Tony Furtado returns to Steamboat tonight |

Tony Furtado returns to Steamboat tonight

Musician to play at Ghost Ranch Saloon tonight

Nicole Inglis

Tony Furtado, a banjo, slide guitar and vocal artist, plays at 9 p.m. today at Ghost Ranch Saloon to celebrate the release of his new self-produced album “Golden.”

Tony Furtado, a banjo, slide guitar and vocal artist, plays at 9 p.m. today at Ghost Ranch Saloon to celebrate the release of his new self-produced album "Golden."

— Tony Furtado was sitting outside the Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery on Pearl Street in Boulder on a chilly Friday morning.

The brewpub had not opened for the day, but Furtado could peer through the window and recognize the tapestries that hung on the walls of the cozy space where he used to jam with friends and fellow musicians when he lived in Boulder in the mid-'90s.

"Back then, the Mountain Sun was such a fun place," said Furtado, a banjo player, slide guitar player, signer and songwriter who now is based out of Portland, Ore. "Mostly, I was sitting in with other bands.

"It's weird; I've lived in so many different places in this town."

Furtado is in Colorado this week for a tour that includes a stop at the Ghost Ranch Saloon tonight in downtown Steamboat Springs. Tickets are $10 and the show starts at about 9 p.m.

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Furtado mentioned that he's played in Steamboat countless times at such long-missed venues as Murphy's Exchange, Levelz and Inferno.

At one point in discussing his connection to Colorado, Furtado stopped mid-sentence to shoot a casual,"Hey man, how you doin'," to a passer-by on Pearl Street.

"That was a guy I used to know here," Furtado said. "It's been probably seven years."

And a lot has changed since then.

There was a move to Portland, then to Los Angeles, and then back to Portland.

There have been international tours and 15 albums, the most recent of which, "Golden," is self-produced and written exclusively by Furtado.

Even the album cover art is his own — the result of his other passion of ceramic sculpting.

Once a fine art major, Furtado left college after he won the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship, thinking it was his destiny to be a musician.

With traditional instruments like the banjo and the slide guitar, Furtado forayed out of the bluegrass realm and into rootsy Americana rock with an indie flair.

Progressive but not experimental, folksy but not old-timey, Furtado is going on his third decade of taking acoustic music up a notch.

"I can't imagine not doing it," he said. "I can't imagine not playing live. I live to play live."

But there was something nagging at the back of his mind. So five or so years ago, he set up an art studio in Portland where he could go after a day of writing and playing music.

"Creating ceramics is like the songwriting thing," Furtado said. "Lyrically and musically, it's just like sculpting. You're adding, you're pulling away, dealing with colors and textures."

While sculpting is a stress reliever from the ever-increasing pressure of life in the music industry, it also informs the aural art that emerges on his albums.

"It relaxes me, but it always, in a way, it also sparks what I was writing for this album," he said. "I'd spend time in the studio and come home and spend time writing songs. It was this perfect cyclical thing."

Tonight, he'll appear with bassist Eric Thorin, drummer Jim Christie and guitarist Tyler Grant, playing a mix of acoustic and electric instruments.

And whether it's playing in a corner of the Mountain Sun, on the Ghost Ranch stage or at a club in Germany, it's worth all the hassle to do what he does.

"The hard part is always the travel, getting from gig to gig, dealing with the little details," Furtado said. "That wears you down."

"But I get paid to be a traveler even though sometimes it's not a lot of pay."

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