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Steamboat Magazine

Strings heats up the winter with everything from boogie woogie to bluegrass

12/07/2012 10:31AM ● By Christina Freeman

Five concerts have aligned to delight audiences of all ages throughout the winter at the Strings Music Pavilion. The iconic Steamboat summer festival has a rollicking show to celebrate every holiday during the snowy season, plus a Spring Equinox kicker that’s guaranteed to share the tail feathers.

A family performance of “Peter and the Wolf” produced by celebrated Master Puppeteer Jim Gamble warms up the holiday season at 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 20. Based on Prokofiev’s famous musical tale, this endearing production features rod puppets that interpret the classic story in a “curtain of light” on a black box stage that renders the puppeteer virtually invisible. The performance includes not only the familiar characters and music, but an updated script that enables animated instruments to come alive during the story and acquaint Strings’ young audience with the sights and sounds of an orchestra. Gamble has more than 50 years of performing credits as a professional puppeteer, appearing around the world with a repertoire of original state-of-the art productions. General admission tickets for “Peter and the Wolf” cost $10 for adults and $3 for children.

Uber-charismatic jazz pianist Michael Kaeshammer (pronounced “case-hammer”) is famous for mesmerizing his live audiences. His fiery piano chops and quick-witted humor will light up the Winter Solstice and Strings’ holiday season at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 21. Kaeshammer grew up in Germany studying classical piano. But by the age 13, he’d already fallen in love with the styles of Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson, Pinetop Smith and Fats Waller. He developed a penchant for stride and boogie woogie, and exposure to artists like Professor Longhair and James Booker further drew him into his open-minded, open-eared approach to music. “Kaeshammer…has spent considerable time in New Orleans and seems to have soaked up every drop of musical atmosphere the Big Easy has to offer,” says Jazz Times Magazine. “He’s a showman. And showmanship is what makes people talk,” says the Montreal Gazette. “If you haven’t seen him live, you haven’t really experienced him in his true element.” General admission tickets for Michael Kaeshammer cost $48 for adults and $25 for juniors.

Guaranteed to win your heart on Valentine’s Dan, five-time Grammy Award nominee Marcia Ball brings her groove-laden New Orleans boogie and rollicking Gulf Coast blues to the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 14. During her 40-year career, Texas-born, Louisiana-raised pianist/vocalist/songwriter Marcia Ball has become a woman with a reputation for igniting a full-scale roadhouse rhythm and blues party every time she strolls on stage. The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee has been honored as the Blues Music Award Piano Player of the Year for five of the last eight years – and in both of the past two years she was tapped as female Blues Artist of the Year. Rolling Stone calls Marcia Ball’s music, “Rollicking, playful, good time blues and intimate, reflective balladry...her songs ring with emotional depth.”Her new CD, Roadside Attractions, is her 15th solo recording, inspired by her years on the road and full of tales of wild parties and twisted motel affairs, ultimately declaring the enduring power of love and family. The Boston Herald says, “Ball plays masterful, red hot tracks from the Texas-Louisiana border. Her voice can break your heart with a ballad or break your back with a rocker.” Reserved seating tickets for Marcia Ball start at $39.

St Patrick’s Day rolls in with the high-energy Irish infusion of The Fighting Jamesons, performing at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 15. Expect “a healthy respect for Irish music tradition delivered with a decidedly modern attitude…The band has quickly made a name for itself, thanks to its fiery high-energy shows. Think sing-along choruses, the occasional guest bagpiper and hoisted pints of Guinness,” says The Virginian Pilot. The Fighting Jamesons deliver a traditional style of music with an aggressive and energetic modern-day approach. They’ve shared the stage with legendary Irish rock acts such as Dropkick Murphys, The Saw Doctors and Young Dubliners – and they are known for being at their best during live performances. A reviewer on raves, “The Fighting Jamesons have taken their first in what we hope is a long, whiskey-fueled career of making people have fun with the rollicking hybrid of Irish traditional and American rock ‘n’ roll.” Reserved seating tickets for The Fighting Jamesons start at $25. 

Hailing the arrival of spring and the promise of summer’s festival season soon to come, legendary musicians Sam Bush and Del McCoury take the stage for an epic evening of acoustic bluegrass at Strings at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 22. Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist Sam Bush is known as the King of Newgrass, a style of bluegrass he pioneered in the 1970s along with Bela Fleck, Courtney Johnson and others. For more than 50 years, Del McCoury’s music has defined bluegrass, earning him a Grammy, nine IBMA Entertainer of the Year Awards, membership in the Grand Ole Opry, and collaborations with everyone from Dierks Bentley to Phish. Both men grew up playing traditional bluegrass, but their openness to expanding the genre has set them apart in recent years, bringing numerous young fans to their eclectic modern twists on old time music. The Chicago Tribune says, “Bush is as well-known for his humor as he is for his musical talent. Ditto for McCoury….Get ready for some priceless storytelling. The music is recommended without reservation, and the fact that two of the sharpest wits in bluegrass are teaming up makes this a must-see show.” Reserved seating tickets for Sam Bush and Del McCoury start at $45.

Strings’ specially priced 2013 Winter Pass gets you into Marcia Ball, The Fighting Jamesons, and Sam Bush and Del McCoury start at $93. All performances are in the Strings Music Pavilion. Individual concert tickets and the Winter Pass are available at Strings Music Festival online at or by phone, 970-879-5056 x105.

“Peter and the Wolf” is generously sponsored by Mike and Jan Gasser,
and Bruce and Jane Hannon

Michael Kaeshammer’s concert is generously sponsored by Gay A. Roane,
with additional support from an anonymous donor, Beth Findell and Sandy Horner

The mission of Strings Music Festival is to present innovative programs of distinctive classical and popular contemporary music in an intimate and friendly setting to audiences of all ages, enhancing the cultural, educational and entertainment experiences of the community of Northwest Colorado and its visitors.

Strings Music Festival is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization with an active 21-member Board of Directors, a Guild of 65 members, and an additional 100+ volunteers working throughout the season.