2014 was an entertaining year for Steamboat Pilot & Today’s new A & E reporter

Audrey Dwyer

— In a town like Steamboat Springs, it seems there is always something going on no matter what the season.

The town is an entertainment hub attracting a wide variety of artists and musicians who choose to play their music and pursue their passions in the Yampa Valley, which makes the job of arts and entertainment reporter an interesting one.

Here are my picks for top entertaining and inspiring highlights of 2014:

Best Interview: Randy Kelley

There is something captivating about a musician who has been in the industry since 1979 — who has toured the world and still prefers to live and perform in Steamboat.

Randy Kelley is a musician who plays in Caliente Sundog and the Worried Men among his other musical pursuits.

In the article, “One Pub at a Time” that focused on what it takes to be a musician in Steamboat, Kelley said, “the best reason to play is for the love of the music, and you better not be measuring that success in dollar or cents.”

He’s seen bands come and go throughout this town, and he knows what it takes to win over crowds beyond mere talent and a captivating stage presence.

“You have to be smart enough to play music but dumb enough not to quit,” Kelley said. “It takes an amazing amount of dedication. I didn’t decide to be a musician, I just was one.”

Biggest Concert: Big Head Todd and the Monsters

According to John Waldman, Great Knight Productions concert promoter, the Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert on July 4 was the largest show Howelsen Amphitheater has ever seen. He said there were approximately 7,500 people in attendance at the free concert.

The Free Summer Concert Series began on June 21 and concluded Aug. 8.

Always looking for a diverse lineup of musical acts for the summer series, the success of the performers this past summer will be remembered by many. From Trombone Shorty kicking off the first show to Uncle Lucius, The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, this past summer’s series had a wide variety of up-and-coming artists and big-name musicians.

“I think it was one of our most successful series,” Waldman said.

Most memorable experience of 2014: A flight over the Yampa Valley

On a more personal note, this year has been full of new experiences for me. One of the biggest surprises was the opportunity to fly in a biplane with Dagmar Kress, an International World Aerobatic Champion in the U.S. and Germany.

To give some perspective on what Kress does for a living, she basically flies upside down at 5,000 feet or more with only a five-point seat belt and a plastic bubble above her head as a shield between her and the ground. Kress was in town for the 10th annual Wild West Air Fest, Steamboat’s annual aerobatic air festival.

She turned my world upside down — literally.

From the crash course on flying and how to use my parachute to the loops and rolls she had me do when I took over the control stick, it was a visceral experience. And one that offered a view of the Yampa Valley only a few people will ever see.

It was one of the highlights of my year.

Most inspirational story: Melissa Dow

Recently I have learned that Steamboat locals have quite an entrepreneurial spirit — one that is unwavering when they are faced with challenges.

Melissa Dow developed her own business this past year. The idea for her business, One Leaf — a company that specializes in handmade women’s clothing perfect for layering — started with her frustration of constantly having to wear long camisoles under shirts or tank tops due to her long-torso body shape.

She started using recycled clothing to making stretchy bands that fit snugly around her hips. At first, the design and fabric were rough and looked handmade. Two years ago, something clicked, and she began to make the “fender bender shirt extenders” or “f.bse” for short.

Dow spent countless hours streamlining her process of making the shirt extenders and even made the decision to take her business on full-time.

In January, she plans on coming out with a new selection of fenders that will be available on her website.

“When things get tough, or if I get discouraged because of the uncertainty that comes with starting a business, I have to keep repeating this mantra, ‘Trust…and all is coming’ and truly believe in that,” Dow said.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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