Music choices should be matters of ‘and,’ not ‘or’

Whenever I have to double up on music features in one column, it’s usually a good thing for writer and reader alike.

Options are great, especially when the options are unique. In this case, one involves a classic country musician in the town’s premier venue, and the other is a pairing of banjo and clog dancing in a place that has never hosted a concert.

Country great John Anderson will play Wednesday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, and Evie Ladin and Keith Terry will bring clog dancing and clawhammer banjo music to Studio & tonight.

The John Anderson we’re getting will not be singing “Roundabout.” As awesome as Yes was for me as an experimental teen who loved the art-rock band even though I discovered them well past their prime thanks to “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and as awesome as they were when I saw Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe in the Round sometime in the late ’80s, this John Anderson is not the Jon Anderson who fronted Yes. That’s fine. I love this John Anderson. As I’ve aged, I’ve grown to love country as much or more than 12-minute epics of rock and fusion.

This John Anderson is the Florida-born country musician who throughout his career, which began in rock music, has resulted in more than 40 of his singles from 20 different releases landing on the country charts. In the early 1980s, he was right alongside George Strait and Ricky Skaggs in the “New Traditionalist” country movement; he’s as classic as you can get in classic country without being Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings.

But before you get to Wednesday, you’ve got today staring you in the face.

Serious fans may know Evie Ladin as a member of the Stairwell Sisters, a band that has run the Colorado festival circuit. She’s been a banjo player and clog dancer since she was in the single digits, and has added a contemporary edge to her age-old craft. Performing with Terry, the duo’s shows are a cross between old-time folk show and dance performance, with percussion being banged out on floors, body parts and whatever the duo may have at arms or legs length.

The Studio & concert is the first in a planned series of shows, a trial-by-fire venture for the arts collective. Only 40 seats will be available for each performance.

“We just really want to provide an arena for a pure musical experience. Like most things at Studio &, we really don’t know how this is going to turn out,” said Tim Kapustka, one of the Studio & proprietors. “We’ve just got an idea and we are going to let it ride.”

The “musical experience” to what Kapustka refers is more than what a bar show offers. This is not the venue for casual conversation while a performer provides background music. “This isn’t a place to come and stand in the back and talk to your friend” said Kapustka. “It isn’t even a place to come and whisper about things; it’s a place to come to experience music.” Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.

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