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KDNK Talent Show revived

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CARBONDALE – The Carbondale Talent Show is back – again.It may never be the same as it was back in the rowdy 1970s and ’80s, or even the more tame ’90s. It will, once again, evolve. What you see this weekend at the Thunder River Theatre in downtown Carbondale will be a reflection of what Carbondale is today.For longtime former Carbondale and now Aspen resident Ray Adams, it will be his first talent show sober. The talent show was conceived in Adams’ living room in the late 1970s.”Back in the ’70s, (Valley Journal co-founder) Pat Noel and John Palmer came over to my house. It was spring and we were bored, and right there the talent show was born,” said Adams, referring to the two founders who came up with the idea at the Black Nugget, scheming up ways to meet girls before coming to his house.”The first talent show was kind of an off-the-cuff thing,” Adams said of the show, held at the old Crystal Theater before it was a movie theater.”The band refused to rehearse with any of the acts, and the opening night was absolute chaos,” he recalled. “We had trouble stopping laughing; it’s one of those signature nights that you could never re-create.”KDNK isn’t even going to try to re-create what once was. It’s just opening up the stage to today’s Bonedalians to show off what they’ve got. Are the townsfolk funny? Are they creative? Do they have that swagger that defined the talent shows of yesteryear?Well, you’ll just have to come on out and see how Carbondale has evolved.

Evolution is the theme for the “Certainly Not the First, Never the Last, Ever Evolving Carbondale Talent Show.””The theme hits on a lot of levels,” said KDNK development director Amy Kimberly. “In the general world today we all need to evolve so there will be a world for future generations and the fact that right here in Carbondale the talent show has evolved. It’s a very creative subject one can do a lot with.”The talent show became a springtime tradition in Carbondale throughout the 1980s and into the early ’90s, coinciding with Mother’s Day weekend and bouncing around to various venues from the Crystal Theater, to the old Barry’s Garage building, to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School Barn, to the old Yellow Front store in the Sopris Shopping Center, and even a “magical mystery tour” roadtrip down to Glenwood Springs one year. The show died in the mid-’90s for lack of a regular venue. Palmer plans to be at this weekend’s show, and he said he has a positive attitude. But he knows he can’t expect it to be what it used to be.”The town has changed, and the talent show will certainly reflect that,” said Palmer. “It was a narrower demographic that we had in town, and the talent show brought out a neat mix of all of the subcultures as the town changed from mining community to a bedroom community to what it is now. “Who would’ve expected people golfing on one side of the tracks, and people illegally trying to make a living providing for their families on the other.”Times changed for Palmer and his contemporaries who were “partying like maniacs” in those early days, then settled down with 2.5 kids and a mortgage.And times have changed for the Carbondale Police force, which used to take the night off work and get the sheriff’s department to cover for them so they could be in the show, even showing off their studly figures one year in a Chip-n-Dales skit. Now, the department is too busy dealing with fights, noise complaints and parking problems to be in the show. “I loved it. It made my life better,” Palmer said. “It really defined Carbondale culture in the ’70s and ’80s; we felt a real sense of community, and we were all invested in it. It got really tribal; maybe we’ll get that feeling again.”Ex-talent show producer and former Carbondale Town Councilman Mike Speer will even be traveling over from Denver to help emcee the show. He said he’s coming back because he loves Carbondale, KDNK and the original organizers who started something special.

“I think some magic will be created, but it definitely will not be the same. I guess change is a good thing, the new people that are coming will probably think it’s the best it’s ever been,” said Speer, a Channel 7 News personality in Denver. “It’s not my show, but if they want me to talk and have some fun with some of the old-timers and make some fun of our generation and reminisce about the old times, I will.”There are a lot of wonderful memories, but I’m not sure how much the current population will give a flying (crap),” he said.KDNK Station Manager Steve Skinner said the talent show is an extension of what KDNK does. “Our mission is to connect community members to each other and to the rest of the world. We are opening the stage for people and giving them a venue to perform,” said Skinner, a former talent show regular who is producing the show along with Kimberly. “There will be some ringers and some surprises. We have salsa dancers and jugglers and a 13-year-old soul singer that will knock your socks off.”Skinner is responsible for reviving the talent show in 1999 and again in 2002 as a fundraiser for the Carbondale and Aspen Community Schools. He started talking about bringing back the talent show when he took the job as station manager at KDNK earlier this year.”It’s nice to be working in a professional theater,” said Skinner, who will lead the house band for the evening, The Native Species. “I’m a total theater guy. I dream in color. We’re going to have lighting, instruments and special effects.”Some of the founding fathers will be at this weekend’s show, if not in the show. As many of them noted, you never know what’s going to happen at the talent show.”John Palmer, Pat Noel, Mike Speer and myself will all be at a table together. It will be a reunion,” said Adams, aka Ramoan (he said he likes to moan) of the original house band the Moanettes. “It’s evolved. When I moved (to Carbondale) in the 1970s it was like an artists’ community, there were a lot of ex-pats from Aspen that saw the writing on the wall. Even after 25 years living in Aspen, Carbondale is closer to my heart.”KDNK seeks to stimulate, educate and entertain its audience. With the talent show, the local public radio station will do all that and more.



“The community is really going to throw down,” said Skinner, who encourages audience members to dress up for Halloween and contribute to the show. “There will be audience participation. The judges will be picked at random in the audience. There will be a lot of that messy vitality with a professional edge.”It’s not just a free-for-all. It will be carefully scripted so the wheels fly off at all the right times,” he said.The future is uncertain, so eat dessert first and go and see the talent show – there’s no telling what you could be missing.Today’s and Saturday’s shows start at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m., at the Thunder River Theatre, 67 Promenade. Tickets are $23 for KDNK members and $25 for nonmembers and are available at KDNK or Sounds Easy. Call 963-0139 for more information or to volunteer.

• When: 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m., today and Saturday• Where: Thunder River Theatre, 67 Promenade• How much: $23/KDNK members, $25/nonmembers, available at KDNK or Sounds Easy• More information or to volunteer: 963-0139


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