Grass-roots festival kicks off
Zimbabwean thumb piano featured in festival
The Colorado Grass Roots Music Festival features more than 20 Colorado bands and solo performers playing “unplugged” at State Bridge Lodge this weekend. The lineup includes rock, blues, alternative, folk and Celtic — and the melodic sounds of the Zimbabwean thumb piano.
The festival kicks off tonight with Steamboat Springs resident Virginia Barrett singing her soulful, poetic lyrics in English and Shona, accompanied by the sweet, rhythmic sounds of her mbira. The mbira, known as a “Zimbabwean thumb piano,” is a sacred instrument of the Shona people from Zimbabwe. The Shona traditionally play the soothing, tinny-sounding instrument during all-night ceremonies in honor of their ancestors.
Barrett said she initially was inspired to learn the mbira by friends who were in the Colorado band called Jaka that featured traditional Zimbabwean instruments. She had written poetry for years and was interested in singing, but it wasn’t until she attended a Zimbabwean music camp near Santa Fe that she saw her shining chance to incorporate these pursuits.
Soon after, Barrett found herself in Zimbabwe, where she spent six months studying the mbira with Zimbabwean teachers and writing the songs for her solo debut CD, released this year, called “Show Me the Way.” The CD includes a collection of Barrett’s original lyrics and melodies sung to traditional mbira pieces.
This summer, Barrett is a visual arts teacher at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. She has been performing sporadically on the mbira during Monday open mic nights on Mondays at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill and plans to continue doing so in the upcoming weeks.
Among the other bands sharing the stage during the Colorado Grass Roots Festival are Bodha Celtic Music and Sentimental Hitmen from Boulder, The Meek from Vail, Sweet Sunny South from Paonia, Bluegrace Mountain Band from Eagle and the Lazy String Gang from Denver. For the full festival lineup and tickets, visit http://www.coloradograssroots.org. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Colorado Children’s Foundation.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User