American Songbook Fest: Name That Tune

American Songbook Fest: Name That Tune

During the 1990s, Telluride was on fire, its tie-dyed personality shifting to J. Crewish as real estate sales boomed. Back in the days when it seemed the music would never stop, Telluride Arts (then TCAH) threw a big community party, the infamous Beaux Arts Ball, a fundraiser for the grassroots arts organization. Locals turned out in force; “Anything Goes” was the general theme.

Picking up that thread, “Anything Goes” (read, over-the-top) is also the theme of Michael Estwanik’s upcoming event in support of the brand new nonprofit, the Telluride American Songbook Festival.


The “Name That Tune Costume Party” takes place Saturday, June 27, 6 – 10 p.m. in a private home in Mountain Village. The idea is for guests to come tricked out as song titles, simple or elaborate. The grand prize for best costume is a one-week vacation in Hawaii. Judges at the event include local notables such as Daiva Chesonis, Erin Gehrke, Dan Jansen, Will Thompson, and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

What’s more, the woman whose name twins with music in this town, Ms.Bobbie Shaffer, is guest of honor. Shaffer has tickled the ivories for many of Telluride musical productions for 40 years and counting, plus she performed more concerts, private parties and saloons than she cares to remember, at times acting as musical director.

The “Name That Tune” evening also includes dinner, an open bar, raffle prizes, silent and “loud” auctions.

“Since moving here in November, I have seen the way Telluride folks dress up in costumes at the drop of a hat, so I am expecting some pretty amazing song title outfits.”

Such as (from past bashes hosted by Estwanik):

“Your Getting to be a Habit With Me"

“Your Getting to be a Habit With Me”

“You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, featuring Deborah Hecht, Julliard Drama School Faculty, Broadway’s favorite speech/dialect coach (Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones, Kelli O’Hara, etc.).

“Let’s Get Physical"

“Let’s Get Physical”

“Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton-John. Justin Jones, Personal Trainer.

“That’s Why the Lady is a Tramp"

“That’s Why the Lady is a Tramp”

“The Lady Is a Tramp” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Rebecca Luker, Tony Award-nominated Broadway performer.

Once a woman came dressed as a senorita holding a large umbrella over her head with a large model airplane attached to the top. “The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly on the Plane” from “My Fair Lady.”

And a man came carrying a much damaged frosted cake. “MacArthur Park (Someone left the cake out in the rain…).”

Another woman showed in yellow rain gear patterned with photos of handsome guys such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper. “It’s Raining Men.”

And for Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”?


Why the fundraiser so early in the game for Songbook Fest?

“What the Telluride community needs to understand is that the average American performing arts non-profit derives only 21% of its operating budget from ticket sales; other 79% must come from donations and grants. We applied for several local grants, but so far the results have been disappointing. To go forward and provide more high-quality events like our Mother’s Day concert, we must rely completely upon individual and business donations. I have produced other Name That Tune costume parties in New York and Lake Tahoe with great success. Here’s hoping….”

Tickets, $100 per person(tax deductible). RSVP Please mail checks to TASF, PO Box 3674, Telluride, CO., 81435. Questions? Call 917-843-4729.


More about the Telluride American Songbook Festival:

The American Songbook Festival aims to bring some of Broadway’s greatest talent to town who, along with  Telluride stars, will perform hits from Broadway to film and folk, as follows:

“This Land Is Your Land: an Evening of American Folk Songs” followed by a hootenanny. Wednesday, July 29, and Thursday, July 30, Sheridan Opera House.

“An Evening with Marilyn Maye.” The 87-year-old singer Marilyn Maye holds the record– 76 times – for most appearances on the once-legendary “Johnny Carson Tonight Show.” Wednesday, August 17, and  Thursday, July 18, Sheridan Opera House.

“And the World Goes ‘Round,” the acclaimed, long-running off-Broadway revue of songs by Broadway’s John Kander and Fred Ebb. (“Cabaret,” “Chicago,” “New York, New York,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Woman of the Year,” etc.). Thursday, August 27, and Friday, August 28, Palm Theatre.

“An Evening of Oscar-Winning Songs,” a Salute to the Telluride Film Festival, Monday, August 31, Telluride Ski & Golf Club Members’ Ski Plaza Lounge.

The American Songbook Festival will also offer unique opportunities for continuing education:

A Master Singing class with Marilyn Maye, Wednesday, August 19. (Lmited to 12 students only.)

Songwriting workshops (junior high, senior high, adults) with award-winning songwriter, David Friedman, Monday July 20 – Thursday, July 23. Friedman’s work has been recorded by Diana Ross, Barry Manilow, Laura Branigan, Petula Clark, etc. He was also the vocal arranger/conductor of numerous Broadway musicals and many classic Disney animated films such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” etc.

The mission of the American Songbook Festival, a new 501(c)(3) non-profit, is To celebrate the American Songbook, to preserve this musical treasury, and to foster it for future generations through concerts and educational workshops. We define the American Songbook as songs of any musical genre, both old and contemporary, with a melody and lyrics written by Americans,” Estwanik explained.

The Telluride Songbook Festival kicked off in May with a Mother’s Day concert, “Songs for Mother and Those They Love,” featuring Broadway star Liz Callaway and her son, Nichilas Callway Foster.

 “Attendance for our first concert was wonderful and the audience response was overwhelmingly favorable. The general comment we heard was ‘Finally we are going to have the kind of entertainment we have been missing in Telluride for years,’” added Estwanik.


More about Michael Estwanik:


Michael Estwanik moved to Telluride in November, 2014, looking for a change from New York City, where he had lived for 25 years. People he met in town last summer agreed there was a real need for the kind of American Songbook Festival he considered developing.

Why an American Songbook Festival?

“Have you heard the recordings our youth listen to today? Do you think they will last through the decades?  Time will tell. But we do know that truly great songs do last and can be sources of comfort, love, humor, storytelling, hope, patriotism, and joy. Once we learn them, this sort of music lives in our memory, to be recalled whenever we need a friend. Our American Songbook is the heritage of our young people. Their birthright. Like baseball. So we hope to preserve it and introduce this heritage to them.”

Originally from Cleveland, Estwanik graduated Boston College with a degree in Psychology and Theatre Arts. He worked for several San Francisco Bay Area arts companies and museums as their Director of Public Relations. He served as Dean of Admissions as Lone Mountain College in San Francisco, which had several highly-respected undergraduate and graduate programs in performing arts. Lone Mountain College (which had been San Francisco College for Women for 100 years) became instantly famous in 1971 for their long-running production of the Who’s Rock Opera, “Tommy,” which ran for nine months at the historic Family Dog: 800 sold out seats, nine performances per week!

Continue reading about Michael Estwanik here. 


More about Bobbie Shaffer:


Bobbie Shaffer moved to town about 41 years ago. A self-described “exhibitionist,” she appeared on stage for the first time in a dance recital at age six. By age eight, she was studying piano. At Penn State, she majored in piano and earned a degree in music education.

Shaffer once taught at The Curtis School and the Brentwood Academy.

“I guess you could say I was once ‘piano teacher to the stars.'”

Shaffer moved to Telluride from California following a two-week vacation, which became an extended vacation in town. Old story.

Bobbie turns 70 on Tuesday, June 23. The “Name That Tune” tribute is a fitting gift to a lady who has given Telluride so many gifts – not the least, her breakfast cereal smile.

(Little known fact: Bobbie Shaffer won enough beauty pageant awards in her home state of New Jersey to finance her college education.)

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