Furtado returns to the 'Boat

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During a concert in Gondola Square two winters ago, Tony Furtado announced he was leaving Boulder and moving to Portland, Ore.

The crowd, full of longtime Furtado fans, collectively groaned. They were proud of the bluegrass-turned-rock musician who had been playing in Steamboat for years, but they were sad to see him go.

The impression at the time was that Furtado would probably not be coming back to Steamboat as he worked on building a music career in the Northwest.

He's been in Portland a year and a half now but still makes it back to Steamboat two or three times a year.

"I play Steamboat now more than I play Boulder," he said. "Steamboat is such a fun town. Everyone has a great attitude. They want to dance. They want to have a good time."

Things are going well for Furtado in Portland. In recent years, he has been concentrating more on song writing. It's a surprisingly new thing for a man who has been playing music since adolescence.

"I always avoided (song writing)," he said. "I was always worried that what I came up with would be cheesy.

"I started reading poetry and classical literature. It was like a crash course in song writing and I started loving it and reading about it. I remembered that I used to write short stories when I was a kid, and it was my favorite thing."

Furtado grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. He started to play the banjo when he was 12. Music didn't run in the family, but he had always wanted to be a musician. In the sixth grade, he wrote a report on the banjo and decided to learn to play.

From there, he expanded to classical guitar and mandolin but always stayed focused on the banjo.

In his early teens, Furtado captured the music world's attention as a banjo prodigy. By 20, he started touring with a band.

After four albums and a solo career, Furtado started to question his life as a bluegrass musician.

"I was always in the bluegrass market, but I wasn't feeling any love from them and that's not the kind of music I was listening to, either."

He was listening to rock and decided to start playing rock.

In the past seven years, he's been trying to get here from there.

For a while, Furtado was playing and attracting the jam-band set.

"I lived in Boulder. I was leaning toward that (kind of music) without really knowing it," Furtado said.

The thing that broke him out of the jam scene was learning how to sing.

It was like learning a new instrument.

"It was a big career change for me," Furtado said. "Since then, I've kind of moved away from long instrumentals, and I've seen the jam band group slowly move away.

"I've moved more toward playing songs. There is still some stretching, but now there is the addition of the dimension of actual songs."

Fans will see Furtado's transition on his next album, due out early next year, which he recorded with Lucinda Williams.

They also will witness the change in his live shows, he said.

Saturday's show will feature the keyboard player from The Motet, Rob Martin on guitar and a "great rhythm section," he said.


-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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