I have been part of the music scene in Vail Valley for nearly two decades. During that time I have marveled at the vast array of world class performers who have performed throughout the valley- many times for free. Rock and roll hall of famers and those that will someday make it. Artists on the rise and those on the tail end of stellar careers. We have seen many acts but it has tended to be too few and far between. That all changed in 2017. As far as I’m concerned from a live music standpoint, 2017 was the best year the Vail Valley has ever seen. From the splendid February week at the VPAC to a double decker weekend that featured Elvis Costello and Ben Harper, It was a year we should salute all those promoters who brought such world class acts and of course those of you fans who paid for tickets to help support them.
It all started with a flurry in February. The VPAC had such a special week it should have forewarned all of us that 2017 was going to be different. Gregory Alan Isaakov, Martin Sexton were sandwiched around the New Orleans based The Revivalists for three days of superb musicianship. Then March saw world class tribute to the Grateful Dead as Dark Star Orchestra sold out the VPAC for a special intimate affair. The VPAC wasn’t finished yet as new executive director Duncan Horner made his presence felt with a sold out performance by Lord Huron. This show was a massive success for the valley as attendees from international destinations attended to see this major festival act in the small classy venue.
Then the outdoor scene began in earnest as the Ford Amphitheater started celebrated its remarkable 30 year run early with three stellar nights as part of the Go Pro Mountian Games. With national touring acts like Moon Taxi and White Denim holding the stage with terrific support from the three best local bands in the country (Bonfire Dub, Brothers Keeper and Town Cavalry) -the famed stage rocked thousands for free. The aerial slack line entertainment between acts only added to the likes of Nahko, Trevor Hall and the ampped up blues of Markus King Band throw in Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass all making for 9 great acts over three days. The Amp was just getting warmed up as their three decades long presence was celebrated with a weekend to remember featuring Third Eye Blind and Rodrigo y Gabriela.
The outdoor festival season reached full stride as well in 2017, as Bonfire Brewery’s Block Party was joined by Septemberfest and Cover Rock returned with the greatest concert that never was performed over a weekend in Avon’s Nottingham Park. The town of Eagle festivals entertained jam packed streets of their downtown with international acts like Sam Bush, Robert Randolph, Fruition and Anders Osborne. While Cover Rock returned for year two featuring the best tribute bands in the world performing under the British Invasion theme. A laser light spectacular featuring The Machine Perfoming Pink Floyd and an amazingly accurate rendition of Beatles Vs. Stones enhanced the idyllic setting along the shares of Lake Nottingham.
The oft-forlorned stage at Avon was just getting into full stride as two major acts performed in one off concerts as the town went full steam ahead into presenting the grand stage as a new venue to be reckoned with. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals overcame challenging weather while Lyle Lovett brought his Big Band to the glorious setting. The Ben Harper show was held on the eve of a new adventure in concert going as Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Elvis Costello was joined by Elephant Revival for what we hope is just the first of many Hike to The Mic musical explorations at Spruce Saddle in Beaver Creek.
I haven’t even mentioned them all and that just shows the strength of scheduling that we can only hope continues as the top musical story of the year in Vail Valley was the pure plethora of live music that graced the Valley.