Colorado summer concert listings and ticket info 2011 - Reverb

Feature: Colorado summer concert preview

As concert promoter Live Nation bleeds executives and its competitor AEG Live questions the future of festivals — including the Mile High Music Festival, which is taking this summer off — a couple of Colorado companies are seeing better-than-ever success in their music endeavors.

Instead of scaling back in this down live-music economy, Lyons-based Planet Bluegrass and Denver’s Swallow Hill Music Association are ramping up everything. They’re throwing more shows, adding headliners to festivals and elevating their education components.

All by sticking to the roots of American music — and their musical missions.

“Telluride (Bluegrass) and RockyGrass both sold out in record time this year,” said Craig Ferguson, president of Planet Bluegrass and the director of its festivals in Lyons and Telluride. “People tell their friends. It’s less about the hype than it is about the experience.”

As Swallow Hill and Planet Bluegrass head into the summer — when they sell the majority of their tickets via juggernauts such as Telluride Bluegrass and the popular Denver Botanic Gardens concert series, (DBG is booked by Swallow Hill) — the organizations are working to keep their newfound success from interfering with the community focus they are known for.

Show and teach

For Swallow Hill, that means maintaining its long-time emphasis on education even as it expands as a local producer. On any given weeknight, the classrooms and maze-like hallways of the organization’s East Yale Avenue headquarters are buzzing with teenagers taking guitar lessons, or 60-somethings picking up a ukulele for their first time.

Students might hit the cafe after their lesson to take in the Celtic jam session, or they might come back on the weekend to see their banjo teacher open up for a celebrated national folk artist. It’s all interconnected.
“This school has been successful because it’s an alternative social club for people,” said Michael Schenkelberg, the school director at Swallow Hill. “We’ve changed our message from ‘Music is good for you’ to ‘Come here to hang out with your friends’ or ‘Come here if you haven’t gotten out in a while’ or ‘Come here if you wanna find a date.’

“We’re marketing the social aspect.”

It’s working. The organization’s classes have seen a 60 percent increase in the past four years, allowing for a 90 percent budget increase since 2007.

The 31-year-old nonprofit’s concert division is thriving, too. It saw a boon last year via the acquisition of the booking rights at the DBG. The group just announced another strong summer season at the Gardens that will include Chris Isaak, B.B. King and others.

Keep reading for a look at our top summer concerts of 2011.


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  • Sarah Protz Howlett

    What, no Bright Eyes? :)

  • Sarah Protz Howlett

    What, no Bright Eyes? :)

  • Shane

    Don’t forget about Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest in Fort Collins, August 12-14. G. Love & Special Sauce, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Asleep at the Wheel. FREE admission.

  • Gregmunno

    So psyched for Bluegrass this year! If you don’t have lodging yet, the Camel’s Garden Hotel and the Ice House Lodge are the places to stay. Beautiful rooms, friendly staff, locally owned, in the heart of the bustling old town and right on the River Trail, so you’re just a few minute walk from Town Park (the venue.)

  • Bradley

    Check out this place:

  • Ricardo Baca

    Hey, Sarah. We do love the new record, and that’s why we included the show on our larger list – on page 3 of this post! See you at the Fillmore! So glad he’s back with the band – and done (for now) with the solo stuff.

  • Ricardo Baca

    Great point, Shane. We’re fans of Bohemian Nights – and it’s a solid line-up so far. We’ve added it to our listings on page 3, thanks!

  • Ricardo Baca

    We, too, are psyched for Telly, Greg. I haven’t been since 2007, and my colleague John Hendrickson will be experiencing the festival for his first time next month. We luckily secured ourselves tickets to the Mumford/Abigail Nightgrass show, which is especially exciting. See you down there!

  • Ricardo Baca

    We’ve been to State Bridge a couple times, though it was before the fire. It’s time we get up there to see the new construction, indeed.