(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Front Range recommendations: New West Fest edition

Every summer, Ft. Collins gets serious about music, food, and fun with New West Fest. Admission is free and there are several stages, each offering a host of entertainment options. Much of the line up is focused on regional acts, but there are always a couple of headliners that make the weekend a special treat. Past years have included G. Love & Special Sauce, Melissa Etheridge, and Cracker. This weekend (August 16-18) is the time and downtown Ft. Collins is the place

Here are some of my picks for this years Fest:

Friday, 16 August

Shel is a local band that's definitely going places. The four sisters blend their voices into a rich, complex effusion of sound. Although they have a strong folk element to their music, they're miles beyond what you might have heard down at the coffee shop. With more opportunities opening up in the wider world, they haven't been performing here quite as much. So, take advantage and drop by the Mountain Avenue Stage at 5:55 pm. They're up after Samuel Moulton and Fierce Bad Rabbit and The Samples will follow them.

Saturday, 17 August
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

Denver's Snake Rattle Rattle Snake surround themselves in murky moodiness. I really like their pensive new wave sound. Saturday afternoon (1pm at the Mountain Avenue Stage) may be a bit bright for them, but I'm sure they'll make their own shade.

Later, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite will tear up the same stage in what I expect will be an orgy of soulful blues. The pairing of Harper's eclectic musical sense with Musselwhite's amazing harmonica playing is a fine match of new and old. They start at 8:30 pm.

Sunday, 18 August
Wire Faces
Leon Russell

Every time I see Wire Faces perform, I'm blown away by drummer Shane Zweygardt. Each limb seems to have it's own rhythmic brain. He sings, too, but his drumming is incandescent. They'll be on the Linden Street Stage at 4:30 pm.

That's close enough to wander over to the Mountain Avenue Stage at 5:30 to catch headliner Leon Russel. The 71 year old performer made his reputation as a side man and session musician, creating magic with everyone from Joe Cocker to Willie Nelson. He went on to write and perform some classic songs like "Tightrope",  "This Masquerade", and the Grammy winning "If It Wasn't For Bad". With some health scares in the last couple of years, this is a good chance to hear a master at work with a handpicked band.

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