Freddy & Francine

Freddy & Francine, a husband-wife duo from Nashville, is kicking off the Music on the Green concert series Friday in Mountain Village from 5-7 p.m. (Courtesy photo)

As far as outdoor concerts go, there is hardly a better backdrop than the San Juan Mountains. The picturesque peaks enhance the viewer experience in ways that are hard to imagine, and explain, if one isn’t there to take it all in for themselves.

At 9,540 feet, Mountain Village has a unique vantage point of the surrounding mountains, and paired with music, makes for a one-of-a-kind venue.

While there hasn’t been a note sung or played at that elevation since the COVID-19 pandemic started, that’s about to change, as the Music on the Green concert series returns Friday from 5-7 p.m. in Reflection Plaza.

A partnership between Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA) and Beyond the Groove Productions, the summer lineup includes The Myners, Tall Tall Trees, Wildermiss, Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, West Side Joe and the Men of Soul, Cousin Curtiss, AJ Fullerton and Emily Scott Robinson.

"It is the place to be on Friday night," said Anton Benitez, president & CEO of TMVOA.

The free concert series kicks off this week with Freddy & Francine (real names Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso), a husband-wife duo from Nashville that recently released a new album in “I AM AFRAID TO DIE!”

“We have been observing for some time now what we feel to be the end of the world. We're referring to the end of connection, vulnerability, presence, authenticity: The better angels of our nature are on the brink of extinction,” Ferris has said in talking about the new release. “The coronavirus pandemic only adds more anxiety on top of what we have been experiencing for some time.”

The process began with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2019, before the couple recorded and produced the album in their hometown of Music City.

“I think producing this record on our own was a way to take back our power and assert our independence. For the last six albums we've looked to someone to tell us ‘Yes! That was the take!’ For this record we had to make the call. Every step of the way we had to trust our own instincts,” Caruso said of the process.

The musical offerings diverge from Freddy & Francine’s signature folk-pop sound in incorporating more soul and R&B.

“The album’s 10 songs are as universally relatable as all great songs, but listening in 2020-21, it’s impossible to look past their immediate relevance,” according to the bio on the band’s website, which was written by Jack Johnson. “The groovy mid-tempo ‘Budget’ is about finding time away from a busy life to spend with loved ones. The song ‘I Just Wanna Listen To The Band Play’ uses a sexy, jazzy-R&B approach to drive home a feeling anyone stuck in a quarantine can relate to. Consider the line found deep in the pocket of the soulful ballad ‘Meet Me Halfway,’ which states, ‘You gotta say sorry, keep your side of the street clean, and if you really love me, meet me halfway.’ It’s not meant to be taken literally, but no one would blame you if you did.”

Denise Mongan, of Beyond the Groove Productions and Club Red, said being able to book bands again has reignited her passion for her work in live music.

“I enjoy my work in live music production so to feel the pulse of that purpose again is comforting. Everyone enjoys live music — the bands, the audience and the crew,” she said. “The past year for me personally was one of no work as Beyond The Groove and Club Red were put on a solid and sudden pause. I made the most of that 14 months. Moving forward I will pay close attention to the details of how to restart Club Red post-pandemic.”

She added that the Music on the Green lineup, which runs through Sept. 10, is still being finalized, but she’s typically been reaching out to acts that she’d been in touch with before the pandemic wiped concert slates clean.

“The common practice was to offer 2021 dates to bands with whom we were working with in 2020 when the pandemic hit and those shows were canceled,” Mongan said. “The compassionate common ground of that process was the kick-start to booking bands again.”