Ute Theater brings back live audience with fourth annual Country Music Show
Aundrea Ware loves to perform music, but there’s something about having a live audience in front of her that can’t be replicated. It’s been roughly a year since Ware had a crowd to play for, and now, the last place she played before the pandemic began comes full-circle as the first place she gets to play since the onset of COVID-19 for a live audience once more.
This Saturday is the fourth annual Country Music Show at the Ute Theater and the first event with a live audience since last year when the COVID-19 outbreak began. Ware sings for Feeding Giants, a three-piece acoustic group who’s been involved with this event since 2019. She also wears multiple hats when it comes to arts in the valley: she’s a member of the NUTS Board, the nonprofit arm of the Ute Theater and plays in two other bands outside of Feeding Giants. Ware said the 2020 Country Music Show was the last time she had performed for a live audience and that the Ute Theater held an in-person event prior to the pandemic.
“I’m excited to hear the clapping of the audience at the end (of songs). There’s such an energy that happens between the audience and the performers on stage that’s just magical,” Ware said.
The theater is sticking to COVID-19 guidelines by only allowing about 60 audience members to attend the event. Tables will be spread out across the theater and reserved for donors who helped make the show possible and contributed to the NUTS scholarship fund. Ware said the applications for the two scholarships are available to Re-2 high school graduating seniors who are planning to continue their higher education in order to pursue a career in the arts.
“We’re bringing entertainment to the community, we’re getting that live audience. The Ute is going strong in having an actual live audience. We’re incorporating local theater groups, local musicians. And of course benefiting the local high school seniors as well. How many people are going to benefit from this concert is just so awesome and so amazing that we have the opportunity to do this,” Ware said.
Since only sponsors will be able to attend the show in-person, the NUTS Board will also be streaming the show on their Facebook page and website. The performance will also be broadcast by KMTS radio and Rifle Community TV. Jennetta Howell, a member of Defiance Community Players, took on the task of keeping those watching the live stream entertained in between bands. She cast and directed musicians who will be performing iconic comedy skits from the original show Hee Haw.
“It’s so fun because the folks that are going to be coming out playing music as a band are also wearing a different hat that night, and they’re gonna become actors from the ‘Hee Haw’ show. … The hilarity will be abundant. I think people will just have a ball, it’s going to be like ‘oh my gosh, what are they gonna do next?’” Howell said.
The performances will be free to stream, but scholarship fund donations will be accepted on the Ute Theater website or Facebook page. The featured bands are Ward and Ware, Jay Fellers, Feeding Giants and A Band Called Alexis. Jennetta Howell, Alexis States and Julie Maniscalchi will also take the stage to lend a hand with the Hee Haw tributes. Alexis States, from A Band Called Alexis, said it will be a great event folks won’t want to miss, and that this performance reopens the performing season for her band. The group was able to do some private performances throughout Covid, but the live audience is something they’re looking forward to.
“We’re excited, this is kind of kicking off our season,” States said. “We’ll be at the Warehouse next Saturday in Grand Junction and we’ll be in Denver (April 2). This is kind of kicking off our live music performing season in front of audiences again where people get to purchase tickets, come have some drinks, spend time with their friends and families and enjoy a band that they want to come see.”
For young, aspiring artists, States said her advice is to remember to stay true to yourself as they come to understand who they are as an artist, performer. States said she was singing in church at 3 years old and that’s where it all started for her. The scholarship for local high schoolers is important, she said, because she has seen the role music can play in the lives of both kids and adults.
“There’s a lot of people that support you, but it’s easy to lose focus of what’s important and what you’re out there really doing, and what you’re doing it for. Stay true to yourself, stay passionate, find that goal and work towards it. Because I don’t think there’s anyone that’s famous that will tell you that it’s easy,” States said.
Photo from the 2019 Country Music Show at the Ute Theater. The performing bands were Stone Kitchen, Joey Ball and the New Mam Creek Band, Feeding Giants and LeverAction.
– The livestream is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 13.
– Support the scholarship fund through the Donate button on the Ute website or on the Facebook livestream page.
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