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.

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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.

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.

 

Transcript:

“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.”