Tabor Opera House hosts Colorado performers

Nine performers from around the state are taking the stage this weekend at the Tabor Opera House in a showcase of local songwriting talent and diverse musical style ranging from folk to funk to snowbo minstrel and troubadour storytelling. The Colorado Songwriter Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 28, continues the inaugural season at Leadville’s grand historical theater, where the nonprofit Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation has taken over management and put together an eclectic array of performances to please the public.

Tickets are $10, which is nearly $1 per performer, all of whom will play a 15-minute set before passing the mic to a colleague. Two musicians from the Ark Valley, three from Denver and four from around the high country comprise the lineup, brought together by the Tabor team led by foundation director Stephanie Spong.

“We hope for this to become a recurring event, with auditions in the fall, booking in the spring and performances in the summer. We’re so excited to show off such talent,” said Spong, practically dancing with excitement.

The two performers from the Ark Valley are Jessie Lee Thetford and Mark Hanson, both of Leadville. Thetford is an artist as well as musician who “emulates her Creator via charcoal, acrylics and an acoustic guitar.” She specializes in folk and pop, recognized by her sensible lyricism and soft vocals.

Hanson is a figure well-known in Leadville, and especially at the Tabor Opera House. He’s been the stagehand, technician, tour guide and second-in-command in the year leading up to the city’s purchase of the theater. Since then, the foundation has brought him on as assistant technical director. But among all the hats he wears (often original Stetsons and bowlers), his primary focus, since childhood, is being a musician. Saxophonist, guitarist, singer and overall musical authority, Hanson has lent his talents to local acts, played with John Popper of Blues Traveler, created an album under direction of Grammy-nominated producer Tim Stroh and elbowed alongside professional musicians in the uppermost echelon of the industry everywhere between Chicago and Boulder. Recently, he’s busy playing with his band Miner Down in the Vail and Arkansas valleys.

Leon Joseph Littlebird, contemporary Native American musician (courtesy photo).

Among the other performers sharing the stage Friday night are Silverthorne’s Leon Littlebird, performing contemporary Native American music; punky Denverite Krysty Bosse; troubadour front-man of the Buzz Drivers, Kevin Danzig; soulful songwriter Evie Maes, fresh out of corporate America; the two-piece Robby Wicks Band from Denver; accomplished Americana artist John Truscelli, whose music has been featured in films and television; and finally, long-time Vail Valley performer Jason Wallace, master of “a familiar sound you’ve never heard.”

Look these performers up on-line and expect to have a new favorite artist after the performance on Friday. Each will be milling around, selling their wares and answering questions in the Tabor lobby and commercial spaces. But the greatest opportunity Friday night offers is exposure to this thriving musical talent that lives in your backyard – music that is fresh and happening right now.

The Tabor Opera House is located at 308 Harrison Ave. in Leadville. It bears the highest flag in the city and is open for tours and ticket sales from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. The box office will open at 6 p.m. on Friday for the 7:30 show. This showcase is made possible by the creative and hard-working staff at the Tabor Opera House, all with a gleam in their eye and a love for the performing arts.