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Front Range live entertainment pressing on as omicron variant spreads across state

New concerts, live events still being scheduled

Concertgoers listen to the Brasstracks band at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Oct. 06, 2021. (Courtesy photo)
Concertgoers listen to the Brasstracks band at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Oct. 06, 2021. (Courtesy photo)
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Editor’s note: Z2 Entertainment announced Monday afternoon that Crumb’s New Year’s Eve Boulder Bash on Friday has been canceled. The story has been updated to reflect this information.

As cases of COVID increase, more live entertainment events are once again being put on hold across the country.

BOULDER, CO - Jan. 22, 2021: ...
Peter Chase, left, and James Eyestone, walk by the Fox Theatre on the Hill in January 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

From the legendary Radio City Rockettes canceling “Christmas Spectacular” shows to Broadway productions stopping after cast and crew members tested positive, the alarm over the omicron variant has dimmed stage lights in The Big Apple.

Denver is also seeing events getting nixed, from plays to music festivals.

Officials with Colorado Department of Public Health reported that Denver and the mountain resort communities were seeing the biggest surges in new infections. Data released Monday shows that the omicron variant in Boulder County increased to nine positive cases out of 70 positive cases statewide. Denver had 24 cases as of Monday, according to CDPHE data.

Every Tuesday and Friday the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates its variants of concern data on its dashboard.

This fall, certain artists such as Dispatch, Saint Motel and Billy Prine pulled out of scheduled gigs at the Boulder Theater due to the rising spread of COVID.

But most venues remain open — under new guidelines, of course — and tickets are still being sold and purchased.

“The Boulder Theater and Fox Theatre currently require proof of vaccination,” said Cheryl Liguori, CEO of Z2 Entertainment, Colorado’s largest independent live music promotion and entertainment company that also runs the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins. “We are strongly encouraging wearing masks between eating and/or drinking at our shows even though it is not currently required since we are an Approved Vaccine Verified Venue.”

Chris Caligaris, aka Godlazer, performs at the Boulder Theater. The musician and DJ, who lives in Nederland, will play a New Year’s Eve show at the Fox Theatre in Boulder with The Crystal Method. (Ray Ferrone/ Courtesy photo)

 

Cancellations are starting to trickle in, however. Monday afternoon, Z2 Entertainment announced that dream-pop synth-rock band Crumb — who was to perform with jazzy hip-hop soul act Ramakhandra — has canceled its New Year’s Eve bash at the Boulder Theater.

“Due to rapidly rising case numbers associated with the Omicron variant and out of concern for the safety of our communities, crew, and fans, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our NYE show in Boulder. Ticket refunds will be available at the point of purchase. Stay safe out there and we hope to see you in 2022,” the band wrote in a statement.

At New Year’s Eve over at Boulder’s Fox Theatre, though, the show is still on for pioneering electronic music group The Crystal Method and Nederland-based DJ Godlazer.

And Aggie Theatre — Z2’s Northern Colorado venue that also requires proof of vaccination — will throw a NYE show with Head for the Hills, Wood Belly and Hanna Doreen.

“Our staff is still required to mask-up while working in our venues,” Liguori said. “We anticipate that over the next few months some artists will be canceling tours given the quick spread of the omicron variant.”

While new shows are being announced across the Front Range, there still seems to be a looming feeling that it could all slip away and virtual options could once again become the new normal.

Dechen Hawk performs at The Post during the 2020 Boulder International Film Festival. He is scheduled to play the Winter Walkabout Music Showcase in Longmont on Feb. 5, 2022. (Mike Homner/ Courtesy photo)

“I see omicron as a threat to all of us and therefore to the live entertainment industry,” said Dechen Hawk, a Lyons-based singer-songwriter. “It is concerning when considering performing live. I’ve been vaccinated and boosted, so I feel as protected as I can. I mask when indoors and when in crowds. That said, it can certainly be a deterrent for concert goers — as well as artists — which hurts our business and livelihoods.”

The widespread arrival of vaccines and the ease of access to receiving them in early 2021 gave artists a sense of hope about once again performing at in-person events, but some fear the sporadic postponement of live events could be a glimpse of what’s to come.

Winter has also officially arrived and the cooler temperatures and potential snow storms aren’t always conducive to outdoor events.

“I’m definitely seeing shows canceled or rescheduled for a later date,” Hawk said.

On Feb. 5, Hawk is scheduled to play at the Winter Walkabout Music Showcase, an all-day music event where attendees hop from venue to venue throughout downtown Longmont.

The new 2022 installment comes after the event took a year hiatus due to COVID.

“I hope it goes on as planned,” Hawk said. “I wish everyone a safe New Year’s and 2022. We can get through this together.”

Midwinter Bluegrass Festival at the Northglenn Ramada Plaza — set for Feb. 14-16 — was canceled by organizers this month.

“We also do not feel confident that we could safely hold an indoor picking festival,” festival organizers wrote on the website. “Rather than risk people’s health, we have made the difficult decision to cancel and go another year without gathering as a community.”

New variant or not, ticket sales show there is still a strong desire to see live music. It’s apparent that fans want to support local musicians and the professionals that work hard to put on indoor productions as safely and responsibly as they can.

Foxfeather performs at Longmont Public Media as part of The Soundpost Sessions in November 2021. (Jordan Bass/Courtesy photo)

“Ticket sales were strong for our December show with Taylor Shae,” said Tim Gulsrud, executive producer of The Soundpost Sessions — a local, intimate music series. “We are presenting our shows at Longmont Public Media, which has been a Boulder County Vaccine Verified Facility since early October.”

The Soundpost Sessions hosted local favorites Foxfeather in November and other acts, including Sturtz, Alexa Wildish, Pamela Machala, Thomas Lafond, Many Mountains, Monica Marie LaBonte and Taylor Sims, have taken the stage throughout the series.

“We have heard several comments of appreciation from audience members for presenting live music in this setting,” Gulsrud said.

Up next on Jan. 8, Soundpost Sessions has a live show from Big Richard booked — an all-female bluegrass supergroup featuring powerhouse vocalist Bonnie Sims, Eve Panning, Emma Rose and Joy Adams.

“Attendees can expect fantastic music and great sound in our listening room,” Gulsrud said. “The overall aim of our concert series is to present intimate listening experiences without the bar noise and distractions of other music venues. Advance tickets are on sale at Eventbrite and all attendees should remember to bring proof of vaccination to enter Longmont Public Media.”

Big Richard plays Longmont Public Media as part of The Soundpost Sessions on Jan. 8. (Courtesy photo)

For now, Gulsrud and crew will continue to schedule future sessions for as long as they can.

“We don’t currently have any plans to change our approach to live shows,” Gulsrud said. “We are doing one show per month, the capacity is already limited to around 50 people and all performers and audience members are fully vaccinated. If Boulder County regulations change, however, then of course we will re-evaluate.”

Dairy Arts Center has always been a draw for visitors seeking a diverse offering of entertainment, whether that’s live theater, a comedy showcase, an indie film screening or engaging art exhibit.

“The Dairy has a mix of programming that we produce and programs that are produced by other organizations that rent our theaters,” said Melissa Fathman, executive director of the Dairy Arts Center. “All Dairy-produced programs and most of our rental clients are now requiring proof of vaccination, in addition to masking.”

After a two-year coronavirus hiatus, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance had its first production at the Dairy Arts Center earlier in December, where masked dancers wowed smaller-sized audiences.

Boulder Opera also returned to the center for a children’s production of “L’enfant et les sortilèges” this month.

Valerie Morris is seen on the fabric at an autumn rehearsal for Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance’s show “Gravity & Relativity” in Boulder. (Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance/Courtesy photo)

“A few clients that specialize in family programming are opting for masks and distanced seating with no vaccination requirements,” Fathman said.

Some upcoming events that are still on the calendar include magician Hayden Childress on Jan. 7, a multimedia storytelling event “Let Me Tell You Where I’m Really From” that features the accounts of immigrants, first-generation Americans and Native people on Jan. 8 and funk band Miss Mojo on Jan. 14.

“At the moment, we have no plans to cancel any events,” Fathman said. “At the same time, we continue to follow the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC and our local health department with regard to indoor event safety and stand poised to make necessary changes if advised to do so.”

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