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Art Scene

Christina Brusig
Staff Photo |

Adagio Days

In music, the tempo is slow and graceful. In dance, a ballerina and her partner perform steps requiring lyricism and great skill in lifting, balancing and turning.

Summer slows us down, and the beat of life lightens up for a while, but we still need to keep the great skill of balancing it all in play. Part of that is making sure we take time for ourselves. We’ve got some suggestions.

The Dog Show

“Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.”Wynton Marsalis

This show won’t have anyone running their dog around an arena as a muted voice informs the audience of the vast heritage of that particular pooch, but what we can promise is one fun night.

Our latest exhibit is all about the dog, and we launch it tonight with our artists and leashed friends reception. Amateurs, students and professional artists brought us their best in sculpture, drawing and painting. There is a regal pink poodle, tiny black retrievers running up twisted copper wire trying to fetch, impressions in dazzling colors and muted statements and much more. Bring a friend, and join us at 6 p.m. today at the Art Center, 601 E. Sixth St.

Bow Wow Film Tour

We are proud to host this delightful evening at 7 p.m. on July 19 at the Art Center, with proceeds going to Colorado Animal Rescue. Get tickets online at CARE and support their essential work.

Summer of Music — Season 5

The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts continues our SOM musical home runs Wednesday, July 15, when we present blues giant Otis Taylor and his band.

With Otis Taylor, it’s best to expect the unexpected. While his music, an amalgamation of roots styles in their rawest form, discusses heavyweight issues like murder, homelessness, tyranny and injustice, his personal style is lighthearted.

“I’m good at dark, but I’m not a particularly unhappy person,” he says. “I’d just like to make enough money to buy a Porsche.”

Part of Taylor’s appeal is his contrasting character traits. But it is precisely this element of surprise that makes him one of the most compelling artists to emerge in recent years. In fact, Guitar Player magazine writes, “Otis Taylor is arguably the most relevant blues artist of our time.”

Born in Chicago in 1948, his family moved to Denver, where an adolescent’s interest in blues and folk was cultivated. Both his parents were big music fans.

“I was raised with jazz musicians,” Taylor says. “My dad worked for the railroad and knew a lot of jazz people. He was a socialist and real bebopper.”

His mother, Sarah, a tough-as-nails woman with liberal leanings, had a penchant for Etta James and Pat Boone. Young Otis spent time at the Denver Folklore Center, where he bought his first instrument, a banjo. He used to play it while riding his unicycle to high school. The Folklore Center was also the place where he first heard Mississippi John Hurt and country blues. He learned to play guitar and harmonica and by his mid-teens, and he formed his first groups: the Butterscotch Fire Department Blues Band and, later, the Otis Taylor Blues Band. He decided to take a hiatus from the music business in 1977.

After years of prodding from his musical mentor (all-star bass player Kenny Passarelli), Otis returned to the stage. It was 1995, in an intimate room in Boulder’s “Hill” district. He was joined on stage by sideman to the stars, Kenny Passarelli, and ace guitarist Eddie Turner. A magazine writer on hand reported: “The combination was magic; Taylor’s unique singing style blended perfectly with Passarelli’s rock steady virtuosity and Turnet’s rock-roll tinged riffs.”

Response to the “one-time gig” was so strong that Taylor decided to return to the music scene. Otis Taylor was back to stay.

In addition to traditional touring and recording, Taylor spearheads a Blues in the Schools program called “Writing the Blues.” Conceived by his wife, he appears at elementary schools and universities around the country to offer advice, enlighten and mentor students about the blues.

“I start by asking them to write down what makes them sad: fears, disappointments, losses, whatever. It is just amazing to see some of these nuggets, these incredible thoughts. They are often simple sentences but so real, so sad, so true, so pure.”

For Taylor, it’s an opportunity to connect with others and help others to connect with themselves. And, it allows him to do his part in ensuring that the blues, and the ability to share life experiences, will continue in the next generation.

Opening the evening will be another legend, Damian Smith and his True Story Band. Damian will handle the guitar and vocals, with Terry Bannon on keys. They will be joined by special guests Darin Elwell of Glenwood Springs on drums, valley music veteran Chris Bank on sax and vocals and Julian Gregory on percussion.

Join us tonight for some of the best blues around.

“Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.” — Wynton Marsalis

Christina Brusig is the executive director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. She can be reached at christina@glenwoodarts.org.


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