Lucky to have live music: Vilar Center at Beaver Creek continues to adapt to be able to offer live entertainment this summer
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater also adapting to continue its summer programming
Attending a live performance in this country these days is a unique experience, and a lot of work goes into making it happen, especially at an indoor venue like the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek.
Since the COVID-19 shutdown, the Vilar Center has been a pioneer and leader in the county, state and country with its protocols allowing for live performances. Despite recent reformed protocols by the county, shows will go on at the Vilar Center on Thursday nights — also live streamed online — as well as at its Vail Valley Foundation sister venue, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail.
“The music industry is at such a crossroads, so the fact that the Vilar is being innovative and taking the steps that they need to continue to bring music to the people is just powerful,” musician Bridget Law said after last Thursday’s performance in front of about 60 people at the Vilar Center.
Law, a founding member of Elephant Revival, was joined by her husband, Tierro Lee, and the Tierro Band for a special performance featuring some new music developed while in quarantine, including a bluegrass song that got the live audience up and moving.
“I was a little nervous about the whole thing,” Lee said after the performance, beaming still with energy from the 90-minute show. “I wasn’t sure how it would all roll out, but I felt really honored. You know, there’s not a lot of concerts going on right now. We’ve done a lot of virtual concerts, but it really makes a difference when you have an audience and can feel the energy coming toward you and can push it back.”
In the 535-seat Vilar Center, the crowd of about 60 was extra loud, making up for the empty seats spread between groups. Vilar Center Director Duncan Horner said he hopes audiences there make it “feel like the Pepsi Center.” He also said those tuning into the shows virtually from around the globe tend to live vicariously through the live audience, clearly enjoying live music in person at an indoor venue.
“It’s great to have an audience in the building,” Horner told the audience before Thursday night’s performance. “I know there’s all sorts of restrictions and all sorts of news every day, so we’re always challenged by trying to adapt to the challenging times, and we’re going to continue to bring you some great entertainment for the remainder of the summer.”
Horner and his staff at the Vilar Center are making live music possible by focusing on safety. Touchless temperature checks are made before entering the venue. A waiver must be signed by attendees. Hand sanitizer is throughout the venue. And masks are required. Limits on indoor venues currently allow up to 100 people. While it’s a lot of effort, including education on protocols, it is what is needed to provide live audiences with an escape from the day-to-day with music.
The bands, too, are finding comfort in performing live again for audiences.
“It felt so good,” Lee said. “It was like oxygen. The crowd here just has so much love for the music, and we can really feel it.”
The Tierro Band with Bridget Law performance was the third show in the Vilar Center’s Ghost Light Series for which the general public could buy tickets. The series started in early May and has continued through the summer, with shows lined up through the end of August.
In theater, legend has it that the ghost light stays on at all times in the venue, even when everyone leaves the building.
“It’s more important than ever to have this light shining on us right now as we’re in this performance shutdown,” Horner said. “It’s very relevant to the times, and we’re trying to scramble frantically to present something to you during these times, and hopefully you all appreciate it.”
The Vilar Center has also been pioneering live streams on its Facebook and YouTube pages, something Horner said is an asset live venues can offer in the future to expand reach for musicians. Both musicians and venue organizers have said how difficult it can be, pulling together the sound with multiple camera angles (and staying connected to the internet).
With behavioral health a major secondary concern with the coronavirus, live music serves as a reprieve from the daily chaos.
“One of the things that I love so much about music is that it gets to take us away from the hustle and bustle of everyday live,” Lee therapeutically told the crowd on Thursday. “Tonight, I really hope we’re all going to go on a journey together and kind of escape these COVID times for a minute and remember that there are good times to come.”
Many bands, including the Tierro Band, have new material with the downtime the past couple of months — worth getting out to see in person or download.
“Help the musicians. Help the music industry. Help the people out there holding the light,” Lee pleaded, “because this will all come to an end, or it will change and we will adapt — but we will keep the music. We will keep the music going forward, we have to.”
For more information about upcoming shows at the Vilar Center on Thursday nights with a limited audience, visit http://www.vilarpac.org. For more from the Tierro Band, visit http://www.tierroband.com. Law is schedule to return to the valley in August and September as well, in case you missed her in July. The Amp in Vail is also hosting live music this summer; visit http://www.grfavail.com.
Upcoming Vilar Center schedule
All Ghost Light Series shows are at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Visit http://www.vilarpac.org for tickets, or tune in on the venue’s YouTube or Facebook pages for a live stream. The schedule is subject to change.
- Thursday, July 23: Tenth Mountain Division
- Thursday, July 30: Trace Bundy
- Thursday, Aug. 6: Jubilingo
- Thursday, Aug. 20: The Burroughs
- Thursday, Aug. 27: Elephant Collective Showcase (featuring Bridget Law and other members of Elephant Revival)
Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill. For him, live music — especially Bridget Law on violin/fiddle — tends to transport him to days of snowboarding through the trees at Beaver Creek, his happy place.
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