Tuesdays are for talent at Pancho & Lefty’s in Grand Lake
This Side of Berthoud
Pancho & Lefty’s, a favorite spot in Grand Lake for Karaoke fans, has amped things up a notch. Along with regular live music on the weekends, the popular Grand Lake venue has now added a weekly open mic event, with host musician Brian Garcia. Soft spoken, yet overflowing with intense musical energy, Garcia raves about their new offering in town (set on Tuesdays when there’s usually not much going on).
“We so needed this,” he said. “They used to have one back in the day, but that was a while ago.”
He thanks fellow musicians, folks back home, and Pancho’s owner Bob King for helping make it happen, and for all the support.
“Grand Lake is so lucky to have Brian around,” says former Karaoke host and fellow musician John Logan Brown. The two musicians have been friends since Garcia got into town. “He’s one of those guys who once you become friends with, you know he’ll be in your life forever,” Brown said.
Brown is on his way to Tucson, Ariz. and was pleased to pass the mic over to Garcia. “An open mic has been sorely needed to help budding musicians get their stage chops.” Brown says he’s writing new music during the transition and will “definitely be visiting … .” A night cook at Pancho’s for almost two years now, Garcia came through Grand County while on a road trip with friends. Shortly after that he came out to Grand Lake with younger brother Kaleb (also a musician, who plays the djembe).
Garcia got his job the first day he arrived. He and his border collie Suzzy came from the small town of Stockton, in northwest Kansas and fell in love with the place. “Grand Lake was like … perfect,” he said.
He started his musical path at age 15, as a roadie for friends’ band Bad Obsession and knew the scene was his calling. Since then, he’s learned to play guitar, acoustic and electric, from them and other friends he’s met along the way. Maternal grandma Nancy bought him his first guitar for his 16th birthday, a six-string acoustic. Garcia then passed it on to brother Kayden, who has passed it on to brother Colten. He wrote a heavy metal song and a history of the genre for his high-school senior project, and a local guitar-shop owner / guitar teacher helped him fine-tune his song-writing skills. “I learned a lot through that,” he said.
Garcia’s first paying gig was with a metal band which played for a graduation house party in Topeka, Kan. Before John Brown’s recent move out of the county, Garcia also sat in with him, who he says was a “big influence,” Adam Baird, and Brendan Bailey, in a band called “Moose Knuckles”.
“I’m more … heavy,” Garcia said about his music style, which includes everything from death metal to Reggae, bluegrass, rock, country and folk. Influences include Slightly Stoopid, Pantera, Sublime, Tool and Black Sabbath (“that HAS to be there,” he said of the latter).
The passionate, hard-core budding musician welcomes anyone who wants to sing Karaoke, folks who just want to listen, and especially those who’d like to perform a little. He’s been writing a lot of new music lately and said open mic gives him and others “something to do musically every week. It’s a blast.”
To those who have been thinking about coming out, he says: “Come up, have fun with your friends.” Before, musician friends would talk about getting together to play, but rarely did. “Now I’ve got Tuesday night here, and we can jam.” Regulars include Baird, Mark Hanifen and Bradley Ratchford.
Since its inception in mid-November, people have been coming from all over the county to join in. There’s even been a few in town from the Front Range who’ve joined in the fun. A recent pleasant surprise was a family up from Denver, and the dad came up and played a couple songs.
Garcia said Karaoke’s “always fun” and the open mic is starting to really take off. “Sometimes we have a bad-a** night, the next week it’s just me and my buddy. We always have fun though.”
Open mic at Pancho & Lefty’s runs 6-10 p.m. on Tuesdays. The stage area includes its own PA, microphones, and there’s at least one guitar musicians are welcome to play.
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