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Fiddle ace Natalie Rae Padilla hosting album release, square-dance party in Longmont

Natalie Rae Padilla juggles teaching, acting as associate concertmaster, being in a band and creating her own music

Lyons-based musician Natalie Rae Padilla will perform a show in celebration of the release of her second solo album, “Fireweed,” on Friday at Longmont’s Altona Grange Hall.
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By the tender age of 6, Natalie Rae Padilla was already winning fiddle contests in her home state of Montana. Now, the Lyons-based creative teaches fiddle at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in its new Folk & Bluegrass studies program and still manages to prioritize crafting original music of her own.

From playing gigs with her acoustic bluegrass band Masontown to serving as associate concertmaster of the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra for six years, Padilla — also a classical violinist — remains committed to keeping her craft in bloom.

She has shared the stage with Elephant Revival, Peter Rowan and Boulder Philharmonic. Friday at Altona Grange Hall, Padilla will celebrate the release of her second solo album “Fireweed,” an authentic 15-track offering of songs inspired by everything from a pig farm outside of Lyons to an old roommate’s excitable terrier. We caught up with the songstress prior to her Longmont gig to talk dream venues, being a part of Colorado’s creative community and the subtle art of square dance.

Renowned violinist and fiddler Natalie Rae Padilla, will perform an album release show at Longmont’s Altona Grange Hall. A square dance will follow her set.

Daily Camera: I know music was always present in your childhood. Do you remember the first time you knew that music would be your career path?

Natalie Rae Padilla: I can’t think of a specific moment where that became clear, but music has always been the thing that makes me feel most myself and gives me confidence that I can do some good in this world. I went to college and received a classical violin performance degree, thinking that was the first obvious step in becoming a violin professor — my then career goal — but, by the end of four years, I was not up for going back to school. I do, however, remember just before I graduated, my college violin professor, Richard Fuchs, told me that whichever way I decided to take my music career — in folk music or classical — would be the right one and that I would excel at it. I didn’t think much of that compliment at the time or know what he meant, but it has stuck with me and helped me see that music is a universal language that transcends styles and genres and wherever that leads me I shall go.

DC: Congrats on the release of your latest album. Love it. What can folks expect from your upcoming Longmont show? I understand there will be a square dance after.

NRP: Thank you so much. I had the idea just after the album was fully recorded that I’d like to do the release show as half-performance, half-square dance. I tend to come up with these wacky ideas late at night or early in the morning while I should be sleeping. But it stuck me as brilliant and I thought, “Why not?” Square dancing, yes, is that thing we were all forced to do as elementary P.E. students, but it is also a fantastic cultural tradition this country holds. Old-time music and square dancing are like a good burger and fries, pizza and beer, peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, movies and popcorn — you get the idea. The music is mean to be danced to — best with a square dance caller, which I’ve secured the best around — and I wanted to provide this experience, as well as selfishly have the experiment to see if it will work for future shows. Long answer short, expect about a 45-minute set of music, after a cocktail hour, then an intermission before the square dance in which the band will provide music for. Both sets will feature pretty much all music from the new album.

Natalie Rae Padilla poses with her bluegrass band Masontown.

DC: You’ve taken the stage at Red Rocks, which I imagine is a dream venue. Are there any other bucket-list locations that you would like to perform at?

NRP: True, I have been on the Red Rocks stage performing a couple times, but both times as a sideman. If that’s all the Red Rocks stage time I get, I’ll be content. And if I’m ever up there playing my own music as the main act, or first or second, or heck, seventh opener, I’d be completely beside myself. As a Lyons resident and longtime fan of RockyGrass, my dream gig is a set of my music at that festival.

Natalia Padilla, left, plays with Sara Cole and Dylan McCarthy, as part of The Lyons Bluegrass Collective, at the 46th annual RockyGrass Festival at Planet Bluegrass on July 29, 2018.

 

DC: Your latest release seems like a collaborative effort, not just with fellow musicians, but also with your sister doing the watercolor art for the album cover and your friend doing the lettering. What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of being a part of a creative community?

NRP: I am a musician for a living and that looks like a bunch of tiny things that add up to a very full-time job: teaching, performing, booking, recording, practicing, writing, etc. Creating a solo album as a side project is one of the biggest labors of love to the world that I can think to provide within my resources. The first thing necessary in making such projects is to believe that you’ve created something that needs to be out there to foster love and positivity. With this is mind, finding the right people to collaborate with comes easily, and I’m so thankful to have a supportive and talented community to collaborate with. I would say now is the most rewarding time, to be watching the music get out into the world, reading encouraging notes from friends and fans across the world that have listened to the music. It’s quite incredible. I get to brag on my sister and friend who helped with the artwork every time I get a compliment on it, likewise for the players on the album. I am grateful to say I created this music with great friends from beginning to end.

Natalie Rae Padilla will perform an album release show at Longmont’s Altona Grange Hall on Friday.

DC: Do you think that living in Lyons, in such close proximity to the mountains, has helped shape your sound?

NRP: Ah, the mountains. Well, I am a Montana girl born and raised, so I have a particular fondness for those types of mountains, but these bigger and drier ones will just have to do. I lived in Denver before here in Lyons and I had never lived in a big city before, but my time there ultimately confirmed that city living just wasn’t for me. How lucky was I to find a great place within proximity to all my work and get the small community, plus outdoor access, plus a great music community? Yes please. No matter where I am, I draw inspiration from the outdoors, so the closer proximity to mountains in Lyons is a deluxe bonus.

DC: Lastly, what can we expect next from you? Any current or future projects in the works?

NRP: With the business of summer gigs and travel, this album release, and school starting back up, I haven’t had much time to think about future projects. I am always writing more music and look forward to what life brings next. Perhaps bluegrass could be the focus next time.


If you go

What: Natalie Rae Padilla Album Release Show and Square Dance

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Altona Grange Hall, 9386 N. 39th St., Longmont

Cost: $20 at the door, kids 12 and under free (drinks available for donation or BYOB)

More info: facebook.com/events/2413271272331373/

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