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Talia Keys has never forgotten Durango

Durango was one of the first cities to give Talia Keys a chance. Approaching the music business like a door-to-door salesperson, the Salt Lake City-based singer-songwriter’s career started by pounding the pavement, knocking on venue doors and hopefully making the sale.

That was with Marinade, the then jam band that was taken in by Scottie Sindelar and the now defunct venue The Summit.

Since then, Keys has continued down a music path as a teacher, musical activist, band leader and solo performer. She will return to Durango on Wednesday, performing a solo and support set for funk band Orgone.

She’s still never forgotten Durango as a door-opener.

“Many of my best memories of playing music have been in Durango,” Keys said. “I had so many fun times and it was a great opportunity for us to reach the Colorado audience and open the doors to many other Colorado spots.”

If You Go

WHAT: Orgone with Talia Keys.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday.

WHERE: Animas City Theatre, 128 E. College Drive.

TICKETS: $22. Available online at https://bit.ly/3USGBCo.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.animascitytheatre.com.

Music is a family thing. Keys was reared on her mother’s record collection, which was anything from Pink Floyd to Bob Marley, The Beatles, Janice Joplin and Aretha Franklin. She also learned that her great-grandfather and great-aunt were both band leaders, the latter a multi-instrumentalist.

“I think just having that really solid foundation of music being played in the home every single day set me up for success,” she said. “I think its in my blood, and I’m just lucky that from a young age my mom could tell that music was my thing, and so once I started I never stopped.”

She has the best of both worlds when it comes to playing music. Sometimes she’ll play with a band, sometimes solo; either way, the musical output could be anything from funk to reggae to indie rock. When performing solo, as is the case in Durango, she brings along what she refers to as her “spaceship,” a configuration of instruments that surround her, driven by looping software that produce all of the sounds of a full band.

“I started looping about eight years ago, just doing a one-woman band. I use synthesizer, drum machines, keyboards, electric guitar and my voice, and I create my sound just as one person on stage. And that has been amazing for me,” Keys said. “I’ve traveled the U.S. for six years touring and doing that. I’ve played some major music festivals, and it really was just because its so much easier to travel with two people instead of six or seven folks.”

Even as a band leader and in a perfect world there should be a diplomatic approach to the creation of a set list. That, of course, is not always the case, so Keys sees the solo effort as something that remains quite liberating.

“What’s cool about performing solo is I don’t have to tell other people, ‘hey I’m going here.’ If I feel like shifting and taking my song and going into a cover of something, I can just do it, I don’t have to communicate with anybody, it’s basically whatever I feel like doing, it comes out of my hands and mouth, and I do it,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, looping is just freeing.”

When not performing, Keys is a teacher at Rock Camp SLC, a music camp for trans and nonbinary youths that teaches every aspect of the music world, from songwriting to merchandise making; its all about acceptance, and empowerment.

She remains a DIY package, handling her own management, booking, and publicist duties. It’s all part of the musical business.

“It’s a full-time job, I’m on my computer more than I’m playing my guitar. And that’s just how it is,” Keys said. “But those moments when I get to take the stage and lay into a nasty guitar solo, it’s all worth it.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.