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Wayfarers to offer Irsh music for St. Pat’s Day

— After five years in Steamboat Springs, the rest of the world starts to feel far away. Leaving this comfortable small town is like stepping out of a time warp.

But leaving, however intimidating it may seem, can lead to a slingshot spurt of growth.

Just ask fiddle player Jesse Burns.



Burns left her job with Strings in the Mountains last September, said goodbye to her band, Shenanigans, and headed for Boulder.

“It was a horrible, expensive shock,” she said. “But I’m glad I made the move.”



Burns left Steamboat to join a traditional Irish band called “The Wayfarers.”

“The band had been waiting for me,” she said. “And as soon as I was down here, the band started cranking.”

Once gathered, The Wayfarers included Jeff Hamer, a banjo player Burns had seen in Telluride, Christel Rice on flute and Sean Sutherland on bouzouki and guitar.

Rice and Sutherland were playing in pubs around Boulder and decided they needed a fiddle player. They called Burns with the offer and she jumped at the chance.

“I watched all of them play before and have been blown away,” Burns said. “Sean is one of the best rhythm guitar players I’ve ever heard.”

Since Burns move to Boulder last fall, The Wayfarers have played at the Fox Theatre and the Boulder Theatre. They have played a lot of bar gigs and make regular acoustic appearances at a small coffee house in Nederland.

“There is a really cool Irish dance scene down here, especially at the coffee house,” Burns said. “We’ll be playing and little girls will come onto the floor to step dance. That’s what Irish music is all about — all ages and community.”

Burns was raised by an Irish father and an American mother in England. Her father left Ireland before she was born and the family rarely returned.

“But we listened to the music,” she said. As a child, she listened to the Chieftains and Altan. “I loved (that music) in a way I could never understand.”

Burns played classical violin as a child and teenager, but left the instrument behind on a year-long trip to Borneo.

It was the best thing that could have happened to her.

“I lost my classical touch,” she said. During college, she started sitting in during sessions and picking up Irish tunes.

When she moved to Boulder, Burns had to pull from all she learned since she started playing to catch up with her new band members.

“Since I’ve moved here, I had to pick up about 90 percent new repertoire. It was a crash course,” she said. Many of her the newest tunes on Burns’ play list are original tunes written by members of The Wayfarers.

“I would say that I’ve really grown with this band,” Burns said. For the first time in her career, Burns recorded a CD. Rice and her husband have a recording studio in their home.

“We moved in there for two weeks,” Burns said.

Burns recorded a CD as a Christmas present.

“It was really hard,” she said. “If you get the last note wrong, you have to go back and redo it.” But the experience prepared her to play on Rice’s solo project.

“We flew out the top engineer for Irish music, Pete Rydberg, and hired some well-known musicians,” Burns said. “I was so lucky that I just spent so much time in the studio.

“It was a steep learning curve. It was so scary, but it was something I always wanted to do. You have your headphones on and your heart’s racing.

“You don’t know how it’s going to sound, but then (the engineer) tweaks some knobs and it blows your mind. You can’t believe that it’s you.”

After weeks of late nights and the end of her first major recording project, Burns looked around and realized that she had settled into her new home.

“If I didn’t have a music community to go into, a family of people, I don’t know if everything would have worked out so well,” she said.

“Once you reach a standard where you can play with people, a whole social scene opens up.”

The Wayfarers will bring all they’ve learned to The Depot tonight for an all ages show.

“It will be a chance to see some really traditional Irish music, not influenced by bluegrass,” Burns said.

Seating is limited.


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