Chuck Snow has proven his skills as a songwriter and musician in some of Colorado Springs' most popular bands, beginning with the Autono and, more recently, as frontman for both the Lo-Fi Cowboys and Lazy Spacemen.
But last year, the singer-songwriter stepped away from his more Americana, country and indie-rock pursuits to release "Whichever Way the Wind Blows." Written and recorded in the midst of the Waldo Canyon Fire, the mostly acoustic, exactly three-minute ballad is as heart-tugging as anything in the Springsteen oeuvre.
Hailing from a long line of musicians that includes Hank Snow, the Colorado Springs native says he's now making "a concerted effort to actually learn how to play guitar."
"My brother was a big John Fahey and Leo Kottke fan," says Snow, who recently learned how to play Fahey's typically difficult "In Christ There Is No East or West." "So I grew up listening to them a lot, but I didn't really emulate them at first, because finger-picking was too much of a stretch, you know? But now that I'm older and more refined," he adds with a laugh, "I can kind of get into it."
Meanwhile, Snow continues to indulge his obsession with Replacements-era rock in the Lazy Spacemen, and twangier fare in the Lo-Fi Cowboys, plus the occasional acoustic gig. "There's not much crossover," he says, "but I don't purposely sit down and say, 'I'm going to write a country song.'"
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As for "Whichever Way the Wind Blows" — or, as one girl who came up to him at a show called it, "The Fire Song" — Snow still views it with as much pride as a self-deprecating musician can.
"It's probably one of the more complete songs I've written," he says. "I can still listen to it, unlike a lot of old recordings I've done that you listen to and it's like, 'Uhhh, that's terrible.' But no, I still enjoy it and I think it's a strong song, so I'm happy with it."
2nd place: Andy Clifton
3rd place: Tom Skora