The weather is turning chilly with winter closing in. As the year winds down with fetes, feasts and fraternity, I get wistful thinking about MusicFest at Steamboat Springs. If you have never been, you owe it to yourself to take the trip one of these years. It happens just after the first of the year, January 5th through the 10th this time around. So when you are facing the last round of New Year's festivities, you have to pace yourself to have enough energy left to make it through an extra 10 days of rocking and rolling. And what a time it is: Texas, Red Dirt and Americana music; The Rocky Mountains and gentle gossamer snowflakes. Sometimes blistering cold, so you have to wear layers, and you have to be prepared to strip them off once indoors. It is the perfect time of year, a fresh start in the fresh snowfall, with Christmas lights still twinkling in the pines. The event is welcoming, set amongst this beauty, and is enhanced even further by the quality of music and the spirit of the camaraderie. The MusicFest Tribute, an annual event, happens on January 8th at the Steamboat Grand Ballroom. It consists of two sets, with the first being a salute by the other MusicFest artists doing cover songs in homage, and then a set by the tributee! Past honorees include Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark, Leon Russell, and Kevin Welch. The series is curated by Dr. Gary Hartman, the director of the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University, which is the beneficiary.
This year's MusicFest Tribute artist is Rodney Crowell. Rodney has had, and continues to have, an impressive career, with mainstream country success, and legions of A-List artists who have covered his extensive music catalog. At the turn of the century, Rodney got to reinvent himself, mining introspection, emotion, and current events for an impressive decade of CDs, with the first of the new era being 2001's The Houston Kid. And there is more news, as on January 18th, 2011 Rodney's memoir Chinaberry Sidewalks will be published. He will embark on a series of intimate, one-man shows the end of next month, playing guitar, singing, and re-living the stories in the book. Be on the lookout for a special package of a hardcover copy of the book, an exclusive digital live album, and a VIP laminate for access to a backstage meet and greet with Rodney. For tour dates, and the package, check his website.
Rodney came to visit us in Nashville during our Americana Fest sessions at the Sheraton. He played a particularly haunting tune from The Houston Kid CD, "Highway 17."
- Jessie Scott