If you live in Colorado, you probably understand the passion people have for the lively Denver music scene. Our state is home to some incredible venues like Red Rocks, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, and the new Mission Ballroom. We have become accustomed to a flourishing industry that has experienced steady growth for the last decade. Between 2010 and 2019, the arts and music industry in Colorado saw 29 percent growth and added 21,546 jobs.
The Denver music scene makes millions each year, attracts tourists, and inspires people to move out to Colorado. So, it goes without saying the pandemic has had devastating effects on performers, venues, and cancelling summer events. From CSU’s LEAP Institute for the Arts, Michael Seman led a team in collecting data on how much the pandemic has impacted the music industry in Colorado. He explained to the Denverite that music venues are “secular churches”, emphasizing that “they really add to the fabric of the community and strengthen ties within the community. And right now, we’re losing that.”
While larger venues may be unable to re-open until 2021, Coloradans are eager to see their music community recover, celebrate, and survive in the meantime. We are highlighting unique social distancing and outdoor show experiences happening this month in Denver, for those of us aching to enjoy live music once again.
Live music performances are an expression of joy, something to look forward to and create memories with friends and family. Fine arts and music events are also drivers of other parts of the economy in Colorado. Consider how hospitality, food and beverage, tourism, and education are all intertwined with cultural events and shows.
For these reasons, efforts to revive the Denver music scene propel more than just the music industry back to life. The primary concern of re-launching in-person events is limiting exposure and planning for strategic social distancing. Venues like Red Rocks are trying several approaches to bring in-person events to stir crazy Coloradans.
In August, Red Rocks hosted its first in person shows since March. Tickets were few and far between for several intimate shows with the Colorado Symphony, but those dying to enjoy a concert soaked up every minute. What’s interesting is the Colorado Symphony played their concert unplugged, a creative way to cut down on the number of people needed to make the show happen.
Beloved café Lost City in RiNo has created Lost City Live: An Independent Music Recovery Showcase. Hosted on the patio stage at Lost City River North, this outdoor concert series has a very specific mission.
Proceeds from tickets help raise money for performing musicians and an additional musician recovery fund going to local artists and music industry professionals. Lost City is carefully cleaning and ensuring all guests are spaced out for these intimate shows. Take a look at their September line-up here.
This summer, Denver Botanic Gardens is taking a new path for their outdoor concert series. Typically hosted on the central lawn location with their outdoor stage, Evenings Al Fresco are a more mellow, social distanced experience. From their website, DBG paints the picture of this series as “visitors strolling through the Gardens [to] encounter small, socially distanced ensembles performing works designed to underscore and bring delight to their evening visit.”
If you’d like to soak up the gorgeous greenery and lily pads with ambient music, tickets are available for September events here.
As we mentioned before, Colorado’s most loved music venue is not giving up on bringing shows to eager audiences. Aside from the Colorado Symphony series, there will also be one in-person rock concert on Monday September 14th. Boulder based Gasoline Lollipops cut through red tape to get one of the last available days without an event that was already scheduled at Red Rocks.
Fans pushed for this show to happen, despite the complexities of planning it. Lead singer Clay Rose said, “it was a huge learning curve for us, and a pretty big learning curve for Red Rocks, too. Booking during a pandemic is a whole different animal.” Though only 175 lucky people will get to go to the show, it speaks to how much people want music to come back right now.
Red Rocks is also hosting a great summer movie series, including showing Star Wars, The Princess Bride, and Fight Club in the month of September. “We’re grateful to our city leaders and partners at Arts & Venues, as well as all of the health and service workers who committed to making Film on the Rocks Drive-In a reality,” Denver Film Festival Director Britta Erickson said of making the new Drive-In at Red Rocks possible.
As an added bonus, all tickets to Film on the Rocks Drive-In include movie snacks! Two sodas, a box of M&M’s, Twizzlers, and a bag of CityPop Popcorn are all included for each vehicle ticket. There will be other food vendors at the venue as well. So which movie will you being seeing? Tickets can be purchased here.
Also worthy of checking out is the Mile High Summer Series, launched by Ironworks Denver this summer. Their main goal in starting the Mile High Summer Series is to bring music back to the people. Immerse yourself in a picturesque setting with dinner under patio lights, while enjoying serenades from local artists.
As a bonus, each live music series has a corresponding charity, to which donations from the crowd will be sent to organizations like St. Jude, the National Jewish Health Center, and more. This weekend they are hosting a Derby watch party, and next week you can see performers Eric Golden and David Lawrence. Find more information here.
Starting September 3rd, Live@Jack’s will host weekly social distance concerts to support the greater Colorado music community. Tickets include a dinner picnic basket, but prepare to bring your own lawn chairs or blanket for their rooftop experience. You can reserve a private two-top picnic for an additional fee. Find all of their upcoming events here.
Up next week is local favorite, the Hazel Miller Band at 7pm on Thursday, September 10th. Live@Jack’s Denver has also created a musician assistance fund, to help support musicians in the Denver music scene and their livelihoods due to statewide closures. If you’re interested in supporting the fund, learn more about it here.
Looking for something more casual or drop-in? Check out Roxy on Broadway and their new outdoor patio. The restaurant opens up its garage door to create an open space for food, drinks, and entertainment. No need to plan ahead, as they have musicians playing most nights of the week.
This unique building was restored to have an old-timey 1920s atmosphere, and we are here for their small plates and killer sandwich menu. Check out who is playing music at the Roxy here.
At the end of the day, most folks are sick of their screens and ready for a break. However, those who relied on in-person events for their livelihood need continued support for their virtual events. Even joining an online music concert in the background while you cook dinner or do chores around the house is a great way to support musicians.
We’re all missing in-person concerts, but in the meantime, virtual shows will have to fill in the gaps. Consider donating to any one of the number of musician relief funds if you’re not interested in virtual shows. If you are looking for something besides Netflix to fill your weekends, take a look at Red Rock’s Unpaused virtual series, or the virtual events playing old video from concerts at the Levitt Pavilion in Denver. Most of these virtual watch parties are free to the public.
All of us at BWBacon are super eager for all Colorado’s cultural and music events to return to normal, but we love to see the new ways venues and musicians are making it happen. Here’s to seeing continued success and innovation when it comes to reviving the Denver music scene.
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