Snowmass Village has a stage that uses the natural incline of the slopes for a perfect day of music in the mountains.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free …”
— “Me & Bobby McGee,” by Fred Foster and Kris Kristofferson
It’s all about being free. Free Ride. Free Falling. I’m Free! Free Bird. Free your mind. Free your soul. Free love. Free spirited. Free the people. Free your heel. Free beer. Break free. Fancy free. Free agent. It’s a way of life. But, apparently, for some reason, it’s unanimously agreed that there is no free lunch. Fortunately, there are free concerts, and lots of them, for you to flee freely to throughout spectacular mountain venues where we can pack up the picnic baskets and Pibbers, the wine, the kids and the pooches and head out for an evening of social noshing and dancing. And … it’s free!
Snowmass Village has the venue with the views, a kick-ass sound system and amazing stage at their Thursday Night Music Series, which began in June and rocks the valley through August 16. Bring seats and whatever you want to chow down on, although you can purchase grilled foods along with beer and wine at the shindig. It’s kid friendly with a bouncy house and activities to amuse the little ones so you can thoroughly enjoy the music. Check out the schedule at snowmassvillage.com.
Up in Steamboat Springs, the summer viewscape is lush with five concerts, starting at 7 p.m. on assorted nights. Although pets and your personal alcohol stash are not permitted, you can buy libations there. Check out steamboatfreeconcerts.com, then head on over to Vail where Jazz at The Market in the tent at Solaris (141 East Meadow Drive) kicks off the summer through August 26, from noon to 3 p.m. Click over to vailjazz.org. Just down the road a piece, Frisco is gathering for their Concert in the Park Series at 120 Main Street. You and your leashed pet can join them Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. through August 16. Right around the corner in Dillon, catch the Friday Night Concerts at the Amphitheatre until August 31. While you’re there, hang out for the Sunset at the Summit concert series presented by the Lake Dillon Foundation for the Performing Arts, on Saturdays at 7 p.m. from July 7 through September 1. You can find all these events listed at coloradoinfo.com/summitcounty/events.
On the Western Slope, Rob Miller of Pickin’ Productions decided there wasn’t enough free music and created three new series in Ouray, Ridgway and Paonia, splitting the summer up nicely between the towns and booking some great acts into each. You can spend June in Ouray (OK … next year, and do hit the Orvis suit-optional hot springs), July in Ridgway (Town Park) and August in Paonia (Town Park and grab some of that valley’s magnificent organic produce and wine too). All shows start at 7 p.m. And being Ridgway, not only are they endeavoring to build a real stage, they have an afterparty at the Sherbino Theatre at 10 p.m. with the opening bands. More info at community radio KVNF.org.
Want classical? Durango’s Music in the Mountains (musicinthemountains.com) offers some of their series for free, as does Aspen (aspenmusicfestival.com). Durango also has a free concert series throughout July and into August at Buckley Park, Thursdays 5 to 7:30 p.m. which you can access at durangoconcerts.com.
Hard to get to but well worth the journey are the Crested Butte concerts, both in town and on the mountain, along with down-valley Gunnison concerts.
Downtown CB’s Alpenglow series is smack in the middle of wildflower-filled vertical views every Monday at 5:30 p.m. through August 22 (crestedbuttearts.org). Chill out a few days and take the free bus up the hill on Wednesday between July 6 and August 24 for some fine performances at the Red Lady Stage on Mt. Crested Butte. Gunnison cranks out the tunes for two nights, Fridays at 5 p.m. in the Gunnison Arts Center courtyard and Sundays at 6 p.m. in Legion Park. You can check out all those concerts at gunnisoncrestedbutte.com/events/free-concerts.
High above Boulder on the Front Range, the Gold Hill Inn celebrates 50 years of food and music this summer with both down-home and uptown musical acts and free shows throughout the year. Check out their summer freebies at goldhillinn.com. And if you’re in the area, head over to Estes Park for their Thursday Night Live! free performance series, at 7 p.m. at Performance Park found at estesart.com.
Whether you’re already living in the hills or need a breather from the lowland heat, jump your favorite transport and head on up to the mountain stages to enjoy free music of every genre because the road isn’t just calling you, it’s screaming in four-part harmonies, for free.
Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer and vocalist living somewhere between the alternate universes of Crested Butte and Boulder. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org