CLIFF GRASSMICK / Colorado Daily
CLIFF GRASSMICK /Colorado Daily
If you go
When: Friday to Sunday
Where: Nederland, by Barker Reservoir
More info: nedfest.org
Three thousand feet above Boulder, a low-key music community thrives in Nederland, and for 15 years, the town has celebrated that at NedFest.
This year’s event, held Friday through Sunday, will showcase more than 20 bands bringing rock, bluegrass, folk and jam to the mountains. Some come from out of state, like San Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green (they have Colorado ties through Madison House). Others, like The Congress and Monocle, climb up from Denver and Boulder. Then there are the Nederland locals, including Smooth Money Gesture and Mountain Standard Time.
“I think we’ve played it three or four years, and I’ve played it with multiple other groups. It’s one of those festivals,” Mountain Standard Time mandolin and guitar player Nick Dunbar said. “The whole town gets taken over, so it’s like even if you’re not playing, you feel like you’re playing.”
Dunbar lives in Boulder now, to ease some of the strain of travelling for tours, but for a while he lived in a “little off the grid place” just outside of Nederland. It’s clear to anyone who visits that the small town is pretty insular, but a local’s perspective really shows why the community is worth celebrating.
“Nederland is it’s own little pocket,” Dunbar said. “There’s a real sense of community. You get stuck in the driveway you call your friends to come pull you out, and go drink whiskey and play music. I’d go play in the bar and they’d feed me and get me drunk. If you showed up and had your instrument, that was your VIP pass.”
The festival actually evolved from that kind of low-key jam session, and last year, NedFest’s future was in question after the death of founder “Michigan” Mike Torpie. The event was under his estate, but his parents gave their blessing for the show to go on.
That’s good news for the many musicians who’ve played there year after year, from the big names like the Drew Emmitt Band, which plays on Sunday, to the youngest name, 12-year-old Jaden Carlson.
“It’s a special place,” Dunbar said. “It’s big for us to do a hometown show kind of thing. We haven’t played there since we took that little hiatus and got back together last year. We just got back off a three week tour … We’re loose and we’re ready to go. We’re ready to blow up NedFest hard Friday night.”
NedFest has a bunch of options for tickets. The three-day early bird pass is $130, and a pass for Saturday and Sunday is $105. Single-day tickets are $25 on Friday and $55 on Saturday and Sunday. And if you feel like camping out Friday or Saturday night, that’ll be $20. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.