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Liner Notes

Stay warm and enjoy a variety of genres this winter

Swallow Hill taps into sounds of the season


If you ask me, the kind of music the sounds best in the wintertime, when it gets cold and dark early, can be summed up in one word — warm.

Warm music sounds, clearly, like it was produced by human hands. It’s acoustic guitar driven tracks, where you can hear the finger tips on the strings, the stand-up bass, smooth solos from the saxophone, and singers who whisper and croon.

And if you want that experience live, you’d be hard pressed to find a better source then Swallow Hill Music, which hosts shows at the three stages in its facility at 71 E. Yale Ave. and the L2 Church, 1477 Columbine St., in Denver.

“A lot of people know us from the shows we do at the Arvada Center and Denver Botanic Gardens, but the level of entertainment people see during the summer can still be found indoors,” said Barry Osborne, marketing manager with Swallow Hill. “It’s a more intimate setting, and it’s right in our wheelhouse. We know how to put on these concerts really well.

During the winter months, Swallow Hill specializes in bringing acoustic shows to audiences in a blend of genres, from bluegrass and jazz to soul, blues and country.

The largest stage at the Yale facility is Daniels Hall, which seats about 300 people. Then there’s the Tuft Theatre, which seats closer to 100, and Quinlan Café, which seats around 75. All three provide that close, intimate connection with performers, and give that cozy feeling that hits the spot, especially on a cold night.

“These are very visceral settings,” Osborne said. “Audiences will see some up and comers, locals, and nationally known acts.”

Some of the highlights from November and December at Daniels are Habib Koité on Sunday, Nov. 5, a musician from Mali, Africa, who is one of his country’s biggest stars.

On Nov. 17, Texan Ruthie Foster will be swinging by with her mix of blues, country and soul. And up and coming singer/songwriters Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman will be performing the songs of legendary songwriter John Hartford on Friday, Dec. 15.

The L2 Church will play host to two legendary bluegrass performers a month apart.

Jerry Douglas, one of the most well-known contemporary bluegrass musicians, and uses the genre as a starting point for explorations of jazz and soul, is performing on Nov. 4. For the more traditional approach, Grammy-winning Mark O’Connor featuring The O’Connor Band is playing on Dec. 8.

Swallow Hill’s most exciting event is the annual fundraiser for the organization’s educational outreach program, which is on Nov. 18. Called One Epic Night, the event will feature 12 bands playing on all three stages at different times.

“We’re challenging people to see as many bands as they can,” Osborne said. “The night will feature all kinds of music — we want to give everyone something to find and enjoy.”

If you’re in need of an auditory warm blanket, head downtown and get ready for some great music.

Clarke Reader’s column on how music connects to our lives appears every other week. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he is ready for some great winter concerts. Check out his music blog at calmacil20.blogspot.com. And share who you’re seeing this winter at creader@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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