Country, Klezmer And A Grammy Winner: Listen To Our Holiday Show Of Musical Stars And Memories

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Photo: Country singer Clare Dunn performs in the CPR Performance Studio
Country singer Clare Dunn and Reed Barin, who played the cajon, warm up during sound check for the inaugural "Colorado Matters Holiday Music Special" on Dec. 21, 2016.

The first Colorado Matters live holiday music special went off without a hitch! Broadcast from the CPR Performance Studio Wednesday morning and hosted by Ryan Warner, the show featured Colorado musicians and their holiday stories. On hand: Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, rising country star Clare Dunn, Christmas carols recorded in an old water tank on the Western Slope, and a Denver trio who got their start as singing caterers. Click on the audio above to hear the full show. Read on for some interview highlights.

Dianne Reeves on recording her 2004 Christmas album in the summer, so it would come out by the holidays:

"We decorated the studio and just brought the Christmas spirit in there. People would walk in and go, 'What's going on in here?' We had so much fun. And I remember, after we had finished the record and we had to listen to it, I was in my car -- it was August here in Denver, so hot, hot -- and I had it turned up real loud. This guy [walking by] said, 'That's a great idea. I'm gonna keep cool just like that.'"

Hal and Annie Aqua of the Denver klezmer band The Lost Tribe on their fondest Chanukkah memories:

Annie: "Lots of great memories from massive family parties, lighting 10 menorahs. And if it's at the end of Chanukkah, there might be like 80 candles lit at once. That's always a little bit dangerous, but a lot of fun."

Hal: "I like to think of latkes when I think of Chanukkah. Latkes are traditional fried potato pancakes with onions. There's a danger in making latkes. You have to make a lot of them at a time, and you have to get every burner on the stove going with hot oil and a couple of extra electric skillets going... The kitchen smells like latkes pretty much until Passover, which is in the spring."

Photo: Listen To Our Holiday Lineup Of Musical Stars And Memories
Klezmer father-daughter duo Hal and Annie Aqua perform at the Colorado Matters Holiday Music Special.

Bruce Odland of The Tank in Rangely on how the new holiday album "Rangely A-Caroling at the Tank" came about:

"One of our supporters [longtime Rangely businesswoman] Elaine Urie had brought Sam Tolley, an oilman and philanthropist in Rangely, up to The Tank. He was pretty doubtful about this. He thought maybe there was a collection of hippies up there, or maybe it was a drum circle, or maybe it's just liberal East Coast guys. He came up and we sang for him. He said, 'I want to do something for Rangely and I want to do something for The Tank.' Couple months later, we met up and he had an idea: 'Let's make a Christmas album.'"

Country singer Clare Dunn of Two Buttes on how music fits into farming life:

"I was fortunate enough to inherit a love of music from my parents. And I think that any farm kid would tell you that long hours spent driving a tractor all day, music is your companion, it's your escape and it ultimately becomes your friend. Through their love of me, [my parents] encouraged me to pursue [a music career]. And so, all of my music is shaped from growing up on a farm, listening to so many different kinds of music."

Jesse Ogas of Trio Encantada on his favorite childhood holiday memory:

"I grew up in southwestern New Mexico. We were very poor and getting a Christmas tree was something that was very special to us. And my grandfather, Grandpa Tom, every year would go out and he would cut Christmas trees for a variety of families, especially those that might not have a Christmas tree. So, as a little boy, my favorite memory was always that night that we knew Grandpa Tom was coming. And the three of us would sit in front of the window and we'd wait. Grandpa would show up, unload the trees and we'd pick the prettiest one for us. I carry on that tradition today."

Tom Morgan, artistic director of Boulder choral ensemble Ars Nova Singers, on the traditional carol "The Holly and the Ivy":

"The decorating of our home with evergreens is really an ancient tradition. It goes back before the Christian era. In fact, there's even some writings from the early church fathers, directing Christians to not do this at the same time that Pagans were doing it. And the holly, in medieval understanding, is a masculine image and the ivy is a feminine image."

Colorado Matters Cohost Nathan Heffel on his memories of “A Christmas Together -- John Denver and the Muppets”:

"It was a 1979 TV special and vinyl album. My parents bought the album... and eventually my dad recorded it onto a cassette tape, scratches and all. I remember listening to it every holiday. I learned every scratch and every skip. My dad died of cancer in 1991. That first Christmas without him, when we popped in that tape, it meant a lot to us and really brought him home."