Jan. 8 Midnight River Choir and Turnpike Troubadours
Jan. 9 The Washers and Cody Johnson
Shows start at 1 p.m. on the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square.
Steamboat Springs It’s known around Steamboat as Texas Week, but many might not know that it already has begun.
Crews for MusicFest already are in town, and John Dickson — owner of Dickson Productions, who has put on the event for more than a decade — will be arriving Monday to make the final preparations for the 6,000-person event.
As Jan. 5 approaches, a huge tent will be erected in the Knoll Parking Lot, hotels and condos will fill up and Southern accents will be as common as powder days in December.
The destination music festival is a six-day group ski trip running Jan. 5 to 10. The participants come from all across the country, but many hail from college towns in Texas, where a lot of the musicians come from, as well. Headlining this year are acts including Cody Canada and the Departed, Reckless Kelly and Stoney LaRue and 40 more bands highlighting recognized and up-and-coming Americana and country music.
The event sells out quickly every year and is packaged with lift tickets and lodging. But Dickson said there’s no shortage of ways for everyone in Steamboat to get involved.
This year, there will be four free outdoor public shows at the base of Steamboat Ski Area from Jan. 6 to 9, including Jack Ingram with Ashley Ray opening, Dirty River Boys and Kyle Park, Midnight River Choir and Turnpike Troubadours, and The Washers and Cody Johnson.
Those shows will start at about 1 p.m., and the show on the ninth features a Cajun cookout and washers tournament.
"It’s kind of our 'thank you' to the Steamboat community,” Dickson said. “The music has become so popular with the locals, let’s do this for everybody. And I know everybody really enjoys that outdoor show. It’s such a good vibe.”
And Steamboat is thankful, too.
Ski Area spokesperson Loryn Kasten said the resort is especially looking forward to these free public shows.
"Steamboat always looks forward to MusicFest, which brings together an incredible group of notable musicians and their fans for a week of fun on the slopes of Steamboat," Kasten wrote in an email.
While only MusicFest participants will have access to the main shows in the big tent and the smaller venues in The Steamboat Grand, Dickson said he reached out to Steamboat music venues outside of MusicFest to bring some of the acts into local favorite haunts.
Carl’s Tavern is hosting a special acoustic show from Cody Canada and Seth James from the Departed on Jan. 6 ($10). Ghost Ranch is hosting MusicFest artists Uncle Lucius on Jan. 6 ($10), Dallas Burrow and Bri Bagwell ($7) on Jan. 7, and shows every night through Jan. 10 when it hosts The Washers ($5).
“A lot of the new bands that are coming up, I’ve been working with the local venues. I say, ‘Hey, hire these guys to share with the local community,’” Dickson said. That way, locals “get to go see some of these bands on their own turf. We have about 6,000, but I think there’s another 5,000 or 6,000 people that come up to Steamboat to enjoy it on the side. It’s really a communitywide event.”
Dickson also encourages Steamboat residents to get involved with a growing MusicFest tradition, a washers tournament Jan. 9 during the Cajun cookout and free outdoor concert.
What started as a joke among Dickson and representatives from festival sponsor Shiner has turned into an 80- to 100-team tournament of the popular backyard game.
It will fill up, Dickson said, so anyone interested should register early at MusicFest headquarters in The Steamboat Grand.
Dickson said he did not plan it out that the band playing that afternoon on the Steamboat Stage actually would be called The Washers.
And his good humor doesn’t stop there.
This year, MusicFest participants will be arriving on the heels of a 100-inch December.
Dickson said many of the artists and participants are avid skiers and are “very excited about that.”
“Last year, it was a little bit of dry conditions, but everyone had a blast,” he said. “Snow is definitely a benefit. People are going to have a good time no matter what.”