Special Issues » Summer Guide

A festivus for the rest of us

No matter your tastes, there's a music festival in the region for you


Acts like Govt Mule are slated to  play at the Jazz Aspen - Snowmass.
  • Acts like Govt Mule are slated to play at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass.

Nothing says summer like the seasons sweetest smells: fresh body odor, skunked beer, kicked-up dirt.

Awesome, yes?


Well, tough break, hotshot.

Because if youre into live music (and who isnt?), camping (and who isnt?) and combining the two (and who isnt?) then youre going to have to put up with these wretched scents. Theyre going to be everywhere in the coming months.

Thats just what happens when the summer music festival circuit gets started. And there are plenty of festivals to choose from this year. Stealing a page from our older brethren across the Atlantic, the States have made summer festivals the new hotness.

Before you say it, we know festivals are nothing new. Even so, our summers have never before been so copiously filled with weekend-long concerts.

So, whether or not you plan on attending any of the upcoming festivals, be warned: Theyre upon us. And you wont have to travel days to partake in them; the farthest of the ones weve listed below, Wakarusa, is just a healthy eight hours away.

So get psyched and plan wisely. These shows dont always come cheap.

They do, however, start soon.

The first on the docket, running June 7 through 10, might also be the best. The Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival (wakarusa.com), features a collection of the hippie-est sounds found this side of Bonnaroo: Les Claypool, Ben Harper, North Mississippi Allstars, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Son Volt, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band and Citizen Cope, plus in-house Indy favorite Bobby Bare, Jr. If those names arent enough for you, rest assured: Pretty much every other act coming through the region for a summer festival this year is also on the Wakarusa bill.

Tickets for the Lawrence, Kan., event arent necessarily cheap its $159 for a four-day pass, although if you purchase one in the next week, you can get yours for $20 less. When you break it down in a dollar-per-artist ratio, though, this show gives you the most bang for your buck.

Kick off your summer by seeing North Mississippi - Allstars play Wakarusa.
  • Kick off your summer by seeing North Mississippi Allstars play Wakarusa.

Of course, if free and not eight hours away are more up your alley, you could check out the South Park Music Tour (southparkmusictour.com) in Fairplay from June 21 to 24. The lineup might not be as renowned OK, it straight-up isnt but this tour, an offshoot of the South Park Music Festival (which is taking the year off), does feature some of the best little-known acts in the state. And local favorites Jake Loggins and Lisa McCall are on the schedule, so its an opportunity to prove that you do, indeed, support the local music scene.

Then again, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival (bluegrass.com/telluride), which is going on that same weekend in Telluride, provides a perfect cop-out. This fest, with tickets ranging from $60 (single-day) to $175 (four-day), boasts a lineup with heavy hitters like Counting Crows, Bela Fleck, Guster, Los Lobos, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, and Avett Brothers.

The ninth annual Taos Solar Music Festival (solarmusicfest.com) in Taos, N.M., gives back big in another way. As you take in acts like Big Head Todd & the Monsters, The John Butler Trio and New Monsoon (for a palatable $25 to $85 per ticket, June 29 through July 1), you can also check out a whole slew of alternative energy options (how adorably Taos of them!). The event itself is eco-friendly, mostly supported by solar power.

Closer to home, you can get your grassroots on with the Happy Ass Ranchs second annual Bluegrass and Jam Festival (happyassranch.com) at Lake George while still nursing your Fourth of July hangover (July 6, 7, 8)! See local favorites like Grass it Up and Creating a Newsense perform in the comfort of a 140-acre venue. Tickets are $30 in advance (available at Earth Pig Music here in town or at Java Junction in Woodland Park) or $35 at the gate.

The following weekend, the free, three-day Winter Park Folk Festival (awnrygirl.com/winterparkfolkfest/tabid/54/default.aspx) in Winter Park might not boast the best lineup around, but it does offer Chris Masterson of Son Volt during its Saturday set.

At Copper Mountain during that same July 14 weekend, Trancegression (trancegressionfest.com), presented by in-state jam bands The Disco Biscuits and Umphreys Mcgee, features a lineup that that pairs jam-centric acts with hip-hop favorites like Blackalicious and The Pharcyde. Tickets range from $35 (per day) to $90 (two-day, plus a ticket to another Disco Biscuits or Umphreys Mcgee show in Denver).

Unfortunately, Julys RockyGrass Festival (bluegrass.com/rockygrass) is already sold out and in record time, organizers say. Luckily, youll be able to catch headliner Nickel Creek in another month and a half.

Aug. 24, 25 and 26 brings the ninth annual Nedfest Music and Arts Festival (nedfest.com) in Nederland, which will be playing host to performances from The Motet and Great American Taxi. The lineup and ticket prices are still being hammered out, so keep an eye out for developments.

Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, will bring a killer event in Snowmass Village: Jazz Aspen Snowmass (jazzaspen.org) includes sets from Nickel Creek, Ben Harper, Joss Stone, The Allman Brothers Band and Govt Mule. Day passes are $40 to $55, and the four-day pass runs a cool $150.

Lastly, at the end of the (admittedly extended) summer comes the Monolith Festival (monolithfestival.com), September 14 and 15, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison. Its the inaugural year of what organizers claim could be a festival on par with Sasquatch, Bumbershoot and Coachella.

While well wait til they announce a lineup to cast any judgment, this event should still be on your radar. The festival, which is getting help from the South Park Music Festival folk, promises more than 50 performances on four stages and in just two nights.

Tickets arent on sale yet either, so this whole thing might go bust. But if youre the betting type, you might want to stow some cash away in case Monoliths organizers do come through on their word.

So, enjoy yourselves this summer, music fans. It should be a good season. Just remember to bring along some deodorant.

If not for yourself, then for everyone else.

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