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The Hills are Alive…

By Gary Rollins

LA VETA- One of our part time Huerfano county residents is a delightful, multi-talented singer-songwriter and musician by the name of Mary-Ann Brandon, who calls Nashville “home.”  She has enjoyed widespread popularity, particularly in Europe where she has toured extensively.  In Italy, she is considered a “star.”   I side with the Italians in that assessment.

    Together with her husband, Fred James, she owns Bluesland Productions and five different music publishing companies.  They both write, record, produce and perform music for a living.  James’ family settled close to  La Veta in 1968.  His father, Fred James Sr., has been a beloved member of the music community since his arrival.  Mary-Ann and Fred were drawn to Huerfano County for the fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery and simple farm life. 

    Brandon has agreed to a weekly column in the Huerfano Journal and we’ll all have a great opportunity to learn a whole bunch about the musical arts.  I didn’t realize we had so many people who were considered “somebodys” in the entertainment business.  As she pointed out to me, “I never cease to be amazed that this delightful little town of less than 1,000 people has such a rich, 3-dimensional arts and entertainment colony.”  Many of these talented souls, as we know, enjoy the peace and quiet and revel in the anonymity they find here in La Veta. 

    Brandon’s mission will be to keep us all updated on upcoming performances that we need to schedule and to review recordings of the local talent.  Since she knows almost everyone who is “connected,” there will be many revelations that would otherwise go unnoticed.  So that you will know her better, let me tell you a few things about her musical accomplishments…

     Mary-Ann Brandon is a three time Grammy Award nominee (in the Best Blues Album category) for her song-writing for Johnny Winter, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, C. J. Chenier, Kenny Neal and Saffire. Her songs have been featured in television commercials and in the 1997 Super Bowl TV broadcast.

    She has recorded six albums for Appaloosa, Ichiban, Taxim and ROAD Records. She has toured extensively in Europe and the United States and appeared at several major Blues Festivals such as The King Biscuit Blues Festival, The Amsterdam Blues Festival, Blues Estafette, The Lucerne Blues Festival, The Belinzona Blues Festival, Belgium Blues Night and many others.  

    In addition to her own recording career she has lent her voice as a back up vocalist for artists including, David Olney, Tommy Tutone, Tim Krekel, Earl Gaines, Fingers Taylor and Sam Lay, to name just a few.  Her latest album features guest appearances by Johnny Winter, Anson Funderburgh, Duke Robillard and Roscoe Shelton.  She is currently putting finishing touches on her next album release.

    To learn more about Mary-Ann and Fred and their music business please visit their website at www.blueslandproductions.com.  And be sure to read along each week as we learn just why the beautiful Spanish Peaks are also “alive with the sound of music.”

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