I had an interesting encounter with a nice couple that I met tonight at the jam session that one of the bands I play with hosts on Sundays. The guy was another drummer who came in with his wife to …
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I had an interesting encounter with a nice couple that I met tonight at the jam session that one of the bands I play with hosts on Sundays. The guy was another drummer who came in with his wife to sit in and play and we got to talking after he did his set. He plays in a club band around town and we had never met before. They asked me who I have played with over the years and since I have been playing professionally since 1974, well … Even just hitting the highlights is a pretty long list.
I’ve also ended up playing in a lot of different musical situations. I’ve played nightclubs, bars, concerts in the park, parties at someone’s house, theater shows, recording sessions and lots of music festivals. Believe me, after doing this for 42 years, when I say lots of music festivals, I’m talking about hundreds of them. This means that I get to see firsthand how some of them are run like clockwork and are a joy to play while others can best be summed up as a disaster that give you nightmares for a month.
The organization of a music festival is what makes or breaks it. Part of that is the understanding of what performers need, what the promoter should supply and the time it takes to move one band off a stage and get another one set up and started. You’d be amazed at how many times those in charge only allowed 15 minutes in between bands that normally take 45 minutes to set up.
This all came to mind while I was looking over what I wanted to put in this week’s Avenue Flashes. It’s a music festival coming up here in Golden, and it’s one of the best thought out and produced festivals anywhere. So grab your coats and boots (you’ll need them) and follow along, we are going to start with Norse mythology and end up in Parfet Park.
What I’m talking about is UllrGrass and it’s slated for the weekend of Jan. 24-26. This is a Winter time outdoor festival named after the Norse God of Snow, Ullr. I first encountered his name at the ski areas when we would jokingly ask him for a fresh powder day.
UllrGrass is a music festival featuring bluegrass, newgrass, funk and jamband music. In it’s 6th year now, it has become recognized as one of the best festivals in Colorado. What makes it so good is that they have two alternating stages so this is one of those I mentioned that goes off like clockwork. One band plays on stage 1 while the other band sets up on stage 2, then they switch so the groups don’t have to scramble like crazy to get ready to play. The other thing that makes it great is the top notch list of performers. They always have an awesome line up with a few unconventional twists. It’s a very unique combination of styles that works.
It doesn’t stop there. One more thing that sets this festival apart is that it’s got a Nordic theme and people come dressed as Vikings. They even have a costume contest on Saturday afternoon. Then remember this is Golden, it’s also got a Beer Festival attached to it. I mean seriously, you can’t properly toast a Nordic god without beer or hard cider, can you? Then throw in after hours jam sessions, and it’s a one of a kind experience.
OK, here’s the general rundown on the whole thing. The UllrGrass Music festival will be running in Parfet Park on Friday, Jan. 24 from 3-10:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with bands playing 45 minute sets and alternating between two stages. The jam sessions move to the Old Capitol Grill on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. The Beer Festival is happening from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday. There will be food trucks in the park on all days. Sunday is Family Day with special events for kids. You can buy tickets for just the music fest, just the beer fest or a combination at a special price. They range from $15 to $100. Oh, and although it’s outdoors, there is a big heated tents so you won’t freeze.
There’s a lot going on at UllrGrass so your best bet is to go to the website at www.ullrgrass.com and check it all out. Parfet park is located at the corner of 10th St. and Washington Ave. and the Old Capitol Grill is a couple of blocks south on Washington Ave. as well. It’s all right in downtown Golden.
John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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