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Rifle’s Ute Theater concert series welcomes bluegrass by Elk Range this Thursday

Members of Elk Range performing as a duo, with Ken Gentry on mandolin and Curtis Fiore on guitar. When the group plays as a trio, they're joined by Betty Hoops on harmonica.

This Thursday from 6-9 p.m. at the Ute Theater Concert Patio series, Elk Range, a bluegrass duo that often plays as a trio or quartet, will be performing and sharing their sound with all of downtown Rifle.

Ken Gentry, the band’s mandolin player, said one of their friend’s observations about Elk Range’s energy while performing really hit the nail on the head.

“Our friend kind of coined it best, and she said ‘if it ain’t fast, it ain’t Elk Range bluegrass,’” Gentry said.



Aundrea Ware, one of the members of the New Ute Theatre Society, or NUTS Board, said that originally the free, outdoor live music series was only meant to last through the month of May. But thanks to the positive turnout from community members, the society will now be putting together a lineup to last through the entire summer.

The Ute Theater hosts one of its May patio concerts outdoors celebrating the return of live music.

“We’ve had a great response from the community. It’s just fun to have the concerts outside in the fresh air. When we started, we were still under those COVID restrictions at the time so we haven’t been able to do much inside. So, we were really trying to bring live music by bringing it outside,” Ware said.



The second half of the Elk Range duo, Curtis Fiore, who plays guitar, connected with Gentry during a jam session at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival back in 2015 and the two have continued playing together ever since. Both Gentry and Fiore are also singer songwriters and will be joined by musician Betty Hoops on the harmonica when they perform as a trio and Hugh Phillips on the bass for quartet performances.

“Ken, he’s from St. Louis so you know, big blues scene out there. When we first started playing, we would always call it ‘blues-grass,’ but then you know, some of our biggest influencers are in a jam band scene, too. So it’s kind of just this fast, jammy bluegrass sound. With a good influence from folk too,” Fiore said.

For the Thursday night shows, the Ute will have an open bar with drink specials and Ware said attendees are encouraged to pick up takeout from some of the local Rifle eateries to bring with them to enjoy during the concerts. The New Ute Theatre Society is also actively looking for more volunteers to help put together more community events and keep giving local musicians the opportunity to perform.

Scheduled bands for the Ute Theater Patio Concert series in May, which now will be extended throughout the rest of the summer.

“We’re a nonprofit organization and we’re 100% volunteer. So, we have lots of volunteer opportunities and it’s super fun because you get to see the concerts, too. … We need people to help with ticket sales, just being there when events are happening, helping usher people to their seats, we are volunteers who need volunteers,” Ware said.

Elk Range just released their first album “The Long Winding Road” which can be pre-ordered on their website and has songs that will be featured during their performance this Thursday.

Members of Elk Range performing as a duo, with Ken Gentry on mandolin and Curtis Fiore on guitar. When the group plays as a trio, they're joined by Betty Hoops on harmonica.

“We’re just really excited to play there … it’s a well-established, classic venue in the valley or even outside the valley. We’d like for everyone to come out and have a good time, experience some new local music, check out the CD and come one come all for a good time,” Gentry said.

Volunteer with the Ute Theater


Members of Elk Range performing as a duo, with Ken Gentry on mandolin and Curtis Fiore on guitar. When the group plays as a trio, they’re joined by Betty Hoops on harmonica.

– Visit the website: utetheater.com

– Go to Support the Ute, click on the Volunteer Tab and submit an application.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.


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