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Rock & Rails welcomes CW and Twenty Hands High

Get ready to dance and sing along with headliners CW and Twenty Hands High on June 20 for their third consecutive year performing at Rock & Rails. The band performs a wide range of country and Southern rock favorites and a growing number of their own popular creations. In August 2023, the band was honored as Entertainer of the Year by the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame.

Frontman CW Wooten said that, although they have a large repertoire of two-step selections, they tend to "stay more up-tempo to keep the party going." He said, "We want to keep dancers on the floor the entire night, period." Sometimes the band members skip their break rather than interrupt the vibe.

Other times, Wooten steps down from the stage to move through the audience. Oscar Mmari, a petroleum geologist from Tanzania, was visiting friends in Niwot in 2022 and attended Twenty Hands High's first Rock & Rails concert. Mmari caught the spirit and said, "I've never heard anything like this type of music in Tanzania, and I love how much the audience is getting into it."

Wooten said, "It's the biggest thrill to perform in Niwot. During one performance it rained like crazy but the dedication to live music was so great that they kept dancing." He said that as a performer, "It's one of the best feelings in the world to know they are lost in the moment."

Wooten added, "Satir (DeMarco) is always great to work with. She puts her heart and soul into the programs and we love her for that."

Wooten took a circuitous journey to his eventual success in music. He was born near the Ohio River in Appalachia and joined the Navy when he was 18. His career led him through 20 years of active service during which he served as an electronics data technician.

Along the way, Wooten was deployed to the Persian Gulf, Suez Canal and Strait of Gibraltar. He recalls the encouragement he felt when he had the opportunity to hear entertainers on their USO tours. One of his own goals is to become nationally known and, when he does, to qualify for the talent roster for a USO tour to give back to today's military.

Following his years in the service, Wooten worked as an accountant. In 2014, he moved to Denver to accept an auditing position with the U.S. Inspector General's office.

Wooten has always loved music and began playing the guitar at age 12. After his move to Colorado, he started singing in karaoke bars for fun. In 2016, when he was in his late 40s, he had a surprise encounter. After he finished his karaoke song in a bar in Morrison, Colorado, Hazel Miller, the iconic jazz, blues, pop and gospel performer, approached him. She asked for the name of his band. Although he had thought about forming one, he had no connections to help him get started. He appreciated the compliment from Miller, but it wasn't quite enough to spur him to action. Then, a few months later, he and Miller had a second serendipitous encounter and Wooten's path turned in a new direction.

With ongoing coaching and connections from the ever-generous Miller, Wooten learned the ropes and began performing with a group in 2017. One month after his first performance he quit his government job and has since gone full throttle into honing his skills, promoting his band, and performing in many states throughout the West and central U.S.

The band's reputation has developed quickly. A tremendous honor has been his and his band members' nominations for Josie Awards, which are presented to performers in the independent music industry (bands who are not signed with large record labels). In 2023, Wooten traveled to Nashville to watch the awards program, which was held at the Grand Ole Opry. The 2024 nominees were announced recently. Only 3% of the 75,000 submissions received nominations in various categories. Wooten proudly shared that Twenty Hands High received six of them.

In 2023 after a show at the Longmont Museum, Wooten said that the life he has chosen is challenging, uncertain and at times exhausting. He and his band travel long distances during the busy summer season. Recently, long-time band members have been unable to balance the travel demands of performing 150 shows a year to increasingly distant locations with other commitments. Wooten made the difficult decision to reconfigure the band with those able to meet the travel requirements to be able to continue to move up to greater levels of success.

Despite the challenges, Wooten says he has no regrets and "is having the time of my life."

The Niwot Community Semi-Marching Free Grange Band, directed by Debbie Benson, will open the evening at 5:00 p.m. "We're excited to open for Twenty Hands High," band member Biff Warren said. "In keeping with a country rock theme, our set list includes the theme from 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites." Warren said the band is also looking for "more cowbell" for one of their selections.

Each Rock & Rails performance raises funds for worthy local causes. Each week two organizations receive donations collected in the large tip jars at the entrance to Whistle Stop Park and at the Depot building. This week, the Niwot High School cheerleading team and the NHS football team will be the tip jar recipients.

Members of the Niwot High School cheerleading and football teams will be on hand this week to assist at Rock & Rails. The cheerleaders have only three cheer mats and are raising funds to purchase six more for safety purposes.

The football team will use their share of the funds toward the purchase of new varsity uniforms. The squad has more than doubled in size to over 60 players in the last four years. Proceeds from the tip jars will be used towards the $19,000 needed for new uniforms.

Rock & Rails concerts are offered to the community free of charge, so please be especially generous to the cheerleaders and football team.


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