What lucky people we are to live in Fort Collins this week! Well, this weekend especially. Friday, August 16th, the 25th Annual New West Fest kicks off, and the music line-up looks fantastic. I have personally seen roughly half of the bands in the festival at other live shows, and would be looking forward to the weekend’s music events even if only one or two of them were playing. But all of them are playing this weekend, and I hope to catch at least a song or two of as many as possible in the three days of the festival.
Here, in this week’s 20- song playlist, are songs from 20 of the bands/artists who will be performing this weekend. There are lots more acts in the festival, so no matter what music you prefer there is a great chance you will find something you like at this event. Oh, and if you are nowhere near Fort Collins, here are some of the bands and artists you should check out, mostly from this part of the planet.
1. Fierce Bad Rabbit (Spools of Thread) – “All I Have is You” – I saw this band just this past Friday, for the block party to celebrate the premiere of the film Whensday, and they were (as always) terrific. This song is off their earlier album, but they also have a great newer album released at the beginning of 2013, The Maestro and the Elephant. These guys will be playing this coming Friday evening on the Mountain stage.
2. SHEL (SHEL)- “Wise Old Owl” – Another band playing on the Mountain stage on Friday, this is still one of my favorite Fort Collins acts. These ladies have earned the attention of CMT and MTV over the past few years, but so far they still call Fort Collins home. They have been in the studio working on a new album, so hopefully we’ll be hearing new music from them soon.
3. Cassie Taylor (Blue)- “Haunted” – This song reminds me a lot of some of the songs Toni Braxton used to have on the radio a lot. I haven’t yet seen Cassie Taylor in concert, but I’m looking forward to it. According to her website and amazon.com she has a recent album out that she is promoting, though she has yet to turn up on my radar in Fort Collins except at New West Fest so far, which does not actually appear on her show calendar on her website. Her show this weekend will be on Sunday afternoon, also on the Mountain stage.
4. Ambassador Wolf (Tracks in the Woods EP)- “Mechanism” – I almost got to see these guys a few weeks ago but got sick and missed it, so I’m glad they made the cut for this year’s New West Fest. I have heard from friends that this band actually performs in the animal head masks they are wearing in their album cover photo. Whether this is the case or not (White Cat Pink does in fact consist of a man who performs wearing a white cat costume, so you never know- the rumors may indeed be true), their music sounds like more than enough reason to try to catch their set at this year’s festival. This is also a Sunday show, at 11:30am at the Old Town Square stage.
5. Christopher Jak (The New Nostalgia)- “The Last Time” – I missed this fellow’s set last year, but he’s back for another round this year. He’ll be playing from 7-8pm at the Singer-Songwriters’ stage on Saturday, so the last slot at that stage on Saturday before the simulcast headliner show for that evening. I’ll be starting my volunteer shift just as he is starting his set, so I may miss him again this year, but he has some great songs among the stuff available on spotify.
6. The Patti Fiasco (The Patti Fiasco)- “Pam & Caroline” – This song was written by this band’s lead singer, Alysia Kraft, about her mother’s migration to Wyoming, so it is a true story. It somehow manages to make Wyoming (a state I am not particularly entranced about) sound like a place worth trying out. I do wonder if her mom would have moved to Wyoming if she had started out in Colorado, but in any case, this is a really cute song. The Patti Fiasco will be playing at 5:15pm on the Mountain stage on Saturday.
7. You Me & Apollo (The EP)- “Little Bird” – I sometimes wonder if this band is jinxed, because I have not yet gotten a single photo of them in concert. I heard their entire set last year at the New West Fest, when they played at the Linden stage on Friday, but I was working as a volunteer, within earshot but around a corner from them so that I could not see any part of their show. The second time I saw them, at Fortoberfest last year, my camera died literally as I was about to take the first photo of their show. Maybe this year will be different? They play at 4:40pm on the Old Town Square stage on Saturday.
8. Cary Morin (Streamline)- “Tennessee” – This is one of my favorites every time I see this fellow perfom live. He does some very cool bluesy guitar solos within this song in his live shows (and in other songs of course). He’ll be on the Singer-Songwriters’ stage at 5pm on Sunday, in the slot just before the Wendy Woo Band.
9. The Jekylls (The Sweet Factory) – “You’re Probably Right”- This song always reminds me of some of my favorite tunes from Rachel Brooke. I missed this band as well last year, so they are one of the acts I particularly hope to catch this weekend. I actually caught a few minutes of their set at FoCoMX this past spring, but it was so crowded in that venue that night that I barely got any good shots of this band that night. They will be playing at 2:25 on the Library Park stage on Sunday, after the Escape Goats.
10. The Haunted Windchimes (Out With the Crow)- “Harvest” – If you like the old-timey music from shows like O Brother Where Art Thou, this band is one to check out. They have a really cool sound, and as I missed them last year too, I definitely will be trying to catch their set this year. They play at 1:10pm on the Library Park stage on Saturday, just before Deadwood Saints.
11. Post Paradise (Digging Secrets)- “Digging Secrets” – This is the title track from Post Paradise’s newest album released earlier this year. Their indoor show has some of the best lighting I’ve seen for a rock show, making their concerts a treat for the eyes and the ears. They play the Linden St. stage at 3:50pm on Saturday, so there won’t be the cool lights (it’ll be an outdoor show in full daylight) but as I rarely get to take photos of this excellent band where I can actually see their drummer, Mark (one of the cuter drummers in town), I am looking forward to taking some photos of this show. Amy has played a few shows now with her new electric cello, but this will also be the first time I’ve had a chance to see this band with the new cello.
12. Esme Patterson (All Princes, I)- “Fall Asleep, Steal Away”- A sing-songy tune that is just a bit creepy, it sounds like a love song, but the blood part sticks out just a bit, and the horror-flick instrumental bit at the end settles it for me that this is indeed a creepy tune, but it is so catchy! This lady is one of the founding members of the band Paper Bird, which I have been a fan of for years, but she also performs and records as a solo artist. Esme will be playing at 3pm on the Old Town Square stage on Saturday, after Bad Brad & the Fat Cats and before You Me & Apollo. If I was going to camp out at just one stage Saturday afternoon, this line-up would be particularly tough to beat.
13. Head for the Hills (Head for the Hills)- “One Foot in the Grave” – This is one of those bluegrass bands that is kind-of a big deal, so if you want to be up front for this show, get there a bit early. I almost waited too long last year to head over for Great American Taxi, another excellent bluegrass band we had in last year’s line-up. Pretty much anyone in town who is a bluegrass fan and near Old Town at 7pm on Saturday will probably be in Library Park for this show. Mama Lenny & the Remedy plays at this stage just a bit earlier in the schedule Saturday, so this stage may have quite a crowd built up by 7pm.
14. The Yawpers (Capon Crusade)- “America” – This band and Grant Farm are the two SpokesBUZZ bands I have not yet photographed, so after this weekend, hopefully, I’ll have photos of all the current SpokesBUZZ bands (I have photos of all of last year’s SpokesBUZZ bands already). As the sort of hobby-collector who likes to have complete sets of stuff, this idea makes me really happy. The Yawpers play at 1:25 on the Mountain stage on Sunday. Grant Farm, btw, plays after Deadwood Saints and before Mama Lenny & the Remedy on the Library Park stage on Saturday afternoon.
15. Mono Verde (Ensamblando Culturas)- “Guantanamera Ska-reggae”- Lest anyone think there is no ‘world’ music in this year’s festival, here is a non-English song (in Spanish, a song from Mexico) that also incorporates ska and reggae. It doesn’t get much more ‘world’ than this. Mono Verde plays at 11:45am on Saturday to open the Mountain stage for the day. There are several other bands in the line-up that play salsa, reggae, ska, etc, but for whatever reasons the ‘world’ bands seem less fond of posting music to spotify.
16. I’m With Her (Songs We Said Goodbye To)- “Hang Among the Stars”- This is one of the few acts in this year’s festival that I had not heard of before seeing the festival line-up. They are a soft-pop/adult contemporary act (though on itunes they are listed as ‘country’), a genre we see a bit light on in Fort Collins. There were a couple ladies at this week’s Avo’s open mic who play this highly commercial flavor of soft pop, but I’m not sure we have any venues at the moment that specialize in this genre. If you like Celine Dion, Celtic Woman, or Colbie Caillat, you might really like this show, which will be at 6pm at the Singer-Songwriters’ stage on Saturday, just before Christopher Jak.
17. Sofie Reed (Simplicity Chased Trouble Away)- “The Village Rooster”- I almost think Sofie has local music personality ‘Rooster’ in mind with this song- he is the harmonica player for Von Stomper and Free Range Pickens. Sofie is originally from Sweden, lending a bit of international talent to our big local music festival, and she will be heading back to Sweden on tour next month. She plays on the Singer Songwriter stage on Saturday at 5pm, just after Rosewood Divine and before I’m With Her.
18. Matt Skinner (Live at Stonecringe)- “Paying the Fiddler”- He really does sound this good in person, not just in professional recordings. If I didn’t know better I might mistake this for a Brooks & Dunne song, but it is in fact one of our local musicians, one borrowed/stolen/adopted from elsewhere, but I think we are keeping him a while. I’ve seen him play a few times this year and would rate him as one of our best currently performing country artists.
19. Rachel & the Kings (Tonic)– “Fall Down” – A nicely anthemic tune from Denver alternative rock band Rachel & the Kings. When I saw them in concert earlier this year, this was a definite crowd favorite. (They also do a really good job covering Alanis Morissette tunes.) Rachel & the Kings will be playing at 2:15 on Saturday on the Mountain stage, just before Juno What?!.
20. The Samples (Very Best of the Samples 1984-1994)– “When the Day is Done”- I had been a bit less excited this year about the headliners (they certainly don’t hold a candle to last year’s inclusion of Alison Krauss, who happens to be one of my favorite nationally touring singers). But, having checked out all three headliners on spotify, I actually really like the Samples (and according to the Internet, they are a Boulder band, so a local act despite being a headliner, which is a plus). They will be playing Friday night after Fierce Band Rabbit (who plays after SHEL- what a great line-up to start a festival!).
Other bands I am looking forward to (besides the ones I mentioned above)- Southbound Honey (Tara Keith’s new band), Rich WITH Friends, Maxwell Hughes, The Holler!, Finnders & Youngberg, and all the bands & artists I have not yet heard but will be discovering at the festival. The whole event is free, and while yes, they are apparently doing those annoying tickets for buying food inside the festival, the system will hopefully run much smoother now that the organizers have last year’s experiences to learn from. There are always great arts & crafts booths and some really good food booths available at these events, plus carnival rides and a kids area with a kids’ music stage and play areas (and probably a petting zoo again).
And, if after the festival’s music you need more on Friday and Saturday, there are after-party shows at Hodi’s Halfnote both nights (not free, but lots of fun). Friday’s after-party show will feature Futaba, a fantastic band which is not in the New West Fest line-up this year, plus the Hot Apostles, $5 for 21+, $10 for under 21. Saturday the after-party will feature Juno What! and Bill Smith, $10 for folks 21+, and probably $15 for folks under 21).
- Quick Updates- new 200-song playlist, blog format, preview of tomorrow’s shows (ravenmount.com)
- Weekly 20 Songs Playlist: August 7 (ravenmount.com)
- Weekly 20 Songs Playlist: July 31 (ravenmount.com)