The holidays are a time of year to think of those less fortunate, and Telluride is a town beloved not just for its summer music festivals, but for the many talented musicians who live and perform here year-round.
By contrast with big-name acts, which jet in one day, perform on Town Park stage and roar off the next, local musicians (like working artists generally) work for very little money. And yet they give this town so much.
This season, Christ Presbyterian Church is celebrating the many gifted working musicians who call the box canyon home and supplying holiday cheer, all at the same time.
“The pandemic has affected all of us, especially those whose lives have been cratered,” said David Jemison, a Christ Presbyterian Church parishioner who is helping to oversee this particular giving effort. “It’s had a big impact on local musicians, who are unable to play their music live.”
At the same time, due to state and county health restrictions, “We’re not able to gather” for concerts or choir performances or other holiday-related celebrations, Jemison pointed out. “We thought we would reach out through music.”
Beginning Friday at 6 p.m., the church’s website will stream a series of individual performances submitted by 15 local musicians and spliced together into a concert of about an hour in length. The performance will be available free until the end of the year. There will be a virtual “tip jar” available (and you will be most welcome to leave a generous one). Every penny collected will go back to the musicians.
“We thought we would spread a little joy,” Jemison explained. And, in this season of sharing, “give artists a way to share their gifts.”
The broadcast itself, which takes place online, is part of a natural progression for the church. It’s the same transition many churches have had to make on behalf of parishioners in this (mostly) stay-at-home year.
“We were able to hold outside services in our gardens during the summer,” between COVID-19 spikes, Pastor Pat Bailey said. “We’d hoped to come inside again by All Saint’s Day” in early November, “but it just isn’t prudent right now. We’ve recorded portions of our services before. As we like to say, ‘Sunday morning is when we go to church.’ And so we’ve recorded our 10 a.m. service. We’ve gotten some help from Tim Johnson, our technical advisor. He used to be the photographer for Telluride TV. This last Sunday was the third week we held the service” online. “It was the best week. Sometimes,” he added wryly, “it doesn’t work at all.”
It’s not for lack of trying. And in fact, Bailey is being too modest: Over the past year, the church has brought “Coffee Time,” on Saturday mornings via Zoom to parishioners all over. “The great thing,” Bailey observed, “is that we have parishioners who’ve relocated who can still be with us. Last Sunday we had California and North Carolina on the line.”
And much like the Wilkinson Public Library now offers its monthly Booze & Books online during the pandemic, Christ Church now hosts its cheekily titled Pub Theology session on Zoom. “It used to be at the Sheridan,” Bailey said. “I don’t preach. People are welcome to have a glass of wine” (from the comfort of their own homes). “It’s targeted to those in their 20s and 30s. The idea is to create a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere, so people can feel free to open up.”
Holiday revelers are invited to join in beginning Friday — perhaps with a mug eggnog, spiked or no — and listen to musicians perform holiday selections. Telluride locals are likely to recognize most of these names: singer-songwriters Sean Deland, Cousin Curtiss, Emily Scott Robinson, Tom Nading, and flutist Claire Beard, among others, will all play.
“I think it’s an exciting thing,” Bailey said, “and all the money” will be going to these artists. “We’re thinking of hosting another, similar online event this spring, a poetry reading for Easter. We have so many wonderful writers in this town.”
Local musicians perform at christchurchtelluride.com/holidaymusic beginning Friday at 6 p.m., and continuing through the end of the year. A tip jar will be available. All the monies collected will go to the artists.