It’s a good thing when your mayor is a music man.
Before he was a politico, Dave Bowman, Mayor of the City of Montrose, was a music lover.
He founded the Montrose Summer Music Series at Black Canyon Golf Course because he saw a need. Ouray has a free weekly music series on Thursdays every June, and Ridgway has such a series in July. Paonia’s music series is every August.
And Telluride? Heck, summer is one long musical ride there — there’s even a music festival called The Ride — but concerts in the box canyon are invariably crowded, can be expensive to attend, and are not so easy to get to.
Why not end the workweek on a high note, by booking bands right in Montrose, on Friday evenings, once a month through summer? That was Bowman’s idea. It had a number of advantages: while neighboring music series came and went, you could prolong the musical pleasure through the warm months. Thus began the Montrose Music Series, which gears up for its 2019 season this Friday evening at the golf course with headliner Groovement, a funk-rock band out of Arkansas.
Among Groovement’s chief musical influences: Parliament Funkadelic, James Brown, Chicago and Lettuce.
“Lettuce’s influence as a leading jam-funk-horn band cannot be overstated,” Bryan Burkhart, the group’s drummer (and also its founder) has said. “They’re the standard for keeping an instrumental band interesting and high-energy.”
Groovement is more than instrumental: the six-man lineup includes singers, a keyboardist, guitar players, a bassist, and a trumpet player, who can “bring the powerful, fun energy of brass,” as the band’s website puts it, “even on guitar-rock covers that don’t traditionally include horns.” The outfit has been described as “what you’d hear if Led Zeppelin caught a Soul Train with GroupLove” on the road to Motown.
The concert’s opener is Peachy, a young Nashville band that includes “Montrose’s own” Jeremy Trujillo on drums. The music starts at 6 p.m. All Points Transit is offering complimentary transportation between the downtown Transfer Station (at 431 S. 2nd St.) and the Montrose Elks Lodge from 5-9:30 p.m. to help attendees avoid what could be a tangle of traffic resulting from an intersection closure at Miami and Hillcrest. “Thank you All Points Transit! See ya’ll Friday!” the concert’s website states. The mayor speaks.
Tonight (Thursday) is the first evening of the 2019 Mountain Air Music Series in Ouray. Although just two bands will perform in Fellin Park — a headliner and an opener — it took dozens of weeks, and the efforts of numerous people listening to hundreds of hours worth of music, to winnow it down to who’ll be on stage.
The bands are selected by a committee of local music lovers, who begin their listening adventure each November by gathering in friends’ kitchens for a potluck, spinning tunes, and sharing food, drink, and what they’ve been listening to.
“It’s a mini-music party,” said Heidi Pankow, one of Mountain Air Music Series’ board members. “If family members are there and dancing, we know we’re on to something good.”
Even before that, the collective’s ears are attuned to new tunes. Pankow described the process: “We’re always listening throughout the year,” she said, “keeping track of bands that spark our attention, going to live performances, listening to Spotify and watching videos.”
Always, the question is this: “Would this band sound really good in our park?”
Fellin Park, the series’ venue, is surrounded by peaks and rocky cliff faces that impart a certain sonic signature. “It’s interesting to hear how people sound in our mountains,” Pankow mused. “One of our favorite moments is during the soundcheck; the musicians start to hear their sounds bouncing off the canyon walls, and get that feel for what it will be like in concert. They get so excited. A few years ago Sarah Clarke, the lead singer for Dirty Revival, heard how her voice would sound. She immediately huddled with the band, and for the first time ever, they added an a capella performance to the playlist that night. She’d never done it before.” Pankow called the moment “magical.”
The series’ 2019 season opens this evening with rock/pop headliner Outer Vibe, a musical trio with a devoted following from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The band relocated to Nashville last August, where they’ve been “refining their sound” with producer David Kahne, who has worked with Regina Spektor, The Strokes and Paul McCartney.
“They’re one of the most-requested bands we’ve ever had,” according to Pankow. “They played here three summers ago, and every year since, we’ve gotten asked, ‘When are you bringing Outer Vibe back?’ We’re excited that they extended their tour. They created a whole loop across the Western Slope just to come out and play with us.”
Tonight’s opening act is musical duo Jack + Jill, of Grand Junction. Mountain Air Music Series openers traditionally play a second round at O’Brien’s Pub around 9:30 p.m. — just like the concert, also for free — “and oftentimes the headliners pop down there and might sit in with some of these openers,” Pankow said. “It’s musical camaraderie.”