2018 Free Summer Concert Series kicks off: What to know before you go
STEMABOAT SPRINGS – There’s something about that vantage-point moment. Suddenly, Howelsen Hill casts its shadow as the sun sets, and lights illuminate the ever-growing crowd spanning the lawn in front of the outdoor stage.
Moments like that, courtesy of the Free Summer Concert Series, help define a summer in Steamboat Springs.
“We’re really excited about this year’s — it’s the sheer caliber of each show,” said Ted Carey, Free Summer Concert Series board vice chair. “There’s no exception. It’s going to be one of those seasons that will start out strong and continue with each show.”
Saturday kicks off the 26th annual series that features five concerts at the base of Howelsen Hill throughout the summer. Ziggy Marley, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, The Record Company, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Infamous Stringdusters and more have rocked the outdoor stage through the decades.
All of the concerts take place at the base of Howelsen Hill downtown. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for each concert, which typically begins with an opening band followed by the headliner.
“Looks like the weather this weekend is going to be perfect for a concert with a high of 77 and mostly sunny,” Carey said.
Some new features this year include walkways down the middle of the crowd toward the stage to held mediate crowd traffic.
“If you get there late and it looks like a big crowd, you can now go down that walkway to get to a spot closer to the stage,” Carey said.
The Locals Lounge, a VIP area and the Mule Bar, a new bar serving Moscow and Kentucky mules, are located in the same spot as last year — looker’s right of the stage.
When it comes to this summer’s lineup, Carey said Eric Tessmer’s performance at the End of Summer Jam is one not to miss.
“A lot of people don’t know about him, but he is this really incredible guitar player and the band just won the Austin City Limits Music Award last year as best guitarist in Austin,” Carey said.
When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m. | Opener at 6 p.m. | Headliner at 7 p.m. | Saturday, June 30 | Howelsen Hill, 845 Howelsen Parkway
Description: The New Orleans funk band Galactic includes Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines and Rich Vogel and is known for pushing artistic boundaries, both on the road and in the studio since 1994.
Opener: Bill Smith
Band: Keller Williams & The Hillbenders Pettygrass
When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m. | Opener at 6 p.m. | Headliner at 7 p.m. | Saturday, July 7 | Howelsen Hill
Description: The multi-talented Keller Williams will be back in town with bluegrass quintet The Hillbenders, who have teamed up to form PettyGrass, a group performing Tom Petty covers, bluegrass style.
Opener: Buffalo Commons
Band: JJ Grey & Mofro
When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m. | Opener at 6 p.m. | Headliner at 7 p.m. | Saturday, July 21 | Howelsen Hill
Description: Florida soul-rockers JJ Grey & Mofro have gone from playing “greasy, local juke joints,” according to their website, to headlining major music festivals and shows.
Opener: Freddy & Francine – soul-icana duo hailing from Boston.
Band: Stephen Marley
When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m. | Opener at 6 p.m. | Headliner at 7 p.m. | Saturday, Aug. 4 | Howelsen Hill
Description: Carrying on the legacy of reggae music from his legendary father Bob Marley, Stephen Marley, who is a five-time Grammy Award winner, will be in Steamboat for the first time as the lineup’s quintessential reggae show.
Band: End of Summer Jam
When: Gates at 3 p.m. | Music at 3:15 p.m. | Sunday, Sept. 3 | Howelsen Hill
Description: The jam features special guests Eric Tessmer, with his power-packed sessions of wickedly fast guitar riffs and Kyle Hollingsworth, a versatile keyboardist best known for his role in The String Cheese Incident. The main headliner will be The Motet, a popular funk and soul band offering infectiously groovy tracks.
Know before you go …
Whether you’re new to the Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series or a seasoned local, here are a few things you should know before you head to Howelsen Hill for an evening of music.
Finding the best concert-viewing spot
Arrive early to get the spot you want. Hey, you might make it in time for happy hour at the show — 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. with two-for-one drinks.
Bring these — not those
- Less is definitely more, so make sure to only pack the essentials.
- Layers – a long-sleeve shirt or jacket and rain jacket wouldn’t hurt, because the show will go on, rain or shine. Sunscreen, bug spray, a blanket or chairs are also a good idea.
- Leave the pets at home.
- Smoking is prohibited at the concert site.
- Outside food and beverages are not allowed at the shows. Food, drinks, beer and bottled alcoholic drinks will be available for sale at the show with beer sales supporting the concert series. Credit cards are accepted to get tokens in exchange for beverages.
How to get there
Leave the car at home and opt to ride your bike, walk or take the free bus.
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