By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Is there a linguist in the house?

Newspaper reporters can face scowling editors when they spend more than about five minutes searching for the definition of a word to start an article.Well, this particular search for the definition of “salon” is nearing its 56th minute.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far, about the word “salon” but not of the “hair” or “room” variety as per a paperback version of Merriam Webster (note: the next word after “salon” is “saloon.”) Because Merrian Webster isn’t of much use in this case, here’s what that go-to-guy Wick A. Pedia (get it?) has to say: “A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, ‘either to please or to educate’ … Salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, were carried on until as recently as the 1940s in urban settings.”

A bit more easy-access internet-based research shows that includes more than one definition of the kind of salon we’re talking about, including this one: “… the Salon, an annual exhibition of works of art by living artists, originally held at the Salon d’Apollon: it became, during the 19th century, the focal point of artistic controversy and was identified with academicism and official hostility to progress in art.”

And on that note, let’s wrap up this salon search in New York City, where, according once again to Mr. Pedia, Ruth Logan Roberts (1891-1968) held her own salon during the Harlem Renaissance “that brought together major figures active in Harlem at the time in politics, community service, and the arts.”

If one were to Google “Carbondale Salon” in years to come, one might learn the inaugural Carbondale Salon at the Launchpad took place from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 17, and featured: Zack Ritchie (drummer); soloist Carolyn Yates and the cast of “Vacuum Carbondale CO” (dance); Sarah Graf (cellist); Stefano Da Fre (filmmaker/actor); and Harry Babar (comedian).

“I am excited to welcome this diverse group of performers opening the first-ever Salon at the Launchpad,” said Carbondale Salon curator Alya Howe. “I find the artists through having seen or hear them perform, through recommendation, and via YouTube/MP3 samples of their work. Then I consider the flow and balancing of a program,” she told The Sopris Sun.

The program

Carbondale’s very own Zack Ritchie (a student at the University of Colorado) starts the night’s program. “I have been peeking in on him for years,” Howe said. “His musicality, ingenuity, chops and sensitivity made him a musician I have invited to perform at the Poetry Brothel (at Justice Snow’s in Aspen) as a musical poet and to accompany some poems. He is creative and fun to work with. I have heard him play a few times on the Front Range and am super interested to see what he will come up with for the Salon.”

Ritchie started playing drums nine years ago under the instruction of Chris Goplerud and Mark Gray, Howe said in a press release. He came up through various in-school programs offered by Jazz Aspen Snowmass. He currently studies jazz drums under the instruction of Paul Romaine at CU, and is making his way into the Denver music scene. Ritchie approaches hip-hop with an improvisational jazz flavor to create dynamic beat-driven jams that aim to stimulate both the body and mind.

Next on the program are soloist Carolyn Yates with “vacuumers” Jeni Ptacek and Shannon Jones. Yates grew up in Silverthorne and danced with Summit School of Dance through her formative years. She went on to earn a BA in dance from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. She also holds multiple certifications in teaching yoga with over 500 hours of training.

Sarah Graff (cellist) is a performing cellist and teacher in Western Colorado. She holds a bachelor’s degree with Performer’s Certificate honors from the Eastman School of Music. Since completing her degree she has also performed in the Freiburg Ensemble Academie, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival and School. Graff also performs solo and chamber music recitals throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Slope. She played in the inaugural Salon at Justice Snow’s in 2012 and enjoys bringing classical music shows to unexpected venues, such as Steve’s Guitars. Graff is executive director of the Roaring Fork Music Society (the organization that runs the Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra). She first came to Aspen in 2006 and now lives in Carbondale.

Harry Baber (comedian) grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended an all-boys Catholic high school, “where I was thoroughly educated on why I should move to Colorado,” he said. When Howe asked the Denver-based Baber why get got into comedy, he answered, “The rush of performing combined with a unique atmosphere in which you can approach topics honestly or fantastically has always appealed to me. When I figured out that people will give you money or a burrito for yelling at strangers for 10-20 minutes, I knew I found my calling.”

New York City-based Stefano Da Fre concludes the night with his film “Tu Me Manques/You Are Missing From Me.” He is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City. His union affiliations include: Screen Actors Guild, Association for Television and Radio Artists, and Artists Equity Theater Association. In addition, he has been an elected member of the Montreal International Film Festival selection committee since 2009. Stefano has worked with several notable artists including Academy Award winner Ang Lee in the film “Taking Woodstock.” In 2014, CBS hired him for the television series “Blue Bloods” starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg. He has also appeared in television shows such as MTV’s “One Bad Choice” and co-starred in USA Network’s “Pandora’s Box” as Sgt. Casper. Note: Carbondale’s Krysia Carter Giez was the editor on Stefano’s film.

As for the U.K.-born performance artist Alya Howe, her credits are too numerous to list here, but she has won national and international awards, and has performed with companies and in her own works throughout the United States and Europe.

The Carbondale Salon is supported by Carbondale Arts, and Under Alya’s Umbrella. 

Next steps

What: The inaugural Carbondale Salon

Where: The Launchpad

When: June 17, 6-8 p.m.

How much: $23 at

More info: 970-309-2582.

Can’t make the Carbondale event? Catch The Salon at The Wheeler Lobby Bar in Aspen at 8 p.m. June 18.