Vail musician Kevin Heinz sings the blues
Local singer-songwriter Kevin Heinz will be singing the blues Saturday morning in Telluride, but it has nothing to do with the fact he was recently laid off from Plum TV where he worked for five years as the production manager. In fact, Heinz is finding the good in a situation that hundreds of thousands of people around the country have been faced with the past few years. “I don’t want to say it was a blessing to push me into music full time, but I’m claiming full-time musician as of the day of the layoff,” he said. And if Heinz’s Saturday morning gig is any indication, the Vail resident certainly has what it takes to pursue music as a full-time career. He is one of six finalists in the Telluride Blues & Brews acoustic blues competition. He’ll perform three songs at the Blues For Breakfast event at the festival. He’ll play two original tunes, one called “You Have Changed (Don’t Tell Me)” and “Balance,” as well as B.B. King’s “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss,” which each finalist is required to perform.”I’ve been busy learning that one and trying to make it my own,” Heinz said. According to details online at http://www.tellurideblues.com, “The competition is seeking the most talented musicians who excel in the blues genre and is open to solo acoustic performers who are not signed to a record label or publishing deal.”The judges will chose a winner based on “quality of overall live performance, quality of overall vocal and instrumental delivery and interpretive quality of assigned standard blues song.” “It’s your technique, your persona, the full package,” Heinz said. “I like getting those critical notes on music and performance. I think it’s how you grow. You leave your ego at the door and it’s purely about being a musician.”The winner will get a chance to play a 20-minute set at the festival Saturday afternoon and will take home $300 and an acoustic guitar. Heinz was a finalist last year as well (the lone Colorado representative) but didn’t win the top spot.”I have to give it another shot,” he said. “This was another chance to go to a music festival in Telluride, I take every one of those opportunities I get.”
Thanks to his father, Heinz grew up listening to classic rock – The Beatles, Chicago, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the like. He begain playing the guitar when he was in middle school and over the years his sound has evolved into acoustic blues-rock with a bit of soul and funk thrown in. The last few years music has become an even more significant part of Heinz’s life. He teaches beginner level guitar at the Minturn Music Store to both adults and kids.”I was already in my teens when I started,” Heinz said. “A lot of these kids are holding the guitar and starting to learn the chords and how to play ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ at 8 years old. It’s fun to pass that down.”Heinz has performed on restaurant decks all over town -Zacca Za, Gore Range Brewery, Finnegan’s Wake and the like and will likely play regular sets at Frost Bar in The Sebastian hotel in Vail this winter again, something he began last year. On Friday nights, Heinz leads an open mic night at Yeti’s Grind in Vail, which will continue through the end of the month, break for off season and then resume again in November, once ski season starts. “It was a push to get people to hang on a Friday night, in a place other than the bars in Vail Village,” Heinz said. “It has a little more of the coffee-shop, singer-songwriter vibe. We have some musicians who are coming out who are awesome performers. It’s a pretty good creative incubator for everybody and gets people feeling good about performing in front of a crowd in Vail.” At each open mic night, the performances are recorded and saved onto a USB hardrive, which the musicians can take home for a donation that goes to local charities. September donations go to “Be Good to People” (www.begoodtopeople.com). “It’s good to get people out playing music for a good cause,” Heinz said. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.