Sweet Summer Dreams of Mishawaka

Samantha Fish coming to Mishawaka on May 21; Photo by Tim Van Schmidt

Tim Van Schmidt

There is at least one good reason to hope for the best for the 2021 summer concert season at Mishawaka, even as pandemic restrictions continue. That reason is named Samantha Fish.

Fish is a gutsy guitarist, a riveting singer, and a confident bandleader when she serves up her rocking blues music on stage. I saw her deliver an electrifying set at the Greeley Blues Jam a few years ago. (BTW, there is no news yet about the annual Blues Jam in 2021.) Fish is scheduled to play Mishawaka on May 21, a one-year postponement from 2020.

That’s a long time to wait, but Fish is worth it. The bonus to this May date is seeing Fish at Mishawaka.

Mishawaka is a live music haven on Highway 14 in the Poudre Canyon if you’re new to the area. The address is 13714 Poudre Canyon Highway, Bellvue. The concert area is right on the river, literally roaring only a few feet away, with people in kayaks rushing by and steep canyon hills rising majestically beyond.

Longtime area residents know Mishawaka as a particularly unique northern Colorado venue, and any live music fan worth their salt has been there multiple times over the years.

Personally, I have had some interesting times at Mishawaka. For example, there was the time I was there for a Hot Tuna show when I got tapped to go backstage and interview the band. I didn’t have a pen or even a piece of paper, but within minutes I found myself hanging out with Jorma and Jack in the Green Room — more like the “Green Cabin” — talking about Hot Tuna’s revival efforts at the time.

Slick Machine and Joy Jackson; Photo by Tim Van Schmidt

Another great Mishawaka moment came when I went to a show there by Billy Preston. It was a thin crowd, so it wasn’t a big deal to be dancing up by the front of the stage. When Preston lit into Sly Stone’s “Higher,” he shoved the mike in front of my face every time he sang, “I want to take you higher.” I got to yell “Higher!” in response several times — we made quite a team, Billy and I.

Then there was my encounter with David Bromberg. I had a kind of rough interview with him by phone before the show. At the event, on the outer deck above the river, he and I hooked up for a few minutes, and I told him that I “felt like an idiot” during the interview. Bromberg came back at me without skipping a beat and said, “You weren’t an idiot. I’ve talked to some idiots.”

Other memorable shows include a beautiful sunny afternoon with the subdudes. I can’t tell you why or when, just that everything seemed to be perfect about that day. Not only was a great band on stage, but it seemed like everyone we knew from Fort Collins was there. We even had our kids with us. You can’t have any more fun than that, Noco style.

Jimmy Cliff; Photo by Tim Van Schmidt

Over the years, I’ve seen a wide diversity of artists at Mishawaka, including Buckethead, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Cliff, Horrorpops, Los Lobos, Toots and the Maytalls, Firefall, Leo Kottke, David Grisman, and John Mayall. But more than international headliners, Mishawaka has also staged countless regional bands as well.

Mishawaka Memories – Buckethead; Photo by Tim Van Schmidt

Located 13.7 miles up the Poudre Canyon, Mishawaka serves food as well. Mishawaka also sponsors “Live on the Lanes” live music events in Fort Collins at Chippers North, including The Beeves on March 6, Write Minded on March 12, Wood Belly on March 27, and The Great Salmon Famine on April 3.

Also booked at Mishawaka this summer: Head For The Hills’ 16th Annual Pickin’ on the Poudre on May 15, Steep Canyon Rangers on June 11, Trout Steak Revival on July 2, The Steeldrivers w/ Wood Belly on August 20, and The Jayhawks on August 21.

Who knows how the summer will go in 2021. The best idea as far as Mishawaka goes is to keep in touch with their site at www.themishawaka.com. This is a Noco pleasure worth hoping for.


Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins. Check out his channel on YouTube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt.”

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