A Veteran Music Project is a joint project between Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) and Operation Encore, a nonprofit that works with active-duty military and veteran singer/songwriters. The Operation Encore musicians and songwriters are all veterans. The Saturday night Sheridan Opera House concert is a benefit for TASP programs. (Courtesy photo)

This week marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when American troops stormed the beaches in Normandy to liberate France from Nazi control. The upcoming concert featuring veteran artists at the Sheridan Opera House on Saturday seems like a fitting celebration.

The event, A Veteran Music Project, is a joint project between Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) and Operation Encore, a nonprofit that works with active-duty military and veteran singer/songwriters. Operation Encore offers veteran music artists opportunities to perform in concerts and music festivals, as well as support in creating and producing their own music.

As part of its mission, Operation Encore aims to bridge the gap between civilians and military service members.

“We often talk about the 1 percent [referring to] the wealthiest people, but we rarely talk about the other 1 percent: the 1 percent who served in the military,” Guy Jaquier, a member of the Board of Directors of Operation Encore, explained in an interview with the Daily Planet.

The Veteran Music Project is another way to connect civilians and military members.

“By definition, by being in the volunteer military, it’s a lot of people who felt the call to serve. And even if they’re not in the military anymore, there’s still the idea of service before self. TASP’s mission is service to wounded veterans, so our guys of course they want to do that,” Jaquier said.

The concert also comes at the end of TASP’s Military Summer Adventure Week. This trip aims to help disable veterans find healing and therapy through wilderness and activities such as rock climbing rafting mountain biking and hiking. This past week, all of the service members are from Colorado.

Many of the songs created and performed by Operation Encore artists address their experiences serving in the military.

“These are common human emotions, but they’re more intense when people are shooting at you,” Jaquier said.

Music can be a way for veteran artists to help process what they experienced while at war and even cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Jaquier added. “There’s therapy through music. Our artists get up on stage with a guitar in front of them, and that’s a way to express themselves.”

Saturday evening’s concert in Telluride features five different veteran artists: Andrew Wiscombe, Rachel Harvey Hill, Steve D. Wilson, the Real Doug Lane, and Stephen Cowell. Each performer will play five different songs, but the concert is designed to be a collective experience, rather than five separate mini-concerts, Jaquier explained. When selecting the artists to bring to Telluride, Operation Encore wanted diverse performances that still had unifying qualities.

“We want to make sure it flows from a content point as well as style,” said Jaquier. “It’s art not science.”

Telluride is a special place for Jaquier, who spends between six and eight weeks in the town every year, so he is enthusiastic about introducing these five artists to Telluride’s music scene. “Maybe they’ll play in a festival one day,” he said. “We would really love the community to come out and support our artists and support TASP by buying tickets.”

Though this is the Veteran Music Project’s first fundraising concert in Telluride, the hope is that it becomes a more regular, or even annual, occurrence.

“This event has so much potential to grow in the future,” said Telluride Adaptive Sports events manager, Caroline Grew.

Greg Hanshaw, local bagpipe afficianado will open the festivities with a concert in Elks Park at 7 p.m. Hanshaw will follow up his park performance by opening the show in the opera house at 8 p.m. Local musician Alan ‘Booradley’ Bradley and his band, the Neighborhood Improvement Association, will also feature in the concert. Bradley is a veteran himself.

All of the proceeds from the concert will go to support TASP. Prior to the opening of the show, there will also be a benefit silent auction in the opera house lobby and an artist ‘meet-and-greet’ following the performances.

General admission tickets are on sale for $25 and can be purchased online at sheridanoperahouse.com, as well as at the door on Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show begins at 8 p.m.