The saxophone stylings of Danny Meyer have entertained a diverse sampling of audiences from music students to jazz aficionados in upscale bars to novice audiences seated for house concerts to prairie dogs perched on their burrows.

Yes, prairie dogs.

Musician Danny Meyer takes one of his regular outdoor saxophone practice sessions on open space alongside Pearl Parkway in Boulder on Monday.
Musician Danny Meyer takes one of his regular outdoor saxophone practice sessions on open space alongside Pearl Parkway in Boulder on Monday. ( PAUL AIKEN )

That shirtless man of mystery seen blowing his horn in prairie dog fields east of downtown Boulder on warm afternoons is none other than 26-year-old Meyer. While he says he's not playing for the burrowing rodents alone, they make a good audience.

"I'm playing because it's a lot of work to be a musician, and it's nice to practice outside," Meyer said. "But I like that there are prairie dogs there."

Meyer said he heard that prairie dogs can get to know people and make different sounds associated with specific people. And although it has taken the furry spectators some time to get to know Meyer -- who frequently strolls their fields with no shirt, dark sunglasses and saxophone in tow -- he said he seems to have finally become familiar to them.

"I've been noticing that they seem to run away less," he said.

Meyer said he can't be sure the prairie dogs are actually listening to and enjoying his playing. But one can hope.

"I hope I'm not bothering them," Meyer said, adding that they seem to be at least somewhat interested in jazz. "At least they haven't done anything rude."

Meyer, a Boulder native, has been playing the saxophone since age 10, and he has performed across the United States alongside noted musicians like Theo Peoples, who sang in the Motown group The Temptations, and John Popper of the band Blues Traveler.

Meyer graduated from the University of Colorado School of Music and now teaches at the Parlando School for the Arts in Boulder, Boulder Country Day School, Justice High School and the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts.

And he performs regularly -- and not just for small animals in fields along the side of the road. He has a house concert series on tap in June and will play at Colorado College in Colorado Springs on June 14. Meyer said he practices four to six hours a day, and two years ago, he missed the entire summer because of his musical dedication.

"So I tried to find a place outside, and I found that place over on Pearl" Street, Meyer said.

He can be seen playing, often shirtless, in the field on the south side of Pearl Street just west of its intersection with 55th Street on any given sunny afternoon.

"No one has told me that I'm bothering anybody," he said. "So I just go and practice."

But rumor has spread about the mysterious saxophonist who entertains prairie dogs in an "only-in-Boulder" sort of way.

"People do stop and listen," he said. "And every once in a while, people will want to take a picture of me."

Meyer said he never realized the perception his public playing might create.

"But it occurred to me that I do walk by a busy street," he said, adding that the rumors about his affection for prairie dogs are "hilarious."

"I guess I should wear a shirt," he said.