Shawn Waggoner and the Tumblyweeds
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Shawn Waggoner and the Tumblyweeds

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"Tumblyweeds CD Release!"

By Adam Silverman

Shawn Waggoner had a dream. Well, several of them, really.
The nice thing about all her dreams she said, is they’ve all come true.
Waggoner, 35, had two big dreams in her life; to open and run a coffee shop, and to become a musician. Now she’s done both.
In 1992, Waggoner helped establish Margie’s Java Joint, at the time the first coffee shop in Greeley. After working there for three years, she left to pursue her second dream: a recording career.
She played in several bands and eventually wound up in Austin, Texas, the “live music capitol of the world,” she says. Her music covered a wide spectrum, everything from blues to R & B and soul.
Now she’s back in Greeley, where her past and present will combine at Margie’s on Saturday when her second album, “Howdy Stranger”, will be released. Although she now makes Austin her home, she said it’s important to return to the site of her first dream as her second becomes truer and truer.
“It’s good luck,” she said about releasing her album at Margie’s, where she released her first album, “Contemplating Cacti”, in February 1998. She said it’s lucky because Margie’s was the “stepping off point” for her musical career.
Waggoner describes her music as an unusual blend of country and alternative styles, a mix of everything from Nirvana to Bruce Springsteen to Dorothy Parker, but a departure from her earlier blues work.
When she moved away from her past in blues, the new alternative country style is “just what came out,” she said, even though the combination of those two seemingly unrelated genres is rather out of the ordinary.
“Blending country and alternative music is not that common, but it seemed a natural for me,” she said. “It makes for a unique sound.”
Part of the evolution of her music came from her move to Austin in 1995, which she decided to do to advance her musical career. The change of scenery, from the high plains of Colorado to lush green Texas hill country, opened a new door for her musical style.
“I was shocked to find that I actually liked country music,” Waggoner said. “I hated it before I moved to Austin.”
Country music has its own distinct sound, Waggoner said, and she also found she liked the simplicity of good, pure, down-home country music.
“I think it speaks to some part of me,” she said.
Living in Austin also taught her there is more to country music, she said, than what comes out of Nashville – what most people listen to on the radio. “There is so much beyond Faith Hill and Travis Tritt,” she said with a chuckle.
Waggoner said country mega-stars such as Garth Brooks have too much polish and too little emphasis on high-quality lyrics. Good country music she said, is hard to find, except perhaps in Austin.
“You can go out every single night of the week and hear the best band you’ve ever heard,” she said.
Waggoner played for one of those bands soon after she relocated to the Texas city she now calls home. Her first gig was as the lead singer for the R & B band Blue Recluse. Shortly after joining the group, Waggoner and her band-mates were playing many of the top clubs in Austin and opening for blues greats such as Jimmy Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton.
“I was living my dream,” Waggoner said. “It was heaven.”
After her stint with Blue Recluse ended, Waggoner decided to branch out and pursue her own recording career. What emerged was her band the Tumblyweeds, and two cds: “Contemplating Cacti” in 1998 and “Howdy Stranger” the following year.
Aside from the uniqueness of combining alternative with country, Waggoner said another distinctive quality of her recordings is that they sound like live performances. The reason it sounds so “genuine,” she said, is because there’s a conscious effort not to over-produce. Her bassist, David Farrell, is recording, mixing and mastering the current Tumblyweed record.
“It’s much more relaxing because we’re friends,” she said of the recording process. “If I screw up, it’s not a big deal to go back and do it again.”
Her lyrical style is also unique, she said, and combined with the unusual sound of her band, fans of her music can recognize the Tumblyweed sound easily.
Some Greeley residents may recognize Waggoner, as well. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, which she still uses in what she calls her “real job”, editing a national magazine about glass art and artists.
Sometimes her music is inspired by her work at the magazine, she said. A song that appears on “Howdy Stranger”, called Karolina, is based on an interview she did with Swedish glass artist Bertil Vallien, about a 13-year-old girl who slipped on some ice and was in a coma for 32 years.
“I got a lot of inspiration and visual imagery from my conversation with him,” Waggoner said. “I am inspired by people who make a living doing what they’re passionate about – making art.”
While in Greeley, Waggoner also helped found Margie’s Java Joint in 1992.
“I had a vision for the business,” she said. “It was always a dream of mine to be my own boss.”
Margie’s was the brainchild of Waggoner and Linde Thompson. The idea formed when Thompson, who owns The Book Stop, decided to move the store to its current location. There was still a lot of open space in the new store, and Waggoner and Thompson decided the best thing to fill it would be a coffee shop.
Thompson said her co-founder helped with the cultural and aesthetic development of Margie’s.
“She brought an eclectic, more artistic approach to it,” Thompson said. “The feel has been maintained through the years.”
But the greatest of Waggoner’s contribution to Margie’s was not in the creation of the shop, but in the friendship that developed between the two founders.
“It’s hard for me to separate my love for Shawn as a friend, and almost as a member of my family, from what she contributed to the business,” she said. “The greatest contribution was her friendship.”
For the coffee shop founder turned musician, she said helping establish Margie’s taught her she could realize her dreams.
“If you have something you’ve dreamt about doing your whole life, just do it,” Waggoner said. “Don’t waste any more time.”
For more information or

- The Greeley Tribune

"New Music From The Tumblyweeds"

By Chloe Silliman

Shawn Waggoner looked like an innocent girl, hugging her guitar tightly underneath the burgundy tile ceiling of Margie’s Java Joint. She strummed it gently, glanced at the crowd of thirty well-wishers and friends, and then announced the title of her next song, “Blame it on Delores.”
On April 17, singer/songwriter and UNC graduate Waggoner treated the audience to a free concert, while celebrating the release of her first compact disc, “Contemplating Cacti.”
The song began, softly and delicately, with the help of Waggoner’s acoustic guitar and Andrea Tolzman’s violin. Waggoner sang like a woman who had a soul that needed unfolding. The crowd was transfixed by her voice, reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan. And the unusually busy Margie’s was struck motionless by Waggoner’s almost Texan, almost alternative music. “She’s got a great voice and great songs. Her style isn’t like anything I’ve ever heard before,” UNC alumnus Allen Walsh said.
“I like it, but some of the songs are kind of depressing,” UNC alumnus Colin Mariner said.
The album was recorded, mastered and mixed at UNC’s recording studio by Greg Heimbecker over a three-week period, Waggoner said. On Friday night, her band, the Tumblyweeds, also played the free concert. Chris Morton-Rowinski played the electric guitar, Tolzman played the violin, David Farrell was on the upright acoustic bass, and Shawn Morrison played the ambient electric guitar. All are UNC alumni and reside in Colorado.
“It felt really good to be here. I have so many friends in Greeley,” Waggoner said, about choosing Greeley as the place to first release the CD.
Waggoner attended UNC and graduated with a degree in Journalism, her minor being German. During her college years, she worked for the UNC Mirror as the first woman sports editor, and later as an arts and entertainment editor.
“We had a great advisor, Mort Stern. It was really exciting working there-some of my best college times were at the paper,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner also played in local bands while at UNC, including Bleu Chunx.
“We used to be in a blues band together-we all met at UNC,” Morton-Rowinski said.
One of the fascinating examples of how one student can put her mark on the world is Waggoner’s involvement in creating Margie’s Java Joint.
“Linde Thompson, who owns the Book Stop, was a good friend of mine. She wanted to add a coffee shop, so she and I created Margie’s. We added the furniture and made up the menus, and I worked there for several years.” Waggoner said.
After that, Waggoner decided to move to Texas to pursue her musical career.
“Austin is considered the live music capitol of the world. I left on a whim; but it turned out to be a good move,” she said. “I found my heart there.”
In Austin, Waggoner listened to music constantly, until finally she began songwriting based on the influences around her.
Two CDs, Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and Nirvana’s “Unplugged”, left a musical mark on her.
“I love ‘Nirvana Unplugged’, because those songs sound totally different acoustically. The suspended chords and bizarre lyrics make listening to it very dreamlike. I have always been a big Springsteen fan; those dark, sad stories on ‘Nebraska’ get me every time,” Waggoner said.
“My music is a blue-collar, straight forward approach with an alternative edge,” she said.
Waggoner’s CD is on sale at Margie’s, or at If you love Country without the twang and sentimental and sometimes bitter love songs, check out “Contemplating Cacti.”

- The UNC Mirror

"What the DJs Say…."

“I am loving this. Wonderful bassist. Beautiful, lyrical sound. This is mood music. You’re setting a mood right here in the middle of the afternoon. I especially love that break in your voice. Very well done. All of these (songs) are winners. I think you’ve got a great act together. Imagery is wonderful, dark.”
John Ailee, “Eklektikos,” 90.5 K-UT, Austin, Texas

“I really like the slow stuff. I’m a sucker for slow, slightly dark songs. It’s (Contemplating Cacti) a great cd. With the bowed acoustic bass, you sound a lot different than the average band.”
John Duncan, “Potluck,” 91.7 KOOP, Austin, Texas

“I love your voice. There’s so much going on in your songs – lot’s to listen to. Terrific, wonderful songwriting.”
Teresa Ferguson, “FemmeFM,” 90.5 K-UT, Austin, Texas

“Incredible voice. The first cut on Contemplating Cacti – called Break Me – very haunting.”
Sue Fawvre, “Folkways,” 90.5 K-UT, Austin Texas
- Various


Contemplaing Cacti
Howdy Stranger
Songs for the FP
Better Late Than Christmas
Cows on the Highway


Feeling a bit camera shy


Shawn Waggoner and the Tumblyweeds blend intense vocals and unique arrangements on a backdrop of powerful storytelling. This Colorado-based trio consists of Shawn Waggoner (songwriting, lead vocal, acoustic guitar), David Farrell (bowed acoustic bass) and Woody Myers (acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin).

The Tumblyweeds made a name for themselves in Austin, Texas, before calling Colorado home. They play mountain venues such as Bongo Billy’s Salida Café and The Princess in Crested Butte, as well as regional festivals such as Swallow Hill’s Shady Grove Series, The Denver Performing Arts Festival, the Artwalk Longmont and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.

The Tumblyweeds’ are in the studio now finishing their 2005 release, Cows on the Highway. Their three other cds–Songs for the FP, Howdy Stranger and Contemplating Cacti–are available at local record stores and online at WWW.TUMBLYWEEDS.COM.

“I am loving this. Wonderful bassist. Beautiful, lyrical sound. This is mood music. You’re setting a mood right here in the middle of the afternoon. I especially love that break in your voice. Very well done. All of these (songs) are winners. I think you’ve got a great act together. Imagery is wonderful, dark.”
– John Ailee, “Eklektikos,” 90.5 K-UT, Austin, Texas

“I love your voice. There’s so much going on in your songs – lot’s to listen to. Terrific, wonderful songwriting.”
–Teresa Ferguson, “FemmeFM,” 90.5 K-UT, Austin, Texas