Something about Bruce

Hornsby to play in Grand Junction for the first time

Bruce Hornsby

After winning the Best New Artist Grammy Award in 1987 and appearing on more than 100 records through the years with some of music’s most iconic names — Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Stevie Nicks —  singer/songwriter/pianist Bruce Hornsby is visiting Mesa County for the first time.

Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers take the stage at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita. Gates open at 6 p.m. All proceeds from the show go to the Riverfront Commission and future Colorado Riverfront Concert Series shows.

Tickets are $45 at City Market stores, and 243-TIXS.

Food and drink will be for sale at the show.

Before traveling to Western Colorado, Hornsby answered a few questions about his 26-year career, including the night he won his Grammy, the popularity of sampling “The Way It Is” in hip-hop and why he wanted to do this interview via email instead of over the phone.

Melinda Mawdsley: What do you remember from that night you won a Grammy?

Bruce Hornsby: I remember being completely fried; my schedule at the time was insane. I was RCA Records’ new cash cow and they were milking me hard. I remember Mick Hucknall of Simply Red giving me a mean, dirty look from across a room afterwards, probably mad at me for winning over him. I didn’t blame him; maybe they should have won. I remember Kris Kristofferson jumping up to cheer with great enthusiasm and glee when we won. But I, of course, had no idea how musically broad-based and diverse my career would become in the next 26 years!

Mawdsley: Has your career looked anything at all like you imagined?

Hornsby: Like any musician that has a deep interest in improving, in growing as a writer, player, singer, etc., I hoped that I would be privileged enough to get to work with amazing people, but that has happened on a level beyond any crazy dream.

Mawdsley: Speaking of working with people you may never have dreamed about, how did the relationship with rapper Tupac Shakur come about when he used “The Way It Is” for “Changes,” one of his most popular songs?

Hornsby: I had no relationship with Tupac. About a year after he was killed, I received a cassette from the Shakur Foundation with a version of “Changes” that was way dirtier than the record that subsequently came out. They wanted to make me aware of the song and negotiate the publishing splits for it. “The Way It Is” has been used many times through the years by rap and hip-hop artists.

Mawdsley: What can concert-goers who attend your show expect to hear?

Hornsby: They can expect to hear a mix of the unexpected and songs they know. They will see a band who loves to play together — that should be very evident. They will hear a joyful noise made by a group that exudes joy when it plays.

Mawdsley: I read you don’t like to rehearse. Not ever? Really? Why?

Hornsby: I’m a real slacker where rehearsal is concerned, but generally before a tour we’ll do two days. That time is usually taken with learning new songs, or old songs that we’ve never or rarely played before. We draw on a list of well over 100 songs, which helps keep it all fresh.

Mawdsley: Do you travel with your own piano?

Hornsby: Yes. It’s a nine-foot Steinway that I’ve carried on the road for years.

Mawdsley: Do you enjoy performing outdoors? Other than the weather, are there any unique challenges to playing as a band in an outdoor venue?

Hornsby: I prefer indoors, frankly, because there aren’t the variables that you’re talking about. But there’s nothing like a great dancing crowd at an outdoor gig; most any band gets fired up, and hence plays better, when the crowd is boisterous.

Mawdsley: This interview is a little different than most I do because it’s being conducted via email to protect your touring voice. Have you always been protective of your voice before shows?

Hornsby: I don’t always take great care of my voice, and I should do a better job of it. The voice issues I’ve been dealing with were brought on, oddly enough, from too much talking, not singing, and talking in an improper manner. I’ve been going to a speech therapist who has been helping me with proper speaking technique, and hopefully it’s helping. And hopefully I’ll be in solid vocal condition when we hit Grand Junction. I will do my damnedest to be 100 percent!

For my story about the 2013 Colorado Riverfront Concert Series, visit


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