Last week, I posted a preview to the huge festival that was coming to Salida. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I was hopeful. Well, it took me a week to recover and to get to this, but here’s the bottom line: Our little town of Salida, Colorado  handled this event extremely well. Downtown buzzed with activity, the venue was awesome and people discovered what we already know: this town rocks – on so many levels.

I’m not sure who, exactly, is responsible for such a smooth weekend, but Madison House Presents, the staff from Salida Steamplant, thousands of volunteers and everyone who lives and works here did an amazing job of handling this crazy festival and the 20,000+ people who came with it.  The logistics seemed seamless since the concert was well-organized, staff and cops working the entrances and exits were kind and helpful and so many visitors embraced Salida’s culture and rode bikes, walked or hopped on the excellent shuttles bringing people between downtown and the Vandaveer Ranch—an excellent venue with views and sunsets that at times upstaged the acts.

People danced barefoot in the dirt to music that was inspiring from start to finish. Each artist performed with more passion and soul than I’ve seen in years and seemed to really enjoy being part of this adventure.

Musical Highlights:

Paper Birds – Thursday Night: So, I was lucky enough to see this band and to hear their angelic voices twice on Thursday night. They gave an intimate warm-up show amidst brewing equipment at my favorite spot for a beer – Elevation Brewing Company – early Thursday evening and then rallied again to play on the free, riverside stage downtown later that evening. Such eclectic, skilled performers! They’re from Denver so next time they play ANYWHERE near you, don’t miss ’em!

Flaming Lips – Friday night: As usual, this unique, alternative, rock band  gave an incredibly psychedelic show complete with dancing rainbows, mushrooms, suns, caterpillar-things, mind-blowing lights & a surprise visit from our very own Governor John W. Hickenlooper!


Mumford and Sons – Saturday night: Of course the headliner is a highlight, right? But, seriously these guys had everyone captivated from the first note to the last and best of all – they played a host of favorites from past albums which sent those of us old-timers who love their old stuff into a dancing frenzy.













Filthy Six – This band wasn’t advertised or even a main act, but they played at the Rivers Edge after-party on Friday and Saturday night and it was incredible! I’ll go out on a limb here to say: their music—which at times featured members of Mumford—rivaled many acts on the main stage. Both shows packed the entire restaurant and the outdoor patio of this riverside venue. Thanks to the Rivers Edge for bringing together locals and visitors for one last chance to shake and shimmy well into the wee hours of the night! I wasn’t expecting this at all and I haven’t stayed up until 3 or 4 am in a decade, but it was worth being exhausted the following day since I will remember these parties as an unexpected, but welcome highlight of a weekend that exceeded my expectations.

Overall, the stoke at the concert and downtown was high the entire weekend. People were cordial, relaxed, didn’t mind waiting, embraced the small-town psyche, and had fun, but stayed within control of their senses (for the most part). I’m impressed with how well visitors took care of town and am psyched at how many folks took advantage of the river, the hiking and mountain biking trails and the amazing art and food scene we have here.

Before the last note of music even drifted out of the Arkansas Valley, people began talking about the future. What does this year’s success mean? Will it happen again? Will it not? Should it? Will it change the character of our town? Will we turn into one of those towns flooded with even more tourists all summer?

I’m not sure what will or should happen and really—I’m still too tired and psyched to do anything but drink coffee, revel in the memories and wait for my ears to stop ringing.