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King Cardinal performs in revival of classic train tour

Trains pulled the Silver Circuit

Alt-folk band King Cardinal performs at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs Aug. 12 during the revived Silver Circuit tour.
Courtesy by Merne Judson III

If you go

What: Alt-folk band King Cardinal performs in the 2016 Silver Circuit Series at the Chief Theater

When: Doors/bar open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. today

Where: Lincoln Ave. in Steamboat Springs.

Admission: $10

— When Denver-based King Cardinal takes the stage at the historic Chief Theater Aug. 12, the audience members will be treated to a set of original alt-folk music with a dash of pedal steel that may remind them of the country rock bands of the early 1970s. Concert organizers also hope the intimate theater will raise appreciation for another era in Colorado history, when Pullman cars hitched to steam locomotives transported theater and opera companies to small towns and cities that made up Colorado’s Silver Circuit in the late 19th century.

King Cardinal is out in support of its newest six-song EP “Once a Giant,” with band leader Brennan Mackey exploring themes of regret, resolution and redemption in his lyrics.

The song “Abraham” begins with Mackey’s voice accompanied only by fingerpicking on acoustic guitar in the first verse:

“You wanted something that’s solid gold

“Sometimes the brightest things are better left untold.”

“I’m a fan of lyricists that tell a story,” Mackey said Thursday. “It’s a little more work to decipher a meaning, and each person can get something completely different out of it.”

Abruptly, the second verse jumps out of the headphones with the full band, including the swirling pedal steel of Jamie Mitchell (steel player Ben Waligoske has joined the band since the track was cut) evoking early 1970s country rock bands. Vocalist Texanna Dennie blends with Mackey on the chorus. Other band members include bassist Andrew Porter and drummer Scott Roush.

The Silver Circuit, sponsored by Colorado Creative Industries, with the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper, also includes shows at the Tabor Theater in Leadville and the Fox Theater in Trinidad. Mackey said the band considers it an honor to be invited to take part.

“We got all the history at the Tabor opera house right before we played,” Mackey said. “There’s a trap door that Harry Houdini used when he performed there. We’re excited to see The Chief and the opera house in Trinidad, too.”

CCI is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and Chief Theater Executive Director Scott Parker said he is excited to be hosting the concert.

“CCI reached out to us awhile ago,” Parker said, “Just to be in the conversation is flattering. Brian Smith, who books a lot of our shows, said this venture could be really big. The CCI people are really behind helping these old, historic theaters. Resort Group is putting up the band here for free.”

Though King Cardinal won’t be arriving in Steamboat by passenger train, the history of the Silver Circuit is all about the railroads generating business and delivering entertainment to remote cities. The circuit was founded about 1885 by Peter McCourt, who was the brother of Baby Doe Tabor. She married one of the richest men in America and Colorado’s most prominent “Silver King,” Horace Tabor. Tabor’s fortune evaporated with the silver crash of 1893, and Baby Doe and her children were left penniless.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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