Todd Purifoy MusicFest brings 6,000 people to Steamboat Springs for a week each year.
By the O's
We've spent years touring the States and overseas, and never have we heard more about a festival than we have about the one that goes down every January in Steamboat, Colorado. For some time now (30 freakin' years), die-hard, red-dirt enthusiasts have said how incredible the Steamboat MusicFest experience is. But when we ask specifics, the answers are resoundingly vague: "It's so awesome!" or "It's my favorite 'thang' all year."
"Duuuude, you gotta go."
So, we think it's about time to dig into this "thang" and find out what makes it tick. And what a perfect opportunity: Not only are we one of the bands playing, we are also curious festival-goers, bent on getting to the nitty gritty. While we blaze through the haze of Colorado's loose, "fun" laws, we will ask ourselves these questions: What makes MusicFest so Festive? How many times will we fall on this crazy ice? Do I wear underwear under or over long-johns? What happens when I eat this candy? What about that candy? Is it the music? Is it the booze? Is it the scenery? Is it the pre-plucked trees we can inhale at our leisure? Is it a mixture? [Ed. -- They have a lot of questions.] It's time you roll with the O's through Steamboat Springs Music Fest and get the answers you may or may not have been looking for...
Day One: A Hero's Journey
Flash Weather Update: Snow keeps us O's grounded at the airport in Dallas, and Denver seems but a faint blizzard away. But wait! The flight attendant speaks from behind her security-grade counter and announces that boarding is imminent.
Flash Fun Update: Steamboat MusicFest is upon us.
Daniel Driensky The O's are Taylor Young (left) and John Pedigo.
At the start of our first official day at the festival, we head to the Steamboat Grand Hotel, which acts as MusicFest HQ. We check in, get wristbands, slam a few Shiner Bocks and dedicate the day to getting a firm grasp of the festival's layout.
As you meander through a sea of cowboys, cowgirls, Deep Eddy vodka and beer, it's hard not to pick up on a sorta high-school vibe. Except in this alternate version of Bayside High, there's only one giant click of folks, and they're all into the same things: Binge beer drinkin', music listenin', music playin', koozies, good times, washers (the game), bullshittin' (what red-dirt folks call conversing with a fellow human), Yeti coolers, KC lights, BBQ brisket and Guy Clark. We can all dig that, right?
There's an absolutely staggering amount of people in this town right now. Locals call it "Texas Week," because most of the festival-goers are from Oklahoma and Texas. It's a pretty cool little world that we're in, displaced on the side of a mountain in Colorado, hellbent on partying our asses off.
We saddle up to the bar at the Grand Cafe, where drinks are flowing and we bullshit with fellow musicians Matt Hillyer and Corb Lund. Matt has a new album out, produced by legendary producer and steel guitar master Lloyd Maines. Check it out.
A PA is brought in, and Kylie Rae Harris and Zane Williams play to a sardine-packed crowd. We roam the hotel and streets in search of the shows printed on our tiny pocket-schedule. The Dirty River Boys absolutely kill it, playing new stuff from their latest, self-titled album. Reckless Kelly carries on his tradition of rockin' country for a tent chockablock full of fans. Whiskey Myers shuts down the night. Pretty darn good day.
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There's something special out here in the mountains. We're taking it in one barley malt at a time, and everyone's getting river drunk.
However, there's a baffling mystery that needs unraveling! As the night progresses, chirps turn to whispers about a mysterious seventh floor of the hotel, where musicians and songwriters jam throughout the night. These whispers peak our interest. The next few nights, we'll finagle our way onto this mystifying floor of suites dedicated to the finer things in life: drinking and picking guitars. And we'll keep you posted.
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