The 14ers: Climbing to New Musical Heights

by Kristin Curtis

On July 20, 2012, Colorado native Ryan Kirkpatrick was leading a group of outdoor enthusiasts to the 14,000 foot peaks of Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak in Salida, when the idea for a song called “Get Some” engrossed his thoughts. He spent the next few hours coming up with lyrics all while tackling a 5,000 foot elevation gain. When the group reached the tree line, all was quiet. They took a moment to soak in the sunlight and the serenity that sat atop the mountain. As Ryan was once again greeted by a place where he feels the most alive and inspired, a cell phone belonging to a member of the group received a stray signal. At that moment, the news of a fatal mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was able to reach the group on top of one of the state’s legendary 14ers. The group sat in silence as the contrast between the breathtaking scenery and the devastating news stretched before them. On that day, Ryan decided he would focus his songwriting efforts on the aspects of the world that make him smile. He decided he would call his upcoming music project “The 14ers.”

As Ryan continues to lead his musical adventure, he has managed to develop a structure for The 14ers that fits his personality. While always striving to be authentic and write music based on aspects of his life that induce happiness such as bikes, beer, and outdoor adventure, he has also surrounded himself with  good-hearted musicians. Growing up, Ryan was an active part of a musical family, which eventually led to The Kirkpatrick Project, an endeavor he began with his brother, Wes. After producing two albums and touring the country, the project amicably came to a close when Wes moved to Chicago. Ryan moved on to form the musical collective The 14ers, where he gets to play the songs he writes with people who are enjoying life as much as he is.

“I like to surround myself with people who are inspiring and know what they are doing. A lot of the joy is getting to play with differently

talented people,” Ryan says. Among these people are his most frequent Colorado bandmates, Barry Bates (drums), Stu Cruden (bass), Jacob Anderson (keys), and Paul Martin (guitar).  In the single released on May 3, “Westbound,” Ryan recorded with musical heavy hitters such as Adam Topol (drums, Jack Johnson), Chris Joyner (keys, Jason Mraz), Nick Bearden and Brad Lindsay (bass and electric guitar, Jamestown Revival). While the people he plays with may fluctuate based on collaboration goals and time, the goal of The 14ers music is consistent. By writing genuine, heartfelt songs, Ryan allows listeners to get some of that Colorado adventure.

“I’m fortunate to have an action-packed and adventurous day-to-day life. The best part is that I get to wring these experiences out of my heart and into these songs to share with you so that we can enjoy the journey together.”

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Kristin Curtis is a new contributing writer at Scene and a recent graduate of CSU’s School of Journalism. She is a Colorado native, an avid outdoorswoman, and in love with the Colorado lifestyle of bikes, beers, and bands.

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