Music / Music festivals / Reviews - Acoustic music

2016 Field Guide to Colorado’s coolest Summer Festivals

By JOHN LEHNDORFF

Pondering the glut of must-go summer gatherings this summer across the state and trying to schedule a calendar and itinerary could require an app, not mention a calculator. From music festivals that include paddleboarding to barbecue competitions and Shakespeare under the stars, there seems to be a destination right for hipsters, families, craft brew fans, sidewalk art geeks and country music lovers.

To help you choose we have assembled a guide to Colorado’s top festivals, circa summer 2016 (minus the ones that happened in June) . The list is focused mainly on multiple day happenings so we left out a wealth of concerts at such epic venues as Red Rocks and Chautauqua Auditorium.

This feature appears in the June 2016 issue of Sensi Magazine:

http://issuu.com/sensimediagroup/docs/june_2016_sensi_magazine_lr?e=25089435/36264361

Here are few of our singalong, dance-along, yoga-fied, scratch-n-sniff favorites:

DAWGSBULL2

Sam Bush and David Grisman join the Del McCoury Band at the 2015 Rockygrass for a stellar version of Grisman’s instrumental, “Dawg’s Bull.” (John Lehndorff)

 

 

JULY

………………………………………

 

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

July 2-4 Cherry Creek North, Denver

cherrycreekartsfestival.org

Why it’s cool: Cool kids art activities, food booths and live music in the streets of Cherry Creek North

Lineup: 260 juried exhibitors and emerging artists and a huge collaborative mural

 

Rocky Mountain Old Time Music Festival

July 6-10, Parrish Ranch, Berthoud

thecroma.org

Why it’s cool: Historic farm barn hosts square dancing and workshops on being a square dance caller

Lineup: Foghorn Stringband, Red Squirrel Chasers, Bootlickers

High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival

July 7-10, Bluff and Summit Park, Westcliffe

highmountainhayfever.org

Why it’s cool: Intimate crowd, onsite mountain camping, four days of progressive bluegrass jamming

Lineup: Claire Lynch, David Grier. Keith Little, Helen Highwater Stringband, Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore, Steel Pennies

Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo

July 8-10, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Golden

cgra.us

Why it’s cool: The hippest, most fun rodeo event of the summer in Colorado

Lineup: All day rodeo including riding steers with a Grand Entry of competitors at noon each day

 

The Ride Festival

Telluride Town Park July 9-10

ridefestival.com

Why it’s cool: Camping, hiking, fishing, biking, a roaring river and restaurants in a box canyon surrounded by San Juan Mountains peaks

Lineup: Pearl Jam, Cage the Elephant, The Dirty Knobs (with Mike Campbell), The Temperance Movement, Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Radio Moscow, Band of Heathens

 

Crested Butte Wildflower Festival

July 11–17, Crested Butte

crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com

Why it’s cool: Picture yourself hiking down one of Colorado’s most eye-popping valleys painted with wildflowers

Lineup: Botany in Half a Day; Stalking the Wild Edible; Folk Remedies

 

The Divide

July 22-24, Winter Park

dividemusicfestival.com

Why it’s cool: Coachella-inspired festival includes mountain biking tours, trail running, yoga, camping, food trucks

Lineup: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Passion Pit, Kid Cudi, Blondie, Cake, Foxfield Four, Gipsy Moon, Splyt, The Fray

 

Bass Center 2016

July 29-30, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City

bassnectar.net/2016/02/bass-center-2016

Why it’s cool: Multiple official after-parties offsite and camping villages (The Shire & Narnia); Nitrous oxide prohibited

Lineup: Bassnectar, Flux Pavilion, Wu-Tang Clan, Flying Lotus, Porter Robinson, Lupe Fiasco, Alunageorge, Minnesota, G Jones, Dabin & Thriftworks

 

RockyGrass Festival

July 29-31, Planet Bluegrass, Lyons

bluegrass.com/rockygrass

Why it’s cool: Eye-candy location, small audience, great food, concert-side creek, Colorado state bluegrass championships, family tent

Lineup: Steep Canyon Rangers, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton, Abigail Washburn, Mark O’Connor, Rhonda Vncent

 

………………………………….

AUGUST

………………………………

 

Vertex

August 5-7, Buena Vista

vertexfestival.com

Why it’s cool: Rafting the Arkansas, VIP Tents, dancing and organic food with 14,000-foot peaks of the Collegiate Range as a backdrop

Lineup: Odesza, Alabama Shakes, Trey Anastasio, Dawes, Fruition, Graham Nash, Houndmouth, The Claypool Lennon Delirium

 

Telluride Jazz Festival

Aug. 5-7, Telluride

telluridejazz.org

Why it’s cool: It’s in Telluride. Plus: Free Colorado craft liquor tasting on Friday

Lineup: John Cleary, Marcus Miller, Galactic, John Scofield, Jeff Coffin, Rebirth Jazz Band

ARISE Music Festival

Aug 5-7

Sunrise Ranch, Loveland

arisefestival.com/2016

Why it’s cool: Seven stages, yoga, theme camps, art gallery installations, children’s village, speakers, films and camping on 100 acres

Lineup: Ziggy Marley, Jurassic 5, The New Mastersounds, hutureprimitive, Jeff Austin, Travelin’ McCourys, Fortunate Youth, Everyone Orchestra

 

20th Annual Bluegrass & Beer Festival

Aug. 6-7, Keystone

keystonefestivals.com

Why it’s cool: Craft breweries, live bluegrass in an exceptionally cushy environment for a bluegrass festival

Lineup: Larry Keel, Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, Mandolin Orange

 

Telluride Mushroom Festival

Aug. 18–21, Telluride

telluridemushroomfest.org

Why it’s cool: 36th annual fungi-centered gathering features the famous Mushroom Parade

Lineup: Forays, mushroom identification sessions, demos, dinners, screenings and discussions about culinary, medical and mind-altering aspects of fungi

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

Aug. 19–21, Lyons

bluegrass.com/folks

Why it’s cool: This is an audience that actually listens to lyrics

Lineup: The Decemberists, Lucinda Williams, Passenger, Darrell Scott, Dougie MacLean, Kathy Mattea, The Lone Bellow, Cheryl Wheeler

Nedfest

Aug. 26-28, Barker Reservoir, Nederland

nedfest.org

Why it’s cool: Jam-centric season ender is blocks from the hand-carved Carousel of Happiness and a few miles from Caribou Ranch Open Space, site of legendary Caribou studio where John Lennon, Elton John recorded. bouldercounty.org/caribouranch).

Lineup: Taj Mahal, Kyle Hollingsworth, Roosevelt Collier, Melvin Seals and JGB, Paper Bird

 

John Lehndorff has written about music in Colorado for the Boulder Daily Camera, Rocky Mountain News and Bluegrass Unlimited. Read his blog at: johnlehndorff.wordpress.com. Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on Boulder’s KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, streaming at kgnu.org).

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