Pueblo’s culture is getting the PBS treatment by showing off its art and culture.
This past June, ‘Travel & Music,’ a documentary series on PBS Music Voyager, stopped by Colorado to highlight sections of the state deemed culturally interesting. The show aims to “explore the most musically and artistically exciting cities in the world.”
Shown in over 120 countries and 94 percent of public broadcasting stations, Music Voyager is a “music and travel television program that gives viewers a backstage pass to the world’s most popular and exciting music.” Locally, it can be seen on Rocky Mountain PBS, which has a viewership of over 900,000 every week.
For a city that is slowly but surely trying to develop and embrace an arts community, the addition of Pueblo to the Music Voyager itinerary highlights the positive points of Pueblo that never seem to get out to the rest of the world.
The focus of the upcoming episode, which is set to air on Rocky Mountain PBS this summer, centers on Pueblo’s very own folk and traditional American roots band, The Haunted Windchimes, as a backdrop to tell the story of Pueblo.
“Music Voyager was a small crew of super professionals. They were relaxed, and as a result we felt relaxed,” said Haunted Windchimes guitarist Inaiah Lujan. “I appreciated their willingness to go outside the box with us to showcase more of the art hub and atmosphere Pueblo has to offer.”
The Pueblo installment of Music Voyager was filmed over the course of several days around various cultural hotspots in Pueblo. It highlights and uses The Haunted Windchimes as an olive branch from Pueblo to the world. The show also shines a light on a few other local artists, crafters, and business owners in town.
The show takes a tour through Pueblo businesses such as Solar Roast and DiTomaso. There’s also a sampling of beers at local brewpub Shamrock Brewery. Viewers will hear from Puebloans making an impact on the art scene such as silkscreen printer Mathias Valdez of LastLeaf Printing, graffiti artists from the Creatures Crew and Pueblo-transplant Gregory Howell of the Kadoya Gallery. Finally, viewers will experience Pueblo from above with aerial photographer John Wark.
Music Voyager on-air host, cultural musician and music critic Jacob Edgar said he was surprised by Pueblo.
“Personally, I was not sure what to think when I heard Music Voyager was coming to Pueblo. I knew very little about the city, and I certainly didn’t expect much,” Edgar said. “But I met so many warm, welcoming people who were so excited to show our crew around their community. The people of Pueblo clearly feel that the outside world doesn’t understand what a wonderful place their city is, and they were determined to show us what everyone is missing.”
Edgar had been told that Pueblo had been through a rough patch, but said he thinks it’s recovering gracefully. He added that he encountered a lot of pride from people about the city’s diversity, history, work ethics and unique personality.
The town’s pride is not misplaced, he said. “Pueblo is a surprising gem that hopefully more people will take the time to discover. I believe our Music Voyager episode will reveal Pueblo’s charms, and I expect our viewers to be inspired to check out Pueblo for themselves.”
B roll footage of Pueblo, which includes non-interview and non-performance portions, will be available for public use at the Rawlings Library in the archives at some point this summer.
To spotlight the episode release, the Pueblo Arts Alliance, in partnership with Memorial Hall, will be holding a national premiere event March 6.
The event offers a special screening of the PBS episode “Music Voyager, Sun City; Pueblo” along with live performances by The Haunted Windchimes, Okolitza Tamburitzans and Grupo Folklórico Del Pueblo, all hosted by 719 The Blocks podcast host and comedian Wade Ridley.
The event will be a celebration, said Pueblo Arts Alliance executive director Susan Fries.
“So many people have contributed that we’d like to make sure we celebrate,” Fries said. “Especially all the good things we do here (at the PAA). This is the first viewing of our community to much of the world.”
If the portrayal of Pueblo can be negative and focus too heavily on the unsavory aspects of the city, Fries hopes the episode will change people’s minds.
“That is why we have had such an outpouring of donations and sponsors for both the event and filming (last June),” she said.
Lujan echoed the thought.
“I can only hope our town will take pride in the fact that we are artists, designers, comedians and business owners of a community willing against the odds to work for our dreams,” he said.
With Pueblo’s problems of sustaining and growing music and other cultural bases, the future, after this show, may get the kickstart it needs.
“I think viewers, especially those who aren’t from Pueblo, will (hopefully) walk away with a nice glimpse of what Pueblo has to offer in the realm of each unique craft. Hard working people doing what they love endlessly, regardless of recognition,” Lujan said.
“My only regret is they couldn’t squeeze all of the awesomeness Pueblo has to offer into a 20 minute show.”
Tickets for the special premier of PBS Music Voyager, Sun City; Pueblo available at the Memorial Hall website.