Bella Hudson, 13, of Evergreen, travels often with her family to Steamboat where she's played open mic nights for the past two years. At 6 p.m. Friday at Sweetwater Grill, Bella will perform her first local concert with her band.
Steamboat Springs In her Evergreen middle school where she just started eighth grade, sandy-haired Bella Hudson, 13, loves science and P.E. classes. So it makes sense her family’s weekend escape is in Steamboat Springs, where she can revel in the outdoor environment and recreational activities.
“I love how a lot of people Tele there. Teleing is awesome,” she said about Steamboat. “A bunch of my friends from Evergreen also come up for the weekends, so I hang with them. And in the summer, I bike, and I tube.”
But Steamboat is more than an outdoor playground for Bella. Every chance she gets, she appears at the local open mic nights on Mondays, where she shares her original songs, her guitar musicianship and a blues-tinged voice well beyond her years.
Local songwriter and musician Jay Roemer, who hosts the Monday open mic nights, brings Bella root beer after her performances because it will be eight years before Bella can have the customary free beer.
“The first thing I noticed that was for how young she was, she had no fear of being in front of a crowd,” Roemer said. “She writes her own songs, and she goes up there and captivates a crowd no problem. She acts like she’s been doing it for 20 years.”
Bella, whose family has been visiting Steamboat on the weekends and through the holidays for about five years, will perform with guitarist Sam Leslie, 15, and fiddle player Jens Hybertson, 17, at 6 p.m. Friday at Sweetwater Grill, her first official performance in the Yampa Valley. Me and Ed’s Music Machine will take the stage at 9 p.m.
Bella was 8 when she started playing guitar, and the songwriting came soon after.
“I wrote about this one kid in third grade I liked,” Bella said about her first tune. “It was called ‘The World.’ I just really love songs. It expresses your feelings, and no one ever knows what you’re writing about except you.”
In 2010, Peter Hudson took his daughter to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where she entered a kids talent show. The person running the kids tent texted Hudson while he was fishing to tell him Bella had a spot to perform — on the main stage.
“Before I knew it, I was holding my iPhone up, and my daughter was playing for 10,000 people,” he said. “I knew it was a big deal for her, but she just took it in stride. She just completely nailed it.”
“I don’t really get nervous,” Bella said. “I just kind of get anxious, and I want to make the best of my performances, and I want to make everyone happy.”
Hudson, a physician who co-founded the health care app iTriage, joked about his daughter being asked to participate in a TED talk — a nonprofit lecture and performance series — before he was. But he and his wife, an artist, aim to foster a passion for innovation and creativity of any kind in their daughters. Bella’s sister, Addie, 11, already has a mind for fashion and sewing.
“Our philosophy is that it doesn’t matter how old you are,” Peter Hudson said. “Everybody should be creative and do exactly what they want to and do it the best they can.
“I want (Bella) to work really hard and be really good something, and if it ends up being something, great. But if it doesn’t, you have all that experience.”
Bella said she practices after school as much as she can even though "homework kind of gets in the way of practicing sometimes." She loves playing covers as well as her original songs. She idolizes country singer Miranda Lambert (“Over You” is her favorite cover to play) and Sheryl Crow. And she has lofty goals for her musical future, which include someday playing on the stage at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
“I hope to play for everybody I possibly can and share my music with the world so they can connect to my songs the way I can,” she said.