Steve Boynton sits inside his recording studio at the First String Music store in Steamboat Springs. Much to Boynton's delight, the studio and the store have become a hangout for local musicians.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steve Boynton sits inside his recording studio at the First String Music store in Steamboat Springs. Much to Boynton's delight, the studio and the store have become a hangout for local musicians.

Boynton reaches out with recording and music store

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If you go

What: Steve Boynton, solo guitar

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursdays

Where: Cantina, 818 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: Free

Call: 879-0826

More information: Learn more about recording services and music lessons available through First String Music, at 1744 Lincoln Ave., at www.steamboatspringsmusic.com. Call the store at 871-4661. Download songs by guitarist, singer and songwriter Steve Boynton at www.steveboynton.com.

— In the 2 1/2 years Steve Boynton has owned First String Music store, he's seen the place become a gathering spot for musicians who play out and those who play at home.

"I've met all sorts of people who are really pretty good musicians, but they don't have an outlet," Boynton said. The store sells stringed and percussion instruments and offers private lessons in disciplines including guitar, bass, banjo and piano. Boynton also runs a recording studio in the lesson rooms, working on projects locally and remotely.

Those inlets to First String have made it a kind of outlet for closet musicians, Boynton said - a place to go hang around, talk about guitars and maybe meet some people to play with.

"I love the idea that the store builds community through music," he said. "If you like biking, you go hang out at the bike shop. : If you're a musician, you want to go hang out every once in a while at the music store."

The producer

Locally, Boynton has done recording and production work for acoustic guitarist Trevor Potter, cowboy song duo the Yampa Valley Boys, classic rock cover outfit Worried Men and Steamboat-via-Boulder jam band Holden Young Trio.

Potter - who recorded "Curbside Vacancy" with Boynton and is putting the finishing touches on a second album he hopes to have done this summer - said he has taken both projects from solo acoustic demos to full album tracks at the First String studio.

"Every time you add a different track to the recording, it can drastically change the dynamic of the song. : What you start with and what you come up with, a lot of times, can be vastly different," Potter said.

That evolution is one of the reasons Boynton started a home recording studio about three years ago and has grown the operation at First String.

"It's really interesting to see things kind of start as one thing and evolve into something else," Boynton said. "It doesn't always do that, but that's kind of the most interesting aspect, to see something swim around a little bit and evolve into something."

The multi-instrumentalist

About seven years ago, Boynton moved to Steamboat for a solo guitar gig at Steamboat Ski Area. Before that, he had played in bands across the country, working as a studio musician on soundtracks and commercial jingles in the mid-'90s.

Since then, he's built up a regular schedule of gigs - this summer's schedule includes occasional Wednesday evening classical guitar shows at Cottonwood Grill, Thursday happy-hour jazz gigs at Cantina and Friday night jazz ensemble sets at Three Peaks Grill.

Years of playing have given Boynton an arsenal of instruments to choose from. On the Yampa Valley Boys' newest album, a collection of Christmas songs due out in October, Boynton layered a few tracks of his own playing into the final mix, said Yampa Valley Boys singer John Fisher.

"With him being such a multi-instrumentalist, we'd come out of the recording and sit down and listen and he'd say, 'Oh I hear this,' and 'Oh I hear that,'" Fisher said. "He plays anything with strings on it, and they're all hanging there in his office."

The community resource

Sometime this summer, Boynton hopes to move First String to a larger space. Ideally, the new store would have a recording room big enough to accommodate a full band; that space could double as a classroom.

"The studio stays busy enough that it warrants a little more space to record in," he said.

Boynton also would like to expand the music lessons his store offers and draw in more teachers. Adding band instruments such as woodwinds and horns to the store's rental inventory also is part of the tentative plan.

Boynton already has a lot of irons in the fire in the Steamboat music scene, Potter said, with occasional concert promotion tacked on to his schedule of performances, store operation, instrument repair and recording work.

"He helps a lot of people," Potter said. "And to have all of those things : available - lessons and production, recording and performance - he's just a great resource for the community."

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