Nikki Lane

New West Records artist, the singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, performs at Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village as part of the summer-long Sunset Concert Series. (Courtesy photo)

As I booked it across town, late for rehearsal for Telluride Theatre’s upcoming Midsummer Night’s Gala, sweating and slightly out of breath, it dawned at me that summer is finally here.

The wildflowers are popping, the birds are chirping up a storm, Main Street is lined with American flags, and wide-eyed, enamored tourists can be found seemingly everywhere taking in the natural beauty that surrounds us. And the rain jacket you pack in the morning is for precautionary measures, not for warmth.

With summer, comes events, upon events, upon events. The month of July is so stacked with concerts, fundraisers and more, that last year, an astute local in the service industry aptly came up with the hashtag SurviveJuly. In other words, try to survive the summer’s busiest month while enjoying all the festivals, shows and events.

This week, the fun kicks off early, since Thursday is a national holiday, with day two of the Red White and Blues Celebration starting at 1 p.m. in Mountain Village’s Heritage Plaza.

Alan Booradley and members of the Neighborhood Improvement Association kick off a fun set of local music at 1 p.m. Claybrook Penn and Tom Nading will play at 2 p.m. and Joint Point plays at 3 p.m.

Be sure to bring the kids over to Sunset Plaza from 1-5 p.m. for games, face painting, a jumpy castle and there’s even a magic show on the docket for 2:30 p.m. in Sunset Plaza.

The Red White and Blues’ finale is DJ Kat V playing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Kat V has played both the Telluride AIDS Benefit and Mountainfilm, uniquely blending her electric violin playing and her DJing.

She’ll finish just in time to head to Telluride for the highly anticipated return of the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen, in Telluride Town Park which starts at dark.

Friday night, the Sheridan Opera House SHOW Bar will feature New Orleans guitar player Mike Doussan playing a happy hour set at 6:30 p.m. while plein air portrait painters show off their chops live and in person.

Doussan has played Telluride before as the lead guitarist for Dave Jordan & the NIA (which coincidentally enough first brought Booradley to the area) and he will also play with Booradley on Thursday’s Red White and Blues.

As an aside to any music lover who has enjoyed a show at the Sheridan Opera House, be sure to support the Telluride Plein Air Festival if you can. Having worked Plein Air the last seven summers in a row, I am intimately aware of how important this event is for keeping that historic, venerable venue’s doors open.

The artists will be set up selling their oil, watercolor and pastel artwork outside of the opera house and in Elks Park Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Forty percent of proceeds benefit the Sheridan Arts Foundation (SAF), the nonprofit that owns and operates the opera house. And if you’re not in the market for art, Christopher Beaver and Colleen Thompson will be there selling their beautiful jewelry with a portion of proceeds benefitting the SAF, as well.

That being said, the opera house will have a show on the big stage Friday night featuring indie rock artist Rayland Baxter. Some may remember Baxter from his Telluride Bluegrass Festival show two years ago. A native of Nashville, he has performed at festivals all over the country and played with an astonishing array of artists including Jason Isbell, the Lumineers, Kacey Musgraves, The Head and the Heart, Shakey Graves and more. If you haven’t heard of his music, but like any of the previously mentioned artists, I highly recommend checking him out.

Tickets are $30 general admission on the floor and $40 reserved seats in the balcony. They can be purchased online at sheridanoperahouse.com. Doors at 8 p.m. and show at 9 p.m.

Saturday night marks the annual gala fundraiser for Telluride Theatre, at a very secret location. If you’re a fan of magic and experiential theater, attend the Gala. There were limited tickets available as of press time, but you may still be able to purchase them online at telluridetheatre.org.

And the free music continues Wednesdays in Sunset Plaza with county singer-songwriter Nikki Lane taking the stage from 6-8 p.m. That show is free in Mountain Village and part of the weekly Sunset Concert Series running every Wednesday through Aug. 14.