10th Annual High Peaks Music Festival
Saturday, September 14, 2019

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• Tom Ratts and Runaway Express

Runaway Express

RUNAWAY EXPRESS - comprised of Salli and Jim Ratts, Ernie Martinez, Butch Hause, and Gordon Burtt, has been a fixture of the Denver music scene for decades. They have backed up and played with numerous artists, including The Ragin’ Cajun Doug Kershaw, David Bromberg, Michael Martin Murphy, The Kingston Trio and John Prine. Each musician has earned a plethora of recognition and competitive awards and claim numerous CD’s, some of which have been award winning.

Runaway Express has released a dozen plus albums during their multi-decades of recording. Jim has written songs recorded by legendary folk groups The Kingston Trio, The Limeliters and the Dillards to name a few and then there are their other CD’s that are a combo of original material and others such as Buddy Yea, Port of Mystery, Woodstock.

They have played a 30-song tribute to Bob Dylan, performed at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival 6 times and have played the Red Rocks stage. Their repertoire of more than 2,500 songs is a smorgasbord of classic country, rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae and roots/Americana music that has inspired 3 generations of Americans.

Seemingly unafraid of lengthy ‘theme shows’ on almost any topic, they have performed an amazing 5-hour (no breaks!!) All Woodstock Music Extravaganza featuring songs by The Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Richie Havens, Neil Young, John Sebastian, the Grateful Dead and The Who.

Runaway Express has received Westword’s ‘Best of Denver’ awards for Best Country Recording, Best Collaboration With An Established Star and a reader’s choice for Best Dance Band.

Runaway Express may very well be the most fearless request band in the state.



Susan Gibson is an award-winning singer/songwriter from Wimberley, Texas. CMA Songwriter of the Year, BMI Writer of the Year 1999, 2009 West Texas Music Hall of Fame, Official Folk Alliance Showcase Artist 2010 & 2011 are just a few of her many awards. She's a respected performer and writer with one of the top-selling country song of all times - "Wide Open Spaces" released by the Dixie Chicks.

Susan wrote the now famous song in 1993, while visiting her family over her Christmas break from studying forestry at college. When her parents wanted to know why she had stayed out late the night before, Susan scribbled out the early stages of the lyrics that would one day rise to the top of the charts. The words sat forgotten in a notebook at home until Susan’s mother mailed the pages to her in a care package. Seeing the song’s potential, Susan finished “Wide Open Spaces,” and started playing it around her college town.

With six solo albums released nationally, she tours year-round and performs at a variety of festivals, listening rooms, and house concert venues. In addition, she is a founding member of the Red River Songwriters’ Festival that takes place every January in Red River, New Mexico. www.redriversongs.com

Anyone who meets Susan will know immediately that her family is a core foundation in everything she does, from the songs she writes to the tour routes she takes. Whether it’s hearing her stories from the stage at one of hundreds of live shows around the country each year, sitting in on a songwriting workshop or coaching session with her, or running into her on the street in your town while she’s walking her 5 dogs on a break from driving to the next show...you will hear Susan speak of her family.

“Remember Who You Are” recorded in 2016 with producer Don Richmond at the helm at Howlin’ Dog Studios in Alamosa, Colorado is her latest CD with Susan providing vocals, guitar and banjo. This, like her other recordings resonates of community and family. www.SusanGibson.com


The Rifters put out more music than it seems should be right for three guys on stages, they provide a mesmerizing variety of music from driving blue-grama-grass to ethereal desert beauty. Their years of playing to dance crowds has given their music a toe-tapping rhythm that is engaging and undeniable. With a pedigree of bands like Hired Hands, the Rounders and South by Southwest among them, the Rifters are truly a musical voice of the high desert vistas and mountain majesty. Their choice of moving and powerful material, both original and by others, their impeccable musicianship and their strong three-part vocal arrangements combine to make the Rifters a crowd-pleasing musical experience.

Rod Taylor on guitar, mandolin, and vocals lives in Cimarron, New Mexico and is recently retired from being head of cattle operations at Philmont Ranch. Although Rod is well known for playing traditional western music at cowboy poetry gatherings, his musical influences run from The Beatles to The Allman Brothers to old blues to Willis Alan Ramsey and back again. Rod’s rich lead vocals provide one of the most immediately recognizable elements of The Rifters’ distinctive sound.

Jim Bradley on bass and vocals. Jim is a long-time Taos resident and is a native New Mexican, born in Las Cruces. Jim’s powerful rhythmic and percussive playing provide the pulse for The Rifters’ energetic acoustic rhythms. He has played his Fender bass from Alaska to Manhattan and many places in between, from the mountain bars to the big festival stages with touring national acts. Jim holds down many of the high harmony vocals in the Rifters’ rich vocal arrangements.

Don Richmond on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, pedal steel guitar, harmonica, accordion, trumpet and vocals. Don was a founding member of the near-legendary Colorado band Tumbleweed (1973 – 1990) and the Colorado-New Mexico band Hired Hands (1992). Don lives in Alamosa, Colorado and also owns and operates Howlin’ Dog Recording, a most respected acoustic-oriented recording studio. He has appeared on dozens of recordings by many of the region’s top artists, as well as numerous projects under his own name and with his former bands. Don’s multi-instrumental skills help provide the variety and excitement audiences enjoy in The Rifters’ performances. He also covers lead and harmony vocals. Rifters.net


HARRY TUFT grew up singing and playing the piano, clarinet, ukulele, baritone and in college a six-string guitar. His album Across the Blue Mountain with Dick Weissman, Jay Ungar and Artie Traum is a classic.

Philadelphia’s lively folk scene provided the setting for Harry’s first ventures into public singing. In 1960 needing a break from studies Harry traveled out to the Rocky Mountains for some skiing. He found a job in Georgetown and sang in a local bar.

Encouraged by friends and Izzy Young (NYC Folklore Center) Harry opened Denver’s Folklore Center in 1962 and it quickly became the gathering place for local and passin’ thru folk musicians such as Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Doc Watson and the Reverend Gary Davis. Jim Morrison and Frank Zappa, legend bluesmen Muddy Waters and Sonny Terry, bluegrass legends Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs and folk-pop stars like the Mamas and Papas all stopped in when in town. It was not uncommon at the time to walk in on one or another jam sessions. This was also the start of today’s Denver’s Swallow Hill Music Association.

In 1972, Harry and friends Steve Abbott and Jack Stanesco formed Grubstake which subsequently resulted in the production of five more albums In 2012 Harry was inducted in Colorado’s Music Hall of Fame and 2016 Denver City Council passed a resolution recognizing Tuft's extraordinary contribution to Denver’s music scene and declaring October 17, 2016 Harry Tuft Day. That year Harry sold his beloved Folklore Center to two long time folk music supporters and friends to follow his original dream of writing, performing and hosting folk music workshops.

Most recently his performing has been as a duo with original Grubstake band member Jack Stanesco. www.HarryTuft.com


DAKOTA BLONDE consists of Mary Huckins, the sunny South Dakota blonde who plays a plethora of instruments and sings lead on most songs, Westcliffe local Don Pinnella, guitarist and lead vocalist and Tony Randell on acoustic bass, backup vocalist and all around funny guy. Huckins’ vocals evoke, on various numbers, Nanci Griffith or Shawn Colvin, but mostly Huckins sounds like herself. Hers is a voice of clarity and singularity. Ernie Martinez, multi-instrumentalist, and singer/songwriter/producer joins them to make this an extra special performance. special performance.

The three band members, Mary, Don and Tony met while working as music therapists at Fort Logan Mental Health Center in Denver, CO. Their authentic camaraderie is evident and their audiences tend to feel better after a dose of Dakota Blonde. Their combination of original tunes and carefully selected covers, along with their endearing stage presence and humor is out of this world! Their musical sound is hard to classify, but best put, they are part folk, part bluegrass, part acoustic rock, part singer/songwriter, and Celtic. A unique blend of heart, authenticity and contagious spirit, their acoustic sound is like no other. Their tightly blended harmonies will have you believing they were born to sing together. Dakota Blonde has received top honors for their song writing, CD projects and performances throughout the world. www.DakotaBlonde.com

• TC Smythe and Gary Taylor - Host Band

TC Smythe and Gary Taylor are known for their tight, symbiotic harmonies, their humorous lyrics and ‘3-D’ brand of guitar playing. Between them they have 10 CD’s. Their craft of songwriting includes a blend of bluegrass, blues, folk, Celtic, pop and Americana music. Performing together for eighteen years, they have completed nine world tours including appearances at the Guildford Music Festival in England eight years running. As one reviewer put it, “Lots of humor, lots of fun, but some really poignant and insightful songs as well.”

Multi award winners, they are the Houston Songwriter’s Association’s Lyric Contest Winners, Songwriter of the Year Winners, Lifetime Achievement Award Winners and Folk Champion Winners. In 2009, they won the Vocal Duo of the Year My Texan Award and in 2013 they won the Popular Cover of the Year, Texas Music Award.

Joining Gary and TC is Kathy Taylor on standup bass and Drew Horton on mandolin. Drew is a 1st Place Mandolin Championship Winner, Walnut Valley Festival, Winfield KA.