Taking the music festival experience out of a large open field and into different venues — some unconventional — has gained popularity over the years.
South by Southwest (SXSW) — Austin’s music, film and tech juggernaut — allows attendees to pop into different establishments throughout the course of the event to take in a slew of assorted acts.
Longmont’s Winter and Spring Walkabouts followed a similar model, with bands plugging in at breweries and even a record shop.
On Oct. 8, the first annual Lafayette Music Festival will bring over 25 acts to five main venues, including The End, a space that opened last week — owned by Kenny Vasko, Lafayette Music Festival’s founder.
“We definitely see this as a yearly happening,” Vasko said. “It was last year that we realized that — with the grand reopening of Nissi’s — Lafayette’s music venue capacity would be over 1,000 people in total.”
In addition to Nissi’s and The End, other Lafayette Music Festival venues include The Arts Hub, Tier Two Live and Muse Performance Space.
Also in the mix will be performances at The District, a community-inspired shopping and gathering place in Lafayette. Shows at The District are free during the festival.
“Most of the venues are places that fly under the radar, which is crazy since it’s not unusual to see a Grammy winner or a rising Denver or Fort Collins act playing in Lafayette at each of the five venues,” Vasko said.
From a nine-piece soul outfit to bluegrass, blues and indie pop, all festival acts truly offer something for everyone.
“The roster was a combination of all five venues putting our heads together and coming up with a style that would help each venue shine,” Vasko said. “One-hundred percent of the bands playing are from Colorado, and we’re hugely proud of that fact. I’m especially excited to have The Burroughs headlining the festival, since the event is all about fun, and that’s what they bring to every stage. It’s also exciting to see groups like 2MX2 and Neoma grace the Arts Hub stage.”
Wristbands, that get one in to all festival venues, are on sale now. Advanced general admission is $45 per person. There will also be an option to purchase tickets the day of the festival on Oct. 8 for a walk-up price.
Currently, buyers can also opt to purchase two wristbands for the ‘buddy system’ price of $40 each or four wristbands for a ‘fabulous four’ price of $37.50 each.
Taking the stage at Nissi’s starting at 2:30 p.m. will be the blues group Cass Clayton and Friends.
“Lafayette has been my hometown for the last 17 years, and it’s been a really good place for me and my family,” Clayton said. “You would think we would play in Boulder County a lot, but most of our shows are in other parts of Colorado. When we’re in our backyard and we get to play music for friends and family it’s a blast and feels extra special.”
Clayton is excited to see this new music offering take place close to home.
“Lafayette has a strong artistic culture with galleries, Art Night Out events and music venues, and that’s part of what makes it a cool place,” Clayton said. “At the same time, there’s nothing that puts a city on the map like a great music festival. People will definitely cross state lines to hear their favorite bands, so I think it’s good for Lafayette.”
Clayton has recruited a handful of local creatives to bring the heat to the group’s afternoon slot.
“We have a bunch of special guests, so it’s gonna be a blast,” Clayton said. “The entire band is guests — Cody Qualls from Face Vocal Band, Jessica Rogalski from Mojomama, Caton Sollenberger from The Jauntee and the list goes on. We’ll be playing some new music, some crowd favorites and mixing it up. I can’t wait.”
When not belting out numbers with the band, she looks forward to reveling in the performances of her peers.
“As for acts I want to check out, there are so many of them and a lot of my friends are playing — The Burroughs, Pamlico Sound, Gabe Mervine,” Clayton said.
Playing the free community stage at The District, that allows folks to check out the music at no cost, will be Mad Dog Blues — led by Mark “Mad Dog” Friedman.
“I believe that live music brings people together, so I would love to see more of these community-wide festivals everywhere,” Friedman said. “With all the venues cooperating and local businesses helping to sponsor the events, this is not only an idea long overdue, it’s especially suited to a community like Lafayette where local art and music are valued by so many.”
Kenny Vasko along with his wife Liz Vasko run Lafayette’s Dog House Music Studios, a place they bought in 2019 that has allowed musicians to lay down tracks in a fun and professional environment. The End — the couple’s latest venue — is actually located inside of Dog House Music Studios.
“We recorded our epic pandemic double album, ‘Family Reunion 2020,’ at Dog House Music and enjoy practicing there regularly,” Friedman said.
On Oct. 8, attendees can expect to hear a variety of tracks from Friedman and crew.
“Audiences will hear our signature acoustic-country-blues-jam-grass fusion sound,” Friedman said. “Like all our shows, we will feature something new for fans. Since this is more of a concert show, we will rely heavily on original tunes and feature songs primarily from our latest album, ‘Gratitude,’ as well as fan favorites from our four previous albums. We are also likely to spend a large part of our time jamming, because our fans love jam band music as much as we do.”
Like Clayton, Friedman is amped to check out the not-to-be-missed lineup.
“I will certainly be using my wristband to see some of my favorite blues, funk and jazz acts, including Cass Clayton, Karen Finch, Pamlico Sound, The Burroughs and Lewis & Church,” Friedman said.
Vasko is enthused to be bringing Lafayette its first official music festival, but he recognizes it couldn’t have been done without the assistance of many in the community.
“I credit Dave Heinrich, of Tier Two Live, for carrying the torch and fully believing that we can put this event together,” Vasko said. “We’ve been the two dogs pulling the sled, so to speak. But we’ve been floored by the amount of support we’ve gotten from the community, local businesses and volunteers. Whenever we say a music festival is happening in town, people drop their jaws, usually can’t believe it, and then once they do believe it, they want to help make it a reality.”
Delivering memorable live music experiences and helping artists shine is something Vasko is truly passionate about, and it’s something he hopes to continue for the foreseeable future.
Last week, The End hosted Fort Collins funk band Hand Turkey and Denver soul-rockers Bear and the Beasts at its nearly sold-out grand opening.
“Opening The End Lafayette as a venue, complete with liquor license, has truly been a labor of love,” Vasko said. “The vibe of the space is one of comfort. We have a beautiful chandelier and purple couches, and the walls are adorned with velvet. We want to give fans of local music a true VIP performance. Since it’s a cap 75, it will be one of the most intimate experiences for music you can get in the Front Range.”
After Lafayette Music Festival wraps, The End will throw a pop-punk concert with Dayshaper on Oct. 28.
“The most rewarding part of doing all this, is that we are making it all happen for the burgeoning music community here in Boulder County,” Vasko said. Liz (Vasko) and I used to have corporate jobs, but we have found that being a vessel for the arts community here was our true calling. I believe that Lafayette is the best city in Colorado to take a chance. We did, and we’re forever grateful for how the community has received us.”