Rapids and Grass brings musical fireworks to loaded holiday scene

Live music has brought a lot of attention to Buena Vista in recent years. The days leading up to the Fourth of July amply demonstrate this trend as the Buena Vista music scene takes center stage in the Ark Valley with Head for the Hills, Hazel Miller Band, Rapidgrass and Byron White of The Damn Quails among the artists performing.

Buena Vista’s first ever beer and music festival will take place Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2, as more than 40 breweries and seven bands take part in Rapids and Grass on the banks of the Arkansas River at The Beach in South Main. The festival, produced by The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar in partnership with bluegrass band Rapidgrass and South Main Arts and Parks, will showcase craft beverages and talented bluegrass musicians.

“Buena Vista has long been a destination for the July Fourth weekend, thanks to the many fourteeners and recreational sites in the area, but until now there has been no signature event like many mountain towns have,” said Sarah Haughey, festival director and owner of The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar. “This festival is a celebration of Buena Vista and of Colorado, combining bluegrass music with the outdoors and, of course, lots of craft beer.”

The Rapids and Grass music kicks off with free performances Friday ‒ Caribou Mountain Collective at 6 p.m. and Rapidgrass at 8 p.m. A Nederland-based quartet, Caribou Mountain Collective boasts an extensive repertoire that combines the traditions of Appalachian and Colorado bluegrass in their original lyrics and instrumental compositions.

The members of Rapidgrass came together as a celebration of music, mountains and whitewater rapids. Influenced by an active, outdoor lifestyle, Rapidgrass creates original mountain music. Through a mutual love of music and mountains, the band members have been at the forefront of defining contemporary Colorado mountain music, drawing from classical, gypsy, bluegrass, pop, swing and world music influences to create their definitive sound.

Head for the Hills headlines the Saturday Rapids and Grass lineup, performing at 8 p.m., but you’ll need a festival pass to enjoy the Saturday music. The Colorado-based postmodern bluegrass band recently released Potions and Poisons, its fourth album of original music. With the new album band members Adam Kinghorn, Joe Lessard, Matt Loewen and Sam Parks demonstrate their musical alchemy, creating sonic gold from elements of bluegrass, jazz, hip hop, folk and soul. As Ryan Dembinsky writes in Glide Magazine, “Head for the Hills possesses that secret ingredient.”

The band members pride themselves on defying expectation, easily winning staunch supporters at every show and expanding the musical horizons of genre purists. Remaining true to their bluegrass roots, the band also nurtures musical growth and experimentation by making music that draws on jazz, indie rock, hip hop, soul, world and folk. After more than a decade, thousands of miles on the road and hundreds of performances, Head for the Hills has garnered Westword Magazine’s Best Bluegrass in Colorado award four times.

Having performed at South by Southwest, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, RockyGrass, DelFest, Northwest String Summit and many more, Head for the Hills has earned a well-deserved nationwide following.
Saturday’s Rapids and Grass performances begin with Nashville-based Sally and George at 2 p.m., followed by The Lonesome Days from Denver at 3:30 p.m., Phoebe Hunt And The Gatherers from Austin at 5 p.m. and Gipsy Moon from Nederland at 6:30 p.m.

Joel Timmons first encountered Shelby Means at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion in the town where country music was born on the Tennessee-Virginia state line. Timmons, a member of Sol Driven Train, found himself drawn to the music created by Means’ band, Grammy-nominated Della Mae. Two years later the musicians reconnected, and a budding romance led to them forming Americana roots duo Sally and George.

The Lonesome Days is an accomplished four-piece string band built on fresh original music and familiar traditional tunes. Their musicianship earned them second place at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition and first place at the 2016 UllrGrass festival. Their tight instrumentation and vocal harmonies will have the festival-goers dancing on the river shore.

Americana vocalist and violinist Phoebe Hunt built her musical repertoire on the foundations of jazz and swing but also studied in India with master violinist Kala Ramnath. Her music brings together Americana sounds with Texas-tinged swing and exotic rhythms from her time in India. Accompanied by The Gatherers, a group of virtuoso musicians, Hunt creates lush original music that crosses genres with a seductive appeal.

Gipsy Moon is a five-piece Rocky Mountain folk band that mixes original tunes with traditional songs from the Old World to create a spectrum of music ranging from bluegrass and folk to jazz improvisation, from retro Slavic sounds to gypsy rhythms. Their upcoming album will feature traditional songs from all parts of the world. Gipsy Moon has shared the stage with bands like Greensky Bluegrass, Blondie, Devotchka, The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival and Rising Appalachia.

But the music doesn’t begin or end with Rapids and Grass. Red dirt musicians Bryon White and Tanner Fenoglio will perform an acoustic set beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Lariat, 206 E. Main St. White, a member of The Damn Quails, returns to the Ark Valley with a 3-piece band. Tanner Fenoglio Nocona, Texas, has gained high praise for both his songwriting and live performances. Fenoglio’s first Ark Valley performance is slated for 6 p.m. with White taking the stage at 7 p.m.

The Buena Vista Farmers Market, now happening from 3 to 7 p.m. every Friday in the South Main Town Square, will feature music by Briony K. Hunn. The singer songwriter’s music ranges from folk to soft rock, highlighting her soulful voice and acoustic guitar chops.

At 6 p.m. Friday, Barb Maxey will perform at the next installment of The Lariat’s Tasting and Tunes. Maxey performs a mix of jazzy blues, ’60s and ’70s hits, gospel and country music. Her heartfelt vocal renditions are the icing on the cake.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Clyde McGee and the Milltailers will perform at Deerhammer Distilling Co. The band’s old-timey sound feature’s McGee’s accomplished banjo licks and vocals.

At 9 p.m. Friday, local favorite Hairitage will perform at The Lariat. Featuring some of the Ark Valley’s most talented musicians, Hairitage never fails to please the crowd with their spot-on renditions of ’70s and ’80s rock classics.
Saturday brings the 34th annual Buena Vista Classic Car Show to town with a performance by Crestone band Blue Rooster at The Watershed, 410 E. Main St. Blue Rooster plays a combination of blues, rock and funk that will have the crowd dancing.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Montana-born singer-songstress Eryn Bent will perform at House Rock Kitchen, 421 East Main St. Bent has been enchanting audiences since age 14 with strong vocals and honest, gritty songwriting with an Americana folk flavor.

Chrispy returns to Deerhammer for a solo gig at 7 p.m. Saturday
“Force of nature” Hazel Miller brings her band to The Lariat at 10 p.m. Saturday. One of Colorado’s best-known performers, Miller’s “stunning, moving and powerful” voice delivers soulful renditions of blues, jazz, pop and gospel music.

iller’s 38-year career began in Louisville, Kentucky, where she quickly became a star of the local music scene, opening for artists like Mel Torme, James Brown, The Temptations, Earl Klugh, Bob James and many more. Miller never fails to satisfy audiences with her powerful, soulful vocals backed by some of Colorado’s most talented professionals.

Local alt-country band Pint and a Half performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at House Rock Kitchen, 421 E. Main St. Riding the success of their latest album, the talented duo are developing a national following.

Award-winning lyricist Mark Rostenko will perform also perform Sunday with his first set beginning at 6 p.m. at The Lariat. Rostenko’s set will include his acclaimed original songs with a few covers.

For Independence Day, Mountain Mantra will perform in McPhelemy Park, Highway 24 and Main Street, beginning at 2:30 p.m. These talented locals will perform classic rock to help you celebrate the nation’s birthday along the banks of Cottonwood Creek.

Wrapping up this jam-packed week of music, The Lariat will host its weekly open mic night at 7 p.m. Wednesday.