Features

This week’s mild temperatures will set the stage for a night of music called the Midwinter Meltdown. Six bands (including an unannounced surprise act) will play Saturday night in the tiny town of Medicine Bow, between Laramie and Rawlins.

The event is the brainchild of Laramie musician Jeff Duloz. Last fall, he poured his energy into a day-long event with ten bands. Afterward, someone asked the exhausted Duloz, ‘When’s the next concert?’

“Immediately, my answer was never. Like, never. I’m never doing this again,” he says with a laugh.

amazon.com

Lynne Cheney and her husband, former Vice President Dick Cheney, will be in Laramie on February 17th discussing her new book called James Madison:  A Life Reconsidered. The Cheney's will discuss the book at the Marian Rochelle Gateway Center at the University of Wyoming. The discussion begins at 4 p.m.

blinddogsmokin.com

A Laramie-based band has been nominated for a Grammy Award. The album ‘Decisions’ features the band Blinddog Smokin’ and legendary Louisianna blues singer Bobby Rush; it’s up for Best Blues Album. As the band’s founder Carl Gustafson tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer, the Grammy nomination has also led to award nominations in the roots music capitols of Memphis and New Orleans.

Every ten years, the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office develops a new plan for preserving historic sites and structures. Public input plays an important role. Through Thursday, January 15, the public can answer a survey about what priorities the new plan should highlight.

Ron McIntosh

The Wyoming Technology Business Center at the University of Wyoming has recently started a program to assist artists in the region to develop business skills so they can become more self- sufficient. Wyoming Public Radio’s Pat Gabriel talked with the center's CEO Jon Benson and its Marketing Coordinator Fred Schmechel about why they think the program could be so helpful for Wyoming artists. They're also joined by the program's very first artist, Ron McIntosh.

Doc Thiessen

Ghost towns may conjure images of old shoot-outs, tumble weed rolling down dusty streets. But there are also more modern ghost towns with less romantic stories. Laramie photographer Doc Thiessen is documenting some of the towns along the Lincoln Highway bypassed by Interstate 80.

For the second year in a row, there’s a Wyoming connection at the Grammy Awards. Last year, it was bluegrass band Della Mae, whose bassist is from Laramie. This year, it’s Laramie-based blues band Blinddog Smokin’. The band was formed more than two decades ago and has logged over a million miles on the road. Band leader Carl Gustafson says the Grammy nomination is already opening doors.

wuis.org

The Best Music Of 2014

We received a record amount of votes this year! Thanks to everyone who voted and thank you for listening to Morning Music. Here are WPR's Top 20 CD's of 2014 from listener votes:

Wyoming Arts Council

Winners of the Governor’s Arts Awards were announced this week. For the first time in many years, the winners are all visual artists.

Governor Matt Mead made the final selections based on recommendations from the Wyoming Arts Council board. In a news release, Governor Mead said “These three artists...are representative of the many wonderful artists we have in Wyoming who contribute to a thriving arts economy.”

Diana Denison

Laramie-based jazz guitarist and vocalist Peter Queal visited on November 19th with Grady Kirkpatrick on Morning Music. They talked about the Queal’s new CD Humility and played a few tracks.

Caroline Ballard

Protesters filled Simpson Plaza in front of the University of Wyoming last Thursday. They were calling for an end to police brutality and racism, following grand jury decisions to not indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. Protesters and observers had a variety of viewpoints:

Every four years, the University of Wyoming stages the classic holiday ballet, The Nutcracker. It’s a major undertaking involving the Department of Theatre and Dance, the UW Symphony Orchestra, and the Lab School Treble Choir, as well as numerous community members. In all, it takes 200 people to put on the show. Director Marsha Knight says the production is set at the Ivinson Mansion, in Old West Laramie, as it has been since 2006.

Studio Sessions: Thunder & Rain

Dec 8, 2014
Anna Rader

Since forming in 2013, Thunder & Rain has quickly made a name for itself along the Front Range. The band’s “mountain made Colorado country” sound hangs strong hooks and catchy harmonies on classic bluegrass instrumentation.

Their debut album is scheduled for release in January 2015, with tours to follow.

I'm Gonna Belong

Smile Kid

Jonas Slonaker

The holidays are approaching and with them, high hopes for the perfect present. So here’s a story about a kid who dreamed of his perfect Christmas gift... but it was only decades later that he actually got it.

Thanks for voting for the Best Music Of 2014

We added up listener picks, compiled the Top 20, and played all the tunes on Morning Music during December 31st and January 1st.

See the results!

Relative Theatrics

In the year since its founding, Laramie-based theatre company Relative Theatrics has made a name for itself with numerous Wyoming premieres. For its size, Laramie has plenty of theatre offerings, thanks in large part to the University of Wyoming. But Relative Theatrics founder and director Anne Mason says her company's growing success comes partly from its commitment to contemporary plays.

Studio Sessions: The Raven And The Writing Desk

Nov 26, 2014
Anna Rader

Drawing their name from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, The Raven and the Writing Desk have taken their own circuitous journey to arrive at their current four-piece configuration and self-described “dark pop” style.

Here are songs that perfectly capture the Denver band's new sound.

Running

On A Wire

Melodie Edwards

With goats flocking all around him for ear scratches, you could say Terry Hayes is a happy rancher. He’s the owner of the largest goat ranch in Wyoming, Open A Lazy S outside Riverton, and he says in the last few years his business has tripled. He says it’s because more people all the time are embracing the urban homesteader’s lifestyle. They’re raising backyard chickens, canning sauerkraut and knitting scarves. The number of backyard goats has also been on the uptick.

phideltatheta.org

When the renovations to the double A are complete, the main feature of the grand entrance will be a monument to one of Wyoming’s most prominent athletes.

Wyoming Arts Council

In September, Michael Lange was selected to lead the Wyoming Arts Council. Lange was promoted from within the organization, following the retirement of the previous manager, Rita Basom. Lange stopped by our studios to discuss his vision for the organization and to play some music that’s shaped his own development as an artist and administrator. He spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer.

Al Hubbard

Last week, the Lander Art Center hosted an opening for its second annual Native American art exhibit. The show runs through December 20 and boasts more than 50 artists, most of them from the Wind River Indian Reservation. One artist in the exhibit is Al Hubbard, a 42-year-old Navajo and Arapaho artist who says traditional Native American images are fine, but Hubbard says he’s more interested in using pop art and other contemporary styles to express his ideas about tribal history and spirituality.

The Laramie Artists Project’s biennial group exhibition is this weekend. Touchstone 2014 features work by 39 professional artists from Albany County.

Every two years, since 2006, local artists have been renting a block of hotel rooms to create small galleries.

“We have a crew that moves out all the beds, and we rent extra rooms to store them in,” says Linda Lillegraven, co-chair of the Laramie Artists Project, the group organizing the exhibition.

www.uwyo.edu

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened, paving the way for the reunification of East and West Germany. The University of Wyoming continues its commemoration of the event with a faculty recital on Sunday, November 9, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer spoke with violinist John Fadial.

An opening reception on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Lander Art Center will launch a new exhibit of Native American art work. It’s the show’s second year in a row and comes in honor of National Native American Heritage Month. The exhibit will showcase over 50 artists, mostly from Wind River Indian Reservation. Director Lisa Hueneke says, this year, about half the artists are students from reservation high schools. She says the exhibit demonstrates a wide diversity of artistic styles. One of the artists on display is Al Hubbard, a Northern Arapaho and Navajo artist.

stephensonmusic.com

In classical music, there’s a long list of composers who are also conductors. One of them is Chicagoan Jim Stephenson. What sets Stephenson apart is that the audience will help him compose the music the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will play at its family concert on November 8th. Stephenson has performed the ‘Compose Yourself’ program hundreds of times since 2002, but this performance will only be the second time with a full symphony orchestra.

Caroline Ballard

If you’re handing out candy to trick-or-treaters tonight, you might see a lot of little girls in the same costume.

Since it came out last December, the Disney movie Frozen has been catching the attention of girls everywhere. It’s ice-queen princess Elsa is a favorite among them, especially for her number one anthem “Let it Go” The song has been everywhere. 

uwyo.edu

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra performs its second concert of the season this week. Music Director Michael Griffith says the concert challenges some common assumptions about classical music. “We’re starting the concert with a Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp, which is really unusual. You don’t think of harp as a soloist and you certainly don’t think of harp and a flute together as dual soloists.”

Micah Schweizer

Nearly 150 years ago, Mormon pioneers set out from the Midwest, bound for Salt Lake City. They walked, pulling their belongings in wooden handcarts. Two groups got a late start and were stranded in Wyoming by a devastating October blizzard. And for the past 20 years, thousands of Mormon teenagers have been returning to that site to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors.

When the blizzard struck on October 19th, 1856, the lagging handcart companies were still weeks from Salt Lake City. More than 200 people died of exhaustion, hunger, and cold.

karenabbott.net

The book “Liar Temptress Soldier Spy” was released last month by Harper Collins. It follows four Civil War spies – and all of them are women. Karen Abbott, the book’s author and historian, spoke yesterday at the Teton County Public Library and will be leading a workshop in Nonfiction writing today. Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard spoke with Abbott about her book, and how she discovered the lives of these women.

John D. Lukacs

Nearly 70 years after World War II, a little known story of war-time heroism is surfacing. The book “Escape from Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War” and the documentary film “4-4-43” tell the story of ten American soldiers and two Filipino convicts who escaped a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines.

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