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The right side of the tracks

Wren Wertin

The Crystal Theater lives again.

The original upstairs bar at State Bridge Lodge – the current bar area used to be strictly for horses – has been resurrected (read: cleaned up and made safe). Reviving the Crystal Theater is just one of the ongoing improvements to the lodge, now owned by Greg Conway. This summer marks his second as the proprietor of the historical lodge, bar and music venue.

“The biggest surprise, or the most fun, was just being a part of the Colorado music scene,” said Conway about having his first season under his belt. “I’d been a fan for a long time, but it was neat to be an active part of the scene, bringing music to Colorado.”

Conway is co-managing with Scott Stoughton, who, when not working on his own music career, books State Bridge’s lineup. Both he and Conway have long-term relationships with State Bridge that predate Conway’s ownership. Last summer gave them an opportunity to work through the logistics of the lodge.

“It was the best season musically, and we learned a lot,” said Stoughton. “Like how to turn the bus around, how to deal with a crew of 14. It was the first year for the new owner and we were trying to have a really good relationship with Eagle County and the police and everybody.”

The ongoing theme is safety, safety, safety. Better walkways, cleaner cabins, a crowd-friendly audience area, more on-site accommodations and an underpass to cross the railroad tracks are all part of the new State Bridge experience.

“We have improved the quality at State Bridge in terms of fixing it all up and repairing stuff – like getting running water and sophisticated stuff like that,” teased Conway.

The changes

In the days of yore, folks tended to bottleneck in the doorway of the bar area, because that was the best place to see the band. The new stage offers better visual access, while a new rain cover extends over part of the deck. Rain or shine, the music keeps going.

The Crystal Theater, located upstairs, was closed for nigh on five years because of structural issues.

“The old floor was too weak and needed repairs, which we did,” said Conway. “We have an old Vaudeville sign for it. We have parties up there, and we’ve even done some recording. There’s an album coming out soon.”

The latest and greatest change is the underpass for safe railroad crossing. In addition to a new fenced off section of the tracks, the underpass puts to rest the legal issues State Bridge has historically had with Union Pacific Railroad, who owns the land.

“It’s been Union Pacific land since the turn of the century, back when they used to drive cattle down here, and the railroad built the tracks,” said Conway. “I have a joint project with Union Pacific to improve the safety of the area. People have been going back and forth on the tracks since 1905 and it’s been dangerous. Somebody got killed 10 years ago, and somebody else got run over five years ago.”

They built the underpass and a walkway down by the river. It was never legal to “take out” at State Bridge, meaning getting out of a boat, hauling it out of the water and walking over to the lodge. Now it is.

“Of all the things for a bar owner in the middle of nowhere to worry about, at least I don’t have to worry about people being hit by trains,” said Conway. “It will be free forever.”

As for on-site accomodations, not only have the cabins been spiffed up, but there are more yurts available.

“The yurt experience is awesome,” enthused Stoughton. “They’re setting on redwood decks. Our strategy this year, is we decided to make all the yurts and cabins really cheap mid-week, so they start at $29 and $39, and they go up for events and weekends.”

For more information about State Bridge Lodge, visit their Web site at http://www.statebridge.com or call 653-4444.

May 8, 7 p.m.

Possum Logic

May 9, 4 p.m.

Zilla, featuring Michael Travis of String Cheese

May 15, 7 p.m.

Vince Herman and Nome Pickelny of Leftover Salmon and Slipstream

May 16, 4:20 State of Mind Festival with Steve Kimock Band

May 22, 7 p.m.

Sucker

May 23, 4 p.m.

Dave Johnston of Yonder

May 28 – 31

Shakedown Street

June 3, 7 p.m.

Garaj Mahal

June 4, 7 p.m.

Israel Vibration

June 11-12

Mountain Electronic Music Fest

June 18, 7 p.m.

Rebirth Brass Band

June 24, 7 p.m.

Donna the Buffalo

June 27, 4p.m.

Vinyl

July 6, 8 p.m.

North Mississippi All-Stars

July 18, 4 p.m.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

July 25, 4 p.m.

Jah Family Band

Aug 5, 7 p.m.

Burning Spear


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