Live in Minturn changes charity, adds bands
In a time when corporate greed is being exposed, it’s refreshing to meet the men of the Minturn Volunteer Fire Department. The Live in Minturn concert series, a grassroots music festival that fills in the traditionally slow off-season musical lineup in Vail, raised approximately $23,000 last year for the department.This year the Minturn department has merged with the Eagle River Fire Protection District and felt their financial needs weren’t so dire. So the Live in Minturn crew, along with town officials and business leaders, created the Minturn Community Fund.”It’s nice for a small community that is not totally wealthy to have some money raised for projects that will benefit the community,” says Andy Kaufman, part-owner of the Saloon and one of the directors of the Minturn Community Fund. “Now when someone has a great idea, we’ll have the funds to start the project.”The Live in Minturn concert series kicked off its season Sunday, Sept. 15, with its first ever outdoor show at La Playua Park with Richard Johnston & the Foothill Stompers. Viewers couldn’t help but hope some of the money raised by the festival will go to building a permanent amphitheater at the community park.”You could tell it was the start of something really great,” Kaufman says. “There’s a wonderful feel to (La Playua Park), and we hope we can make it a better venue for concerts and community events in the future.”And community, grassroots events seems to be among the most popular in Minturn. The Minturn Farmers Market, which wrapped up its season last weekend, has exploded in size, as has the Live inMinturn concert series, which this year boasts 14 events and is the largest in the history of the series.As the festival grows, talent buyer Alison Kabel continues to bring in the eclectic mix of bands that has made Live in Minturn the valley’s favorite off-season musical happening.Following on the strong success of acts like the Asylum Street Spankers, which is probably the most interactive, big and innovative “unplugged” act on the music scene, Kabel is busting out popular yet rarely seen acts in Vail like DeVotchka (Saloon, Oct. 25), Mindgoflip (Chili Willy’s, Oct. 5) and Boa & the Constrictors (Saloon, Sept. 27).”A lot of the music is something like no one up here has ever heard,” she says. That eclectic mix and strong local support has combined to fuel the festival’s growth. “The growth of the festival has been great,” Kabel says of a festival that spanned five weeks last year and has jumped to seven this time around. “There’s a longer shoulder season this year,” she says, “and there are always so many great bands that want to play; it was irresistible to add more dates. There were a lot of bands I didn’t get to book last year, and this year I still couldn’t hit them all, but at least I had 14 chances.”Kabel’s ability to pick eclectic yet popular acts is no mystery. She paid her dues as a booking agent who used to set up tours for bands in California. She’s now on the other end and knows how to narrow down to the hottest acts from a luke-warm pile of demo tapes, Websites and promo packs.Her tricks?Go to tons of shows in Vail and Denver, which led her to book the Crispy Critters (Chili Willy’s, Sept. 20) when she spotted them opening for local act Little Hercules last year. She also browses genre-specific Webites. But her most effective trick is to check out the clubs around the country that are the toughest for a band to get into. If the act can get in there and they have a unique sound, they have a chance at a spot at the Live in Minturn concert series.Alongside out of town artists, many of whom have earned critical national acclaim, Kabel is keeping the Live in Minturn spotlight hot on local acts like Flux (Saloon, Oct. 11) and the I’s Havit Trio (Minturn Cellars, Sept. 21).Although the name of the festival suggests otherwise, Red Cliff is not left out of the action. This year organizers are adding free shuttles, donated by Nova Guides, to take concert-goers from the heart of Minturn to Mangos in Red Cliff. Catch a ride on Oct. 5, as jazz act The Fortune Tellers take the stage and on Oct. 12 when the Telluride Bluegrass Festival-featured act the Single Malt Band hits Mango’s intimate, yet often wild, stage.Check http://www.liveinminturn.com for a full schedule. Most shows begin at 9 p.m. and cost $7.