Eugene Buchanan: Why I like the Free Summer Concert Series.
OK, we’re heading into week three of this year’s Free Summer Concert Series — this time with Jonny Lang and his five pianos taking the stage — which got me to thinking about how good we have it whenever the shows come around and why I like these concerts.
• Because of the access. You can get to it by foot or bike, or even mountain biking Emerald Mountain or tubing the river. I can walk to it from my house in Fairview, pre-gaming as we go.
• Because you bump into people like Scott Fox, who spreads the rumor that Robert Plant is in town and might come on to play with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
• Because you bump into people like Kent Vertrees, who has in tow a stranger he just met up on Buff Pass who’s delivering horses to Bozeman, Montana, but was convinced to come into town for the night. He hadn’t seen a person for days and is now front row, as bewildered as a deer in the headlights.
• Because you see people. You can’t walk around and not bump into someone you know. Some you end up talking to longer than you’d like, and others not long enough. The key is to keep moving. That’s how you bump into friends you haven’t seen for ages.
• Because it’s easy to get into the VIP tent (hope I didn’t ruin that for everybody). Live here long enough, and you’re bound to know a name or two you can drop to get inside the free-beer perimeter. Shameless plug for its first two sponsors, HEMS and Colorado Group Realty.
• Because there’s no better way to cap a bluebird Colorado day. I can only imagine what it’s like being on stage playing to such a scene.
• Because of the line-up. Nice work, John Waldman and the rest of the booking committee. It’s not easy getting top-notch acts to come to the boonies of Northwest Colorado, but every year the music gets better and better. Now wave your hand in the air and give me an “oooh ya” for Ziggy Marley Aug. 5.
• Because of the setting. You’re at the base of five different Nordic jumps, for goodness sake. Who else hosts a concert right where skiers soar 300 feet through the air? Then take your eyes off the stage every once in a while and look at the circle of mountains around you. Not a bad view at all.
• Because the music rocks. Largetime. Are you kiddin’ me? Musicians from the Black Crowes at show #1 and from the Neville Brothers and Radiators at the New Orleans Suspects?
• Because of the beer. Nice additions, organizers, having two-for-one happy hour brewhas from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
• Because of the after-gigs. Anyone else go the livestream of the Grateful Dead show at the Chief after the New Orleans Suspects show? (Nice work lining that one up, Scott.) Or Hot Buttered Rum at Schmiggity’s after that? What’s not to like?
• Because of the Hula Hoops. Seriously? Can girls really move that well with a round piece of glow-in-the-dark plastic around their bodies? (I learned that one of the glowing hoops retails for $500.)
• Because of the rodeo. Yup, pardners. While you’re reveling in music, just a Frisbee’s toss away are some of the best cowboys in the country riding broncs and bulls to the ringside announcing of John Shipley. How Americana can you get?
• Because of its family-friendliness. Go ahead, bring the whole gang. Establish a base camp with a blanket and then let them run around. Sometimes there’s even bubble and birdseed baths in the back.
• Because of the front row. You have to get up there for at least a few minutes every show. It lets you see the musicians up close, unleash your inner groupie and bump into even more people you know before returning back to the kids. Sure, it’s a little awkward when you bump into your teenage daughter, but what the hey? Plus, it’s good practice for working your way through a real crowd.
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