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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Farewell to Fort Collins (or How to Start a Musical Career)

(Here is the original edit of my Farewell to Fort Collins "Soapbox" Article for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.  You can read the shorter, Soapbox edit here.  If you'd like to explore making a living in music, come to the workshop I'm hosting Dick Weissman on February 1, 2014. More info here.)

When we moved to Fort Collins, about 40,000 citizens ago, I had no idea what I was going to do  with my time and skills, other than parent our two children.  After a dozen years of serving as a pastor in the innercity of Kansas City, I was exhausted and ready for a change, and I was feeling a vocational tug in the direction of music.  To be honest, this was the tug that had been there since my earliest memories as a child.  I didn't know exactly how to go about starting such a career, although I felt confident in both my performing and teaching abilities since music had been a key organizing tool for our multi-ethnic congregation in Missouri.

The short story I like to tell is this: I threw every line into the water and pulled on the ones that bit.

I played special music for worship at an ecumenical set of congregations, I gave programs for   Church Women's United, the CSU Women's Association, Rotary and Kiwanis.  I contacted the local funeral homes and provided music for several funeral and memorial services.    I led music for Brownie and Girl Scout Day Camp at Lee Martinez park for two years.

I walked a block from my house to meet Russ Hopkins at KIVA studio, and he became my recording engineer, mentor, co-producer and peer.  With him I recorded and produced many records which have gone on to win awards and acclaim and continue to find the ears of appreciative listeners.

I went weekly to the Bluegrass jam at Avogadro's Number on Wednesdays, and was warmly welcomed into the experience of learning, playing and sharing music by ear.  I played the weekly Open Mics at Avo's and Lucky Joe's, and several others as they cropped up around town.  I auditioned to play at Barnes and Noble, and landed a Wednesday lunch-time gig at Deja Vu (at the time, the oldest continuously running coffeehouse in town) that lasted for 10 years!

I auditioned for the accompanist job for the Rainbow Chorus, and didn't get it.  But I filled in when they needed a sub and then was commissioned by them to create and arrange a suite of songs for their millennium concert and recording.

I've played Noontime Notes in Oak Street plaza and on the Old Town stage, all the stages at the Lincoln Center, the Fort Collins Museum in both of its locations, several locations on the CSU campus, Walrus, Ben and Jerry's, Stone Lion and Starry Night for First Night, and most Old Town street corners with Streetmosphere and countless weddings all across the Front Range.

I was the guitarist for Agua de Vida Luterana, the Music Director of First Presbyterian Church in Loveland, the choir accompanist for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins and the Director of Music for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU.  I have been a Substitute Teacher and para-professional in the Poudre School District at Lincoln (then-) Junior High.  I have taught well over a hundred students in my private music studio and have watched some of them go on to music careers, while others enrich their lives with their musical participation.

I started and ran the Colorado Dulcimer Festival located here in Fort Collins for 10 years and have passed the mantle of leadership on to an able and dedicated crew who are preparing for the 11th one next Feb 7-8. (

Fort Collins, it turns out, was the perfect location for me to root and expand a new career that has taken me to perform and teach across the USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland and Germany.

And now It is time for us to pull up the tent stakes and move. 

My spouse, Connie Winter-Eulberg, has been pastor of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU since 1997, and has accepted a call to become the pastor of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church on San Mateo, California.  So that means it is time for me to re-establish Owl Mountain Music in a new nest.  But I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for all that the citizens and community of Fort Collins has meant to us.  I will be back, and in fact have some events already planned early in 2014, so I look forward to seeing many of you then.

If you would like to bid us farewell, come on by our Bon Voyage Hootenany at the Community Creative Center at 200 S. Matthews In Fort Collins on Saturday, Dec. 14th from 6:45 to 8:45 pm.