“Did I ever tell you about the time …”
“It must have been the spring, when we …”
“We were in the foothills when …”
If you had been wandering through the crowd at The Horizon Stage during either the intermission or following the sold out show The Wardens performed you would have heard some of the above phrases. While The Wardens told us both heartbreaking “Neil Colgan” and hilarious “Silly Questions” tales they managed an unusual feat — they stirred the audience’s memories to the point of sharing rather than simply recounting their own memories as park wardens.
“Warden TV” was instantly accessible to anyone who had spent time looking at a wood stove in the dark of winter, or who had entertained themselves by the watching the mesmerizing flickering flames of a campfire. Similarly we were all able to imagine the shock of a young war bride suddenly becoming a warden bride in “War(den) Bride.”
The Wardens were accompanied by a fantastic set of images timed to illustrate the songs, adding another dimension to the show. For example, if you didn’t know Tunnel Mountain had been called Sleeping Buffalo by the Stoney people, when Ray Schmidt introduced The Warden song by the same name, the image of Tunnel Mountain/Sleeping Buffalo (viewed from the North & East) displayed on the screen behind him made it immediately obvious why the name was chosen.
Likewise the images of the ride through the backcountry that accompanied “Ya Ha Tinda Bound” gave us glimpses of the heart-stopping beauty being protected in our National Parks.
Riddled with historical tales about mining and railroad disasters in the Rockies, and characters such as Bill Neish, it was a thought provoking performance. If you’ve only heard The Wardens’ recordings or videos, you need to see them in person — you’ll treasure the stories they tell you, those of the audience around you and your own.
The Horizon Stage’s season continues with OUTERBRIDGE: Clockwork Mysteries Grand Masters of Illusion on February 11th and The Wardens are headed to Kansas City to take part in Folk Alliance International. Their third record will debut in the spring of this year, so keep an eye on their website for more details in the upcoming months.