Mishawaka still a landmark in the Colorado music scene

 Nearly 100 years since its founding, the Mishawaka Amphitheatre continues to thrive within the walls of the Poudre Canyon.

As a scenic destination for musicians and music lovers alike, the Mishawaka, affectionately called the Mish by locals, consistently draws hundreds of people to the venue, which is nearly 18 miles northwest of Bellvue. Alana Rolfe, the assistant general manager of the Mishawaka, believes nostalgia may be one thing that drives people to the shows.

“I hope it holds a magical spot in everyone’s heart where you have this intimate experience with your favorite band, with the sound of the river behind you and the stars above you and the way the lights play off the trees and the other side of the river up on the hillside,” Rolfe said. “You stand there and have this nature moment with your favorite band and I feel like that’s why people love the Mish.”

The venue, as part of the Mishawaka restaurant and bar, has changed ownership several times but the current owner, Dani Grant, has made several changes to the organization since becoming the owner in 2010. A security agency has been hired to keep concert attendees safe and a shuttle system is now in place to take people to and from shows.

Grant also charges $40 for parking, but Rolfe said it is less about making money and more about encouraging carpooling and to eliminate drunk drivers as much as possible. The 950-person capacity of the venue, coupled with its riverside location, means there is limited space for parking in the first place, another reason for the high price.

All parking aside, it is remarkable that the venue still stands after the September 2013 flood and the High Park forest fire in 2012. Even though the flood did not affect the venue other than road closures, the fire almost destroyed it. The fire was so close that firefighters used the Mishawaka as a base of operations, according to Rolfe.

“Some people say that firefighters saved my house and sometimes it’s very literal, like they were digging around the house. In the Mish’s case, that’s very true. They very literally made sure that it’s still standing today,” Rolfe said.

The musicians that play there are thankful for the firefighter’s efforts, as well. Even artists who have yet to play there, such as Brent Michael Cowles of local band You Me & Apollo, revel in the chance to be a part of the historic venue’s lineup. You Me & Apollo are set to play at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre on Sept. 26 with Paper Bird and Mosey West, and Cowles said he has heard only great things about the venue.

“It’s been a staple to the music scene for a long time. Though I’ve yet to attend a show there, everyone knows the Mish is a popular venue to see great bands in a special place,” Cowles said. “I’m incredibly grateful we have the opportunity to play a show there after all that happened.”

The amphitheatre may only be open from May until early October, but the Mishawaka also has an indoor stage, called the SpokesBUZZ Lounge, that is open year-round. Even so, the atmosphere of an outdoor stage next to a river is something that can only be experienced to fully understand.

“Every time you go it’s like a small festival. People travel to get to it and deal with the extra effort it takes to get there. It’s rewarded by having that unique experience that you can find at few other places. It’s just a beautiful place and it holds people’s memories,” Rolfe said.

With 13 more shows planned for this year, it could prove to be a much better year in regards to attendance for the Mishawaka Amphitheatre, barring another natural disaster. (See the graphic below)


Upcoming shows include dubstep act EOTO on Aug. 22, and reggae band John Brown’s Body on Aug. 23. (Click here for a full list of shows)


Brewery concerts add another dimension to Northern Colorado music

A man plays guitar and sings in the corner of a room.

Musician Dee Tyler performs at Odell’s Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado as part of the business’s weekly concert series.

Craft breweries have become a large part of the Northern Colorado landscape and, with a number of breweries hosting live music, their appeal may be growing even more.

According to a Denver Post article published on February 12, 2014, Colorado has 217 active permitted breweries, 24 of which are located in Northern Colorado. With the music scene also expanding in the region, some breweries have decided that combining the two is a perfect fit for business.

“Live music is a lot of fun. It’s culture and I think what we’re doing here at Odell with our craft and our passion about our product and wanting to share that with people that come in and want to get excited about what we’re doing,” said Lynsey Bates, the merchandise and music manager at Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins. “The parallel with music is tight. Musicians want to share their craft and get what they’re doing out there. The two kind of go perfectly together.”

Odell Brewing Co., which will have been in Fort Collins for 25 years come September, hosts music concerts every Wednesday at 4 p.m., and every Sunday at 3:30 p.m. during the summer. Even though the company has been hosting concerts for nearly 10 years, Bates said the appeal of live music has not dwindled a bit.

“I know there are people that come here every Wednesday for the live music. And sometimes we have more kids than adults in here, especially now that we’ve got this beautiful backyard area and an outdoor stage when it’s nice out,” Bates said.

Not all breweries have an outdoor stage but some still have weekly concerts. This is the case for Big Beaver Brewing Co. in Loveland, which hosts shows every Sunday.

“We look at any way we can support a small business, especially a local one, because that’s a big priority for us. I think you can consider local artists as small businesses,” said KatiLyn VanNosdall, the marketing director for Big Beaver Brewing Co.

VanNosdall said the company originally received recommendations from customers that asked for live music and, now, the company has been hosting local acoustic acts for three years. The results, according to VanNosdall, have been resoundingly positive.

“It’s really a win-win situation for everyone involved. It makes it fun for the customers, it’s good for the brewery because it brings in new customers and it’s good for the artists because they get exposure,” VanNosdall said.

According to Dee Tyler, a local musician who played at Odell Brewing Co. on July 30, VanNosdall is right. Tyler, who is a member of the local bands Patti Fiasco and Hwy 287, has played at the brewery four times and said the environment is especially great for songwriters.

“It’s not a whole lot different than other gigs, but there’s definitely a different, unique vibe. More people are listening to your songs and the songwriting because it’s earlier and no one is there to party,” Tyler said.

Music and craft brewing will be shown on a much larger scale on Saturday August 8 during the Gnarly Barley Brew Festival. The festival features 26 craft brewers and four different bands playing two-hour sets.

Two beers sit on a counter as a woman works in the background.

KatiLyn VanNosdall prepares food at Big Beaver Brewery in Loveland, Colorado on Thursday July 31.

Thursday Night Live brings music and crowd to Old Town

People sitting around and listening to a band play.

Hundreds of people listen and dance in Old Town Square Thursday July 24.

From 7-9 p.m. on Thursday nights, Old Town Square in Fort Collins becomes a music venue for anyone who wants to listen to live bands.

The area is usually known for the various bars and historical buildings but a concert series, called Bohemian Nights Presents: Thursday Night Live, changes the scene and packs the space with music lovers of all ages. Even so, Miguel Garcia, a artist relations assistant with Bohemian Nights, said that the concerts have become more than a precursor for the upcoming Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest festival.

“If it was just a prelude to Bohemian Nights it would be great, but it has turned into its own great part of the Fort Collins music scene,” Garcia said.

Garcia said he has been impressed with the turnout to the concerts, with between 250 and 350 people coming to each one so far. Garcia also said the location is ideal for the concerts.

“These shows are for the city and the people who don’t like festival-sized crowds,” Garcia said.

And according to the a few audience members, Bohemian Nights is reaching those people.

“For people who like live music, it’s great. The location, the set up, everything is excellent,” said Ryan Lessman, an audience member at the July 24 concert.

The band Lessman came to see was the rock band Fox Street, but there are still two more shows scheduled. The Manabi Salsa Band and SHEL are set to play on July 31 and August 7, respectively.

A band performs on a stage with brights lights shinging on them.

The band Fox Street performs in Old Town Square as part of the Bohemian Nights Presents: Thursday Night Live concert series on July 24.

Loveland’s free concerts are a hidden gem in Northern Colorado

Unknown to many and enjoyed by a few, a series of concerts in Loveland, Colorado that boast free admission are making their mark on the area’s music scene.

In a city more known for its Valentine’s Day tradition, the Summer Side of Loveland concert series at the Foote Lagoon Amphitheater , located at 500 E. Third Street, is drawing crowds of all ages. These annual concerts have been happening for more than 15 years and this year feature six acts, all of differing genres, from across the state. According to Rich Harris, the manager of the Rialto Theater who was responsible for booking the bands for these concerts, said the impact the shows have on residents is the best part of the experience.

“All of these events are mini community celebrations. That’s why you come. These people really enjoy it and they enjoy each other. They come with friends and sit in the same places,” said Harris. “It’s a celebration and to have the city sponsor it and to have everyone come out like this, that’s what it’s all about.”

This is Harris’s first year working in Loveland but he has worked at numerous music organization in Colorado over the years. Harris said that over 1,500 people have attended each of the concerts and that finding bands to play was hardly a challenge.

“Without even trying, I had at least 100 bands contact me about this series, which means I had to turn down 94 of them,” said Harris. “Everybody knows about it, at least all the bands know. It’s a coveted gig.”

When deciding which bands to schedule, Harris said the most important thing to him was to get a variety of acts, and he succeeded. The four acts that have already played at the amphitheater were Americana band Haunted Windchimes, soul act Mary Louise Lee, the Queen City Jazz Band and the folk rock band Runaway Express. A rock band, Chris Daniels and The Kings, and a country band, Sons and Brothers, are set to play on July 24 and 31, respectively.

The band that played Thursday July 17, was Runaway Express. The co-founder and singer of the band, Jim Ratts had never played in Loveland before but said he was impressed.

“The entire experience was a pleasure. The people were very kind and very receptive and it was well organized. We enjoyed the sound and we really enjoyed the people,” said Ratts.

Ratts, who also owns and operates the recording studio Raven Recording in Englewood, Colorado, has worked with a number of people from big name acts like Jimmy Ibbotson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio. Even with a past of large shows, though, Ratts said that events like this concert series are some of the most important.

“They are shows that are sponsored by people that value this extra element in their community. The fact that music is valued to the degree that somebody will underwrite it is incredible,” Ratts said. “You should be able to listen to music in your hometown community complex and it’s a thing of beauty if it can be provided for free.”

Even though the Foote Lagoon concert series is the longest-running in the town, it is not the only free concert series in town. The Seventh Annual Sounds of Centerra concert series is being held every Friday until August 15 in the Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra.

Still, Harris said he thinks that the Foote Lagoon series has an advantage: a unique venue located in downtown Loveland.

“Almost every community does something like this, a ‘free shows in the park’ kind of deal but we really have kind of a premier situation here. The location goes a long way and we’re very fortunate,” said Harris.


Jordan Mierau-

“Two of the greatest aspects of summer are going out on the town and attending outdoor concerts.

The Summer Side of Loveland concert series at the Foote Lagoon Amphitheater is a great example of combining the two.

Some people arrive almost two hours in advance to make sure they get a good seat at the unique venue.

On July 17th, the band Runaway Express did their sound check with only about a dozen people there, but by the time Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez introduced the band, over fifteen-hundred people had gathered in the stadium seats and grass surrounding the stage.

With activities to entertain kids and live music for the adults, the event was loud and festive.

The concert series is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, which is the state’s largest non-profit health plan.

Kathy Chapman works as a medicare sales executive for the company and said she loves what the shows do for the community.”

Kathy Chapman-

“When people come out to hear live music, it lightens their mood and improves their health just by being outside in the fresh air, hearing music, hanging out with their friends. It’s a joy in life.”


“For JTC 326, I’m Jordan Mierau.”

With the help of a friend, RAMP gives Fort Collins youth musicians a voice

Vince Burkardt speaking with a microphone.

RAMP founder Vince Burkardt speaks at Everyday Joe’s July 11 before the Local Showcase No. 5. The event featured four local youth acts.

The Rising Artist Mentorship Program, or RAMP, helps young Fort Collins musicians play shows, get on the radio and record professional quality songs, but it might not have happened if not for an inexperienced Pennsylvania man’s move to Fort Collins.

Vincent Burkardt, 49, had never been a radio host before moving to Fort Collins a little more than four years ago but, when he was asked to take over “The Kids Show” on KRFC, he decided to take the job. After renaming the show several times and expanding the scope of the program slowly over several years, his once a week radio show has turned into something much bigger.

“We’re looking at using music to celebrate music, to celebrate community and to bring people together and, to be in the middle of some of that stuff, it’s kind of like living the dream,” said Burkardt.

As the founder and executive director of RAMP, Burkardt has started setting up shows in Northern Colorado that feature only youth music acts. So far, he has not had any problems finding acts to play.

“The level of musicianship I’ve seen the past four years in Fort Collins is rather astonishing,” Burkardt said.

There are a large number of talented musicians in the region and Burkardt said that connecting these musicians to each other is another benefit of RAMP.

“It seemed to be helping out for a few weeks because we played a show and it was cool getting to meet local youth bands,” said Keaton Nalezny, local musician and former RAMP act.

While Nalezny’s band Savage Cabbage has decided to work outside the program, more acts are playing local showcases every year. The radio show, however, still remains the heart of the program.

The hour-long show, which airs on Mondays at 7 p.m. and is now called the “International Emerging Artist Showcase,” gives local kids the opportunity to get interviewed and play songs on-air. The program, though, has become much broader in scale recently.

Twice a month, during the first half of the show, Burkardt and a local act get interviewed by a radio host in Melbourne, Australia as part of a program called Music Matters. The program is a two-way collaboration, as the Australian station holds a youth music competition, called International Quest, where the winning acts get to play on the show.

Burkardt also sets up interviews for youth acts on other local radio stations, though. One of those stations is Colorado State University’s student-run radio station KCSU. Eric Bell has been one of the DJs to host interviews for RAMP acts during the past two years and said he has been impressed with Burkardt’s enthusiasm.

“He always puts in an effort and he really has a passion about what he’s doing,” said Eric Bell, a DJ for KCSU.

Bell met Burkardt in high school while playing in a local band and, when he saw he had opportunity to work with him and RAMP, he jumped at the chance to be part of the program.

Always trying to find new ways to promote RAMP, Burkardt is in the process of creating a CD, called “Rise Volume 1,” that will include several RAMP acts. No matter how well the CD is received, how many people listen to his show or how many people come to the local showcases, though, Burkardt said it is the feedback that keeps pushing him forward.

“Talking to the musicians, talking to the parents, talking to the local music teachers and mentors that are in town, lets me know that I’m definitely on the right path with this,” said Burkardt.

Two people perform onstage.

Local act The Jam Jars, Phoebe Troup and Everitt Merritt, perform at Everyday Joe’s July 11.

Red Rocks shooting leaves temporary mark

A amphitheatre stage on an uneventful day.

The Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre is one of the largest outdoor venues in Northern Colorado.

Even though the shooting at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Thursday June 19 was shocking, some think it may not have a large impact in how Northern Colorado concerts are handled in the future.

The incident, which happened in one of the parking lots after a concert featuring rappers Nas, Flying Lotus and Schoolboy Q, left three men injured when shots were fired at an SUV they were riding in with Schoolboy Q. All three men are expected to recover, but the event has nonetheless created controversy as the next Colorado-based shooting. The location of the concert, however, may not be as important as the genre of music.

“Music that glamorizes a culture of violence attracts violent behavior,” said Jeremy Grant, the general manager and production manager for the Fort Collins venue Hodi’s Half Note. “I don’t think that anyone who attends such shows is ever all that surprised when violence breaks out, they know it’s a possibility when they buy the ticket.”

And based on the results of various studies, Grant may have a point.

A 2012 survey conducted by the Patron Management Institute reported that, of the 155 people questioned, more people felt unsafe at rap concerts, 43.2 percent, than safe, 38.7 percent. The correlation between rap and hip-hop music and violence is not an emerging trend, though.

According to the Rock Concert Safety Survey published in March 2003, rap concerts were the most violent music events in 2002 with five deaths and eight others shot, stabbed or injured in altercations that year.

Even with a history of violence at concerts, Grant said that his staff prepares for concerts of all genres by regularly attending security classes offered by the Fort Collins Police Department. He also said that he thinks attendance will remain the same even after this event.

” I don’t believe there will be much if any local fallout as a result of this incident,” Grant said.

A guitarist performing under a spotlight

Arthur Stephens, with the band Jet Engines, plays a show at the Art Lab in Fort Collins.

Grant is not the only person with that attitude though. Local musician Arthur Stephens said he thinks the shooting was unfortunate but the past has shown that the anxiety will dissipate.

“When you look back on the history of all concerts, violence isn’t unheard of, it’s very much a recurring theme but concerts keep selling out,” Stephens said. “Festivals have been unpredictable for years, but the music brings people back and hopefully it always will.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has received a few tips related to the shooter but a suspect has not yet been taken into custody.

Fort Collins music doesn’t skip a beat in the summer

In spite of the college student population flowing out of Fort Collins for summer break, the music scene doesn’t appear to take a vacation. In fact, Fort Collins music seems to thrive in the sweltering heat.

According to their respective websites, Hodi’s Half Note and the Aggie Theater will host 20 shows in July. Dozens more bands and musicians will take the stage in smaller venues such as bars and restaurants in Fort Collins and the Northern Colorado area. Attendance at these events, it seems, has not been an issue in the past without Colorado State University (CSU) students around.

“Fort Collins is growing. We have new apartments springing up all around us and every summer it seems that more people are here when school gets out,” said Greg Simms, a bar manager at the restaurant and music venue Avogadro’s Number. “Because of this, more people are going to shows without a ton of effort on the part of venues, which makes my job a lot easier.”

Simms, who also plays in the local bluegrass band Honey Gitters, said the weather plays a large part in patronage. The outdoor stage at Avogadro’s Number, usually opens in May. There are usually at least 30 or more audience members during the summer, according to Simms.

“Our business actually doubles during the summer and we sell a lot of tickets, more than one would think,” Simms said.

Many other outdoor stages pop up across the city, and more people tend to make a night of it when the weather is good, he added. And instead of simply going out to have a few drinks, people tend to spend more time out around town by frequenting music events.

Zach Johnson, co-music director of the Fort Collins radio station KCSU, also noticed the trend. During the school year, KCSU has a consistent flow of musicians and their labels wanting air time. However, Johnson sees a distinct change during summer months.

“The amount of CDs that music labels send us, and the amount of shows that we are contacted about, skyrockets,” said Johnson. “And, since we are a student-run organization, we don’t have enough DJs to talk about them all.”

While the student population is larger during college months and there is a full staff of student DJ’s to assist in working with local venues and the acts, summer is difficult. Many venues request help from KCSU staff who are spread thin, so local concerts have more of a house show atmosphere. Without introductions and commentary to invite patrons to stay for a band, Johnson said the audience seems to wander in as bands begin playing.

While this seems to be a concern for Johnson, it certainly doesn’t seem to be an issue, based upon the number attending as well as the summer revenue being brought in.

Fort Collins businesses, in general, profit just as well in the summer as they do during the school year. According to the City of Fort Collins website, sales tax collections in 2013 were higher in July ($8.1 million) than in May ($7 million) or April ($7.5 million). In fact, only September yielded more sales tax collections ($8.2 million) in 2013.



“One of the privileges of living in Fort Collins is the diversity of the music scene.

Bands of every genre, and from every part of the country, come to play in Fort Collins venues.

A perfect example of this diversity happened at Avogadro’s Number on June 19. Freeway Revival opened the show with a southern rock sound and covered artists like Hank Williams Senior and the Allman Brothers Band.

The show ended with experimental act Tyler T., featuring a marimba and a multitude of other instruments.

It seems that, no matter the genre, the people of Fort COllins will come out to support music.

This is Jordan Mierau for J-T-C 326.”