Winter Park / Live Music: Wendy Woo the woman to watch
August 1, 2008
Before and since their latest CD “Out of My Head Over You” was released last February, Wendy Woo of Boulder has been performing throughout the region and attracting the national music industry.
A big buzz is spreading, not only about the trio’s music, but of Woo’s energetic personality and passionate live performances.
That passion began in the poetry and art scene of Boulder, which greatly inspired her early years. Parents Jane (an artist) and Bataan (a poet) were founding faculty members of Boulder’s Naropa Institute and their home was the gathering spot for literary icons such as Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey and Norman Mailer.
At 18, her artistic passion grew even more when she picked up her first guitar and it inspired her to study classical guitar and music theory in college. When the Fox Theatre opened in 1993, she brought in some of the original songs she’d been working on and embraced the opportunity to hear and play with other up-and-coming musicians like herself. Highlights include opening for Sheryl Crow and headlining with some of Colorado’s top musicians backing her, including Brian Nevin from Big Head Todd and the Monsters.
Woo also had the chance to learn from Ambrosia Healey, Fox Theatre publicist and daughter of Dean Healy, who showed her the ins and outs of promotion. With the proper tools under her guitar strap, Woo went on to pursue music full time.
One afternoon, when she was working at Rupp’s Drums, she met future bandmate Chris Maestas who ran Darby Drum Company and played with an original band in Denver called Mean Old Man that was going through some transition. He was looking for a new group that was more focused on playing and writing as a group, and in him she found a kindred spirit.
Woo, who had been playing with different musicians for years, said she missed the elements of playing with a band.
“For the first time in my musical career, I had another mind to bounce ideas off of and create new ones,” she said of Maestas. Together, they play around 200 shows a year. They co-wrote a full album of material and co-produced a new CD. The two are now married and welcomed a baby boy last spring.
After auditioning for a bass player with a similar vision, the couple was thrilled to find their first candidate fit the bill. Mitch DeZwarte, a keyboard player from Denver-based band Ten Tiers, was also a bass player, guitarist, sound engineer, and “a proficient musician whose personality we loved just as much,” Woo said. The newest release includes one of his original songs called “Gone” and he assisted in the production and engineering of the new album.
A fourth musician, friend Dave Miller, will be joining them on drums for the free Hideaway Park performance (while Maestas plays bass). The band has tightened up as a four-piece and plans on recording a new CD as a quartet this winter.