Follow the Colorado River 40 minutes past Vail and you’ll find a small oasis snuggled in between the Rocky Mountains and a meandering waterway. The location is Rancho Del Rio, and it will host this summer’s Beanstalk Music & Arts Festival. June 22nd will mark the festival’s return to this scenic location, and festival goers couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming weekend of sonic bliss. The Magic Beans, who are performing three sets, have been prominent in the Colorado jam scene for years and have made a fair share of friends along the way. They are considered one of (if not the biggest) up-and-coming jam bands in Colorado, and have been hosting Beanstalk for the past five years. My advice with regards to the Beans: BUY LOW, SELL HIGH – 5 years from now you’ll be paying twice as much to see these guys perform, and your future self will pat yourself on the back for seeing this band rise from its humble beginnings. People return to Beanstalk year after year because of its intimate size and community feel, and if you’re into the Colorado music scene this roster should give you the goosebumps.
Here are 7 things to look forward to at this year’s Beanstalk Festival.
1. Location, Location, Location.
You know you’re in the right place when you have to decide between a morning yoga class, whitewater rafting, or a hike to a hot spring. Not only that, but Rancho Del Rio is home to world-class fishing destinations and amazing wildlife. The pilgrimage to Beanstalk’s location not only draws locals back to the festival, but also outdoorsman seeking an authentic camping trip in the Colorado Rockies. The scene is perfection for bluegrass and folk during the sunny hours of the day, while the nighttime brings funk, jam, and dance.
2. Local Produce
The weekend will feature Colorado bands who’ve found their sound in the Front Range region. Mama Magnolia, led by the extremely talented Megan Letts, is guaranteed to move your body and mind. They’re made up of true musicians with stylish rhythms and subtle soul. While other bands will deliver unadulterated dance parties, we can take a deep breath during Mama Magnolia’s performance and let the music take over.
Another local band to keep your eye on is Cycles. A psychedelic rock trio that’s played more shows than any band in Colorado, this meteoric local staple supported the Magic Beans during their last tour throughout Colorado’s mountain towns. After performing post-parties and campground sets all last summer, they’ve received blessings from Phish Phans and have truly earned their way into this festival. Using an array of effects and tasteful stage production, lead guitarist Patrick Harvey will prove to you a 3-piece band can blow you away as a main stage act.
Two more bands we have our eyes on are both products of the University of Colorado – Boulder. Amoramora is a four-piece jam band coming off the high of a sold out show at the Fox Theater, and their innate ability to keep the energy flowing throughout their sets makes them stand out. Tenth Mountain Division, also recent CU graduates, takes the traditional form of bluegrass and injects a unique brand of rock and roll into their compositions that creates a high-energy yet folksy performance. TMD has dominated the Colorado bluegrass scene as of late, and in turn has become a hot commodity in the Centennial State. 2017 Beanstalk also happens to be a homecoming for the band’s mandolin player, Winston Heuga, who grew up in this area.
“Growing up in Edwards, not even 45 minutes away from Rancho Del Rio, has made this festival all the more special for me. In high school I used to sneak out of my mom’s house on weeknights, with my guitar player MJ, to see the likes of Bill Kreutzmann’s Seven Walkers and Vince Herman leading campfire picks. My very first festival was Yarmony Grass, which was held in the same location as Beanstalk. I learned to play music with not just my best friends on that riverside, but because it is such a small festival site, I have had the pleasure of playing with many of my idols there as well. Last year when State Bridge was shut down and Beanstalk had to find a new location, it felt like an end of an era. I am happy to say that I was wrong as Beanstalk has returned to its original location to carry the torch. Playing at Rancho where I saw my first festival is more than bringing it full circle. Tenth Mountain Division is honored to be a part of the revitalization of Rancho Del Rio and hope to continue to play music here each year!” (Winston Heuga)
Colorado’s music scene is bursting with collaborations between artists, especially during the festival season. These open and inclusive tendencies are part of Colorado’s culture which becomes a huge factor considering the vibe of a festival. Expect Beanstalk to feature some memorable sit-ins and collaborations from musicians all across the board. The inclusiveness these artists represent carries into the crowd, making Beanstalk a wonderful place to meet new people, make lifelong friends, and create fond memories.
4. Colorado Is Known For Getting Funked Up
Back in 1998 The Motet started a funk movement in Colorado, and ever since the locals can’t get enough of it. This year’s Beanstalk festival incorporates Theo Katzman, Reed Mathis’ Electric Beethoven, the Funky Knuckles and the James Brown Dance Party. Theo Katzman of Vulfpeck will be laying down tunes from his new album recently released in January, and rumor has it Joe Dart, Vulfpeck’s bassist, will be making a surprise appearance. Yes, Cory Henry had to cancel his set at this year’s Beanstalk, but don’t be Snarky because the Beans booked a stellar super-group to make amends. The James Brown Dance Party (featuring members of the James Brown Band, Prince, Lauryn Hill, Trey Anastasio Band, Break Science, Talib Kweli, Chase Brothers, and Corey Frye of The Main Squeeze) is sure to get you funked up properly.
5. Bluegrass State of Mind
When spending time out in the mountains there’s no better music than bluegrass. Colorado is a bluegrass breeding ground for both traditional and new-grass disciplined bands. Last year’s Beanstalk brought us “Bluegrass and Bloodies” as a great way to kick off the day. At this year’s Beanstalk, you can look forward to the Kitchen Dwellers, Fruition, Part and Parcel and Tenth Mountain Division to create the soundtrack for a sunny day in th Rockies.
6. Moshi Fameus + Tom Hamilton’s American Babies
Moshi Fameus, which consists of the Disco Biscuits keyboardist Aron Magner and human drum-machine Allen Aucoin, is reason enough for any jamtronica fan to attend Beanstalk. Moshi Fameus is a “spiritual successor” to Moshi Moshi, an early Bisco side project comprised of Magner and the Biscuits’ original drummer Sam Altman. In whatever combination, the Disco Biscuits are live improvised dance pioneers, and this rare duo is not to be missed.
Synth wizard Aron Magner will also accompany Tom Hamilton’s American Babies. Hamilton and Magner have played together extensively in an array of side projects including Marc Brownstein’s Electron and Bill Kreutzmann’s Billy and the Kids, so you can expect some tight and cohesive jamming from this set. You might even get a few Brothers Past songs.
7. The Magic Beans
The Magic Beans represent everything on this lineup. Their eclectic sound incorporates everything Colorado loves from bluegrass to funk to jamtronica. The Magic Beans have been hitting the road hard this year and have really settled in to their most recent lineup comprised of Scott Hatchey (guitar), Casey Russell (keys), Cody Wales(drums), and Chris Duffy (bass). Their sets at this year’s Beanstalk are sure to be the highlight of the weekend.
All in all, we’re in for a memorable weekend full of world-class music, untouchable scenery, and peerless company. Tickets and more information about Beanstalk can be found here.
** we’re very happy to welcome Nathan Nast of Colorado to the Sound Fix family. This is Nathan’s first article, hope you enjoyed it as much as we did**