There are great views everywhere you look in La Plata County, but few are more beautiful than the vistas from the home of George and Joan Spicer, which overlooks Electra Lake.
The couple, with the assistance of their children Sam Spicer and Sally Spicer Pearson, threw open the doors to their perfect-for-parties home to welcome about 165 people Sunday on a day that could not have been more perfect.
No one leaves the Spicers’ house hungry. Yellow Carrot got into the spirit of things with its Anchor Menu, and everything was staged with a boat and nautical theme. Sari Brown, the owner of Yellow Carrot, says she has collected thousands of clever serving paraphernalia, and we reaped the benefits at this party.
The jumbo shrimp cocktail John boat included a selection of iced Meyer lemon-poached jumbo shrimp; gazpacho shooters; butter rum-andouille sausage served with Cajun cream sauce and champagne-garlic vinegar; and an avocado-horseradish-tomatillo ceviche.
Red, white and blue potato rafts featured Yukon gold potato rafts topped with grilled ginger beef with scallions and red pepper butter; Colorado purple potato rafts with oysters Rockefeller – fresh oysters with spinach, garlic and fontina cheese – and red new potato rafts topped with bay scallops with maple bacon served with shiso butter and basil. The rafts featured cute little cheese sails.
“Buoys and Oars” included ribeye summer sliders on housemade Asiago brioche with Shafts blue cheese, roma tomatoes, caramelized onions and basil; lobster and seafood-dill dip and arugula-crab dip served in glass flower pots with a crab beignet and dipped with “oars” of housemade honey-Gouda pretzel sticks and Gorgonzola pretzel sticks.
Sweets included pecan pralines and chocolate tuilles with roasted strawberry-and-cactus-fruit curd with chocolate-hazelnut salsa. Creative and delish! Gluten-free carrot-butterscotch Linzer cookies made sure everyone could have a taste.
Libations are a key element of any successful party, and the evening featured Sutcliffe Vineyards wine and some specially created cocktails, including a yummy lime-basil-mint refresher.
You can’t have a party to benefit a musical organization without, well, some music. Al and Carol Harper, the owners of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, sponsored that part of the evening for a very special reason. Their grandson, Willem de Koch, is a member of the Westerlies, a New York-based brass quartet (two trumpets, two trombones) focusing on what they call a West Coast sound, a repertoire that includes references to American folk music, jazz, classical and indie rock.
I’m sure the deck overlooking Electra was a far different venue than the jazz clubs that are generally where they perform in their bicoastal lives. They handled the altitude and the up-close-and-personal audience with aplomb.
Sometimes, brass concerts are a little too, well, brassy for me, but these young men played intricate music with a delicacy and finesse that belied their youth. Grandfather Harper, believe it or not, had never heard his grandson play. He couldn’t stop beaming afterward, deservedly so. Laura de Koch, the Harpers’ daughter, was also on hand to see her son’s triumph.
The young men all grew up in Seattle, and all received scholarships to either the Juilliard School of Music or the Manhattan School of Music. They started their quartet three years ago and for the first year, played only their own compositions. The group’s mentor and teacher in Seattle, Wayne Horvitz, asked them to record some of the oeuvre from his 30-year composing career. The resulting CD, “Wish the Children Would Come on Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz,” was released in May and is getting excellent reviews. De Koch tells me it’s due to be reviewed on NPR’s “Fresh Air” in the next few days.
Durango was the first stop on their summer tour. They’ll be making stops at jazz festivals and other venues on the West Coast.
Meanwhile, we have some great music of our own en route. The countdown to the 2014 Music in the Mountains Festival has begun. Only 21 days, three short weeks, until the Festival Tent at Durango Mountain Resort and locations in and around Durango are alive with music.
If you haven‘t looked at the schedule yet or booked your tickets, this would be a good time to do so. I understand ticket sales are far ahead of last year’s at this time.
Tickets are available in person at the festival office, 1063 Main Ave.; by mail at P.O. Box 3751, Durango, CO 81301; by visiting www.musicinthemountains.com or by calling the office at 385-6820. So, no excuses.
Artists such as Vadim Gluzman, Philippe Quint and Aviram Reichert, are returning, and a bunch of new talents, such as Carol Wincec and Richard Kaufman will be making their debuts. “Carmina Burana,” Mozart’s Overture to “Cosi fan tutti,” pops and Broadway, world music, Conservatory. ... I can hardly wait.
Happy birthday to the first of the Cancers – Sarah Elisabeth Griffith, June Hahl, Hanora Cunnion, Suzanne Rodman, Daniel McCoy, James Lopez, Jaden Page, Lindsay Emery, Grace Clair, Sam Eggleston, Thomas Huber, Barry Stone, Roni Turner, Stephen Bowles, Linda Moore, Donna Suggs, Wilma Cobb, Linda Buehler, Suzi Gottlieb, Linda Wyrick, Jack Dignum, Dave Freeman, Neil Cheesewright, Laura Cartwright, Walter Dear, Derrill Macho, Jessica Shockley, Karen Anesi, Karen Leavitt, Barry Longwell, Tom McMillen and Louise White.
Which brings me to a catch-up story. Louise White is a birthday girl on Friday – while I never reveal a ladies’ age without her permission, but let’s just say if you think it’s in the 80-plus age range, you’d be right. But this spring, she was honored for 50 years – five decades – of competing in the Colorado Bowling Tournament. I’m sure when she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Bowling Hall of Fame in 1999 for dedicated service, they never thought that she’d still be bowling and competing 15 years later.
So congrats go out to a lady who sure knows how to make and keep a commitment, while having fun doing so.
It has been brought to my attention that it is annoying some readers (that would be you, Dennis Pierce) that when I write about someone named Butler, I am quick to note that they are not related to me (as far as I know). So I am creating a new policy that I will only mention it when I write about someone who is related to me because I do believe in full disclosure.
The June anniversaries continue for Robert and Jayne Griffith, Byard and Nancy Peake, John and Chris Serwe, Larry and Beverly Brown, Mark and Merrilee Fleming, Jeff and Donn Wince, Bob and Nancy Dolphin, Wesley and Pat May, Derrill and Nancy Macho, Cory and Gretchen Foster and Paul and Stephanie Huss.
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