2013 Articles

by Tim Van Schmidt

Television Tunes

Alicia Keys, Beyonce, February 3, 2013 Super Bowl broadcast
Shirley Bassey, Adele, February 24, 2013 Academy Awards broadcast

For all the flash, sparkle, costuming and guest star appearances of Beyonce’s busy Super Bowl performance, I got way more emotion out of Alicia Keys’ fine solo spot early in the program, singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Keys had it right- start out slow and purposeful- breaking the lyrics into small bites perfect for carrying across a huge stadium. She started simply, then allowed the melody to swell towards the end with just a little bit of personal style. That’s pure class.

Great musical style was also on stage at this year’s Academy Awards. Special musical guest vocalist Shirley Bassey performed the theme song from James Bond thriller “Goldfinger.” Bassey was the original vocalist on the record and while her voice may have gotten a little huskier many years later, the roar of the song’s finale still made the stars in the audience leap to their feet in a standing ovation.

Also worthy of a standing ovation at the Oscars:  Adele’s smoldering performance of the theme song for “Skyfall.” Both performances paid fitting tribute to the 50th anniversary of Bond movies- and their great music.

Music City, Colorado

Such sweet victory.

That’s the satisfaction I felt after seeing today’s front page story about the Fort Collins music scene in the Denver Post. There it was- a headline proclaiming Fort Collins “Music City, CO.”

This is something we have working on for a long time in Fort Collins. Many like-minded people here have known that music- particularly live music- is a valuable resource in Fort Collins. Back in 1993, a number of these like-minded people founded a local music festival called the Northern Colorado Musicfest and in 1997, and for several years afterwards, the festival was called the “Music City of the Rockies Festival.”

Finally, 16 years later, the Denver Post has got it right.

But the Denver Post doesn’t know any of the long history of music activism in Fort Collins- they know what’s happening now- with Spokesbuzz, FoCoMX and Bohemian Nights and much more. That’s because some pretty powerful people have stepped up and propelled the Fort Collins music scene into another higher gear.

But these people and the people before them and the people before them built a solid reputation for Fort Collins as a great music town because the town just attracts musicians like crazy and everybody else likes hearing them play.

It’s like Pat Stryker says in the Denver Post article, “music is simply everywhere” in Fort Collins. I laugh to myself that you cannot go down to Old Town Fort Collins without stepping on a musician- they seem to be under every rock around here.

In his article, writer Ricardo Baca goes so far as to say that Fort Collins has surpassed Boulder as the most significant music producing town in Colorado- outside of Denver, that is.

This comment is also sweet victory.

When I first moved to Colorado in 1980, my first job was as a clerk at Rocky Mountain Records. It was the quintessential record store job. Rockmo had several locations throughout Colorado- including Boulder- but the owner of the chain lived in Fort Collins. So, that year I worked at the record store, the Rockmo company party was held in Fort Collins. The Boulder employees in particular made it known what a chore it was to come to a “cow town” like Fort Collins.

Fort Collins doesn’t seem to be a cow town anymore.

March 15, 2013.

Rodriguez is coming!!

Up until a few days ago, I had never heard of Rodriguez. Sixto Rodriguez, that is.

Rodriguez is the subject of a popular documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man”- a Detroit singer-songwriter whose recordings disappeared everywhere but in South Africa. Some dedicated fans in South Africa- primarily a record shop owner and a music journalist- began looking for an artist who made a significant impact on South Africa without even knowing it. And they not only found him, but brought him to their country to be lauded as a hero.

When I saw the movie just a few nights ago, it didn’t take me long to start cheering along with everyone else for this guy. I liked his music alright, even if it did have a kind of anachronistic flavor. The songwriting seemed great- personally challenging, even political but with an artist’s sense of poetry. Rodriguez himself seemed very cool- and humble.

But what I liked most about this feel-good movie was the story itself. Not about Rodriguez himself, particularly, but about how his current recognition has come after years and years in obscurity.

For every successful musician out in the world, there must be 10,000 musicians who never taste “success.” Their work may be excellent- like Rodriguez’s- but thanks to whatever circumstances, their work goes by unnoticed. That isn’t to say that the work is not as good as those who “make it”- it’s just that life does not hand out all the same opportunities to everyone. Some people are lucky and get recognized and a lot of people never get there.

Now, thanks to “Searching for Sugar Man,” the unrecognized artists of the world have a new hero. I have a new hero. Rodriguez is that hero because his WORK came back to find him, not because he or anyone else sought it, but because it was just good work that affected people half-way around the world. This makes for a sweet story- and some hope for all of those creative people out there who never become “professionals.”

Only two days after seeing “Searching for Sugar Man,” I did the only thing a modern curious person would do- I did a search on the Internet to see if Rodriguez was playing anywhere in the United States. Sure enough, an April 30 date is set for Rodriguez at the large 1st Bank Center in Broomfield. So, without question, I bought tickets for an artist I had never heard of just a few days before.

And I’m excited to see Rodriguez- more so than any other show that has been announced in the area- and that’s a lot considering the Red Rocks schedule is filling up. Even though I only know a little about the guy’s music- just what I heard in the movie- I’m going to get up and cheer when he takes the stage.

I’ll be cheering for Rodriguez, but more, I’ll be cheering for all the underdog artists who carry on making their art- with or without recognition. The world is so full of people who have grabbed their spot on the stage. It is truly refreshing to come across an artist who has been, more or less, invited.

So, until the show in Broomfield, I will take up the shout and unfurl the banner- Rodriguez is coming! And he’s bringing artistic triumph with him.