Check Out The Music

The Check Out The Music Program began when our founder John Catt, wanted to spread his love of Blues music throughout Grand County. His dream was to make musical instruments accessible for all to learn. The Grand County Blues Society partnered with the local libraries and provided musical instruments- now it's as easy to check out an instrument as it is a book!

John did not stop there, he also wanted to bring the Blues and music education to our local schools. Between John's determination and the help of some amazing board members, volunteers and community partners we have helped support music education in every school in the county. The GCBS has hosted everything from talented Blues artists to creating Cigar Box Guitars for the students to learn and enjoy!

Granby Elementary

Check Out our Music Education Program

The GCBS has been a pioneer in the realm of blues music education. School-age kids across Grand County are lucky to have been immersed in the blues. Not only have they been entertained by the all the programs that have come their way, they have been on the stage, creating their own “bluesical” and giving performances on the festival stages over the years.

Not only does the GCBS provide these fun activities and education but they also supplement the district by providing musical instruments for classroom use.

The GCBS has funded all this by your donations and grant partnerships. No school has ever had to pay for any of the visiting artists or activities.

Check Out our Cigar Box Guitars

Our good friend JP Soars, master of the Cigar Box Guitar instrument and great inspiration to the kids has come all the way from Florida to help assemble and teach the kids how they are played. This has been one of the more exciting programs we have done. Check out the video!

BITS - Fraser Elementary School with Dan Treanor

Check Out our Library Program

In 2006, the Grand County Blues Society (GCBS) partnered with the Grand County Library District (GCLD) in order to get instruments into the hands of young people displaying an interest or affinity for music. This began the endearing “Check Out the Music Program.” Through this program, folks throughout Grand County could borrow instruments from their local library, using their library card. Acoustic guitars, electric and bass guitars with amplifiers, keyboards, youth-size guitars, drumsticks and drum pads were donated by GCBS to Grand County libraries and were available to the public—for FREE!

The popularity of the Check Out the Music (COTM) program grew daily as word was spread about it. With that popularity came some great triumphs:

  • Local musicians donated their time to give free guitar and keyboard lessons at local libraries throughout Grand County.
  • Supporters like the Grand County Commissioners, the Grand Foundation, and the Fraser Valley/Winter Park Lion’s Club sponsored the program and provided instructional materials (DVDs, instruction manuals etc.) for check out. They donated funds to purchase additional instruments to loan. They even gave compensation to local musicians and purchased youth guitars for lessons in the library.
  • In 2007, the Grand County Blues Society was presented as “Library Partner of the Year” award by the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL), an honor given annually for unique and successful community/ library alliances. Specifically, the awards committee of CAL thought the partnership creating “Check Out the Music” between the GCBS and The Grand County Library District “showed ingenuity and the willingness to think outside of the box to offer a unique and well-used library service.” Only two other awards of its kind have ever been presented. Upon receiving the award, GCBS challenged other library districts to loan instruments to their public.
  • In 2008, the Delta County Library District took on the challenge and adopted the program for their community. GCBS donated an electric guitar and amplifier, and an acoustic guitar to get them started. By March 2009, Delta had several guitars, both electric and acoustic, for check out, with a strong demand for all instruments.
  • In 2009, the Lopez Island Library in Washington followed suit to set up a successful COTM program at their public library.


Today, the “Check Out the Music” program is running strong and continues to contribute boundless heart and soul to our Grand County libraries. It has taken a village to support it, and the Grand County Blues Society is grateful to all for its successes.

Want to contribute?

Feel free to give any amount - every bit helps, and your contribution will definitely make a difference!

Joel Harper Wants You to Check Out The Music-

“I had the good fortune to have grown up in a music store, and have been immersed in music since birth. My first experience with music was surely being in my mother's womb! Growing up and still today, my mom plays a diverse range of instruments. Whether it be the banjo, with her most amazing claw hammer style playing, fingerpicking on the acoustic guitar, Ukulele, to the electric bass. These sounds and intricate rhythms are deeply tied to my DNA. And now, in the DNA of my children, as I played on my wife’s pregnant belly, the Didgeridoo, Love Flute, acoustic guitars, and a variety of drums, wind, and acoustic instruments. Instruments can be found in just about every corner of our home! As life continues to trend more toward a digital sphere, in all aspects of children’s lives, it is our responsibility to do our best as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, to encourage the children that are close to us and offer opportunities for them to be exposed to, and learn how to PLAY an actual musical instrument, as well as having access to listening to a broad range of musical genres. I believe that we are experiencing a pivotal time in history––Music can play an integral part in saving children’s lives during this time of so much fear and uncertainty. We know the mental, emotional, and I believe, spiritual benefits of listening to music and learning how to play musical instruments have on the brain. There are many resources out there to help. I recommend bringing your child to your local music and record store. If you do not have music stores in your local community, it would be worth making a road trip to the closest ones! I also suggest visiting your local library and check out books about music history!"

—Joel Harper

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