Carbondale guitar shop celebrates three major milestones |

Carbondale guitar shop celebrates three major milestones

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Stina Sieg Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” If you’ve ever seen Steve Standiford inside his little listening room, you know this is true: When he’s at Steve’s Guitars, he’s almost always smiling.

So it was a few days ago, as he addressed a crowd assembled for the 369th consecutive Friday night of live music at his quaint joint.

“Every single time is a new experience ” for me and everybody who’s on stage,” he told them.

That anniversary show was no different.

There were three big milestones to speak of that night. It represented seven years of the Friday shows, 10 years of Standiford being in that space and 15 years of him being in the guitar business. He’d invited a group of his favorite musical friends to help him celebrate.

And, like any party worth its salt, the event was as unpredictable as the snowy weather outside.

In the beginning, the attendance was light. For the first few minutes, the room looked more like a music museum than a venue, its ceiling heavy with every kind of guitar you could imagine. There was a sexy, red, electric one and one with a painting of a dog on it, even one covered in rhinestones. In the room behind the stage, a few musicians were hanging out, talking and tuning underneath walls papered with posters from old shows and vintage record covers. As people started to trickle in, it was completely casual, yet everyone was excited and respectful as each new act took to the stage.

They clapped heartily for Jimmy Polowchena and his electrified blues. When Sue Krehbiel started singing in her vibrato-filled voice, the audience laughed at her funny songs and were silent during her serious ones. At one point, she forgot the lyrics to a tune and had to start over. She just chuckled, and the crowd chuckled, and it all felt fine.

As Dan Sheridan strummed his guitar and sung about how “big money ruins everything,” people clapped in agreement.

“Is there anything more gorgeous than a man in a full-length fur coat?” he asked, sarcastically.

And belly laughs could be heard throughout the place.

By the time stringed duo Don and April Paine started to play, almost every seat was full. As they did their twangy rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” it was as though everyone, on the stage and off, was beaming.

When closing act Lorraine and Craig Curry, along with Marc Bruell, finished their set of hard-hitting bluegrass, the crowd didn’t seem ready to leave. While a few people took off, a good deal stuck around, pulling out instruments and starting an impromptu jam session. Though many had never played together before, they spent at least another hour making music.

It was like a cozy community in there.

“They always make us feel like family. We’re like extended Standifords,” said Lorraine Curry speaking of Standiford, his wife, Mary Margaret and their daughter, Shannon.

She went on about Steve’s being “the best listening room in the valley.” She described how much she likes it that people are there to truly hear music and socialize. It’s no bar scene, she stressed.

Others were quick to heap on the praise, too. Polowchena talked about Steve’s being so “accessible.” It’s very visual, he added, dubbing the place’s walls “eye candy.”

Krehbiel, who’s been playing at the venue for at least six years, called it “intimate” and “low-key.” A songwriter since childhood, she had never really performed anywhere before Steve’s. Somehow, this place let her feel comfortable enough to share herself that way. As she put it, “I came out of the closet in Steve’s Guitars.”

When asked about how things might have been without the room, she answered adamantly.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be playing,” she said. “I mean, where would I play?”

Standiford was too preoccupied greeting people and watching the show intently to hear any of those high marks from folks. Through much of the night, he was the one sitting right in front of the stage, and tapping his toes and bobbing his head more than anyone else in sight. He looked so happy.

“Oh, it was great fun,” he said, after the show was all done.

Though the weekly music was his original idea, he shied away from taking too much credit for the phenomenon. Sure, it’s him who finds someone to play every Friday ” regardless of whether it’s a big headliner like John Oates or a new musician, just starting out. Sure, if no one showed, he’d be down there, strumming his own guitar. Still, he feels no more responsible for the lovely atmosphere than a surfer does for some great wave. He keeps the rent paid, does his part, but after that, every musical experience is up to chance.

“It’s like the room is some sort of vessel, where you put in the most basic ingredients, and a new dish comes out every time,” he said.

He wouldn’t call what he feels “pride.” It’s more about gratitude. It’s thankfulness, he explained.

And, as he was saying all that, he had this look of awe on his face.

“Wasn’t tonight sweet?” he asked. “Wasn’t it sweet?”

Yes, Steve, it was. It really was.

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111


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