For most people, summiting mountaintops typically warrants just a quick snapshot and a ham sandwich before trekking back down. For CSU alumnus and local musician, Ryan Kirkpatrick, high-altitude adventures constitute a portion of his life’s work.
“I don’t have one (favorite place in Colorado). There are so many inspirational places in this state. The three times that inspiration seems to hit me the most is driving, hiking or riding the chair lifts — that’s when inspiration hits me,” Kirkpatrick said.
As part of the LSC Live series, RamEvents in partnership with SpokesBUZZ will host Kirkpatrick’s band, The 14ers, at the Ramskeller Wednesday, March 30 from 3:15-5:00 p.m. Cannot make their live set? A portion of it will be available to watch online and on CTV Friday, April 1.
Although Kirkpatrick grew up in a musical home, by his own admission, he didn’t get serious about music until he was a CSU student in 2002. While his original plan was to go into veterinary medicine, he graduated as an accidental journalism major instead, a situation he said was prompted by his desire to further his goals as a musician.
“I didn’t intend to be in journalism. I was super interested in photography, graphic design and I really wanted to build a website for my band at the time,” said Kirkpatrick.
While Kirkpatrick has been active in local music since his 21st birthday, The 14ers didn’t start performing until mid-2012. The group consists of five main members: Kirkpatrick (guitar/harmonica), Barry Bates (drums), Stu Cruden (bass), Paul Martin (electric guitar) and Jacob Anderson (keys/cajon), but often includes collaborations with other musicians nationwide.
Known for taking a more creative approach to the business of music, the band has become a pristine example of ingenuity, mixing a demeanor best described as Colorado casual, with an unmatched love of sharing their craft.
While it seems an odd analogy, Kirkpatrick compares The 14ers to a 100-year-old man and attributes their success, in part, simply to the fact that they have not only survived in a tough musical climate, but have thrived in it.
For Kirkpatrick, the friendship he shares with his bandmates has made his experience as a Fort Collins musician more than worth the work it takes to stay relevant. The 14ers are held together by an open-door policy. Their agreement to play for the love of music over simple obligation has kept the band strong and in turn has protected the integrity of their music.
According to Kirkpatrick, networking as an artist has been extremely important not just in the opportunities it has created for The 14ers, but in how it’s helped shape his musical vantage point. From playing local breweries, festivals and small venues, to recording at Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Studio, Kirkpatrick jokes that although the band has traditionally been aggressively non-profit, things are beginning to shift. While this means a lot, the most important aspect of their rising success is that it has put them in a better position to share their vision on a wider scale.
“One of my favorite things is having these guys — Barry, Stu, Jacob and Paul — who are just totally in it… there’s no noise. Just playing with them is a highlight,” Kirkpatrick stated.
Kirkpatrick explains that his time is split between guiding tours in the great outdoors, hanging out with his family and playing music. While there was a time The 14ers were entirely indiscriminate in booking shows, he says that staying balanced with his current schedule is difficult.
“There were years where this didn’t happen, but I say no to shows now. I can either hang out with my family or play these shows. I have to be more defensive of my time now,” Kirkpatrick said.
Thriving on adventure, Kirkpatrick says that although he loves traveling, Colorado will always be home base. Whether it is trekking across the globe leading ski trips, photo classes and mountain tours, or it’s time spent with his wife and two boys, Kirkpatrick has an excited energy dedicated to everything he does.
“Every place I go, while I really like to experience it, I find myself really looking forward to coming back home,” the Colorado native said. “I’m drawn back home — there’s a magnet here that I just can’t get away from.”
As for what’s coming up for the five-piece, this year they were named finalists in the run to become an official SpokesBUZZ Incubator band. In addition, the five-piece has several show dates booked including a home-town, full-band set at the Downtown Artery May 13.
Collegian Reporter Saruh Fenton can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.