Last summer, the historic Wright Opera House in Ouray unveiled its rebirth with a new alt-country music series. This year, the Summer Music Series has attracted an eclectic lineup of new and established musicians to its intimate stage. Running into September, the series includes Jack Ingram, Dan Navarro and Griffin House, among others.
“The Wright offers a nice, very strong acoustically sounding venue,” said Joshua Gowans, executive director of the Wright. “The acoustics are phenomenal. Bands love to play here.”
The series opened Sunday with the southern Ohio duo Over the Rhine. The husband-wife act recently released its first, fan-funded album, “The Long Surrender.”
Up next on June 21 is singer-songwriter Dan Navarro, whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Jackson Browne, Keb’ Mo’ and The Temptations. Navarro is among the larger acts the Wright has secured for its second season.
July 13 will bring up-and-comers The Trishas, and two weeks later, Griffin House will return July 27.
“I think the small-concert feel is nice,” Gowans said. “I think all of the artists that have played here have been impressed with the facility. It’s a great, small place to connect with the audience.”
Coming Aug. 10 will be Academy of Country Music award-winner Jack Ingram. After spending years playing in roadhouses across the country, the Texas-born artist won top new male vocalist at the 2008 ACM awards.
On Sept. 14, Grammy nominee Shawn Mullins will close out the season.
For its 125th anniversary season, the Wright Opera House will be a busy place this summer.
“We’re bringing in the Ouray County Players into the Wright Opera House and taking on a full theater program,” Gowans said. “We’ve (also) committed to a second season of Wrighteous Jazz.”
Founded in 1888, the Wright Opera House once was the center of society in Ouray, but it fell into disuse during the 20th century. It since has undergone several attempts to revive its former glory.
The current effort has seen much success with a little help from the Friends of the Wright Opera House. The nonprofit organization, which purchased the Wright in 2011, has begun extensive renovations to the historic building.
Gowans, who joined the Wright in December, is growing the musical and theatrical operations as well as pushing the opera house into its next fundraising phase.
“This year is shaping up to be even bigger than last year,” Gowans said. “We view our market as the corridor from Grand Junction to Durango. The Summer Music Series provides a great opportunity for people on either end to get out of town.”
firstname.lastname@example.org. Margaret Hedderman is a freelance writer based in Durango.