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Because it’s what’s most important to them

Andrew Harley

Some of the musicians that play in the valley’s clubs and bars seem to have chosen music as a profession. These musicians are driven more by ulterior motivation than pure inspiration, and their musical prowess can become simply another string pulled tight across their vain fretboard.Brendan McKinney and Wally Furlow are not of that ilk. These local songwriters play music for the sake of honest original lyrics, the swelling joy of a powerful bridge, the bad-ass swagger of a blues phrase and the people who come to share gratitude for sonic miracles and tender ballads. They live for music, and they deserve this weekend.The Colorado Grass Roots Festival celebrates the state’s home-grown singers and players at State Bridge on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Bond.The festival is a benefit for the Children’s Foundation organized by the Colorado Grass Roots Music Association.

Furlow and McKinney are part of the 20 musicians from all over the state that are destined for State Bridge this weekend.”It’s all kind of acoustic-based music,” said Furlow. “There’ll be some bands, and there will be some solo performers. The idea is to keep the effects down to a minimum, and to have the music as organic as possible.”Four of the participants will be invited to open for internationally-known performers at the Colorado Grass Roots Festival at Red Rocks next summer.Two stages will be running at State Bridge on each days so the music won’t stop.

McKinney and Furlow will be doing solo performances with guitars and original tunes.”I would call (my music) Americana,” said McKinney. “That’s really a general category. You know, country is more specific. So, the lyrics and themes are pretty specific to country. (My stuff) might be the same style of music, but the lyrics are a little less common at times.”McKinney also does blues, writes country and also dabbles in rock. He draws a lot of inspiration from performing his original music in front of an attentive crowd.”I play in bars and get everybody singing or dancing, and that’s easy to do with cover songs,” said McKinney. “When you’re doing a solo act, though, it’s more about being listened to. That’s really my goal … and maybe sell some CDs.”



McKinney’s songs tell stories, but he likes to concentrate on writing songs around subjects that are universal to everybody while being something that hasn’t been written before.”I think that’s what songwriting is anyway. Reaching somebody through a different perspective with something they can relate to,” said McKinney.McKinney is an old pro at reading an audience, he’s held residencies from Vail to Copenhagen in local-club atmoshperes and he says the songs are the most important things to him.”I don’t want to talk negatively about being a solo performer because I don’t want people to think that all I care about is just writing songs. I love to perform too,” said McKinney. “If I had to narrow it down, it would be more about the songs than anything.

“The ultimate is if you sing a song and somebody likes it and buys your CD based on the way you played that song. But also, when you work on stuff, develop it, you have to test it in front people. And sometimes it changes three or four times before you really settle on how you’re going to play the song or what the songs are.” McKinney, Furlow and a slew of other musicians will be at State Bridge on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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