Blue River Series announces summer lineup |

Blue River Series announces summer lineup

BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Music Festival isn’t just for classical fans. Last summer, the more rocking component of the festival, the Blue River Series, brought droves of hippies out of the woodwork, as well as lovers of Broadway musicals, jazz and folk-rock fans and kids.

This year, the Blue River Series shows will bring back hippies, Broadway lovers and jazz freaks, and it will attract anyone who likes bluegrass, Celtic tunes, blues, contemporary piano and good old rock ‘n’ roll.

The series begins close to home with the Battle of the Bands, Friday, June 6. Local, amateur musicians compete for prizes as Sal Mancini, Leon Joseph Littlebird and a DJ from Krystal 93 judge the bands.

“What we’re trying to do is acknowledge these up-and-coming bands in the community,” said Jeff Baum, executive director of the Breckenridge Music Institute.

The biggest acts of the series include Vinyl and Particle (Friday, June 20), Arrested Development (Sunday, June 29), George Winston (Friday, July 11), the Dark Star Orchestra (Sunday, July 20), Los Lobos (Thursday, Aug. 7) and Jerry Jeff Walker (Saturday, Aug. 30).

Vinyl has performed as Phil Lesh’s band for a sold-out concert in Petaluma, Calif., and has shared the stage with the Meters at the House of Blues in New Orleans. In 1999, the nationwide poll voted the outfit one of the top 25 bands in the country. Vinyl’s infectious grooves blend old-school funk, Latin percussion, reggae and rhythm-and-blues into original, dance-oriented sounds.

Particle is a new experience in sonic exploration and multimedia fusion. Described as “space porn,” its music is a wild blend of high-octane funk and electronic soundscapes.

Arrested Development won a Grammy Award for best new artist and one for best rap single in 1993. The group dedicates itself to nudging listeners toward freedom and spiritual evolution with what it calls “cultural-Southern-hip-hop-folk-ethnic-funk.” Its shows are an explosion of dance, percussion and turntables.

George Winston has recorded eight solo piano albums – all of which have gone gold, platinum or multiplatinum – since 1980. He released his latest album, “Night Divides the Day – The Music of the Doors,” last year. It features his interpretations of popular and obscure Doors music. In addition to his solo piano work, he has recorded and produced albums of the Hawaiian slack key guitar masters, and during his piano concerts, he always plays a few slack key guitar pieces.

Deadheads will rejoice as the vibes of the Grateful Dead reincarnate with the Dark Star Orchestra’s show. Cover bands have mimicked the Grateful Dead for years, but the Dark Star Orchestra revives the music of the Dead, playing original set lists with vintage stage arrangements. The band members, who collectively have been to more than 600 Dead shows, choose a specific show, study tapes of it, mimic the stage setup using instruments from the same decade, play the songs note by note and even duplicate between-song banter. Last year’s show at the Riverwalk Center sold out.

Los Lobos is best known for its rendition of “La Bamba” in the movie of the same name. The band formed 25 years ago in East Los Angeles and has since evolved its own, distinct Tex-Mex style, which combines rock, folk, blues, rhythm-and-blues and traditional Mexican music.

A lot of musicians talk about life on the road, but Jerry Jeff Walker has lived it – hitchhiking to Key West, singing for pennies on the streets of New Orleans and busking across Canada. In the early 1970s, he reinvented himself as a Lone Star country-rocker and became a standard of the Austin music community.

Both the Queen City Jazz Band and the Broadway Baritones return this summer. Inspired by jazz legends, the Denver-based Queen City Jazz Band has been recreating traditional New Orleans-style jazz, blues and gospel for more than 40 years. The seven-piece band performs Dixieland tunes, such as “Fidgety Feet,” “Basin Street Blues” and “New Orleans Stomp,” using both improvisation and straight arrangements. It’s show on Sunday, Aug. 10, coincides with the Vettes on the Rockies show, which moves from Frisco to Breckenridge this year.

Last year, Broadway veteran Douglas Webster joined two other Broadway Baritones in singing the heroes’ tunes from “Guys and Dolls,” “City of Angels,” “Carousel,” “West Side Story,” “My Funny Valentine” and “On the Town.” This year, the trio performs Sunday, Aug. 17.

Other shows in the series are: Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, Railroad Earth, the Elders, Charlie Musselwhite and the Disco Biscuits.

Grammy-nominated duo Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo back its ballads with guitar and harmonica interplay at the Riverwalk Center Sunday, June 15. Buffalo has contributed to more than 100 major albums by artists including Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Kenny Loggins and the Doobie Brothers. For 27 years, Buffalo has been a member of the Steve Miller Band. Rogers is featured on Raitt’s hit album “Silver Lining” and has won eight Grammy nominations as a producer and a performer. Together, Rogers and Buffalo’s music focuses on American roots, folk and blues, with a little down-and-dirty blues and swampy grooves thrown into the mix.

Railroad Earth brings its jamming bluegrass to Breckenridge on Sunday, June 22. The band has played at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and the High Sierra Music Festival.

The Elders weave Celtic ballads filled with tales of exile, oppression and friendships with rock ‘n’ roll and a touch of bluegrass and country Thursday, July 3. The six-piece band rounds out its sound with a banjo, guitar, violin, mandolin, keyboards, accordion and percussion.

Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite immersed himself in Memphis’ diverse musical culture as a child and sat in with blues legends Will Shade, Furry Lewis and the Texas Jug Band. His first album, “Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Blues Band,” was one of the first critically acclaimed white blues album, released by Vanguard in 1967. He wails on his harp Sunday, July 6.

The Disco Biscuits have come up with a trance-fusion all their own. Their intoxicating pulses are a spontaneous, ever-evolving combustion of rock, jazz, techno, classical blues and soul. They play Sunday, July 27.

“This is the fastest growing and best-attended paid concert series in the county, and with that growth comes the ability for me to bring in these big national names,” Baum said. “The BMF is getting a lot of respect from agencies and from the management companies because you develop a reputation when you do this stuff. The major markets are actively seeking us.”

Most shows begin around 8 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center. Tickets range from $20-25, with some shows selling for less and some, such as Los Lobos, selling for more. Community First National Band is the presenting sponsor, and the Breckenridge Brewery will supply the official beer of the Blue River Series. For more information, call (970) 453-9142 or visit

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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