Jazz guitarist Laurie Dameron channels her passion for music and the Boulder community into a way to remind us what’s really important — preserving ‘Spaceship Earth.’
By Sophie Goodman
For Coloradans, the Rockies are an integral part of our everyday—they work their way into our very blood. Laurie Dameron, musician and 30-year Boulder resident, marries her passion for music and the mountains in educational outreach presentations designed to inspire us to green our own lives.
Her own landscape drastically changed when her family moved from Ohio to Boulder in 1974. Though the move was a sort of homecoming for her parents, who met at CU Boulder, the mountains were novel for 14-year-old Dameron, and she fell in love. “I found a kind of peace here,” she says. “It was 1978, I was just about to graduate from Boulder High School, and it snowed three feet on my birthday on May 5th! I was stuck in my room and wrote my favorite song I’ve ever written, ‘Sunlight in a Snowstorm.’” Music and the outdoors—Dameron’s passions—often met as she continued to explore genre and composition as an undergraduate at Adams State University in Alamosa.
It was at the Greeley Jazz Festival, performing with ASU’s Big Band Jazz ensemble, that she met jazz guitar virtuoso Johnny Smith and began studying with him. She credits her ability to move seamlessly between genres to his instruction. Dameron pulls from a diverse range of musical styles in her compositions, including folk, pop, jazz and blues, and her songwriting creativity has launched her to three first-place wins at the Colorado Music Business Association’s annual song contest. She has played with the Denver-based women’s R&B band Sister Swing, as well as the jazz big band Moodswing. Today, she regularly performs with her band, Laurie D and the Blues Babes, at venues around Colorado.
‘What Can I Do?’
Dameron, 56, has an undeniable gift of connecting to people through her music. In 2012, she decided to combine that gift with a growing sense that she needed to do something more to educate people about the threat to the environment. A photograph published in June 1969, showing the infamously polluted Cuyahoga River aflame in Dameron’s native Ohio, begins her educational presentation. It was a moment, she says, that awoke her to the precarious state of the natural world. She had always felt a spiritual connection to nature since she was a young girl. “I remember standing in my backyard one day and thinking, ‘Wow, someone must have created this beautiful place,’” she recounts. “So when I witnessed the destruction of the river, it really struck me to the core.”
Visit www.lauriedameron.com to learn about upcoming
performances and presentations.
Dameron’s original compositions and arrangements provide a soundtrack in her 30-to-60-minute presentations, featuring images of polluted ocean reefs and decimated forests contrasted with the striking beauty of John Fielder’s Colorado landscape portraiture. One of her most powerful songs, “Dying of Human Souls,” a folk-rock ballad, speaks to her raw sadness in the face of people’s ambivalent relationship to the natural world: “I went out to the fields to deplore the dying of human souls,” she sings. “What did I feel? I felt like drowning the Earth in my tears.” In spite of the urgency of her message, her presentation ultimately leans on the side of optimism. Its title, “What Can I Do?”, empowers audience members to find ways to be mindful of their consumption.
Dameron regularly volunteers with Eco-Cycle, the Boulder-based nonprofit that has pioneered resource conservation. Eco-Cycle’s practical guides for individuals and communities seeking ways to limit waste have informed her message, and she encourages audiences to utilize this outstanding resource. Some of her suggestions for waste management include ditching Styrofoam cups and plastic water bottles in favor of reusable ones, and composting to build healthy soil for home gardens and to keep organic material out of landfills. “Spaceship Earth”—a term coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s—is our responsibility, Dameron explains. Earth’s resources are limited and we have to do everything we can to slow down the decaying process.
“I just hope that by urging mindfulness, people become more aware of the consequences of their actions,” she says.
Sophie Goodman is a freelance writer with a background in creative writing. She is an avid skier and recently relocated to Boulder from the San Juans.