said he and his team began mulling the June festival shift as they realized the season-long attendance of the JAS Cafe, totalling some 8,000 concert-goers, was nearly doubling the 4,5000 typically attending the June Experience at the Benedict.

“What’s driven this is the explosive growth of the JAS Cafe series,” he said. “It’s changed the way we approach June fundamentally.”

Horowitz imagines a long weekend full of concerts, with attendees walking from show to show.

He compared his vision for the multi-venue downtown festival to the old days of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, when comics took over venues throughout town, and the way that the Food & Wine Classic fills the downtown core, when, as Horowitz put it, “You can’t be in town and not know it’s going on.”

He imagines people planning out a full festival experience, hopping from low-key afternoon panel discussions to vibrant concerts late into the night.

“We’re taking 2019 to establish ourselves downtown,” he said. “To let the town and the venues be the star, where you can’t go one block without running into music or hearing something. Music everywhere.”

The move downtown coincides with the nonprofit’s recently launched JAS Center plan for the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall, which aims to open a music venue and education center there by 2021.

The new approach in 2019 will not include the big-name pop stars that the June festival has long relied upon to draw crowds.

“There will be no Joe Cockers or Tony Bennetts on the roof of the art museum,” Horowitz said.

The trade-off, he said, is rather than a handful of pop star headliners — last year they were Leslie Odom Jr. and Lyle Lovett — the festival will boast a greater number of artists from a variety of genres.

“It feels fresh for us, but it’s not out of thin air,” he said. “We’re taking venues that people know and programing them together over a couple days rather than every couple weeks. It’s like taking a whole season of the Café and cramming it into one weekend.”

Events will run from afternoon through early morning, including artist talks and staggered concerts featuring artists from jazz, soul, Latin, blues, funk and world music. Free performances, in the mold of the popular “lawn party” at the Benedict, also will continue downtown, according to Horowitz.

The lineup of June Experience artists is expected to be announced later this winter.

This move is the fourth change of venue for the June festival since it was founded in 1991. It had been held in the Benedict and surrounding environs of Aspen Meadows since 2009. Previously it was produced in Snowmass Village and in Rio Grande Park in Aspen.

Festival organizers have tinkered often with the format — adding the free lawn party concerts in recent years and, in 2018, bracketing two nights of concerts in the Benedict with JAS Cafe shows downtown and adding a free gospel concert on Sunday morning in the tent.

“It’s a metamorphosis that’s been underway for a while,” Horowitz said of the latest format.

General admission passes will allow attendees to access all venues. Some single-show tickets also will be made available.

The donor/VIP accommodations, which in recent years have offered patrons catered meals and an open bar in a tent on the Benedict grounds, will include a cocktail party or dinner at a different location downtown each night. VIP perks also will include reserved seating and artist meet-and-greets.

People who have already purchased “Blind Faith” passes for the festival — which offer a discounted price on tickets before artists are announced — may choose a three-day pass to the new festival, a full refund or a credit toward future Jazz Aspen tickets.

Jazz Aspen’s other big summer festival, the Labor Day Experience, is sticking with its long-established format in Snowmass Town Park. Headliners including Sting and John Mayer have already been announced.


Jazz Aspen Labor Day: Zac Brown Band’s Jimmy De Martini on this summer’s big stadium tour

Summer stadium tours are the stomping grounds of rock and pop star giants — an increasingly rare breed who can fill these huge outdoor sportsplexes with tens of thousands of fans in dozens of cities. The Zac Brown Band now walks among those platinum-selling, Grammy-winning mammoths of summertime.

Only a handful of acts can pull off a stadium tour these days — this summer, the other major ones in the U.S. were Jay-Z and Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.

Playing mostly baseball stadiums over the past three months, the Zac Brown Band has spent the summer on one of the season’s biggest and most popular tours. Their “Down the Rabbit Hole” run has the band headlining Safeco Field — home of the Seattle Mariners — on Friday before coming to headline the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village on Sunday night.

The Labor Day music festival, with a sell-out crowd of about 10,000 expected Sunday, is actually a smaller gig for the band these days when it mostly plays to crowds two and three times as big.

“I love playing baseball fields,” fiddle player Jimmy De Martini said in a phone interview from Atlanta during a recent tour break. “The atmosphere is amazing and our crowds really get into it when we play outside.”

They’ve set out to smash the perception of stadium shows as impersonal, cookie-cutter affairs. These big stages, De Martini believes, have had a positive effect on the band’s performances, inspiring them to make each night a unique and major event with a freshly crafted set list, surprise covers and new interpretations of their country rock catalog.

“Sometimes when you play amphitheaters, things look the same and feel the same when you go up there night after night,” he said. “But when you’re playing a baseball stadium there’s such a unique culture to each city that they put into the construction and the culture of baseball that you can feel you’re in a different spot every time you get onstage.”

The band last headlined Labor Day here in 2011 — a sellout that capped a major rebound event for Jazz Aspen, doubling the attendance from 2010 and launching its continuing partnership with concert promoter AEG. (The 2018 lineup actually includes all three main stage acts from 2011’s closing Sunday: Zac Brown Band; Fitz and the Tantrums, who play Saturday evening; and Michael Franti, who opens the festival today.) The dramatic mountainscapes surrounding the Jazz Aspen festival grounds in Snowmass Town Park — and the oxygen tanks backstage — made for a memorable experience for De Martini and his bandmates, he said.

“It’s an amazing landscape and great inspiration all around,” he said. “Everybody seems to be in good spirits and happy to be there.”

As musical tastes have splintered in the streaming era, Zac Brown Band is one of the dwindling number of pop acts pulling off a big-tent approach — making a bid to be the country band that non-country fans like, with a reputation for astonishing live show’s that anybody will love.

Ten years on from the band’s 2008 breakout hit, “Chicken Fried,” the Zac Brown Band’s sound is a country music that’s broadly defined and probably would have been called “rock” a generation ago. The Georgia-based, eight-man band ignores the traditional confines of the country label and is unafraid to experiment with the genre, digging into Allman Brothers-styled Southern rock jams and more far-flung territory. The band’s most recent album, “Welcome Home,” released last year, is a largely acoustic and straightforward rootsy record that followed 2015’s “Jekyll and Hyde,” which saw the band experimenting with the sounds of dance, pop and jazz.

De Martini, an Atlanta native, met Brown in 2004 when each of them were making the rounds on the local live music scene. After one gig, the bartender — Wyatt Durette, who has become one of Brown’s songwriting partners, including penning lyrics for “Colder Weather” — put De Martini in touch with Brown. De Martini sat in with Brown at a sports bar the following night, and after this unassuming gig Brown asked De Martini to join what would become Zac Brown Band.

“I knew there was something special the first time I played with Zac,” De Martini recalled.

Bar bands in Atlanta — like most everywhere — rely on cover songs to keep crowds engaged. Brown, for the most part, did not. That signaled to De Martini that Brown was on to something with his sound, his songwriting and his burly, bearded stage charm.

“With your originals, people don’t usually care too much,” he recalled. “The opposite was true of Zac. … I knew it was special. I don’t think I knew it would get quite to this level, because this is a dream come true.”

Ironically, now that the band is at the pinnacle of American pop music, cover songs are a staple of its vaunted live show.

On this summer tour, the band’s eclectic and unexpected choices of covers have drawn fans’ notice and sparked social media buzz. Sets have included inspired arrangements of selections far from Zac Brown Band’s country rock wheelhouse, like the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Living Color’s “Cult of Personality.”

A handful of the stadium shows have also included their spin on the Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching,” with which De Martini has a long personal history. He first made a living in music as the fiddler for the popular early 2000s Georgia-based outfit Dave Matthews Cover Band, playing the Boyd Tinsley parts.

“It’s cool, it’s a full-circle thing,” De Martini said.

When Zac Brown Band first played stadiums years later, it was opening for Dave Matthews. As they’ve returned to those venues this summer for the first time, they’ve honored those old days with “Ants Marching.”

“We were talking about it, like, ‘Remember the last time we played here we played with Dave Matthews Band? Let’s play ‘Ants Marching!'” recalled De Martini.

That spontaneity has been a cornerstone of the cover-heavy summer tour. The band spends an hour or so warming up in the tour bus before they take the stage and working on some surprises for each show.

“Sometimes we’ll have never played a song before and we’ll just run through it two times on the bus and then go play it in front of 20,000 people,” De Martini said. “It’s cool that we can do that.”

You can’t do that with some songs, though, he noted. Perfecting the mini rock opera movements and harmonies of their barn-burning take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for instance, required dedicated rehearsal time before the tour kicked off.

Meeting that challenge has impressed fellow musicians on tour. Nahko, the front man for Nahko and Medicine for the People, who opened for Zac Brown Band on three nights of the summer tour, recalled the first time he Brown and band attempt “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“He started playing Queen — anytime somebody starts playing Queen, you’re crossing your fingers that they don’t f— it up,” Nahko recalled this summer with a laugh. “And he slayed it. … That’s when you know a band can really play: when they can do a Queen cover really well.”

Sometimes nearly half the Zac Brown Band’s show is made up of covers, alongside older hits like “Knee Deep” and “Keep Me in Mind,” mixed in with a handful of songs from “Welcome Home” each night like the nostalgic trip to the band’s early days “Roots” and the father-son tearjerker “My Old Man.” They’ve been using the stadium spectacle to ratchet up the poignancy of “My Old Man,” shooting live video of fathers and sons in the crowd and playing it on the jumbo screens at stadiums along with old photos of the band members and their dads.

“It’s pretty emotional,” De Martini said.

The band has tour dates booked through October. After that, De Martini said, they plan to dig into their next album. They’ve already made progress on some songs — grabbing studio time between shows this summer. He is hopeful they’ll get a new record out in 2019.

“We’re definitely in that creative process now,” he said.


Native Son soars back after prolonged closure

With the help of search and rescue, both figuratively and literally speaking, Glenwood Springs’ Native Son has risen again.

The tapas bar, owned by Glenwood native Ricky Rodriguez, originally opened its doors in April. But when the local business lost its liquor license earlier this summer over a code violation that resulted in an extended closure, staying afloat proved challenging.

“We had to hustle into doing all kinds of different [catering] events from Eagle to, of course, the Roaring Fork Valley, and it was really good because it just showed the people that stayed with me how resilient they were and how resilient we became together to keep the brand alive,” Rodriguez said.

Alive and healthy, like the establishment’s Kombucha on tap, Native Son has reopened with the help of friend and search and rescue pilot Jack Montou.

The pilot, who flies for Classic Air Medical, and Rodriguez first crossed paths at a local gym where the two developed a close friendship. However, little did they know their coordinates would eventually land them as business partners.

“I’ve been flying for about 12 years,” Montou said. “I went to flight school, all civilian trained, and after that my dream was to do search and rescue work, and I think the most challenging terrain in the United States has to be right here in the heart of Colorado going over the Rocky Mountains.

“It’s challenging, but it’s definitely very rewarding, and I couldn’t beat it as far as a career goes,” Montou said.

While Montou flies in the front of the cockpit, he wanted Rodriguez to still ride shotgun at Native Son.

“I said, ‘I want this to be your baby,’” Montou said he told Rodriguez.

Native Son offers tapas plates, local libations and weekly entertainment in its Vegas-esque yet family-friendly atmosphere.

The revamped tapas menu offers everything from a cheese board comprising an artisan cheese trio, honey infused walnut, pepperoncini salsa and wild berry jam. One of Rodriguez’s personal favorite dishes is the pulled pork quesadilla featuring queso asadero cheese, tomatillo peach salsa and avocado crema.

“It’s a whole new tapas menu,” Rodriguez said. “It’s all local.”

Being a native, Rodriguez wanted Native Son’s menu to also showcase local gems.

Palisade fruit graces Native Son’s tapas menu while two nitro coffees, two mates, four Kombucha taps and an assortment of craft beer blesses its beverage selection.

“The entertainment is coming back too,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll be getting more live music in, and of course we have our DJs.

“We’re actually scheduling every night into more of a theme night. Wednesday we are going to be doing karaoke, and on Thursdays we are going to be doing a ladies night, where you buy a tapa and you get a glass of sangria on the house.”

With the layover now over, Native Son expects to be open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until midnight.

“[Rodriguez] sometimes, I think is misunderstood because he has his tattoos and haircut,” Montou says with a laugh. “Anyone who really knows him, and he does know a lot of people in town, will tell you he’s just the sweetest guy with a heart of gold.”

After reaching cruising altitude, Rodriguez said Native Son will serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday before making it a permanent, daily installment.

“Jack definitely came in and saved the day,” Rodriguez said. “The whole vision that we have, it’s like we’re sitting on a gold mine.”