A bluegrass band with Wyoming connections will be holding its breath at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night. That’s because Della Mae’s recording ‘This World Oft Can Be’ is up for Best Bluegrass Album. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer reports.

MICAH SCHWEIZER: Late last year, late at night, the band was on the road in Tennessee when they heard the news. Shelby Means, who plays bass and sings harmony, says the band was packed into a van with their soundman at the wheel.

The Wyoming Main Street Alliance says Laramie easily led the state in the number of downtown renovation projects and public improvement projects last year.

The group says the average number of renovation projects in 2013 in major Wyoming downtowns was about 15.  Laramie had 46.

Main Street works to revitalize cities by preserving their historical characters.  Each year they track new businesses, jobs, and projects that improve downtowns.

An all ages weekly concert series in Laramie started as a training ground for students. Now, Studio WYO brings a steady flow of local and regional bands to the University of Wyoming on Thursday nights… and has become a hub for music lovers.

Tonight's act is Hectic Hobo, a gypsy rock band from Salt Lake City. Sort of like an updated version of old west saloon music. UW Student Miles Griffith booked the band.

Tenors Un Limited

The trio Tenors Un Limited bills itself as ‘the Rat Pack of Opera.’ The group is starting the New Year with just four U.S. concerts before continuing the tour in the U.K., where they’re based. Two of those American engagements are in Wyoming, as Paul Martin explains to Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer.

Following the resignation of Bob Sternberg, Dick McGinity has taken over reins at the University of Wyoming as Interim President. 

McGinity was simply a faculty member at UW until Sternberg promoted him to be part of the administration and now he’s running the show.  Among his first duties is getting UW priorities through the legislature.  He tells Bob Beck that includes pay raises.

We’re joined now by Mark Jenkins of Laramie. He recently went to a remote area in Asia for a story for National Geographic.  He speaks with Willow Belden. 

The geology museum at the University of Wyoming recently re-opened after a long remodel. One of the features unveiled is a new fossil preparation lab. This lab offers U-W students, museum visitors, and the community a variety of opportunities to learn more about fossil prep. Wyoming Public Radio’s Chelsea Biondolillo has more.

Classic dances like the Jitterbug, the Charleston, and the Lindy Hop are being revived at a community swing dance series in Laramie. Swingin’ Around Town started this summer as a way to rekindle social dance.

It now happens on the first and third Friday of every month at Blossom Yoga in downtown Laramie, and Lindy Hop lessons start in January at the Laramie Recreation Center. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer spoke with Swingin’ Around Town co-founders Kevin Bretting and Charles Fournier.

Seattle Municipal Archives / Wikipedia Creative Commons

On Tuesday night, the city of Laramie and several other groups hosted a forum to brainstorm solutions to the problem of glass recycling, which has recently stopped in Laramie. ARC Regional Services says they lost thousands of dollars a year because they had to ship glass recycling to Wheatland, Colorado.  That’s where Rocky Mountain Bottling Company turns it into beer bottles.

Laramie Senator Phil Nicholas says he’s sad and disappointed to see Bob Sternberg depart from his position as President of the University of Wyoming so quickly. Sternberg resigned on Thursday after less than 5 months on the job.

It’s not often that a president leaves a university as quickly as Bob Sternberg, but it has happened before at UW. Phil Roberts spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden. He says there are often times that people are just not the right fit for a particular position.

For more on UW President Bob Sternberg’s resignation, click here.

Bob Beck

Lots of people enjoy the calming and relaxing benefits of yoga, but in Laramie a group is trying to use yoga to help those in the drug court program.  And the early returns are good.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more. 

BOB BECK:  It’s Friday night at Laramie’s Hot Power Yoga.  The lights are down and the room is lit with candles.  Nine people connected with the Albany County Drug Court program are here holding various poses in an effort to relax and focus. 

It’s been a rough week for UW President Bob Sternberg.  He’s been taken to task by several UW faculty on University list serves over his handling of a number of issues, but people have expressed the most concern over the turnover of some U-W administrators. 

Most recently the dismissal of the College of Education Dean and the resignation of the Law School Dean.  Sternberg gives Bob Beck his perspective on the controversy.

Willow Belden

In our occasional “Upstarts” series, we’re going to visit a company called Snowy Range Instruments. It’s based in Laramie, and it makes devices that can identify mystery substances. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

WILLOW BELDEN: In a large warehouse-like room, Tony Eads sits hunched over a workbench. He’s holding a soldering iron, and working on the control board for a high-tech instrument. At this stage, the device looks kind of like what you might see if you took apart a computer: basically, a green board with a maze of tiny copper-colored components.

Micah Schweizer

Several times a year, Laramie hosts square dances that attract dancers from hundreds of miles around. Part of the draw is the hall, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Wyoming Public Radio's Micah Schweizer has a postcard from Laramie's Quadra Dangle Square Dance Club.

Micah Schweizer

Born and raised in Sandpoint Idaho, identical twins Katelyn and Laurie Shook make up the Indie Folk-Pop band Shook Twins. They now reside in Portland, Oregon. Kyle Volkman and Niko Daoussis form the core quartet.

University of Wyoming Defensive-Line coach, Jamar Cain, has been promoted to Defensive Coordinator after this week’s firing of former coordinator, Chris Tormey.

The Pokes defense has been underwhelming this year. Ranked number 105 in total defense out of 123 teams in the NCAA, UW has given up over 50 points a game during the last two weeks.

Head Coach Dave Christensen says that firing Tormey was hard, but gives his team the best chance to win going forward.

Larry Struempf

Laramie resident Larry Struempf recalls the challenge of learning to read as a college student. He now teaches at Laramie County Community College in Laramie and is working on his doctorate.

Stephanie Joyce

Many retired people take up a hobby -- knitting, bird watching, bingo. But two Laramie retirees have decided to spend their days in pursuit of a decidedly less mainstream pastime: solving the energy challenges of our time. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce has the story.

STEPHANIE JOYCE: It’s a sunny fall day, and Dave Earnshaw is standing outside the central energy plant at the University of Wyoming, staring out over the empty field that sits next to it.

Anna Rader

Hillery Lynn, Birgit Burke, and Pryce Taylor make up the local Laramie band Whiskey Slaps. Hillery has been playing guitar, singing and writing songs most of her life. Birgit has been writing songs, singing, and playing various musical instruments most of her life as well. Their songwriting, guitar playing and mandolin playing lift elements from 1920’s blues, old-time, Appalachian folk and country western. Pryce Taylor joins on electric and upright bass, grounding the songs with solid rhythm.

Albany County Tourism Board

The forced closures of Wyoming’s national parks have frustrated tourists and slowed business in gateway communities, but tourism offices in the state are working to draw visitors to other locales that aren’t as strongly affected by the shutdown.

The Albany County Tourism Board has released a series of web graphics to encourage people to visit the region.

Spokeswoman Brittany Richards says they have spread virally over social media. One poster reads “The Tetons may be closed, but the Snowy Range is wide, wide open.”

Anna Rader

Based in Laramie, Alice Freeman provides unforgettable music on her pedal harp, traditional Celtic harp, carbon fiber Celtic harp or hammered dulcimer. Alice is certified as a Healing Musician, a Therapeutic Harp Practitioner and a Clinical Musician.  She maintains a private practice providing soothing harp music at bedside in several local health care facilities.

Listen to her harp rendition of a traditional Scottish tune, "Mist Covered Mountains" by John Cameron.

On October 2nd, the University of Wyoming College of Education will be hosting University of Southern California Professor Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang who will be the keynote speaker at the annual Ellbogen Symposium for teaching and learning. 

She will discuss how emotions shape learning, motivation and self.  Dr. Immordino-Yang is an expert on neuroscience and education.   She tells Bob Beck that emotions and our social experiences are a big part of learning.  

Chelsea Biondolillo

Modern roller derby is a contact sport that features two teams roller skating on a track, attempting to score by passing players of the opposing team. While the sport’s origins can be traced back to beginning of the 20th century, it was revived in the early 2000s in Texas…BY women and FOR women.

Since then, teams have started up all over the world. Wyoming has been a late adopter of the sport, but women here are making up for lost time.

[AMBI Sports announcer: “And she makes it through! That is a grand slam folks!]

According to the Laramie main street alliance’s executive director, Trey Sherwood, business owners in retail and food services look forward to the football season’s home games to boost Laramie’s foot traffic and the overall number of people walking through their doors.

“We see the most feedback from our restaurants in terms of them being busy for either lunch or dinner, depending on what time the game is.”, says Sherwood. 

She also says that bars see their business pick up the most on the nights after home games. 

Labor Day weekend provided a great opportunity for everyone to attend the 5th Annual Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie.  Highlights of the weekend included the March Fourth Marching Band, and Leftover Salmon with guests musicians Sam Bush and Bill Payne (Little Feat).  Also Travis Tritt, Jalan Crossland, Canned Heat and many more great musicians.  WPR's Paul Montoya was on hand to help MC the event.  Attending enjoyed great music, great food, and lots of sunshine.

Snowy Range Music Festival

This weekend marks the fifth annual Snowy Range Music Festival at the Albany County Fairgrounds. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer reports, the festival’s organizer has a grand vision, but it’s up to the region’s music lovers to see it fulfilled.

(MUSIC: Tab Benoit)

MICAH SCHWEIZER: Carl Gustafson’s dream hasn’t been without challenges. He started organizing the Snowy Range Music Festival in 2009.

CARL GUSTAFSON: “Here’s how bad it is…the first time that I had this, six weeks later I had a heart attack.”

SCHWEIZER: So why keep going?

The University of Wyoming will kick off a new school year on Monday. It’s an exciting time for incoming freshmen, but the college years bring new freedoms as well as new risks.

UW’s STOP Violence program offers crisis intervention and support for anyone on campus who’s been affected by sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking, and works to educate students about the issues.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Becky Martinez spoke with UW’s new STOP Violence Coordinator Megan Selheim about what new students should bear in mind for the coming school year.

Rebecca Martinez

Now, for the latest edition in our occasional series, Upstarts, we’ll hear from a stay-at-home mom who launched a multimedia publishing company from her kitchen table in Laramie. Kati Hime is the owner and editor of three high-quality magazines that focus on life in and across the Cowboy State. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports.

(Dog barking. Hime answers door.)

Mountain West Voices: “On Walkabout”

Aug 9, 2013

From Mountain West Voices, Clay Scott tells about Laramie’s Paul Taylor. 

Paul Taylor has been on walkabout for most of his adult life. He is an incredibly gifted storyteller and musician, and I met him as he was travelling from Laramie, Wyoming, to a school in Eureka, Montana to hold a week-long story-telling and art workshop.