Catching up with Nick Urata, of DeVotchKa; performing at Beaver Creek |

Catching up with Nick Urata, of DeVotchKa; performing at Beaver Creek

Daily staff report
DeVotchKa frontman Nick Urata remembers for years not being able to get a gig in Vail. Now, the Denver band has sold out Red Rocks and performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek.
Special to the Daily |


What: DeVotchKa performs as part of the new Winter Underground Sound Series.

When: Friday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.

Cost: General admission tickets are $35.

More information: Tickets are available at the Vilar Center box office, by calling 970-845-8497 or visiting

You probably have heard music from DeVotchKa, even if you didn’t realize it. The widely celebrated four-piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble, which is based in Denver, has filled in scores from films like “Little Miss Sunshine,” along with “Crazy Stupid Love,” “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” and “Paddington.”

DeVotchKa comes to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Friday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. The show is a part of the new Winter Underground Sound Series, with six shows throughout the winter all on Friday evenings.

‘If the words are right’

Most recently, DeVotchKa frontman Nick Urata composed the original music score for Netflix Original “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” based on the children’s novel series by Lemony Snicket. Urata says the best songs seem to start with the lyrics.

The Vilar Center recently had the chance to sit down and talk to Urata.

“If the words are right, the music will wrap itself around them and together they will guide the song to its end,” he said. “All the Devotchka songs seem to start with one good line that invariably seems to come out of the ether and cannot be ignored. The downside is, you are left to follow this trail of breadcrumbs and construct a story around this one line. Sometimes it flows but a lot are left in mountains of scrap paper in my room.”

For Urata, the creative process can be challenging at times, but it’s all a part of the art.

“A wise man once said, ‘You have to write 100 bad songs before you get one good one’ — another wise man said, ‘Just because you’ve spent a lot of time on something doesn’t mean it’s good.’ The only way I’ve known to avoid these pitfalls is to work twice as hard. The thing that keeps us going is that feeling when you do get it right and when you can connect with a room full of strangers with your words and music.”

‘The beautiful Vilar’

Along with Urata on vocals and guitars, theremin, trumpet and piano, DeVotchKa is Jeanie Schroder on acoustic bass and sousaphone; Shawn King on drums; percussion and trumpet; and Tom Hagerman on violin, viola, accordion and piano.

DeVotchKa has played at top venues including Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, but Urata said the band wasn’t always soaking in the spotlight.

“We have been at this for a while now and we had to pay our share of dues,” he said. “What I’m saying is we played a lot of dumps to less than enthusiastic crowds, so headlining a show at Red Rocks or the beautiful Vilar is not something we would take lightly or soon forget.”

Urata used to work backstage at Red Rocks.

“Night after night, I would have to watch with my jealous eyes other bands living the dream,” he said. “So to return to that stage as a headliner was a rare moment of redemption. For years we couldn’t get anyone to let us play in Vail. We would always drive by on our way up 70, with its warm sparkling lights and towering peaks, wondering if we would ever even get the chance to play in a bar. So this is going to be a night to remember.”

General admission ticket prices for the show are $35. Tickets are available at the Vilar Center box office, by calling 970-845-8497 or visiting

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