Opera House: Steve Earle + Opening of SHOW Bar

Opera House: Steve Earle + Opening of SHOW Bar

”An Evening with Steve Earle” honors the prolific singer-songwriter and roots rocker. The solo show takes place Tuesday, October 4, at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House. Tickets are $50 and $65 (reserved seats) here. Or call 970-728-6363 ext. 5. Earle’s concert is a double celebration: on that same evening, the newly built Opera House SHOW Bar opens on the first floor of the historic building.

Stee Earle

Steve Earle

Just before Steve Earle was born, January 17, 1955 in Fort Monroe, where his dad was stationed as an air traffic controller, the family dispatched a delegation to Virginia with a small Prince Albert tobacco tin of Lone Star dirt from the farm. The dirt was spread in a flat pan and just after his first breath, the little guy was held up and his feet imprinted in the imported soil. While the Earles reluctantly accepted a Virginia birth certificate, Steve’s granddaddy and uncles were satisfied that the first dirt his feet every touched was pure Texan.

The red dirt boy grew up to become a troubadour, who learned his craft from two other Lone Star legends: Guy Clark and the renegade Townes Van Zandt, who helped develop Earle’s talents as a songwriter, country singer, and hard-strumming guitarist.

While still a teen, Earle toured with Clark’s band playing bass. Clark, he says, taught him the construction of a tune’s structural tricks, internal rhymes and other things that, in the end, separate a really good songwriter from a hack.

Of Townes, 12 years ago Earle told me: “He never showed me anything directly about writing songs. What I learned from him was that it is possible to do something because it is worthwhile and important, even if it’s only important to you, and whether you make money or not. I watched him do that all his life.”

Since he came on the scene in 1986, Steve Earle has been labeled an iconoclast– although his best music embraces America’s roots in Appalachian and folk music. From his days as a Nashville country singer to his work as a latter-day protest musician, Earle’s music has evoked the conflicted lives and loves of ordinary America.

Despite his unwillingness to conform – or because of it? – over his long and prosperous career, Earle received three Grammy awards. His songs have been recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, and Shawn Colvin, with whom he recently released an album.


On the 16th studio album of his singular career, Terraplane, Earle pays tribute to the blues, influenced by the blues giants he saw growing up in Texas – Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddy King, Johnny Winter, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Canned Heat and Billy Gibbons. Recorded in Nashville by Ray Kennedy and produced by R.S. Field, the inspired collection is his homage to the music he calls “the commonest of human experience, perhaps the only thing that we all truly share” and a record he has wanted to make for a long time. Over 11 original tracks, Earle and his longstanding band The Dukes traverse various forms of the blues – from the Texas roadhouse blues of opener “Baby Baby Baby (Baby)” to the acoustic blues of “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now” and the Chicago blues of “The Usual Time” to the pre-war blues of “Baby’s Just As Mean As Me,” a duet with Eleanor Whitmore.

Described by Mojo as “Earle’s passion for blues in its rawest form,” Terraplane has received near universal acclaim and been embraced by the blues community.

Downbeat exclaimed, “The once hard- living maverick sings with deep knowledge of the dark and light sides of human experience, running his emotional engine at full-throttle while sustaining the crucial ambivalence of the blues… Earle’s ace band, the Dukes, plays for keeps.”

London’s Express & Star gushed, “It’s like Robert Johnson meets Johnny Cash – and it’s a truly stunning work.”

Rolling Stone described Terraplane “down-home Texas blues party.”

At the Sheridan Opera House, Steve Earle performs solo.

Below is a track from Terraplane:

About the new SHOW Bar:

The SHOW Bar features beer on tap, an authentic Brunswick-style bar from the late-1800s, antique tin ceiling tiles, original theater seats from the upstairs theater and fixtures to match the 103-year-old venue’s historic nature.

The project also included an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant lift at the entrance and ADA compliant bathrooms adjacent to the bar. Extensive electrical and ventilation updates were also incorporated in the old building.

After Tuesday’s Grand Opening, the SHOW Bar will be open before, during and after concerts events in the theater upstairs, and will also be open for smaller events such as singer-songwriters in the bar only.

The Sheridan Arts Foundation, the non-profit that owns and operates the historic Sheridan Opera House, hopes to see increased revenue and offer a larger variety of entertainment to the public.

“We’re excited to offer a new gathering space to the community with the SHOW Bar,” said SAF executive director Ronnie Palamar. “The bar will be available for rent with out without the use of the upstairs theater.”

The Opera House SHOW Bar was built by Osborne Builders and designed by Sefra Maples Interior Design and Consulting and architectural consulting with Peter Lundeen of FUSE architecture + interior.

Michael Osborne, the owner of Osborne Builders, explained that the space will be more than just another bar in Telluride. “It’s set up specifically for the Opera House,” he said. “It’s a quaint little setting.” 

The SOH’s previous bar, the Vaudeville Bar, was tucked away on the third floor of the building and only open during theater events. The space the new bar now occupies, which is to the left of the first floor box office, was referred to as the Gallery Room and used infrequently as rehearsal space, meetings, dance classes, and rentals.

“The Gallery Room was perhaps the most under-utilized space in the town of Telluride given its prime location and size,” said Arts Foundation President Steve Palamar, who spearheaded the project along with the SAF board of directors.

“Upon purchase or pick-up of tickets, guests can either move directly into the new bar for a drink, or proceed upstairs for seating,” he said. “After performances, they can also go to our bar for a nightcap rather than going to another establishment down the street.”

The project required approval from the Town of Telluride’s Historical Architectural Review Commission, which is unusual because HARC historically has only reviewed exterior projects, but due to the Sheridan Opera House’s historic nature, the interior project required approval as well.

“This improvement is a continuation of our efforts to provide the Telluride community with a truly outstanding historic venue,” Palamar added.

To learn more about renting the Sheridan Opera House SHOW Bar please visit sheridanoperahouse.com. 

The Sheridan Arts Foundation was founded in 1991 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to restore and preserve the historic Sheridan Opera House, Telluride’s Crown Jewel, built in 1913. Since the SAF’s inception, the foundation has worked tirelessly to restore the Sheridan Opera House including redoing the theater’s historic stencils, addressing safety issues in the aging building, restoring the theater’s original maple flooring and most recently, building a new entry way to replicate the building’s original entry structure.  

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