As we look forward to hot days and cool nights, it’s important to remember the wise words of once-rapper, now-megastar actor Will Smith.
“Summer, summer, summer time. Time to sit back and unwind,” sang the Fresh Prince in his song with DJ Jazzy Jeff aptly titled “Summertime.”
Smith was right in his assessment that now is the time to unwind, relax and enjoy the sounds of summer. Luckily for us, here in the Vail Valley, summertime is filled with an array of musical sounds to treat your ears to, from the classical concertos of Bravo! Vail to the country twang of Lyle Lovett and Easton Corbin. This season will be packed with both big names and new bands you’ll want to hear before they get famous. Starting at the end of May, there’s rarely a night where there isn’t some type of live music going on, and we’ve got plenty of free concerts, cool festivals and chart-toppin’ rock stars. Here’s a look at what’s rockin’ and rollin’ this summer, and which concerts to mark your calendar for:
June is when concert season really gets cooking here in the valley. Kicking off the month will be the free concerts during the GoPro Mountain Games, and June is also the start of the Bravo! Vail concert series and the Vail Jazz Festival, both of which many consider highlights of the summer season. Winter may be all about mountain activities, but summer is all about the music.
June 5-7: Xavier Rudd, Tokyo Police Club and Cold War Kids at GoPro Mountain Games in Vail
Seeing some of the best bands this summer won’t cost you anything at all. All three of the GoPro Mountain Games concerts are completely free, starting with Xavier Rudd on Thursday night. Rudd is a local favorite with his soulful songs and powerful stage presence. Friday night, June 6, offers up Tokyo Police Club, the Canadian indie rock band known for their songs that can’t help but get stuck in your head. Although most of the band members are only in their late 20s, the band has been together for almost 10 years. Lead singer and guitarist David Monks said that when the band started, indie rock music was not the juggernaut pop genre it is today.
“No one wanted to say ‘indie rock,’” Monks said. “No one wanted someone to call your band ‘indie rock.’ That was lame.”
Monks is now comfortable with the label and is happy Tokyo Police Club has gone from “flavor of the month” to being recognized for their artistic merit. But this doesn’t mean the band doesn’t know how to have fun.
“When we play free shows, I’m glad we’re a rock band that has choruses and catchy songs people understand,” Monks said. “People want to have a good time at a concert. It’s not that complicated.”
While the band members are more “nerdy” than athletic, Monks thinks they’d do well in the fly-fishing competition for GoPro Mountain Games because “we’re a real hooky band,” he said jokingly.
Closing out the GoPro Mountain Games stage on Saturday, June 7, will be fellow indie rock darlings Cold War Kids. All concerts are held at Checkpoint Charlie in Vail Village and start at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.mountaingames.com.
June 12-14: Beanstalk Music and Arts Festival at Stage Bridge
The summer concert experience is not complete without at least one night at State Bridge. If you missed Campout for the Cause, then you can still catch the grooves and move to the music at the Beanstalk Music and Arts Festival, which is returning for its second year. The lineup includes The Magic Beans, The New Mastersounds, Particle, This Must Be The Band, Night Moves and others. Space fills up fast at State Bridge, so book a campsite now and don’t forget your hula hoop. For more info and tickets, visit www.facebook.com/beanstalkfestival.
June 17: Bud Light Hot Summer Nights begins with Rusted Root at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Famed acoustic rock jam band Rusted Root opens the first of many free Tuesday night concerts in Vail as part of the Bud Light Hot Summer Nights series. The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is the perfect place to pack a picnic, lie on the grass and enjoy the music with all your fellow locals. The concert series runs through Aug. 26, and other groups performing this summer include singer-songwriter Anders Osborne, Rich Robinson (of The Black Crowes fame) and Big Sam’s Spunky Nation. The full lineup will be announced later this summer. For more information, visit www.vvf.org.
June 22: Vail Jazz Festival begins
The 20th anniversary of the Vail Jazz Festival officially stars at the Vail Farmers’ Market in Vail Square at noon. The festival runs through Sept. 1, with weekly jazz concerts and special performances from well-known jazz musicians. For more info, visit www.vailjazz.org.
June 27: Opening night of Bravo! Vail with Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Ford Amphitheater
Bravo! Vail is not only considered the best classical music series in the valley, it’s also renowned around the world for bringing top-notch musicians and orchestras together in one beautiful mountain setting. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra opens the series, and one performance to look forward to is their take on “Hollywood Film Score Classics,” slated for July 2. The Opening Night concert begins at 6 p.m. For more info on all Bravo! Vail events, visit www.bravovail.org.
July brings us fireworks, hot dogs on the grill and the soundtrack to summers’ past. Bands that have made a big splash here will return for another sing-along, reminding us of first loves, fast cars and freckled faces from all that sunshine.
July 1: Herman’s Hermit’s starring Peter Noone at Vilar Performing Arts Center
Herman’s Hermit’s lovely harmonies and memorable melodies carried them through a long career of hits. Reminisce about your first kiss and the spirit of the ’60s with their concert at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. Tickets are $62 and the concert starts at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit www.vilarpac.org.
July 4: Patriotic Concert with the Dallas Symphony at Ford Amphitheater
It wouldn’t be the Fourth without the annual Patriotic Concert, which features pieces that would make Uncle Sam smile. Wave your flag in tune with the music to salute the good ‘ol U.S. of A. Concert begins at 2 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. The show is part of the Bravo! Vail concert series.
July 5: Dark Star Orchestra at State Bridge
You wore your red, white and blue shirt for Independence Day — now it’s time to tie dye it. Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra returns to State Bridge, who can now celebrate the new Colorado laws Jerry Garcia would most likely approved of. Tickets are $29 in advance, $35 day of show. To purchase, visit www.statebridge.com.
July 5: The Philadelphia Orchestra with Joshua Bell at Ford Amphitheater
Famed violinist Joshua Bell performed at Bravo! Vail for the first time two summers ago, and he must have enjoyed it so much he’s returning again this year. He plays with The Philadelphia Orchestra for the opening night of their residency. Concert begins at 6 p.m.
July 9: Disney’s ‘Fantasia’: Film with Live Score with The Philadelphia Orchestra at Ford Amphitheater
Many of us watched “Fantasia” as a child, but few have been able to experience it with a live orchestra. The Philadelphia Orchestra will be on hand to add an auditory experience to the visual spectacle. Concert begins at 8 p.m.
July 14: Darius Rucker at Rock The Research at Ford Amphitheater
For some he will always inadvertently be known as “Hootie,” but former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker has made a name for himself in the country music world. Crowds will certainly come to his Rock The Research concert. Proceeds go toward orthopedic research within The Steadman Clinic in Vail. Concert begins at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $75. For more information, visit www.vvf.org.
July 18: New York Philharmonic’s first night at Bravo! Vail at Ford Amphitheater
Not only is this the New York Philharmonic’s first evening of their residency for Bravo! Vail, but violinist superstar Midori will be playing Tchaikovsky’s adored “Violin Concerto.” Concert begins at 6 p.m.
July 19: Easton Corbin headlines Gypsum Daze Concert in Gypsum
For Gypsum Daze, folks will have a chance to get down to the sounds of country star Easton Corbin and legendary country singer Mark Chesnutt. Tickets for the concert will be available to purchase beginning Sunday at www.gypsumdaze.com.
July 25: Allison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas at Vilar Center
The end of July brings two classic country singers to the Vilar Center back to back, beginning with Allison Krauss & Union Station. The intimate venue always makes for a memorable performance from Krauss and her band. Tickets are $150 to $170 and the concert begins at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit www.vilarpac.org.
July 26: Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at Vilar Performing Arts Center
Lovett has played at the Vilar Center in the past, and people love Lovett so much that he’s back again for another summer. Tickets are $130 and the concert begins at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit www.vilarpac.org.
AUG.16: North Mississippi Allstars at Ed Fest
The North Mississippi Allstars will perform its only Colorado tour date on Aug. 16 at the fourth annual Ed Fest, which celebrates international craft beer culture with over 40 craft breweries tasting microbrews from around the world, including breweries like Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Green Flash Brewing Company, Telluride Brewing Company and Great Divide Brewing Company.
Aug. 28-Sept. 1: Vail Jazz Party in Vail Village
Concert season slows down a bit in August, but not before going out strong with the smooth tunes from the Vail Jazz Party. Held through Sept. 1, the weekend features the best trumpeters, saxophonists, pianists and bass players in the business. Each day offers both a daytime, evening and late night jam session. Both four-day passes and individual tickets to each session are available. The detailed lineup of musicians will be announced later this summer. For more information, visit www.vailjazz.org.