The Valley Is Alive with the Sound of Music

Photo by Lee Gelatt

Photo by Lee Gelatt

You can’t beat the balmy summer evenings of the Grand Valley, especially when there’s live music playing — which is often the case. Throughout the summer, local musicians and world-renowned visiting artists perform in a variety of outdoor venues most every weekend, and on many weekdays as well. Grab a lawn chair, sit back and relax, and listen to music under the stars this summer.

    A perennial favorite is the Colorado Riverfront Concert Series, which takes place at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita. The red rock cliffs of the Colorado National Monument provide a magnificent backdrop to the stage, where popular artists such as Leon Russell, James McMurtry, Dave Mason, MarchFourth Marching Band, Robert Earl Keen, POCO, Marcia Ball, and the Subdudes have performed.

    Coming on June 14 are Jon McKuen’s String Wizards and special guest Jim Ibbotson. The Bellamy Brothers, a country duo, will perform on August 9. Chris Hillman (formerly of The Byrds) and Herb Pederson kicked off this year’s series with a May 24 show.

    At $3 a ticket (to cover printing costs) the riverfront concerts are a gift to the community. Tickets are available at all City Market stores. While you can bring a picnic, no outside beverages are allowed. The concert series raises funds from the sale of food and drinks for the Colorado Riverfront Foundation, a nonprofit responsible for revitalizing the valley’s riverfront – including building a paved walkway along the river from one end of the valley to the other.

    Grande River Vineyard’s Hear It Through the Grapevine summer concert series is another opportunity to enjoy live music in a fabulous setting while supporting a good cause. Located in Palisade at 787 N. Elberta Ave., this lovely venue is surrounded by views of Mt. Garfield and the Grand Mesa. Each of the four concerts in the series is a benefit for a local nonprofit.

    One very high-energy show is the Quemando concert for Child and Migrant Services (coming July 7). The Boulder-based Latin jazz band performs every year and offers free salsa lessons before the concert. Another plus is the homemade, authentic Mexican food available before and during the show. While you’re welcome to bring a picnic, there’s always a food vendor on site, as well as wine for sale by the glass or bottle.

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    A new benefit concert was added to the series this year to raise money for the Mesa County Library Foundation. Ralph Dinosaur and the Fabulous Volcanoes will perform at Grande River on June 30. The library foundation and winery also partnered to launch a new wine, titled Well Read, that will be available at the event. (Read more about the wine on age 2.)

    A similarly titled concert series, Music in the Grapevines, is presented on Tuesdays by the Grand Junction Art Center Guild at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau at 2087 Broadway on the Redlands. Monument views make this another stunning concert venue. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a picnic; wine and dessert are available for purchase.

    Formerly known as Jazz Among the Grapevines, the series’ name evolved over time to reflect other types of music. The popular band Stray Grass opened the series this year. Bryan Savage is another favorite musician who returns year after year. All proceeds go to fund activities and events at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts (The Art Center). Attending a Tuesday concert is a fun way to break up the workweek!

    Two major music festivals — one country, the other bluegrass and roots — draw music lovers from around the region every year. The Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival happens the second weekend in June at Riverbend Park alongside the Colorado River. Elephant Revival, Mandarin Orange, David Grisman, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dave Alvin, and Junior Brown are among the top-notch acts who have performed here. It’s a family-friendly event, with free admission for kids 12 and under, and fun activities throughout the weekend.

    You can bring a picnic, but outside beverages are not allowed. Do bring a reusable water bottle to refill at water stations throughout the festival. Palisade-crafted beer, local wines, and artisan cocktails made with Palisade-distilled spirits are available for purchase. A variety of food vendors are also on site. Camping during the three-day festival is available in the park.

    In the desert outside of Mack — on the opposite end of the valley from Palisade — you can find Country Jam. Dubbed “the Biggest Party in Colorado,” the event takes place on June 14-17. With three different stages, the venue draws thousands of country music fans each year from around the western region. This year’s lineup includes more than 30 artists — Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Brett Eldridge, Dustin Lynch, and more. Food, drinks, and camping are available.

Rooftop at the Avalon Theatre, Downtown Grand Junction

Rooftop at the Avalon Theatre, Downtown Grand Junction

    In the heart of Grand Junction at Las Colonias Park Amphitheater, multiple musicians will perform for the first-ever Colorado RiverFest on July 21. Tickets for this daylong event range from $25 to $150 for VIP tickets. Unless you’re a VIP, bring a chair or a blanket for the lawn. Food, wine, beer, and other beverages will be for sale.

    The city-owned amphitheater opened last year at 925 Struthers Ave., along the Colorado Riverfront Trail. Its first season included performances by Los Lonely Boys, Los Lobos, and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. The Grand Junction Symphony kicked off this year’s concert season with a Beatles tribute performance on June 2. Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot and TOTO’s 40 Trips Around the Sun tour will make summer stops at the venue.

    Right next door to Las Colonias Amphitheater, Edgewater Brewery will be hosting the 4th Annual Local Jam, a three-day, two-stage showcase of the best live music in the Grand Valley, from August 10-12. Featuring 36 local bands, there is something for everyone. Headliners are Mount Orchid on Friday, Suckafish on Saturday, and Stray Grass on Sunday. Local Jam donates proceeds to local charitable organizations. Three-day passes are $25 at

    Just down the river from Las Colonias is the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, host to the Garden Groove concert series and other benefit concerts. Garden Groove benefits Strive, a nonprofit that provides services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The gardens will also host fundraising shows for Western Slope Center for Children and Habitat for Humanity of Mesa County. Both the natural surroundings and the botanical gardens make this a particularly sweet venue, located at 641 Struthers Ave.

    Free Thursday Concerts will take place in Fruita at Civic Center Park, 325 E. Aspen Ave., June 7 - August 9. This year’s offerings range from indie and classic rock, to a centennial band complete with ice cream social. Remember to bring a chair or blanket, and perhaps some pizza from the Hot Tomato down the street.

    Also on Thursdays, during downtown Grand Junction’s Farmers Market (June 21 - September 13), check out the free Sunset Terrace concerts featuring live acoustic music at the historic Avalon Theatre. Local musicians also play at various locations along Main Street during the farmers market.

Stray Grass kicked off the Art Center Guild’s summer concert series, Music in the Grapevines, at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau.

Stray Grass kicked off the Art Center Guild’s summer concert series, Music in the Grapevines, at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau.

    Bookending the summer concert season, music fans throng to the Grand Junction Off-Road and Four Peaks Downtown Music Festival every May, and the Fruita Fall Festival in September. Additionally, local establishments like Hot Tomato in Fruita, Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction, and the Palisade Brewing Company offer live outdoor music throughout
the year.

    The long, glorious summers of the Grand Valley make it a paradise for outdoor music lovers. Happiness is sitting under the stars with a tasty drink, listening to good music, and/or dancing barefoot in the grass. Enjoy — it’s just begun! 

For full details of these events, including lineups and pricing, visit