Crews work to construct the frame of a large tent for the annual MusicFest in the northwest portion of Knoll parking lot off Mount Werner Circle. MusicFest is a package travel tour that draws thousands of fans of the Texas Americana music genre for six days of concerts with 40 bands, parties and skiing. This year’s MusicFest begins Thursday, and a portion of the parking lot will be closed through Jan. 13.
Thursday: MusicFest acts Uncle Lucius and Sons of Fathers at the Old Town Pub ($5, 9:30 p.m.)
Friday: Midnight River Choir at the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square (free, 2:30 p.m.)
Saturday: Kyle Park at the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square (free, 2:30 p.m.)
Sunday: Turnpike Troubadours at the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square (free 2:30 p.m.)
Monday: Cajun Cookout with Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans and Jack Ingram at the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square (free, 1:30 p.m.)
By the numbers
Participants: ~ 5,000
Staff: ~ 100
Lodging properties used: 46
Number of items John Dickson helped pack into welcome baskets for participants: 85,000
Steamboat Springs It was about this time of year in 2008 when David Beck first came to Steamboat Springs. It was the week of MusicFest, an annual Americana and Texas music festival and group ski trip that draws thousands of music fans from Texas, as well as bands from across the world.
Beck’s father, the bassist for Robert Earl Keen, was playing the festival, and all the 19-year-old Beck wanted was to do the same.
“I saw all the music and saw everybody playing and how big a party it was,” he said. “And I wanted to go back, but I didn’t want to go back and not play it.”
That desire was coming to fruition Wednesday afternoon as he pulled out of Lubbock, Texas, and headed for Steamboat with his band, Sons of Fathers.
“Now, to come back with my group, it’s really, really awesome. It feels good,” Beck said. “It’s a fellowship of music and partying.”
With a foundation in gospel, roots rock and Texas soul, bassist Beck, guitarist Paul Cauthen and Sons of Fathers will play MusicFest on Friday for those with credentials to the five-day festival of 40 bands and performers. The festival passes sold out long ago.
But MusicFest makes a point to expand beyond the giant tent set up in the Knoll Parking Lot that’s exclusive to participants.
On Thursday night, Sons of Fathers will perform with Texas rock ’n’ roll band Uncle Lucius at a special show at the Old Town Pub to kick off the weekend. There is a $5 cover, and the music starts about 9 p.m.
John Dickson, owner of MusicFest producer Dickson Productions, said one goal of the weekend is to give back to the community that offers the thousands of participants the benefits of local lodging, skiing, restaurants, nightlife and late-night buses.
“It’s such a genuine town, and we’re glad to be here, and we really enjoy the local support,” he said.
The big thank-you to Steamboat, he said, comes in the form of four free outdoor shows on the new permanent base area stage in Gondola Square this weekend.
Midnight River Choir, Kyle Park and Turnpike Troubadours will play free outdoor shows at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
On Monday, the annual Cajun Cookout will bring back Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, as well as the traditional base area performance from Jack Ingram.
Bringing the festival even closer to the local community is the addition of local singer-songwriter Trevor G. Potter as featured MusicFest performer this year. His name sits on the same bill as acts such as Reckless Kelly, Shooter Jennings and the Band of Heathens.
But there are several young up-and-coming acts that Dickson said are going to light up the weekend, including Sons of Fathers.
“That is a band that needs to be seen and heard,” he said.
And in the van on the way to Steamboat, Sons of Fathers guitarist Paul Cauthen already was geared up for their first-ever MusicFest.
“We’re about to rock some faces, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Cauthen said.