Winter Park: Uprights fill background with classical, ragtime, waltzes
Sky-Hi Daily News
Kathy Turnbull, one of the original four members from The Uprights pianist group, is providing music accompaniment at the Gasthaus Eichler in Winter Park 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.
The Uprights formed in 2005 with Traci Maddox as the group’s founder. Maddox, Joan Shaw, Ella Knight and Turnbull make up the original four; while Jan Sears and Carolyn May have since been welcomed to the talented group.
All six “thoroughly enjoy providing background classical, pops, ragtime, waltzes and requests for the patrons of Gasthaus Eichler restaurant … on the old upright piano,” Shaw said. “We try to keep classical music and show tunes alive in the county.”
It was Shaw who suggested the name Uprights because of the kind of piano the ladies play “and as a description of how we are to lead our lives,” Knight said.
“We are upright musically and morally,” Shaw said.
Turnbull, who plays tonight, grew up with a high school music teacher for a dad. With that, she said there was “no escaping some kind of music lessons … plus he was the inspiration for a whole family of musicians. He and my mom are also the reason we live in Grand County … they built a summer cabin and after coming up for years, we moved here full time.”
Turnbull attended college on a music scholarship and tried several instruments, “but there’s nothing as satisfying as playing the piano,” she said. When she’s not playing, Turnbull lends her skills and talent to United Country Real Estate Central and tries to spend her spare time “outside in the gorgeous local scenery.”
As far as her music goes, she said she has “eclectic tastes” but still likes playing classical music.
The piano the Uprights play on also has an interesting background. The Engel Family purchased it used in Denver in 1954 and placed it in the front corner of their new ski shop at Winter Park Resort for anyone to play, including bus drivers who enjoyed it a lot and at popular after-hour parties.
After 30 years in residence at Winter Park Resort, the shop building was replaced by the West Portal Building. The piano, along with all of its stories, was moved to Kings Crossing where it was housed at the Last Waltz restaurant with Howard Cohen tickling its ivories. When new owners replaced the Last Waltz and couldn’t find a need for the piano, it was placed in the Kings Crossing basement.
It had been transformed from a “hideous” reddish brown to bare yellow oak, and had a colorful scene of costumed folk dancers painted on the front of it by ski instructor Guiseppe Olmi, then it was sanded and repainted baby blue, then green. Today, it is white. “I love the history and enjoyed meeting Joyce Engel and hearing about how she and her husband brought the piano up to the ski area years ago,” Knight said.
The Engels have been loaning the piano to the Gasthaus Eichler where it awaits the Upright ladies and your requests every Friday and Sunday nights. “Playing at Gasthaus as one of the Uprights is great fun,” Turnbull said. “Joan and Rene Weder treat us very well and also have a great clientele. … I hope my music adds to an already great dining experience.”
“The ambiance that they’ve added to the restaurant is fabulous,” Joan Weder said.
The Gasthaus Eichler has two restaurants located at 78786 U.S. Highway 40 in Winter Park overlooking Vasquez Creek; one is a traditional Swiss fondue eatery called Fondue Steube and the other is Dezeley’s, the European Continental restaurant where the Uprights play. During the winter season the restaurants serve dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The ladies also encourage anyone interested to join their Grand Piano Club. The club meets monthly and welcomes anyone. To join, call Turnbull at (970) 887-3789.
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