If you go

What: NedFest

When: Friday Aug. 25-Sunday Aug. 27

Where: Jeff Guercio Memorial Baseball Park, 151 E. St., Nederland

Cost: VIP three-day pass is $420; three-day pass is $140; Friday-Saturday two-day pass is $100; Saturday-Sunday two-day pass is $95; Single-day tickets are $50 on Friday, $55 on Saturday and $45 on Sunday. The price for camping Friday or Saturday night next to the Barker Reservoir is $35 per person. RV camping is sold out.

More info: nedfest.org

 

NedFest lineup

Friday, Aug. 25

5:30 p.m. Tweener*

6 p.m. Kyle Hollingsworth Band

7:30 p.m. Tweener*

8 p.m. Oteil Burbridge's Birthday Bash

10:30 p.m. Late Night at the Caribou Room: Genetics

Saturday, Aug. 26

Noon: Flash Mountain Flood

1:15 p.m. Tweener*

1:45 p.m. Malai Llama

3:45 p.m. Fletcher's Grove

5:15 p.m. Tweener*

5:45 p.m. Euforquestra

7:15 p.m. Special Fire Dancer Performance

8 p.m. The Motet

10:30 p.m. Late Night at the Caribou Room: Gasoline Lollipops

Sunday, August 27

Noon: PPMEA Young Artists Showcase

1 p.m. Caribou Mountain Collective

2:30 p.m. Tweener*

3 p.m. Stell and Snuggs

4:30 p.m. Tweener*

5 p.m. Great American Taxi

6:30 p.m. Tweener*

7 p.m. Vince Herman and Friends

*Tweeners are fill-in sets by Danny Shafer, Farmer Sisters and New Family Dog

Years back, when The Motet was playing an early afternoon set at NedFest, a double rainbow spread across Nederland's sky.

Three years in a row that happened, said band leader and drummer Dave Watts.

Dave Watts of The Motet said double rainbows have a knack of appearing during the band’s sets at NedFest. This double rainbow appeared during NedFest
Dave Watts of The Motet said double rainbows have a knack of appearing during the band's sets at NedFest. This double rainbow appeared during NedFest on Aug. 23, 2013. (C. Alan Crandall / For the Camera)

"We had this tradition," he said, "where, at some point in our set the PA would shut down — we were a little more thrown together than we are now — so we'd all jump off stage with our drums and go into the crowd in the rain and have a drum parade."

And that's when the double rainbows appeared.

"It was really cool," said Watts. "Maybe we should do it again this year to carry on tradition and see if we can get another double rainbow."

The Motet, a Denver-based longtime staple at NedFest, will perform at the 19th annual Nederland Music and Arts Festival, which takes place Friday, Aug. 25-Sunday, Aug. 27 at Jeff Guercio Memorial Baseball Park, on the shores of the Barker Reservoir in Nederland. Of the festival's 19 years, this year will mark The Motet's 13th time performing. The difference is, the band won't be supporting in that an early-afternoon (double rainbow) slot — the rapidly rising crew is headlining the festival, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.

Motet drummer Dave Watts performing with longtime NedFest organizer Kristen McFarland in 1999.
Motet drummer Dave Watts performing with longtime NedFest organizer Kristen McFarland in 1999. (Courtesy photo)

Kristen McFarland, longtime NedFest volunteer, said she's "very" excited to have the band headline. In fact, when she was one of the artists playing a "tweener" set (in-between the big gigs) at the 1999 festival, Watts was the one who backed her up on drums, she said. The Motet's storied history with the festival is what makes this year so special for NedFest, she said.

Plus, "we have a very special light show to go with them," McFarland said.

Even better is the intimate size of the festival, making for good seats all around: "You are never more than 200 feet from the stage and our ticket sellout number is only 1,700," McFarland said.

Band was born during jams in Ned

The Motet had some help locking in early gigs by way of NedFest's founder, the late "Michigan Mike" Torpie, Watts said. In the late 1990s, Torpie, from Michigan but a longtime Nederland resident and a town board of trustees member, would hold informal jam sessions that helped shape The Motet. That's where Watts met and played with early members of the funk band.

"Back in the day, I used to play in Boulder and Ned more than I would play anywhere else in Colorado," said Watts, noting that he'd play gigs in Nederland at least three times a week. "Michigan Mike ... he was a promoter and he would bring all sorts of different musicians together for these jam sessions."

Suicide claimed Torpie's life in 2011 at age 43, but the Peak to Peak Music Education Association nonprofit was born and took NedFest under its wings, donating profits to music education equipment and instruction for local kids, said McFarland. (Torpie is remembered fondly: "Playing Ned now is like playing homage to Michigan Mike," Watts said.)

The Motet, which released the album "Totem" last summer, hit a growing pain in 2015 when longtime vocalist Jans Ingber parted ways with the band. Watts said The Motet wanted to continue to thrive so they wasted no time by snagging Portland, Maine, soul singer Lyle Divinsky to step into the role. Divinsky's heartfelt voice offered a fluid addition to the band's evolution towards vintage funk.

"He's incredible, he fits right in," said Watts. "We got really lucky, Lyle was honestly the first guy we found and it's been a really smooth transition to his style of singing and our style of writing. It all meshed together really well."

Watts said that when a band loses a main vocalist, the shift can go either way. Luckily, he said, "we're now more solid and poised to go do bigger and better things. His creative ideas gel with us so well we feel like the sky is the limit."

The Motet recently announced a string of fall tour dates co-headlining with Northeastern jam banders Dopapod.

"Our fan base is growing," said Watts. "But our live show is still the same material we've been playing all along."

NedFest will include performances by Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Euforquestra, Flash Mountain Flood and Great American Taxi, among others. An addition to this year's festival will be what McFarland called a "one-of-a-kind," Oteil Burnbridge's Birthday Bash, at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26. Burbridge, a Grammy-winning bassist who has played with Dead & Company and the Allman Brothers, will lead a supergroup ensemble featuring members from Tedeschi Trucks Band, Further, Dark Star Orchestra, Trey Anastasio Band, Dumpstaphunk, RatDog, Primus and more. The Motet's Divinsky will also join the group, thanks to the help of Watts.

"I had Oteil play my birthday bash in January and I think he stole my concept," he said, laughing. "I had Lyle (Divinsky) sing at the birthday bash and that's how he and Oteil met. Now Lyle is singing at Oteil's birthday bash."

One big hootenanny

With the band's continued rise — it has sold out its past two Red Rocks summer shows — Watts said The Motet will never be above playing hometown festivals.

"I hope to never forgo the more intimate concerts with local fans," Watts said. "Now we travel all around the country and play at many different festivals, where, every time you never really know what to expect. But when we come back home and play hometown festivals, it's really exciting because we look out at the crowd and we see familiar faces, we see people dancing who know us and are familiar with our music. It's home."

"It's a local festival. We love it. It'll be one big hootenanny," said Watts, laughing. "I think that's what they call it in Nederland."

Watts said to keep an ear out for a new Motet record coming next year.

Christy Fantz: 303-473-1107, fantz@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/fantzypants