There are about a million things that rock about the summer. Long motorcycle rides, playing golf, grilling brats and drinking beer in your backyard while watching your neighbors fight with sticks, wearing cardboard, silver-spray-painted “armor” in their yard (or is that just me?) … in the immortal words of Rodgers and Hammerstein, these are a few of my favorite things. But the jewel in the crown of the next three months is the seemingly unending spate of music festivals dotting every town from Pueblo to Fort Collins across the Front Range every single weekend into September. Can’t make it to all of them? Here’s a short list of the ones you shouldn’t miss.
Telluride Jazz Festival: Sure, everyone knows all about the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. But the Jazz Fest is a smaller affair, with more diverse music, every bit as talented performers and at least a third less body hair. Think, the difference between Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Performers include: Stanley Clarke, Charlie Hunter, Dianne Reeves. When: Aug. 6–8. Info: telluridejazz.org
RockyGrass: Set along the St. Vrain River in Lyons, it’s close enough to home to commute to while picturesque enough to feel like you’ve gotten away; the talent’s primo and the pace is slow enough to really enjoy it all. Performers Include: Doc Watson, Patty Loveless, Sam Bush. When: July 23–25. Info: bluegrass.com/rockygrass
Mile High Music Festival: In just three years, the Mile High Music Festival has cemented itself as the single greatest annual music event in Colorado—which is no small feat, especially considering you have to go to Commerce City to see it. This year’s lineup is the best yet: Weezer, Ozomatli and Cypress Hill are just a few of the dozens of names playing on five stages over two days at the fields at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Performers Include: Dave Matthews, the original lineup of The Samples. When: Aug. 14–15. Info: milehighmusicfestival.com
Westword Music Showcase: There aren’t many local music festivals in the country better managed than the Westword Music Showcase. Starting with weeks of voting; then tabulation and announcement of performers, then a day-long marathon of music on 14 different stages on or around Broadway and 11th in Denver, the showcase is truly a display of the most-enjoyed bands in the Centennial State. Performers Include: Ghostland Observatory, Single File, Oh My Stars. When: June 19. Info: microapp.westword.com/musicshowcase
Denver Post Underground Music Showcase: If the Westword Showcase is the best of Colorado, the Denver Post UMS takes it up a notch, featuring the best indie acts in the Rocky Mountain West. Now in its 10th year, the event is drawing comparisons to South By SouthWest in its younger days (before everything got too big for its britches). It’s four days long and has now grown to more than 300 acts in the South Broadway neighborhood in Denver. Performers Include: The Knew, Taun Taun, Paper Bird. When: July 22–25. Info: theums.com