We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurie Dameron and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurie, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I think most of us don’t realize how much music affects us. It’s kind of an unconscious response that we take for granted. The vibrations can affect our bodies and brains and even our chemistry and hormones. A song can trigger a memory in our brains shifting our thoughts and lyrics can affect our emotions.
The other thing I am committed to is sharing my multimedia environmental presentation “Spaceship Earth: What Can I Do?” since 2012. I have a hard time booking the program but the feedback is tremendous. One memorable occasion was when a woman came up to me after saying she thought she knew everything about being “green” but learned some new things and her daughter talked about it for days.
Often, when I am out and about, I’ll have someone come up to me and say something like “I remember you! I saw your Spaceship Earth a couple of years ago! I went home and started to reduce, reuse and recycle!” THAT is what I live for! even if it’s just one person at a time – I keep on trying to spread the positive simple things we can all do to make a difference every day!
I especially love when I can weave my recovery story in with the Spaceship Earth presentation or just telling my story at a treatment center. If I had not gotten sober Thanksgiving 1987, I doubt I would have had a music career or been able to put together such a presentation.
The 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” I love being of service whether through music, environmental work or just speaking.
I want to share about the Chinook Clubhouse that Allan Guitar (another huge mentor and friend) founded here in Boulder around 1990. It was an “accredited” clubhouse based on the Fountain House in New York City which started in the late 1940’s and developed into the International Center for Clubhouse Development (ICCD). There are currently over 300 of these clubhouses around the world! To be “accredited” a clubhouse has to be visited every two years by two persons from the ICCD who make sure the clubhouse is following the “standards”. A few of my favorite standards were “Staff and clients are equal” and “Clients help to run the every day operations of the clubhouse” and “Clients attend important meetings that have to do with clubhouse”.
Attending Chinook from around 2001 – 2012, helped me through a very difficult time, a deep depression that I fell into after my mom passed in May 2002 that lasted until 2004. It provided meaningful work as I participated in the Administrative Unit and the Kitchen Unit. But some days I was just able to hang out and feel supported by staff and my colleagues.
After I recovered from that bought, I joined the Chinook Clubhouse’s Speaker’s Bureau. We visited classes at high schools and at CU Boulder and shared our stories. The students, especially from psychology classes, SO appreciated learning about psychosis and other symptoms first hand. In fact, if I had heard such stories when I was earning my BA in Psych at Adams State College, I may have had some insight into the psychosis that I experienced after I stopped drinking on Thanksgiving of 1987.
Unfortunately Chinook ended around 2012. There are only two clubhouses in Colorado to date, Frontier House in Greeley and Spirit Crossing in Fort Collins.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Was it easy? Well for one thing – I would never pursed my music career if I had not been able to get sober on Thanksgiving Day 1987. After about a week of no drinking, I started not sleeping, having racing thoughts, paranoia. I have a BA in Psych but I had no idea what was happening to me. Later I realized I’d been self-medicating for bipolar.
Long story short – somehow I managed to stay sober and when I was diagnosed with bipolar and offered Lithium I was like “Thank you!!!” as those psychotic episodes were the most incredibly terrifying times of my life! You could not offer me a million dollars to quit my meds. (Actually I changed to the medication Clozaril in 1999 after a very serious suicide attempt that left me in a coma for almost three days). Another long story. Clozaril really helped with the irritable and angry symptoms that were partly due to my bipolar.
I think today the music business is not about how good you are as a musician but how good you are at technical skills, social media and marketing and that is NOT easy! I don’t mean to whine but with bipolar, especially the low swings, everything is twice as hard – if not more and I’m not sure most people understand that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First I’d take my friend for a drive to North Boulder where I grew up in the Wonderland Hills area and take a walk around Wonderland Lake and be sure to drive by the “Mushroom Foam” house that appeared in the Woody Allen movie Sleeper.
Then head down town and up the old section and neighborhood on Mapleton Avenue with large and beautiful homes from the gold mining days of the mid 1800’s. We’d continue south on 9th street to Chautauqua Park for a hike on the Mesa Trail. We’d start on the McClintock trail next to the Chautauqua Auditorium that was built in the 1800’s and has had all kinds of events and famous persons and musicians over the years.
Time for lunch at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. It was built between 1987- 1990 to celebrate the establishment of sister city ties. From 1987 -1990, more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan created the decorative elements our Teahouse, including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels. It is truly a work of art and wonderful food too!
To show off our beautiful mountains we’d drive up Sunshine Canyon (and I’d point out the devastating evidence of our wildfires of 2010 and 2011 and talk a bit on climate change and how we’re all connected). We’d end up in Gold Hill. I’d play a two hour set of music as Sunday is Jazz night, at the Historical Gold Hill Inn (also from the gold mining days) where Brian Finn not only pays me for the music but then treats me and one guest to an incredible 6 course meal!
The next day we’d drive up to Estes Park and go for a hike in our beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park and point out Longs Peak, one of our 14-ers and tell the story of when I almost died climbing it in 1986. Then we’d drive over Trail Ridge Road, one of the highest paved mountains in the country at 12,126 feet of elevation. We’d end up in Grand Lake where I’d play concert in the park downtown and spend the night at Elk Creek Campground, some of the friendliest folks ever!
Before leaving I’d take my friend up to the Shadowcliff Lodge which began construction in 1956 as a non-profit retreat center, a “mountain sanctuary” up on the hillside with a gorgeous view of Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake. (They’ve put me up for the night a few times)
Tuesday morning we will drive about 25 miles to Hot Sulfur Springs, one of my favorites, and enjoy soaking and relaxing before heading south to Summit County where I lived as a ski bum in the 1980’s. Also big drinking and drugging days that about brought me to my knees.
We’d go up on the hill above Silverthorne and Dillon to see the view from the “Flying Nun House” (the roof looks like a nuns hat) which was one of the most amazing houses I’ve ever lived in! It had the best view of Lake Dillon, the 10 Mile Range and Gore Range. I used to sit up in the loft and look out at that incredible beauty playing guitar and writing songs.
Before leaving Summit County a quick visit to the old gold mining town of Montezuma near Keystone (population about 60 in 1987), where I lived my last winter and worked at the Inn Montezuma B&B and took folks heli-skiing.
I also had a stint driving for Summit Taxi and drove folks on incredible 4 wheel drive roads (that I would NEVER drive now!).
We will continue further west on I-70 and arrive in Glenwood Springs where I’ll play at the Glenwood Springs Farmer’s Market and spend the night at one of my oldest and dearest friend Marilyn (met in 1974 when we moved to Colorado from Ohio) and her bee keeper boyfriends Colby Farm in New Castle.
Wednesday a concert at the Carbondale Farmer’s Market and maybe a bike ride in the gorgeous Glenwood Canyon. More hiking in the next couple of days and then one last concert on Saturday at the Aspen Farmer’s Market (I’ve played at all these markets for 10 years in a row and call it my paid vacation) and a ride up the Aspen ski mountain on the Gondola.
Then we’d head home over another high mountain pass out of Aspen called Independence Pass with some gnarly sections where there’s only one lane and one car can drive at a time. The road home through Fairplay and South Park will be nice and we’ll take a quick detour and drive up Mt. Evans, one of Colorado’s 58 14-ers (mountains over 14,000 feet, I’ve climbed about 8 of them) which IS the highest paved highway in North America and if we’re lucky we’ll get to see beautiful mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
Then back through the historical Idaho Springs and another soak in the the Indian Hot Springs caves before heading home.
A visit to Boulder, Colorado would not be complete without a trip to the Pearl Street Mall on a bustling Saturday evening with great shops and super busker entertainment. The zip code man, who can tell you where you’re from and about your town just from him telling you your zip code! Also lots of acrobats and fire eating shows!
Too bad Boulder Cafe is no longer there with half price tapas! But we’ll stop in to Lindsay’s Hagaan Dazs for some ice cream to end off a great week in Colorado!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh my! There are so many persons in my life I consider mentors! The first that comes to mind is Connie C, who was my first sponsor in AA 1987. She was always so positive and saved my butt many times and helped me maintain my sobriety.
One of my favorite Crones (as in “old wise Crones”) that I met in 2012 at my first Crones Counsel and attended every year since, was Enid. One year at our ceremony to honor the elder Crones, (80 years old or older). the elder crones were asked to answer the question, “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life?” And Enid got up there and said, “The most important thing I’ve learned in life is to love everyone unconditionally, even the ornery ones because they’re the ones that need it the most!”
Three of my favorite environmental activist are Stele Ely “Earthy Man” who works practically 24/7 educating and inspiring folks to commit to fighting climate change every day. Bonnie Sundance, I call “Miss Mother Earth” is the kindest woman and probably has the smallest carbon footprint of anyone I know. And Joan Gregerson “Eco Nut”, her words, not mine who founded Green Team Academy and recently released her first book Climate Action Challenge.
But most recently I am inspired by my old friend and music colleague, Maree McRae. She is an incredible song writer and multi-instrumentalist and we’ve been supporting each other for twelve years or so. I have empathy as a person with alcohol, drug and mental health challenges with her having a son that struggles with the same problems. And I want to support her in any way I can for her to get her Respite Relief Home.
I just recently completed my training with Colorado Mental Wellness Network (they are the best!) Peer Support Training where I learned SO much and learned about the launching of Respite Relief homes which are smaller home like facilities that provides persons struggling with mental conditions a safe place to rest and to avoid hospitalization. They have found that persons being hospitalized goes down by as much as 70%! It is said that people don’t need clinicians but rather connection and a safe place to be.
Other: https://linktr.ee/LaurieD has links to all websites and social media!
The photo of “I Can’t Wait to See You Again” CD is by Marilyn Gillaspie Please credit her. Also the photo of Laurie D and the Blues Babes band is Marilyn Gillaspie