If you go

What: MusicFest 2013

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Magness Arena, 2211 S. Josephine St., Denver, 303-871-7577

Cost: $9.95-$29.95

More info: comusicfest.com

Festival season is here and revving up, and this weekend in Denver it takes a folk and soul turn with MusicFest.

The University of Denver and Amplitude Entertainment (founded by University of Colorado-Boulder grads) are hosting the day's shows in Magness Arena, with an outdoor beer garden that opens at 4 p.m. The music gets going at 5 p.m. with a handful of local acts: Places, Vetta Star, Foxfield Four and Kyle James Hauser. Up next is the charming weird folk band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, followed by soul singer/songwriter Mayer Hawthorne.

In the headlining spot: Seattle indie folk-rockers The Head and the Heart, who have a summer of festivals and supporting Dave Matthews ahead. When they're not on stage -- and singer and multi-instrumentalist Josiah Johnson said they have a light schedule this year -- the six of them will be wrapping up their next record. It will be the band's second LP since the self-titled debut in 2010. It's all recorded, and all that's left is to mix and master.

"We love the songs," Johnson said. "I think on the first record we kind of put all the songs we had on the album, and it was a stretch to get it to 10 songs at that point. This time, I think at one point we had around 20 possibilities and we're down to 13 that are likely to make it on the record. So, that's been fun. I don't know, it's just exciting. It took a long time, just writing the first half of the year."


"The songs are somewhat similar, somewhat different, in the way that every band hopes to grow a little bit in their sound."

When the Head and the Heart first started out, Johnson and Johnathan Russell were the songwriting core. As they were writing for this album, though, Johnson said singer and violinist Charity Rose Thielen brought a few songs to the table.

Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.
Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. (Courtesy photo/Nick Walker)

"It still, for the most part, starts off with someone's song that they wrote on an acoustic guitar or piano. One of the cool things on this record is that Charity brought in a couple of songs that are going to be on the record," he said. "The band always changes it, both in feel and adding a part here and adding something there, and so it builds and adds to that dynamic that we have."

The record won't be out for a little while longer, but the songs are already starting to get out during performances. Johnson said they're hoping to play six or seven new songs at MusicFest this weekend, including five that they've never played before.

For CU and DU students, all this comes at a pretty low price of $9.95, compared to general public tickets that are going for $29.95. CU students can get the discount by using the promo code BUFFS when they buy tickets at comusicfest.com.