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Session obsession 

Business of Art Center embraces diversity of music

Let's face it. Manitou Springs is known more for its benevolent occultists than for its music scene. But that may soon change.

On Sunday, July 27, the Business of Art Center will present the first installment of its Springs Music Sessions, a six-hour concert featuring several original bands from across the Front Range.

"The goal is to give local musicians the opportunity to play original music," said BAC Events and Facilities Manager Craig Cantrell, the concert organizer. And though his premise seems straightforward enough, Cantrell's mission differs dramatically from most concert promoters or club owners.

"We don't want to compete with the bars and clubs, so we scheduled the event for a Sunday," he said. "In addition to putting on this show for our [BAC] members, we want to draw people into Manitou and provide them with an all-around artistic experience."

If Cantrell's vision of artistic inclusiveness pays off, it promises to bring music lovers and patrons of the arts together while showing that the BAC is a viable space for all creative art forms.

With the newly renovated "Garage" building at 515 Manitou Ave., the BAC is now free to host larger events like the music sessions without worrying about space. With the capacity for 230 people, the hall is intimate enough for interaction during the performances, while allowing for impressive interior acoustics with its pitched, high ceilings.

"The additional draw," said Cantrell, "is the artwork that we will have up during the concert. We want people to experience the full package."

The main attraction, of course, is the music. Headliners the Michael Reese/Kim Stone Collaborative are among the most talented local jazz/rock instrumentalists around. Stone, a veteran jazz composer and member of the Rippingtons for the last 13 years, will perform alongside guitarist Michael Reese, whose claims to fame include sessions with Mick Fleetwood and John Entwistle, among others. They will be joined by Tommy Stephenson on keyboards and Larry Thompson on drums.

Other acts scheduled to perform are local favorites Johnny and the Jukes, edgy blues-rocker Tommy Gallagher, funkadelic rockers Sevenandtwofives, and improvisational pop pianist Bryant Jones. The bands will play from 3 to 9 p.m., ensuring an entire afternoon of musical variety.

"If this event is a success, we'd like to keep the sessions coming every month, and eventually host a three-day festival," says Cantrell. "There is a lot of great local music out there to choose from."

Luckily for local bands, Cantrell isn't picky about what genres are featured. A self-professed "blues junkie" with an affinity for the Sex Pistols and the Damned, he's open to just about anything, and encourages local bands to submit their demos for consideration to appear at upcoming events.

Cantrell realizes that if the sessions turn out well "it will be a tremendous boost for the BAC," which already offers seminars on portfolio management for artists, and galleries and studios for local artists.

"We have the opportunity to do something special with local music," Cantrell said, "and I guess we'll just go from there."

-- Joe Kuzma

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