Between the Headphones of the publisher

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Is this going to be the winter of our discontent?

The last month or so has been absolutely brutal to the Colorado music scene.

It started in late September when long-time Front Range music staple Mark Sundermeier — who as both a musician (The Trampolines and Author Unknown) and a talent buyer (The Toad Tavern) has been an intricate piece of the local scene for years — was involved in an incredibly serious car accident, that left him mangled and stuck in the hospital for weeks. He’s now, thankfully, recovering from some of his injuries, but still has a long road to haul.

News of Sundermeir’s accident was followed not long after by the tragic news of Colorado Springs bluesman and 2001 Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition winner John-Alex Mason. Mason, who was 35, had been diagnosed with cancer and during what was, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, supposed to be an outpatient procedure to remove the cancerous tissue, fell into a coma. On October 19, Mason slipped away, leaving a wife and child, as well as his mother Charlotte and brother Stephen behind.

Then, just a few days later, Terry Span, 48, the lead guitarist of the Colorado Springs-based band Aleister Wilde, died after he sustained injuries trying to break up a fight involving his bandmates. According to The Denver Channel website, Span was knocked unconscious by the band’s bass player, who was allegedly involved in an altercation with the band’s lead singer. Span died two weeks later from those injuries, on October 20.

What are we supposed to take away from all of this? What can we do to honor the victims of these tragedies and move forward?

There will be benefits we can attend (in fact, for Sundermeier, what was supposed to be a CD release party, was transformed into a benefit, complete with a Skype feed to his hospital bed). But beyond that, where do we go from here?

In an interview I did this month with Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson, I was blown away to see the spirituality that he has found in light of his life struggles over the past few years. He said in that interview that the more you live life, the more “shit happens.” That yin and yang flow of our world, the dichotomy of good things and bad, can only serve to give us some hope at this time — that good news and good things are on the horizon.

Robinson and many musicians like him are lucky in that when times are at their worst, they can turn to songwriting to express the thoughts running rampant in their brains. As a non-musician — a fan, versus a creator of tunes — I, too, turn to music in those times — just as much as I use it to celebrate life in good times.

And, I think, as participants in this life’s play, all we can really do to carry on is to celebrate the tunes that these musicians have left us, to blow our speakers as we let their notes and words sing out from the mountain tops, to paint vivid memories of those we’ve lost and to realize the blessing of those we are still lucky enough to have with us. Play it loud!

See you at the shows.

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