Sting notably said that one doesnʼt choose to be a musician...Music chooses you. Anyone who has followed that particular muse as a life/ career path will likely readily agree. As a five year old visiting my uncle in Los Angeles, walking by a group of street vendors, the only thing I saw amidst all the touristy swag of the time, was a set of bongos. That was it...I had to have them. I can still remember the smell of the lacquer and the feel of the skin and the sound, but most of all, I remember being transported out of time and space and feeling a connection to the first human who struck a skin drying on a rack and heard the heartbeat of the Universe resonate through their body. My uncle surely had a very different experience of that day, as he had to beg me to stop playing after hours and hours...and so it began.
To be a musician is to be a lifelong seeker of Truth and Wisdom. Music and Art are manifestations of the creative Spirit that animates the Universe and all living things, and serve the purpose of illuminating that Spirit within us all, providing a backdrop for the rituals of life and community in the language of the Soul. From Bach and Mozart to Coltrane and Miles, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock, to the Beatles, and Hendrix ,and Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder, and Beyonce ,and beyond. Music has been the thread weaving the tapestry of life throughout human history. To pick up this mantle is to follow in the footsteps of all who have gone before...all my relations...mitakuye oyasin, as the Lakota say as they enter the sweat lodge for healing and rejuvenation.
Growing up in the South in the sixties, playing in integrated soul bands, for all white proms and rocking their events, but then, being escorted out of town by bat wielding football players, showed me how music can, at least temporarily, bring people together. I was in Macon, Ga. during the Otis Redding, Allman Brothers emergence years playing with Mickey Thomas, a college mate who went on to sing with Elvin Bishop (Fooled around and fell in love) and now with Starship for the last few decades. When that band broke up, our manager, Alan Walden, brother of Phil Walden, asked if Iʼd join another of his bands who were looking to add a second drummer, ala the Allmans and Dead...a then barely known group out of Jacksonville, Fla. with the unlikely name of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I went down and hung out with them for a couple of weeks and was asked to join, but felt I just wouldnʼt be able to hang with the Jack Daniels-for-breakfast regimen they had embraced so heartily. That likely saved my life, as I would have either succumbed to the lifestyle or been on that ill-fated flight a few years later.
Music lured me out to Colorado, where I met and married my amazing wife, have raised three sons together, and now have three grandchildren.
Which brings us to Nanama...a Ute word that means...all together as one...a musical commonwealth collective consisting of John Riger, keys and compositions, Doug Whitney, bass and compositions, Jeff Andrews, guitar and compositions, and myself, Paul Valentine, drums, percussion and compositions, that feels like something weʼve all been preparing for our entire lives. The joy you hear in this music comes from a deep soul connection we share as human beings and the desire to make a statement that will help bring Peace and Love to this war-torn and ravaged planet and to all People. Can Music really do all that? I canʼt say for sure, but my experience in life has shown me that Vision and Intention are incredibly powerful precursors to manifestation, so...may it Be!
Doug Whitney has been a Bassist for the last 40+ years. Born in Baker, Ca. he grew up, and was schooled in Las Vegas, NV. He was on the road and playing casinos at age 18. He played just about every casino between Vegas, Tahoe, Reno, and Atlantic City; that is until he mysteriously vanished from the scene.
He spent a decade researching, photographing and reproducing Native American petroglyphs with his wife. Traveling in their RV, alone or in caravan, they lived and worked with Indigenous peoples to understand the metaphysical truths inherent in their faith and actions…
Having landed in Marble, Colorado as an artist-in-residence for a summer break from the South, he found some musical friends that introduced him to the local music scene. He quickly became rooted and invested musically, and emotionally, in the Crystal and Roaring Fork River valleys.
Locally he has played at Aspen Theatre (Evita, Ave. Q), Wheeler Opera House, Belly Up, St. Regis, Limelight. Multiple Summer Concert series and pubs to palaces throughout.
He has worked with the early Motown artists, The Coasters, opened for Three Dog Night, performed in live productions such as West Side Story, and Country Legends. He has played rock concerts complete with make-up and he has played Jazz combos in the back rooms of Vegas.
He is at home in the “studio;” his favorite is The Great Divide, in Aspen where he recently recorded the material for three albums with Drummer Paul Valentine. He has enjoyed multiple recording credits throughout his career from coast to coast. He also plays keyboards and guitar, mostly for composing. (It all started with the accordion)
However; his joy is recording and playing with fellow seekers, a full range of music influence fused with the beat of all drums and the jazz sensibilities of extended harmony and melody.
It may be no coincidence being born in England in 1961 that Jeff’s earliest musical memories were playing 45s in his parent's living room. One record that was played repeatedly was The Beatles A side “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and B side “I Saw Her Standing There”. Jeff was captivated by George’s guitar solo on the latter. The guitar began calling to Jeff by the time he was 12 or 13. It wasn’t long before he found an ad for guitar lessons, and his parents signed him up. In early high school, Jeff’s teacher hired him to teach his overload of youngsters.
Jeff’s performance career also began while in high school playing the usual parties, dances, and eventually clubs. After joining a popular local band, a regional booking agency signed Jeff and his bandmates. “Lift” bought an old bus, PA, some lights and were on the road. While the band was seeing some success, after a year or so Jeff decided to leave the road and enroll at The University of Northern Iowa where there was a well-known Jazz department. After his sophomore year, Jeff started teaching private guitar lessons at Grigg’s Music in Davenport, IA.
Jeff would teach there for the next decade (84-94) while continuing to gig with a variety of bands. The joke was, if Jeff and his wife needed money, Jeff would play country. If Jeff could afford to play for fun, he would play Rock-n-Roll. Jeff and his wife eventually relocated to Southeast Iowa pursuing jobs and further education where Jeff attended Iowa Wesleyan College from 95-97 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Music. After graduating, Jeff was hired as an Educational Representative for Grigg’s Music which he did for eight years while continuing to teach private lessons and play in local bands.
Despite being away from a city music scene, Jeff had the good fortune of having a friend call from the Quad Cities 90 miles away and ask him to join his blues band. After a few months in the band they entered the local Blues Challenge. “John Resch and the Detroit Blues” would go on to win the statewide Blues Challenge wherein the Iowa Blues Society sent them to Memphis to compete in the World Blues Challenge held on Beale Street along with 100 plus blues bands from all over the world. The experience gave them the credentials to be invited to many Midwest Blues Festivals where Jeff shared stages with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Joe Bonamassa, Little Charlie and the Night Cats, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Sonny Landreth, and Walter Trout to name a few.
In 2008, in need of a change, Jeff and his wife relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley where Jeff has continued his career teaching private guitar lessons at Glenwood Music in Glenwood Springs, CO. Here Jeff has had the great privilege and fun of putting students together in various configurations. For example, he combined a powerful, young duo who competed and won the local Jazz Aspen Snowmass Band Battle at ages 12 and 13 and performed live on a local radio station.
Being in the valley has also enabled Jeff to meet and work with many of the wonderful musicians in the valley. After playing a few summers with keyboardist John Riger, Jeff accepted the invitation to join John in a project playing and writing with drummer Paul Valentine and bassist Doug Whitney. Jeff feels honored to now play alongside these exceptional people. This is nanama!
John Paul Riger
John Paul Riger is a pianist, composer and recording artist from Somerset, Colorado. “Rig” as he’s known by his family and friends has released countless recordings of various genres. Rig's performed live professionally for more than forty years. His influences include the countless musicians with whom he’s worked intimately in live performance, recording studio and/or provided live stage technical expertise and concert sound reinforcement. To name a few they include Ron Carter, Joe Lamore, Steve Bamford, Evan Eustis, Dave Hill, Danny Brennan-Combs, Nelson Rangell, Monty Alexander, Jeff Hamilton, Ray Brown, Ray Bryant, Dorothy Donegan, Jay McShann, Ralph Sutton, Rich Chiarluce, Herb Ellis, Johnny Smith, Paul Valentine, Delbert McClinton, Doug Whitney, Bob Montgomery, Paul Romane, Art Hood, Ellyn Rucker, Hazel Miller, Kenny Walker, Lee Martin, Bruno Carr, Cassandra Wilson, Christopher Hollyday, Marlena Shaw, Buddy DeFranco, Fred Hess, Ranee Lee, Mark Whitfield, Kenny Davern, Oliver Jones,
Rene Netto, Charlie Sepulveda, Larry Coryell, Wallace Rony, Rob Mullins, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira,
Bobby Lyle, McCoy Tyner, Mike Barone, Phil Woods, Herbie Mann, Joe Pass, Roy Hargrove, Mark Dempsey, Russell Malone, Gary Burton, George Weber, Pancho Sanchez, Joe Lukasik, Chuck Lamb, Theano Anifantakis, Jeff Andrews, Clark Terry, Cliff Habian, A.J. Lee, Hugh Masakela, Johnny Frigo, Bill Howarth, Mose Allison, Ahmad Jamal, Spike Robinson, Ron Miles, Les McCann, Steve Turre, Bruce Imig, Chris Bank, Mark Gray, Frank Martin, Tuck and Patti Andress, Leon Redbone John Sebastian, Dave Hansen, Dave Shappert, Guy Williams, A. Drew Scott, Billy Childs, Frank Morgan, Earnie Watts, Gene Harris, Ingrid Hagelberg, Rich Lamb, John's entire family and especially his father, The Dood.
John has a decades-long reputation of performing classical, ragtime, jazz, bossa nova, rhythm and blues, Motown, rock, pop, bluegrass, country, world, samba, gospel and improvisations throughout Colorado, particularly in the Colorado State Capitol district at the Denver Public Library, the Boettcher Auditorium of the Colorado History Museum, and for legislators, lobbyists, and constituent groups at numerous state agency functions.
John served most recently as the music director of the Redstone Art Center (2013-2015). Additionally, you can find him performing as a soloist at various venues throughout the Roaring Fork Valley including the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the Iron Mountain Hot Springs, the Historic Redstone Inn and House Of Blues in Paonia. You can also catch him performing at Belly Up Aspen from time to time.
John comes from a long line of Coloradoans. His grandfather Hugh A. Stewart was born in Aspen in 1888. His great grandfather, James T. Stewart was elected the Sheriff of Pitkin County that same year.