Hey, Spike! says Michael Martin Murphey still staging Westfest
Those of us who’ve been around here for quite a few years will recall the original Michael Martin Murphey Westfest at Copper Mountain Resort and the big lineup of country and western stars and artists he brought to perform here.
3M staged Wild Bill Cody-like traveling festivals, helping to keep the Old West alive. He is also known for penning hits such as “Wildfire” and “Carolina in the Pines,” among others that garnered him awards and places in the Western Music Hall of Fame, and the Texas, Colorado and Nebraska country music halls of fame.
Among some of those he hosted at Copper included Vince Gill, Martina McBride, John Denver, Suzy Bogguss, Bill Miller, Red Steagall, Gary Morris, Frank Howell, Amado Pena, Daryl Howard, BJ Briner, Baxter Black, Pam Tillis, Hal Ketchem, Waddie Mitchell, Tracy Byrd, Don Edwards, and Willie Matthews.
Murphey is still staging his shows and has performed seven concerts in Colorado so far this year, and has two more planned in June.
Every weekend in July, Murphey will be performing at Fir Amphi-theater at La Veta Pass, as part of the Rio Grande Scenic Railway train ride from Alamosa to La Veta.
Westfest will return after a five-year hiatus in Colorado with a four-day run Aug. 12-15 in Rifle.
Murphey started Westfest in 1987 at Copper Mountain, and it has moved to other locations such as Colorado Springs and Steamboat Springs.
Just recently, Helton Backhoe Service co-owner Mark Helton, who lives in Blue River, reports seeing Murphey in Beulah at the General Store. Mark is working on a project down that way with Greg Hess of Three Peaks.
In an interview recently with the Pueblo Chieftain’s Chris Woodka, Murphey said he’s purchased ranch land near Beulah, a mountain town 20 minutes from Pueblo.
Murphey, 65, bought about 160 acres and has leased some other ground near Beulah, and will begin moving some cattle onto it.
“I like the southern part of Colorado. It’s rancher-friendly and hunter-friendly. When I was growing up in Dallas, we used to save our nickels, dimes and pennies so we could come to Colorado,” the recording artist/rancher told Chris.
Murphey, also of Taos, has lived in Colorado before, over in Bailey, and up until 2005 at his Singing Cowboy Ranch in Buena Vista.
He chose Beulah because of the mix of environments close at hand: the St. Charles River, canyons, grasslands, evergreens and mountains.
“I liked the combination of different environments. It’s nowhere close to a ski area and the water hasn’t been sold away,” Murphey told Chris.
Laura Lewark reports spending an action-packed spring break week in Phoenix with her dad, Russ Kemmit. He was a longtime local until the mid-’90s when he moved to the Front Range and started Golf Tournaments Inc.
“He is partners with my brother, Lee Kemmit, and they have two offices – one in Denver and another in Phoenix,” reports Laura. “They are the golf car vendor for many of the western NASCAR race tracks as well as numerous other events including the Barrett-Jackson car auctions.”
“Larry, Alyssa, Casey and I spent the week soaking up the sun following the race,” she adds while in her office at the Lewark Family Shell Station in Frisco.
“We enjoyed the race, went sightseeing to the historic mining town of Jerome and caught playoff game one between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings, and also got to spend time with niece Jessica Lewark,” Laura says.
While showing at the Downtown Denver Arts Festival at The Pavilions on Glenarm, Miss Mary reports seeing some Summit connections:
Michele and Bill Messenger, Susan Lapinsohn and girlfriends in town to see “Sex and the City 2;” Carole Scott, Nikita and Lana Cordier, Judy Allen, Todd Powell, Sylvia Grady of Colorado Springs, daughter of Lola Mae and Wayne Bristol, and Sylvia’s daughter, Hillary of Boulder; Westminster’s Cindy Stanley, who with her now deceased husband, Bob, formerly owned the Gold Pan; and Deb Motika and husband Steve Jordan of Fort Collins.
Spotted out and about in Frisco this past weekend were Frisco Heights residents Julie and Dennis Baniewicz and their two-year-old triplets: Abe, Cy and June. Julie is the daughter of Bob and Joanie Merrick.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a resident of Summit County since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years.
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