Music on the lawns: looking forward to free summer concerts |

Music on the lawns: looking forward to free summer concerts

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyMusic lovers have plenty to get excited about this summer, with Hot Summer Nights and the smaller, family-oriented Mesa Bank Show Downtown.

Free music on the lawns has become a tradition in both Vail and Eagle.

Hot Summer Nights, Vail

The summer counterpart to the sub-freezing Street Beats series, Hot Summer Nights has become a staple at the Ford Amphitheater. Often used as a time to catch up with friends, it also produces a solid lineup of music.

The Tuesday night concerts are free. The gates open at 5:30 p.m., and the music goes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., rain or shine.

“We were given the go-ahead on booking some great acts,” said Mia Vlaar of the Vail Valley Foundation, the entity responsible for organizing the music series.

Beginning June 18 with Jefferson Starship Acoustic, an acoustic experience in the classic rock genre. Sporting two of Jefferson Airplane’s founding fathers, Paul Kantner and Marty Balin, this new project is essentially an unplugged version of the “San Francisco sound” they were credited with.

Acoustic Syndicate returns for a newgrass concert June 25; hopefully the weather will be a bit milder than it was for their outdoors winter performance. Newgrass gives way to the blues with Sonny Landreth on July 2.

A night of country is booked for July 9 with Jerry Jeff Walker and the Gonzo Compadres. Party buddy for Jimmy Buffet in the “70s, Walker’s got a few stories to tell in between sets of country rock, road songs and folk music.

Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, no stranger to Vail, will be back on July 16 with their own acid jazz sound, a fitting primer for Wild Magnolias on July 23. Billed as Mardi Gras Indians, they specialize in New Orleans music and all the outrageous costumes that entails.

The Hot Summer Nights grand finale performance is on July 30 with Colorado girl Liza and the Soul Stars. Having played several of the venues in Vail, Liza is known for her stage presence and energy as much as she is for her music, all original songs.

Living in a resort town at the peak of tourist season can be a disconcerting experience – the roundabouts are filled to capacity with un-savvy drivers, restaurants no longer know what a local’s discount is and forget grocery shopping in less than an hour. Hot Summer Nights offers a true gathering place in town that’s often missing in Vail. Despite the variety of music offered, that’s sometimes the last thing local attendees are interested in. Essentially, Hot Summer Nights is a big picnic, local style.

Mesa Bank Show Downtown, Eagle

A smaller to-do, and more family-oriented, are the four concerts at the Eagle Town Park. Also a product of the Vail Valley Foundation, these evenings provide not only a revolving line-up of music but also a series of kids’ entertainment for each Wednesday in July. Kids’ activities begin at 6:15 p.m., and the music kicks in at 6:30.

The kick-off on July 4, a big day up and down the valley, brings President Ford’s favorite jazz and swing group, the New Summitridge Jazz Band. Caricature artists will be capturing the exaggerated likenesses of children in attendance. For reggae fans, John Brown’s Body performs July 11, as kids make sand art and spin art.

Caberet Diosa found itself a hot-bed of controversy when they played for Avon’s Independence Day celebration last year. Their Latin salsa sound draws from the traditions of Cuba and Brazil, and can be heard on July 18. Face painting is the activity of choice for the evening.

For the grand finale, the Clumsy Lovers return from Canada to share their newgrass music. The un-clumsy performers have an engaging stage show that complements their choice of gleeful tunes. Kids will have the opportunity to paint pinwheels in between bouts of hopping about to the energetic fiddle tunes the group is known for.

For more information on either concert series, contact the Vail Valley Foundation at 949-1999.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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