4/20 is Coming Soon…and it’s not a big deal anymore!

To a certain group of people, 420, 4:20 and 4/20 have a special meaning. These people also tend to have Cheetos dust under their fingernails and tickets to a Grateful Dead tribute band concert. We thought we’d delve into the history of 420.

420

The number 420 has become strongly associated with marijuana smoking. How did this happen? It appears to have started with a group of California high school kids, who called themselves the “Waldos”, who would meet at a certain spot at 4:20 in the afternoon to get high. High Times Magazine picked up on this, and it spread throughout the pot smoking world.

Boulder and, to a lesser extent, Denver were until recently the site of large gatherings of cannabis connoisseurs for several years in the early 2000’s. Around 2000, groups started to gather on Farrand Field at the University of Colorado at 4:20 on April 20 to light up. The gathering grew larger every year swelling to about 10,000 people every year from 2008-2011. This was extremely disruptive to the University, causing traffic jams and class closures. So, in 2012 the University put barricades and campus police at every entrance to the campus.  At about this time, the party moved to Denver’s Civic Center park.

In 2014 Colorado became the first state to make marijuana legal for “recreational” use, meaning those wishing to buy some legally no longer had to tell a doctor they had “chronic pain”.  Several states have followed, and now it seems, there is no longer a need to gather and smoke pot as a form of protest. This has please most of the citizens of Boulder, except, of course, purveyors of pizza and burritos.

The Banjo Billy Bus does smoke, but that is just diesel exhaust from the engine, waiting to take you around Boulder and Denver so learn can hear our great stories.  Hope to see you soon!

Denver Boy Kyle Freeland To Start Rockies Home Opener

This Friday, the Colorado Rockies play their home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The weather is supposed to be beautiful for baseball, adding to the fun for the fans who will pack Coors Field to celebrate the hopefulness of a new season. And taking the mound for the Rockies on Friday will be 23 year old rookie pitcher Kyle Freeland. This is particularly newsworthy because Freeland grew up in Denver, enjoying Rockies games in Coors Field since he was old enough to walk.

kf

Freeland was born in Denver, and graduated from Denver’s Thomas Jefferson High School. Freeland then pitched for 3 years at the University of  Evansville, before being drafted by his favorite team in the first round in 2014. Friday’s game will be his first Major League start.

The Rockies play in Coors Field, which is one of the best ballparks in the country. Unfortunately, they have struggled the last 10 years to put a team on the field that is anywhere near as great as their park. But a new year brings new hope, and the Rockies will be sending a group of very young starting pitchers to the mound this season. Hopefully they can keep the team in the game until the Rockies offensive stars Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, and DJ LeMehieu put runs on the scoreboard.

Banjo Billy is rooting for a Rockies resurgence. YEEEEHHHAAAAWWWW ROCKIES!

Top Chef is Coming to Denver and Boulder

Colorado is known for skiing, outdoor sports, beautiful scenery, and now GREAT FOOD!!

Season 15 of the Bravo show Top Chef will be shot this Spring in Boulder, Denver and Telluride. The shows producers were looking for a place with great scenery and an up and coming food scene. Our gorgeous state was the obvious choice.

tc

While Top Chef has not shot in Colorado before, there is already a Colorado collection. In season 5 of Top Chef the winner was Boulderite and CU graduate Hosea Rosenberg. At the time Rosenberg was chef at Boulder’s Jax Fishhouse. He now has his own restaurant in Boulder called Blackbelly, where he is known for doing wonderful things with pork belly.

Banjo Billy wishes best of luck to all the chefs in this year’s competition. And we’d greet the visiting crew of Top Chef with a hearty “YEEEHAAAWWW!!!”.

One last thing: April begins our Spring season. That means tours on Friday-Sunday in Boulder and Denver. Hope to see you soon.

Only A Few Months Left to See the Leanin Tree Museum

Do you like western art? If so, you may want to get to the Gunbarrel neighborhood of Boulder before the end of August to visit the Leanin Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden.

lt

The art in the Leanin Tree museum is owned by Ed Trumble, who owns the Leanin Tree Greeting Cards company. The 92 year old Trumble has decided to auction his collection in Scottsdale, AZ later this year.

The collection consists of over 300 paintings and 200 bronze sculptures by a variety of western artists. The museum was started in 1974, when Trumble bought what was then farmland to build a facility to house Leanin Tree’s manufacturing facility, which shares the grounds with the museum. There is a gallery inside, and an outdoor garden with large metal sculptures like the one shown above. It’s a pretty hard place to miss, as many of the sculptures are visible from well outside the fence surrounding the property. You can also get a tour of the greeting card plant while you’re there.

Stop in and see this magnificent collection of western art while it is still together in Boulder. And let out a big “YEEEE HAAAAAA!” while you’re there. It’s very appropriate, just like it is on the Banjo Billy Bus.

Congratulations to DU Athletics

National championships in the sports that get the most coverage are rare for Colorado colleges. The only football championship came in 1990, when CU won the Associated Press poll. This was before there was the small playoff that exists today. In fact, Georgia Tech won the UPI poll in 1990, so CU actually shared the then mythical title. And while CU has had some success in basketball in recent years, a NCAA title still seems a long way off.

du

Colorado schools have had great success in other sports, however. Most recently, last year on Memorial Day the University of Denver became the first NCAA Lacrosse champion from a school west of the Mississippi. And the Pioneers LAX team began the season ranked #1 this year, although they are currently #2 in the early season. Meanwhile, DU’s hockey team, a traditional powerhouse in the gentlemanly art of ice hockey, is currently ranked #1 nationally. They have won 7 national championships, the last one in 2005.

DU ski team is also ranked #2 in the current NCAA polls, which makes them the second highest ranked ski team in Colorado. As you might guess, Colorado attracts great skiers, and the #1 ranked ski team currently is the Colorado Buffaloes. It is probably no surprise that CU dominates intercollegiate skiing, having won the NCAA championship 20 times.

Banjo Billy wishes the best of luck to DU and CU teams as they finish their seasons this spring. We also wish to see you on our bus. Grab a ticket on our web site, or call our office to schedule a private tour for your birthday party, team building event, or just for fun.

Banjo Billy Loves Improv!

Last week our guide Patrick had the honor of performing improv briefly with the touring company from Second City at the Boulder Theater.  If you’re not familiar with Second City, it is a sketch comedy and improv company started in Chicago in the early 1960’s. It has trained many of the people you have laughed at your whole life, including Alan Alda, George Wendt, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, and Tina Fey.  Second City is not the only place to learn and perform improv. In fact, there is a thriving community of improvisers in the Denver/Boulder area.

keep-calm-and-improv-203

In Denver there are 2 small venues devoted to the art of improv, The Voodoo Lounge and the Bovine Metropolis.  These venues both have shows on a regular basis featuring their own groups, or other groups from the area. If you’ve always thought you’d like to try improv, you can also take classes at the Voodoo and the Bovine.

In Boulder there is a Meetup group called the Boulder Improv Collaborative.  This is a meetup where you can sign up and get information about classes and opportunities to get together with other improvisers and play. They do not have a theater, but groups from BIC can be seen performing every third Thursday at the Wesley Chapel on the CU campus. They can also be found on occasion at the Diary Center and other venues. BIC has some of the world’s greatest and funniest improv performers…and we’re not just saying that because our Boulder guides Patrick, Myles and Glenn are all members and have performed in various groups that came from BIC.  Okay, maybe we are. In fact, Myles and Patrick work with Banjo Billy because Glenn knew them from BIC. Myles also teaches a beginning improv class via BIC.

If you’ve never been to an improv show, we encourage you to check it out. Watching a scene be created from nothing but an audience suggestion is quite fun, and almost magical when it works well. Or take a class. It is a fun, and can translate into valuable skills for whatever you do in real life.

We hope to see you at an Improv show, or perhaps a class. But we really hope to see you on the Banjo Billy Bus, where we put our skills to use informing and entertaining people from around the world.

Colorado’s First Supreme Court Justice

Neil Gorsuch of Boulder had been nominated to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court. We will leave the jokes about how they found a conservative in Boulder for our guides. Since we at Banjo Billy’s like to educate people about history, we would like to familiarize you with the first Supreme Court Justice from Colorado, Byron “Whizzer” White.

bww

Byron White was born in Fort Collins, CO in 1917, and raised in the nearby town of Wellington. He was not only the Valedictorian of his school of his high school class, but an outstanding athlete as well. White attended the University of Colorado on a scholarship available to all Valedictorians in the state.  At CU, he was the perfect model for the student-athlete. White graduated Phi Beta Kappa and won a Rhoades Scholarship, while also being an All American halfback for the Buffaloes. He led the Buffs to their first ever bowl game appearance in the Cotton Bowl in 1937 after and 8-0 regular season ( The Buffs lost to Rice). He also played basketball and baseball, and was class president.

White was the 4th pick in the NFL draft upon graduation, and delayed his Rhoades Scholarship a few years while he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (now the Steelers). While at Oxford he became friends with Joe and John Kennedy, who’s father was Ambassador to England.  He graduated from Yale Law school and practiced law in Denver for 15 years.

In 1960 White used his popularity in Colorado to campaign for John F. Kennedy. He then served as Deputy Attorney General for Kennedy (Robert Kennedy was Attorney General) and was instrumental in protecting the Freedom Riders in 1961. He became the first and, so far, only Supreme Court Justice from Colorado in 1962 at the age of 44, and served until 1993.

And the nickname “Whizzer”? As you might guess, that was given to him by a sports reporter in Boulder because of his play on the football field.

If you like history and a good laugh, then you need to take our Denver and Boulder tours  on the wonderful Banjo Billy Bus.  YEEE HAAAWWW, your Honor!

RIP Unsinkable Molly Brown

It’s been a bad year to be a celebrity, and as the year closes, we have lost a great performer with a small connection to the Banjo Billy tour in Denver.

mb

Debbie Reynolds was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Molly Brown in the film version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. The film was based on the hit Broadway musical, for which Tammy Grimes had won a Tony Award (that award is named after a Denver native!). While the film was not factually accurate, it was a big hit for the young Reynolds.

If you’ve taken our Denver tour, you might remember that we stop at the Molly Brown House and Museum, and discuss the life of this extremely interesting and vibrant woman (who’s name was actually Margaret).  She was a woman who would was ahead of her time, and a constant campaigner for the welfare of women and poor people.

Rest in Peace Ms. Reynolds. You and Margaret Brown would likely have been great friends.

Happy Holidays From Banjo Billy…and that includes Boxing Day!

In the United States we celebrate Christmas as a national holiday. Many Americans don’t realize that in much of the rest of the western world, the day after Christmas is also a holiday. December 26 is Boxing Day, and it has nothing to do with having a fist fight with the relatives you spent Christmas day with.

bd

It is an English tradition that the day after Christmas was the day that servants received a Christmas Box from their employers. This has now extended into what is known as a “bank holiday” in England. Canada also celebrates Boxing Day as a holiday. In the United States, we call it “the day we take the ugly sweater back to the store”.

This year, with Christmas on a Sunday, Boxing Day will also be a holiday for most Americans. So, Banjo Billy’s will be doing tours in Denver and Boulder at 1pm. Get your relatives out of your house and onto our bus!