I’ll admit it, right up front. This article is half news, half promotion, and, yes, that breaks all sorts of rules in this business we call “journalism”. But, hey, some rules are worth breaking if the cause is good enough, and this cause—actually these two causes—are more than good enough. Who wouldn’t want to support the vital education FFA provides to high school kids? Likewise, who wouldn’t want to support Children’s Hospital in Denver where some of our very own have received the very best of care? With that said, this article is about an exclusive event that not only raises funds for two very worthy causes, it also guarantees a very special, very memorable time for those folks who make the choice to attend.
CLARE DUNN TO HOST ‘VIP CHARITY PARTY’
PRIOR TO SAND AND SAGE KICK-OFF CONCERT
Clare Dunn headlines this year’s Sand and Sage Round-up Kick-Off show held on August 5th at the Prowers County Fairgrounds. Prior to the concert, Clare is hosting a VIP Charity Party that includes a silent auction, an “intimate and acoustic performance”, a meet-and-greet with Clare, meal and drink tickets, an autographed Clare Dunn EP along with an arena ticket to that evening’s concert. The cost of a ticket is $150, with only a limited number of tickets still available.
Okay, so for those who already listen to Clare’s music on local country stations as well as Sirius XM country station “The Highway” and other venues, no further explanation is needed. An opportunity to spend a few hours eating, listening to a somewhat small group performance by Clare Dunn and a chance to speak with her afterwards plus all the other things listed while also supporting two really good causes that have local impact…? That kind of opportunity just doesn’t come along very often. As in…hardly ever.
And for those who are not yet familiar with Clare Dunn…oh my goodness, are you in for a wonderful surprise.
This is what the “big boys” who know what’s what in music have to say about her skill and talent.
Country Music TV (CMT) declares her “country music’s newest lady boss”. She was named “One to Watch” by USA Today, Billboard Magazine, The Boston Globe and Rolling Stone Magazine. The Boston Globe further cites her “serious guitar prowess” while Rolling Stone praises her “swaggering confidence and soulful vocals”. And it might be worthy to note that—jaded as it sounds--some of those aforementioned “big boys” seem to occasionally find purpose and meaning in dressing down rising talent. Not so with Clare Dunn. The music critics are unanimous in saying that…well…she ain’t your average country music artist. In fact, she seems to be destined for something big.
But there’s something even more relevant to us local types who reside on these here High Plains of Southeastern Colorado.
Clare Dunn is local. Not just Colorado local but local local. Born to farming parents R.B and Tila Dunn, Clare was raised in Two Buttes and spent her days doing the same thing everyone here spends their lives doing—planting, cultivating, harvesting and planting again. She just happened to have a voice as powerful, emotional and expressive as the plains where she grew up coupled with a work ethic that drove her to teach herself guitar to such a degree that she’s noted for her masterful playing as well as her singing. She also writes her own songs with some lyrics that are so strong and personal that you’ll find yourself wondering when did she read my mail?
But what is, perhaps, most astonishing of all…Clare Dunn is a genuinely kind, warm, friendly and open person who will step out of a songwriting session to do an interview with a small town newspaper and display the same dedication she undoubtedly reserves for much larger papers with much, much larger circulation. In other words, fame has not gone to her head, and there’s every reason to believe it won’t.
Even though she’s toured with the likes of Bob Seger (where she got standing ovations every night), Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert, she’s “coming home” (her words) to perform for all the folks who have supported her so much on her sometimes less-than-easy journey to becoming a major star. “It’s my way of just saying thanks, so, so much,” she says.
Her choice to raise funds for FFA and Children’s Hospital was also anything but arbitrary.
Growing up, Clare was extensively involved in both FFA and 4H, experiences that she says taught her a great deal. “We were all about horses and livestock when I was a kid,” she says. “They were part of everyday life.” But those programs hold special meaning to her, even beyond that. “Having been raised by farmers and ranchers and being involved in those industries,” she says, “FFA reaffirmed what I was already so fortunate to learn growing up where I did with my folks who did what they do. Agriculture affects everybody, and not everyone realizes that—especially if they don’t grow up in that kind of an environment. I mean, some people don’t realize that agriculture meets so many of our absolutely essential needs. I just hope that FFA is around for many, many years because it helps to get that message out in a way that’s positive and educational.”
However, Clare’s agreement to host a fundraiser was generated by something even more basic than her love of FFA. “I wanted to give something back to the communities that raised me,” she says. “Whatever funds were raised, I wanted them to be used first to help people where I’m from. So, FFA was a good fit. But so is Children’s Hospital. Even though it’s not a direct tie to home, I know that kids with special needs will go to Children’s and those people have helped children and families from Southeastern Colorado at a time when they really need it the most. It’s all about focusing on community things, I think, and that’s all good.”
Clare also adds that she’s excited to be playing at the Sand and Sage Round-Up. “The rodeo and fair were always big for us when I was a kid,” she says, and the smile in her voice is almost audible. “We showed horses at fair, it was so hot that we always ran through the sprinklers…it was a really big deal, and I loved it. Who didn’t?”
Although she’s performed before at smaller, acoustic venues in the area, the concert on August 5th will be the first time she does “the whole show…the whole, big performance.” She goes on to say, “I just want to say thanks to everyone in advance for coming out to the show, for all the support I’ve gotten over the years and I hope we get to do this charity for many, many years to come. It’s my goal to come back home, you know? And to show just how thankful I am to everyone for everything.”
Tickets will be available at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce, 109 East Beech starting Monday, July 31-Thursday, August 3. Tickets will be sold the night of the concert for $20 grandstand seating and $25 arena access. For all ticket information, including advance on-line sales and VIP Charity Party tickets, go to www.sandandsage.org