breathless in boulder

Posted by on Apr 7, 2011

I’ll admit, I was getting nervous before the show in Pueblo, Colorado. A sequence of very large men in cowboy boots and hats had come up to me, saying things like “So you’re the PROFESSIONAL musician! Looking forward to hearing the way the PROS do it…”

And so on. Yikes.

The place was packed – people were arriving an hour ahead of time to get good seats – and this was thanks to the fact that it was a joint concert with Fireweed, a local bluegrass group (with a sizable and dedicated local following) playing first. They did a fabulous set, which I (and, clearly, the whole audience) enjoyed very much. After a short intermission it was my turn. Just me and my guitar and these simple, simple songs. Gulp.

My set went well as well. I was certainly enjoying myself, and I think the audience did too. But I found myself huffing and puffing and struggling to catch my breath between songs. Phrases where I know exactly what my voice can do, but I was running out of air… Partway through the concert I had to apologize to the crowd and say I didn’t know what was going on… I didn’t think I was that out of shape… maybe it was that “slopper” we’d had for lunch at the Sunset Inn (watch this for an introduction to this unmatched Pueblo delicacy that makes poutine look like health food).

The audience just smiled knowingly, and someone hollered out “Don’t worry – it’s the elevation!” Ahhh… yes… I hadn’t thought of that… Pueblo is at 4 and a half thousand feet elevation. Now at least I had an excuse. It takes practice, you know, to learn to perform while “high”…

For the next three days – with performances in Colorado Springs (6 thousand feet), Lakewood (Denver – the “mile high city”) and Boulder (5 and a half thousand feet) I got used to it… took my hosts’ good advice and drank lots of water (even during performances – not something I normally do)… and though I still got breathless sometimes, it felt really good to sing my songs, for the first time, in the Colorado air… Rocky Mountain High indeed…