Song always on his mind

Danny Shafer brings life lyrics to Steamboat this weekend

Danny Shafer's life is one long song. Lyrics swim through his head as he walks down the street or visits with friends while having coffee. He never pulls out a napkin to scribble down a stray phrase or line. Instead, by the time a song completes itself inside his brain, he coughs it up, fully formed and ready to share with the world.

It's just the way Shafer's creative process works, and it seems to be effective.

On Monday, Shafer was at the RockyGrass music festival in Lyons where he went to hear the Boulder band Hit and Run Bluegrass perform. The group just recorded two of his songs on its latest album.

"That's starting to happen more and more for me," Shafer said. "That's an amazing thing to have someone like your song well enough to record it."

Shafer's brand of music is best termed honky tonk bluegrass -- high-energy, finger-style music played with bluegrass instrumentation but steered by the influences of Texas country songwriters such as Guy Clark and Willie Nelson.

One of his popular songs is "Friday Morning a.m."

"The song was waiting already for me, and all I had to do was get sentimental and let it come out," Shafer said.

The song is a simple snapshot from his childhood. You see him listening to the radio in the morning, hoping it would snow enough so he didn't have to go to school, and you see him outside with his friends waiting for his mom to announce that Speed Racer was on TV.

"Speed Racer was a huge part of my life when I was 5, 6 and 7," he said. "It was the only thing that could get me inside to eat."

Shafer is touring with his latest album, "The Good, the Bad and the Red Glory Ramblers." It's the first album he's recorded since 1999.

"Finally, the timing was good, the engineer was great, and I was able to take my time," he said. Shafer spent 14 months making the record.

Shafer will be in Steamboat on Saturday playing solo. His set is mostly originals with a few covers of songs by Hank Williams and Mississippi John Hurt.

It's been a while since he played here. Music lovers may remember him from his opening gig for Buckwheat Zydeco at Headwall ski run years ago.

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