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Boulder musician Hunter Stone’s ‘Closed For Season’ is an ideal track of the times

Musician and special ed paraeducator at Mesa Elementary will perform on his Instagram Dec. 30

Boulder-based singer-songwriter Hunter Stone stands near a sign at the Alpine Visitor Center, in Rocky Mountain National Park, in 2014. He released a single, “Closed For Season” on Thanksgiving. The new tune is the perfect unlikely anthem of the times. Stone will livestream a show on his Instagram on Dec. 30. His new album “Portraits of the New/Old West” is set to be released Feb. 14, 2021. (Hunter Stone/ Courtesy photo)
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On Thanksgiving, singer-songwriter Hunter Stone released a track called “Closed For Season” and while the song wasn’t directly inspired by the pandemic and ongoing shutdowns, it has managed to become an anthem for a year rocked by a global pandemic and isolation.

Hunter Stone at the Colorado ghost town St. Elmo, near Mt. Princeton, in 2020. (Jaclyn Kirk/ Courtesy photo)

In a promo video for the new tune, Stone moseys around the Colorado ghost town of St. Elmo in Chaffee County — six-string in hand — and peers into dusty windows of the abandoned buildings that dot the former mining town.

The single captures the nostalgia of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. With a James Taylor-esque tone, Stone sings, “Boarding up the windows, locking all the doors, this ain’t no place for visitors no more.”

Stone is an artist who embraces both the light and dark, edge and tenderness. He crafts songs heavily steeped in the folksinger storytelling tradition and his live gigs are marked by impassioned slide guitar.

On “Gambler’s Cry,” the 2018 title track from his band Famous Men’s debut album, Stone manages to fuse tinges of ’90s grunge with foot-stomping gritty blues. “Wanting” exudes the emotionality and authenticity of a ballad by Glen Hansard or Damien Rice.

Despite major venues and barrooms no longer operating at full capacity, this year Stone has played occasional shows at Boulder eatery River and Woods, Littleton’s Breckenridge Brewery, Arvada’s Denver Beer Co. and on Dec. 30, he will livestream a performance on his Instagram @hunterstonemusic.

Musician Hunter Stone sits in the window sill of an abandoned cabin in the Colorado ghost town of Alta Lakes, near Telluride, in 2018. Mount Wilson can be seen in the background. (Joe Plante/ Courtesy photo)

We caught up with the troubadour to find out how he’s been spending his 2020, what fans can expect from his new album set to be released this winter and while the live entertainment industry has come to a standstill, what artists have been on heavy rotation within his Boulder home.

Daily Camera: Really love the new track “Closed for Season.” I understand you crafted it prior to the pandemic and yet it seems to be such a tune of the times. What inspired this song?

Hunter Stone: When I first moved to Colorado — about six years ago — I took a trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park, snaking around the summit road until hitting the Alpine Visitor Center. The windows were all boarded up and smeared with white paint: “Closed for Season.” The phrase stuck with me and years later, after spending a night in a winterized cabin huddled around a fireplace with some fellow musicians and a bottle of whiskey, the melody and narrative finally came. One lyric that kind of sums up the vibe —  “I’ve been around enough to see there always is a reason to shut it all down and close for season.” I guess that’s my take on Kenny Rogers’ “know when to hold ‘em.”

Hunter Stone at St. Elmo ghost town in 2020. (Jaclyn Kirk/ Courtesy photo)

DC: As a musician, have you found that the downtime brought about by the pandemic has actually allowed you to be more productive in terms of creating new music? How have you been spending your days?

HS: Well, I am a special ed paraeducator at Mesa Elementary in Boulder, so my days right now are spent video conferencing with students and navigating the ups and downs of online learning — I’m sure parents can relate. This job has always been a good way to balance the life of being a musician and having health insurance. Outside of that, my main focus musically has been recording an album called “Portraits of the New/Old West,” a two-part volume of vignettes that are inspired by the American West, past and present. The first volume of the album is slated for release on Feb. 14.

DC: I can imagine how daunting it is with no upcoming in-person gigs set up to play. Will you be treating fans to any future livestreams? Any more song releases coming our way?

HS: I miss playing live quite a bit, there’s no substitution for the connection and energy that comes along with a live performance, which is why I’m playing a livestream on Dec. 30 you can catch on Instagram. However, taking some time away from late-night cover gigs at bars has shown me the importance of focusing on and believing in my original music. Take a song like “Wyoming,” a ballad about generational poverty in a desolate landscape that I sketched out on scratch paper in the Fairview High School break room. This is a song that doesn’t always get a warm reception when it’s competing against a football game in a noisy bar. Over the past months I’ve honed it in, recorded it and, I’m happy to say, it will be released on Dec. 31, along with a music video I’ve assembled featuring found footage from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.

DC: With so many venues closed and shows canceled, what are some ways we can support local musicians right now?

HS: The best way to support musicians is directly. Get virtual lessons from musicians you admire. Buy their merchandise or sponsor their recording projects. I actually have a donate button on my website where people can contribute to help costs of recording. Making an album is an expensive venture, paying pro musicians, mixing engineers and mastering engineers. All of these cost at least $100 per person per song, with multiple people playing and working on each track. Multiply that by 12 tracks and it starts to add up, even if I am doing all the guitars, vocals and recording in my home studio. Then there’s the question of printing the album to vinyl, which I plan to do. To me, though, recording these songs is something I need to do. Songs need a chance to live and breathe in the world. When you feel that way about anything in life, you find ways to make it happen.

Hunter Stone at Alta Lakes near Telluride in 2018. (Joe Plante/ Courtesy photo)

DC: Lastly, I’m curious, what artists have been dominating your playlist as of late?

HS: I’ve been listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt and John Craigie. Also, Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke. This last while, I’ve been really working on my fingerpicking and I feel like all of these are great examples of fingerpickers. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Native American music, which I’ve been transcribing the vocal parts to slide guitar. Expect to hear some echoes of that on the upcoming release.

 

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