Inducted: December 3rd, 2019
Wendy Lynn Kale
Wendy Kale is the first journalist to be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental, and her dedication to and support of the Colorado music scene makes her very worthy of that honor. “She just loved the music,” Firefall’s Jock Bartley has said of Kale.
Born in New Jersey on March 19, 1953, Kale moved west to Boulder in the fall of 1971 to attend the University of Colorado, where she studied Communications.
Boulder’s reputation as a hot spot for emerging music and art was the main reason she selected CU Boulder, she told friends. Kale became a regular at Tulagi and the Buff Room on the Hill, enjoying all kinds of music, from folk to jazz. She also found a prolific music scene at the University of Colorado, where she caught such acts as the Jefferson Airplane, Savoy Brown and the Marshall Tucker Band in Balch Fieldhouse, and Zephyr and B.B. King in the Glenn Miller Ballroom.
Kale wanted to be involved in the scene, and soon found her way to the office of the CU Program Council, the campus group responsible for bringing movies and concerts to campus. She began as a general volunteer, hanging posters, working on production crews moving equipment, volunteering for security and selling tickets for the movie programs. But mostly, Wendy loved the music.
She helped organize free concerts with local musicians and suggested bands to play at the enormously popular Friday Afternoon Club concerts at the UMC Grill. In 1976, Phil Lobel became the director of the CU Program Council and hired Kale to be the official PR director. She relished the opportunity to talk with musicians and write press releases; she arranged interviews and coordinated press access and kept guest lists. She also wrote stories for The Entertainer, the Program Council’s in-house publication, and scoured area venues for emerging talent.
When Stu Osnow took over the reins at the Program Council, he relied heavily on Kale to suggest acts for the organization’s events. She selected local talent to serve as opening acts for established touring artists, and continued to find musicians for FAC and other events. Among the bands she helped in their early days were Big Head Todd and the Monsters, The Samples, The Subdudes, Chris Daniels & The Kings and 16 Horsepower, to name only a few.
Kale graduated from CU in March 1979 and continued to help out at the Program Council, even enrolling in continuing education classes to stay eligible. She advised several classes of Program Council staffers and was considered a mentor for most of her life. In order to make ends meet, she took almost any job that would accommodate her music-dominated schedule. She worked at the CU Bookstore and at CU registration, and helped out at local entertainment venues in any capacity available.
In 1986, Kale was hired to write a music column for the Colorado Daily. That column, “Out and About,” allowed her to continue doing what she loved: attend music events and promote local and emerging talent. According to Colorado Daily entertainment editor Leland Rucker, who hired Kale, “She wasn’t a very good writer, but she was certainly enthusiastic and she was willing to work for $25 per week.” At The Daily, Kale established herself as a music writer; her beat was the theater and club circuit in Boulder. She specialized in finding and promoting new talent, and many artists credit her with giving them the boost they needed.
When the E.W. Scripps Company purchased the Colorado Daily, Kale was one of three or four writers who were spared in the inevitable purge, and her work began to appear regularly in the Boulder Daily Camera. While continuing to write about music and local venues, she expanded her scope to write about alternative healing and new-age spiritualism. She continued to write for the Camera until her untimely death on August 3, 2011. Kale was also working at the Unity Church of Boulder at the time of her death, helping develop materials for the church’s outreach. She was beloved by both the staff and the congregation.
It has been said that Kale attended more concerts than any other person in Boulder. If you wanted to find her, you just went to the Fox, or the Blue Note, or Tulagi, or Nissi’s, or any other local music venue; looking around the back of the house, you’d surely find her. If she wasn’t there, she was peddling her old black bicycle from one performance to another. She loved the music. She was a rock writer.
When word of Kale’s passing became known, many friends in the music community came together to honor her memory. Jeff Brinkman, Rebecca Folsom, Jock Bartley, Chris Daniels, Hazel Miller, Liza Oxnard, Mark Diamond, Trace Bundy, Brian Nevin and Al Laughlin all contributed words or songs to her memorial; Teresa Taylor, Andy Schneidkraut and Helen Forster also spoke. Each person mentioned Kale’s tireless support for music and musicians; each shared a personal account of how she’d given them help early on or at a critical juncture in their career. For some, Kale arranged their first interview or wrote the first article about them; for others, she connected them with people who would book them. The event ended with the entire group gathered on stage for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and many tears were shed.
It is an honor and a privilege to give Wendy “Rock & Roll” Kale the Barry Fey Innovation Award and make her the first journalist to be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, as part of the Going Back to Colorado Class of 2019.