Quilting is usually thought of as a social activity, but much of the work that went into the raffle quilt now on display at the Ouray Historical Museum was done in silence this past winter, by a dozen women, each taking her turn working on a common quilting frame. Both the silence and the work seem to fit the theme of the quilt, “High County Ranching.” The quilt uses photographic reproductions to depict authentic scenes of ranching life – branding, hog-slopping, plowing, herding – activities that generally don’t involve a lot of chitchat. The quilt’s attention to a realistic depiction of the past is scrupulous. Sixteen sepia-tone, ranching-history photos were selected by quilter Joan Chismire, who combed the collections not only of the Historical Museum and the Ridgway Library, but the Ranch History Museum in Colona for the best images. Over 30 brands from local ranches are also depicted on the quilt. Even the stitching reflects the ranching theme. The stitches “Are twisted and spiky to look like barbed wire,” says Sue Hillhouse, who headed the quilting team.
The centerpiece of the quilt links the thread of history with the present. It is a reproduction of “Elk Meadows Mother and Son,” a pastel of a cow and her calf by Ridgway artist Floyd Day. Day specializes in the close study of local bovines (his caption on one of the pastels on his website reads, “There are four types of bulls in the Ridgway area. This Hereford is near the main road and I love his strength”). Hillhouse was so struck by the vibrancy and specificity of this particular pastel, she knew the rest of the quilt had to be based on it. With Day’s permission, she made a photo of his work and transferred it onto a cloth piece using Photoshop and tracing. She broke the colors of the cows into six color values, “from black to light gold,” and found cloth to match. Martha Metzger hand-embroidered the wildflowers and grasses around the animals. The result is not only a beautiful covering for a bed or wall, but a historically-accurate depiction of ranching and the creatures that are, literally, at the center of it all. The quilt will be raffled September 28. Until then, it is on display at the Museum.
Music in Ouray, Ridgway and Montrose
Concert season is upon us, and some of the biggest names will soon take the stage in Telluride at the Bluegrass and other festivals. But down valley, the selection of music on offer this summer is not only just as great, but possibly more diverse. Over the next week, for example, visitors to Ouray, Montrose and Ridgway will be able to take in not only folk supergroup Red Horse at the Wright Opera House and the inauguration of the free weekly Mountain Air Music Series in Ouray’s Fellin Park, but a New Orleans-based, honky-tonkin’ country-and-western swing band, a mountain dulcimer player, and a Tibetan pop star – all for, at most, $5.
The musical extravaganza kicks off at 6 p.m. tonight in Fellin Park with country-rockabilly band Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams, the first group in the initial iteration of the Mountain Air Music Series; the open-air concert series continues in Ridgway beginning in July, and in Paonia in August. This is a great chance to hear not only the Hi-Beams for free, but the acoustic duo Honey Don’t, which opens for the Hi-Beams, and is slated to play the Wright Opera House next Friday, June 22 (when tickets will be required). In fact, despite their name Honey Don’t, Honey will play not once, but twice this evening. It’s a Mountain Air Series Tradition that the opening act offers an encore in a local bar after the main act wraps, so if you miss them the first go-round, catch the Honeys at O’Brien’s pub after the show tonight (and don’t forget to order the fish and chips).
On Sunday, June 17 the hybrid country/western-swing band Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue swings by the recently-restored Sherbino Theater in Ridgway. The band is fronted by Vanessa Niemann – the “Gal” in Holiday – who sounds an awful lot like Patsy Cline. As a critic for The Examiner put it, “To hear Gal Holiday…is to hear the authentic quality root of modern rock and roll and country that too many fat businessmen in tall glass buildings have bastardized.” Gal’s music is inspired by western swing bands like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, “but when we play in Texas, we don’t sound the same” as other bands, Niemann says. “Our music definitely has an extra ‘swing’ note to it that comes from living and playing in New Orleans. It’s impossible not to pick that up if you’ve lived there for years. It’s in pretty much all our music.” To get a taste of what she means, check out Rainy Nights, Sunny Days, one of the band’s most recent tunes, along with the rest of their music at galholiday.com. Admission to the concert is just $5, but given the strength and expressiveness of Niemann’s voice and the band’s musicianship, it’s hard to believe next time they pass through this area, a ticket to their show won’t be harder to come by.
Down the road to Montrose…where this Friday, June 8, Tibetan pop star Ringzin Dolma will play a free concert at Montrose Methodist Church. The concert is sponsored by the Western Colorado Friends of the Himalayas. When Westerners think of Tibetan music, they often think of chanting, says WCFH board member Elisabeth Gick. Tibetan pop music, by contrast, is softer-sounding and more melodious. Dolma has a sweet, mellifluous voice. She is known as the voice of “an angel” in her native land, not only for the sound of her singing but for the work she does supporting rural Tibetan schools. The concert is free, but donations are much appreciated. Dolma’s main purpose in visiting Montrose is actually not to sing, but to visit a close friend, one of several Tibetans adopted as children by Bill Duckworth, the former leader of the Western Colorado Friends of Tibet (now WCFH). The chance to hear her sing “is really way cool,” Gick says, “because normally she wouldn’t be here.”
Also in Montrose, the Regional Library will host entertainer Kevin Roth on Weds., June 13. Roth, who plays the mountain dulcimer, will play two shows. At 10:30 a.m., he will perform for children, and at 7 p.m., he will offer a tribute to the folk music of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and others. Parents magazine has called Roth “perhaps everything a children’s musician should be – funny, sweet, entertaining and a little bit silly.” Janet Oslund, the library’s head of children’s services, says of the performance, “Whenever we have an opportunity to bring a notable performer to the library for children, we do. We want to expose them to different types of music.” This particular program is part of the library’s summer cultural enrichment effort that includes workshops in puppetry, dance, and creative writing as well as (of course) reading. It’s all part of an effort to combat “summer learning loss,” a phrase that describes what can happen when children get too far away from the learning process for too long (such as over summer break). Earlier this spring, Oslund explained to seven consecutive groups of first graders the programs the library offers. Then she gave them library cards. “I get melodramatic,” she says. “I raise my voice and say, ‘You don’t want to suffer summer learning loss, do you?’” Each time, dozens of young voices replied, “Nooo!”