Tenth Mountain Division to bring ‘unplugged’ set to Vilar Center Thursday
Tenth Mountain Division, a bluegrass-gone-electric outfit out of Boulder with fans trickling into mountain towns, will play the Vilar Performing Arts Center’s Ghost Light Sessions at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 23.
This won’t be the first live stream for Tenth Mountain Division, as they did one during quarantine, like many other artists.
“It’s interesting because everybody from a guy with his acoustic guitar to the biggest bands out there are all doing this,” said guitarist and vocalist MJ Ouimette. “To reconnect with people that are our fans, that was really cool.”
But like those other artists, performing live is always going to have that edge over performances in other mediums. The crowd is essential to crafting the platonic ideal of a live concert.
“There’s a symbiotic energy,” Ouimette said. “We want to play harder and better because we can see the reaction in front of us. That immediacy is incomparable for other mediums.”
The band was able to reconnect with that energy when it played July 2 and 3 at the Mishawaka Amphitheater outside Fort Collins. While social distancing was practiced at the show by admitting guests to tables, it still meant a lot to the band to get out and perform in front of a live audience again.
“It was awesome. From the first note of soundcheck when we all played … to feel your voice go through the house monitors … it was pretty exciting, not going to lie,” he said.
One of the keys to bringing back live events and concerts, Ouimette said, is respect.
“Everything went swimmingly (at the Mishawaka),” he said. “It’s totally hinging on the audience taking it seriously because it can obviously get out of hand pretty easily.”
And to that degree, the Vilar is following social distancing guidelines, including touchless temperature checks upon entry and blocked-off seats to ensure all parties have more than enough space between them and the next group.
Bringing that live experience to the Vilar is especially exciting for Ouimette and mandolin player and vocalist Winston Heuga, who both grew up in the Vail Valley. The band will be bringing back the acoustic style from their early three-piece days: “Tenth Mountain Division: Unplugged, if you will” Ouimette said. There will be different covers from the usual selection, and acoustic renditions of band favorites that they haven’t done in years.
“To be able to bring what I do back to the place that inspired me to do it is indescribable. I saw so many bands that influenced me at an early age at the Vilar Center. To be able to play that stage is just an honor,” Ouimette said.
Tenth Mountain Division is releasing a new record soon, produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth. The band encourages fans to check out their website, Facebook and Instagram for updates on the record as well as upcoming show dates.
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