Joe Uveges never meant to move to Colorado Springs.
“I was literally just passing through,” he says of that stay here to visit a friend. The then-28-year-old was on his way to Portland, Ore., which he thought would be his new home.
But when it rained for two straight weeks in Portland, Uveges came back to sunny Colorado Springs. He found musician friends. He met the woman who would become his wife. And he’s stayed here for more than 30 years.
For many of those years, Uveges has been a formidable fixture of the local music scene. The singer-songwriter and guitarist started by playing bar gigs and spent 15 years touring across the country. Here, Uveges is known for his lively solo shows and being a member of The BUS Band, a popular trio with Jim Sokol and KJ Braithwaite that plays Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young songs.
He has released eight original albums and has a repertoire of 1,000 songs he can cover.
For the past decade or so, Uveges occasionally has performed with a special guest: his daughter, Katie. They’ll play a show together Friday at The Gold Room.
Uveges says Katie has introduced him to songs by Taylor Swift and Pentatonix. They sometimes sing a cover of “Sunday Kind of Love.”
The songs that are most important, Uveges says, deal with “heart stuff” and tell the light and dark stories of where he’s been.
Just like his move to the Springs, it was sort of a fluke that Uveges became a professional musician, someone who can process pain through music.
Growing up in New York, Uveges’ introduction to music came in the form of classical piano. He was good at it, but pursuing music didn’t sound lucrative.
Uveges, 61, remembers his piano teacher bursting into tears when he told her he wasn’t going to study music in college.
“And here we are,” he says. “I ended up doing music anyway.”
His eventual path to music seemed to be one of destiny. There were signs, miracles almost. Shortly after moving here, Uveges and Sokol heard about a song contest at Poor Richard’s. They’d only written two songs at the time, but they won the contest.
Then there was a visit to a music shop. Hanging on the wall was a shiny Yamaha guitar for $350, way more than Uveges could afford at the time. He learned the store was giving the guitar away that month. As he entered his name into the giveaway, he sensed he’d win the guitar. And he did.
“It felt like a universe or God thing saying you’re supposed to be doing this,” Uveges says.
So he did.
“I had a wonderful, beautiful time,” he says.
During that time, he also was raising a family and passing on his love of music. Katie started singing at age 2. Things were good.
“And then,” he says, his voice slowing, “you know, life comes along.”
In 2016, he lost his son, Andrew, to suicide. It was crushing for Uveges, his wife, Kristen, and Katie.
“My whole family, we all pretty much died,” he says. “It’s the most devastating thing I’ve experienced.”
For two years, he felt broken. He couldn’t write music. He didn’t think he deserved to be happy or to play music.
“Then, I had a miracle,” Uveges says.
As told in a 2018 story in The Gazette, Uveges found healing through spiritual methods practiced by One Simple Voice, founded in 2009 by Springs resident Frannie Rose and retired Catholic bishop Richard Hanifen. As part of that, Uveges now journals every day. And he wrote a song about forgiveness.
“My life has been changed,” he says. “I’m a different person.”
And his music is perhaps more meaningful than ever. On stage or through lyrics, he tries to pass on lessons he’s learned along the way.
“For me, it comes down to just trying to be kind,” he says. “Everyone’s doing the best they can.”