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)


This week in music: 7/29 – 8/4

Technological advances turn out to be bad for music

A former music producer discusses how much the music industry has changed in the past couple decades, comparing the downward trend in music to an upward trend in technology. Making money as a musician has become much more difficult in recent years. (From Forbes)


Non-profit organization brings music to inmates

The organization, called Jail Guitar Doors USA, works in prisons across the country, conducting weekly song-writing and performance workshops for the prisoners. Professional musician Wayne Kramer, who played in the band MC5, is a co-founder of the 5-year-old organization. (From USA Today)


New Jersey music festival creates havoc for police

The Electronic Adventure concert in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, as part of a touring music festival, resulted in 42 arrests during the two-day event. Local police were not told about the event until Wednesday July 30. Thirty-four people were also treated for different sicknesses at the concert. (From The Star-Ledger and NJ.com)

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.

This week in music: 7/22 – 7/28

Playing an instrument helps kids learn

Contrasting with previous studies finding that listening to music will improve IQs, newer studies have shown that learning how to play an instrument can significantly, and more consistently, improve academic performance. With many low-budget schools cutting music programs, these findings could act as a valuable deterrent for this trend. (From KQED and The Times and Democrat)


Questlove’s new show brings back music television

The band leader of the influential band The Roots has created a show on VH1, called SoundClash, that features three acts of different genres performing together. Playing on Wednesday nights, the show’s three guests for this week are Sia, Ed Sheeran and Grouplove. (From The Daily Beast)


Streaming services have big decisions to make

In the first six months of 2014, more than 70 percent of music consumption was through downloads or music streaming, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. Even so, 70 percent of Spotify’s revenue pays for music royalties, meaning profit is difficult to achieve consistently. (From Quartz)

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.

This week in music: 6/24 – 6/30

New book points to profound impact of music

A neuroscience professor is publishing a book, titled “This Is Your Brain On Music,” discussing that listening to music may enhance creativity. Even though volume and tempo are important factors, music genre does not seem to be as influential as previously thought. (From the Huffington Post)


Katy Perry becomes biggest digital seller

The pop singer has sold more than 70 million digital singles to date, a dominant statistic when considering it was achieved in an industry less than two decades old and the next closest artist, Rihanna, has sold 20 million fewer. (From CNN)


Google Glass to transform music technology

The system, which looks like a pair of glasses and is worn the same way, allows performers to stream concerts live and easily record music. Google Glass was made available for sale in the United States in May and the United Kingdom in June. (From Billboard Magazine)

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.