Flatlander leaves his musical mark on the high mountains
Few musicians are more connected to the Colorado mountains than Jim Salestrom.Though Salestrom was born in the flatlands of Nebraska, he knew from the first family trip to Colorado that he someday wanted to call the mountains home. It was when he was 16, during an especially significant trip to Colorado, that the light was fully turned on.Working for Stanal Sound, a major sound company from his hometown of Kearney, Salestrom got the opportunity to handle the monitors for the first performance by John Denver at Red Rocks.The experience hooked Salestrom on both Colorado and on the positive folk music that Denver played. He returned to Nebraska, where he formed a band with his older brother, Chuck; in a nod to Colorado, they named the group Timberline.After a successful six-year run, which saw Timberline tour the country, sign to CBS Records, and open for such Colorado-based acts as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Aspen’s Starwood, Timberline broke up. And Salestrom made a beeline for Colorado, settling in Breckenridge.Over the past 20-plus years, Salestrom has established his credentials as a singing representative of Colorado.As the entertainment coordinator for Keystone resort, he produces bluegrass and jazz festivals, and Christmas and New Year’s concerts in Keystone. Representing Vail Resorts, Salestrom has traveled around the world playing his Colorado-flavored folk music. In Aspen, Salestrom has served as frontman for the Tribute to John Denver concerts at the Wheeler Opera House the past three years.He has also made connections with most every significant acoustic-leaning Colorado player in his years here. Tonight, Salestrom & Friends – locals Bobby Mason, John Sommers, Kenn Roberts and Twirp Anderson, plus Denver-area musicians Jerome Gilmer, Chris Engleman and former Aspenite Hereford Percy – will perform the concert Music From the Mountains at the Wheeler Opera House. Salestrom & Friends will also perform a free family concert at the Wheeler today at 4 p.m.The concert will feature mostly original tunes, plus some familiar folk songs. The musicians will assemble, without drums, in a half-circle, to add an element of intimacy to the show.”We want people to feel like we’re in their living room,” said Salestrom, who moved to the Denver suburbs three years ago. “We want it to be like it’s not exactly crafted.”That comes from a deep understanding of the music we’re playing, and the fact that we’ve known each other for 25 years, sometimes more.”
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Amid the pre-Thanksgiving gloom of grim pandemic news here in Aspen, across Colorado and the mountain west came a small but significant dose of hope in the unlikely form of an Aspen Music Festival and School announcement.