Adventure Jams

Hit the road and get out in the wild for these musical happenings that take place far from the maddening crowds.

From Red Rocks to the steady barrage of national acts filling clubs around the Front Range, chances are you catch plenty of live music. But if you’re a concert fiend with a flair for travel, consider adding some adventure to your sonic buzz. Check out these experiences that offer more than your average show.

Ramble on the River

Spending six days floating down a pristine Rocky Mountain river in an isolated wilderness area sounds mighty fine by itself. Now add nightly intimate shows by a national touring string band and you’ve got Pickin’ on the Middle Fork. The veteran guides of Idaho River Adventures lead these limited excursions, which pairs their popular trip down a 105-mile stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with a personal concert experience.

This year, three trips will take place in late summer, bringing adventurous music fans by small plane to the put-in at Boundary Creek to start the journey through the untouched Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. By day, you’ll ramble down the river and take breaks for hiking, fly fishing and soaking in hot springs. By night, you’ll eat delicious food and hear top-notch picking. Options are available to take the trip with Fruition (August 14–20), Hot Buttered Rum (August 22–28), or Cabinet (August 30–September 5). It’s an inclusive trip (guides set up camp and cook gourmet meals nightly) that comes with a hefty price tag, but it supports a worthy cause. Proceeds from all three trips will benefit The Conservation Alliance.

Rock in Paradise

Dance to the sounds of your favorite bands with your toes in the sand. For the past few years there have been an increasing number of destination concert events in tropical hot spots. Cloud 9 Adventures hosts some of the best, including Panic En La Playa, a four-night run of Widespread Panic in the Dominican Republic, and One Big Holiday, an indie roots summit in Mexico headlined by My Morning Jacket that also featured Band of Horses, Dawes and the War on Drugs this past January. This coming December, there’s the electro-jam focused Dominican Holidaze featuring the Disco Biscuits and STS9 and Strings and Sol, a multi-band progressive bluegrass adventure always led by Colorado’s own Yonder Mountain String Band.

In addition to multiple sun-drenched sets, these events usually include some hang time with the musicians. Last year’s Strings and Sol featured golfing with Yonder’s guitarist Adam Aijala and mountain biking with fiddler Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters.

Jam with Pete Wernick

Colorado bluegrass fans hold Dr. Banjo in high regard. Pete Wernick is best known as the skilled five-string picker for four-decade newgrass legends Hot Rize. When he’s not on the road Wernick hosts four-day Bluegrass Jam Camps in scenic spots across the country, typically in conjunction with acoustic music festivals. The camps give novice musicians a chance to play in a group setting and rub elbows with seasoned pros, including Wernick and guest instructors. It’s a low-pressure atmosphere with plenty of time to learn tricks of the bluegrass trade. The next camp takes place in late April in North Carolina, during the week leading into the late Doc Watson’s legendary Merlefest. Learn how to pick and then stay for sets from the Avett Brothers, Del McCoury and Bela Fleck.

Learn from the Masters

Full Moon Resort is a crunchy country inn, located off the beaten path in New York’s Catskill Mountains just a short drive from Woodstock. Every year, the resort’s sprawling 100-acre property hosts a series of Music Masters Camps, instructional retreats with intimate performances that attract an impressive array of music heroes. Some of the most enticing: Steve Earle’s Camp Copperhead (July 20–24), where you’ll learn lyrical secrets from the country-rock bard; and Roots Rock Revival (August 17–21), which includes jam instruction from Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band and members of the North Mississippi Allstars.

While Full moon has some upscale lodging options, class costs can be curtailed if you’re cool with sleeping in a tent. During free time, hike the Giant Ledge Trail or bring your fly rod and cast for trout in Esopus Creek.

Jedd Ferris is senior editor of Blue Ridge Outdoors and regularly writes about music for a range of publications, including The Washington Post.

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