Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE
Celebrating our own homegrown music is a tradition in northern Colorado. There’s a reason for that — we have a great music scene, full of diverse sounds. Blues, punk, DJ, rock, funk, soul, hip hop, folk, bluegrass, metal — you name it, someone is out there playing it.
There’s no better opportunity to test the measure of the Fort Collins area music scene than the upcoming FoCoMX 2022 festival, set at a wide variety of area venues for April 22-23. It’s an ambitious effort to showcase local and regional musical talent in just about everywhere in town you can play music.
FoCoMX, cheekily nicknamed “The Biggest Little Festival in America”, is organized by the Fort Collins Musicians Association and it’s been going on for a long time.
Since 2009, FoCoMX has done a Herculean job of promoting our own precious music, but was interrupted, like a lot of things, by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
But in 2022, it looks like it’s going to happen. On April 1, the lineup for the festival was announced during an event at Odell Brewing and it is, again, breathtaking in its depth and breadth.
The big party is back!
What are the highlights? Well, I’m not sure I’m qualified to say. I count 322 performers on the list, playing on 36 stages around town. I have seen many of them, but there are a lot of performers on the schedule I haven’t heard yet, so I really shouldn’t just pick the knowns over the unknowns.
In fact, that’s usually how I plot my own FoCoMX schedule — I try to see bands and visit venues I have not yet experienced.
At the lineup reveal at Odell, I saw three new-to-me performers: Lewis Turner, There’s an Ape for That, and Veronica May and the Magnetics. They’re all on the FoCoMX schedule: Turner, a singer-songwriter, is set to play The Exchange on April 23 at 4:30. A truly funky DJ, There’s An Ape For That will be heading up the Sound Off Silent Disco in Old Town Square on April 23 at 5:00.
May, playing a rousing rhythm and blues, soul, and funk, will be performing at The Coast on April 22 at 6:15. She’ll also be participating in “Sound Affects Us All: Collaboration with Shine” at the Art Lab on April 23 at 2:00.
If I really HAD to make a target list for the 2022 FoCoMX — at least of the stuff I know about — I would include:
On April 22, Elise Wunder, Songwriters in the Round (featuring Angie Stevens, Bonnie Sims, Alysia Kraft, and Liz Barnez), Post Paradise, Attack on Venus, Rejekted Kauses, Lindsey O’Brien, Honey Gitters, Megan Burtt, Guerilla Fanfare Brass Band, Cary Morin and Ghost Dog, More Than Physics, and The Swashbuckling Doctors.
On April 23, Sol Pride, Johnny Johnston, Tim Cook Duo, Mad Dog Blues, 12 Cents for Marvin, John Magnie, Dave Dardine and Cowboys Dead, Last Call Romance, WhiteCatPink, Magic Cyclops, The Catcalls, HOSS, iZCALLi, and Maxwell Mud.
I know, it doesn’t seem possible to see so much music. But it is kind of possible, thanks to FoCoMX, if you just keep moving.
More than music, though, FoCoMX also includes opportunities for musicians to learn and share. There’s a “Musicians Mental Health Meet Up” on April 23 at 12:00 at the Art Lab and the Armory will host keynote speakers Skerik and Jen Hartswick on April 23 at 2:00. There’re also some comedy gigs in the line-up.
I remember the first FoCoMX in 2009. I gave up tickets to a sold-out Bruce Springsteen show in Denver to attend and I think I got the better end of the bargain — it was a musical feast. My favorite band that year was Umlaut, a tongue-in-cheek metal trio. I’ve looked forward to the festival ever since as a prime opportunity to see just what NOCO musicians are up to.
Longtime NOCO music lovers know that FoCoMX isn’t the first area festival to showcase homegrown talent. In the late 1980s, for example, there was the Front Range Music Fest, produced by Whitebird Productions.
In the 1990s there was a festival similar to FoCoMX called the Northern Colorado MusicFest. It was created to support NOCO public radio — first KCSU, then Public Radio for the Front Range, the group responsible for putting KRFC on the air, then KRFC itself.
In the 2000s, Bohemian Nights picked up the tradition and made their stages burst with Colorado talent. The bad news is that this festival will not be returning after virus disruptions — but they will still be promoting Colorado music with their Thursday Night Live series.
In the 2020s, FoCoMX now stands alone as the premier NOCO music event of the year, carrying on a rocking tradition. It’s not a job to be done, it’s more like a quest to keep our hearts alive, our souls fed, and our ears delightfully full.
See the entire FoCoMX schedule at focomx.focoma.org/schedule — and go!
Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins. Explore his channel on YouTube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt”.