By Hap Fry
If variety is the spice of life, then Northern Colorado music fans very well could be in danger of suffering a musical overdose the third weekend in August.
As Kate Hudson said in the 2000 blockbuster “Almost Famous,” ‘It’s all happening’ – along the Front Range that is.
Not only will the 9th Annual Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest be in full swing that weekend, the inaugural Arise Music Festival will take place just down the road in Loveland the same weekend from Aug. 14-18 at picturesque Sunrise Ranch.
Not many first-year festivals could go head-to-head with Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, but the new kid on the block is packing quite a punch.
Bluegrass behemoth Greensky Bluegrass, Aussie singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd, tribal-psychedelic rock group Kan’Nal, Keller Williams’ side project Keller & The Keels and Colorado staples The Motet and Michal Menert are all on the bill, along with several others.
If that weren’t enough, environmental activists Daryl Hannah, who has starred in numerous movies, and Julia Butterfly Hill, who gained worldwide attention for a protest that spanned 738 days in the branches of a redwood tree, will also be on hand to present.
“I think that Arise is able to offer some unique elements that you don’t find at other festivals,” Arise Music Festival promoter Paul Bassis said. “Throughout my career, I’ve always looked for ways to build bridges between entertainment and activism. This project, in a lot of ways, is a great vehicle for just that kind of thing. Our greatest hope is that people come away from the experience of the Arise Music Festival really feeling empowered and feeling like they do make a difference in the world, which we all do.”
Bassis, a longtime promoter who used to run the popular Reggae on the River festival in Northern California, had focused his efforts on managing his high-profile environmentalist clients like Hannah. But when he visited Sunrise Ranch last November, he immediately saw a potential opportunity.
“I had gotten out the festival-producing business for a while,” Bassis said. “I got back in for this project, and the real-determining factor, more than anything else, was when I went to Sunrise Ranch, and I saw this beautiful, beautiful valley just outside of the town of Loveland. I realized that it was a kind of place that would resonate with festival attendees.”
Despite Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest – a free festival – taking place the same weekend, Fort Collins resident Megan Smith said she will be at the Sunrise Ranch.
“It’s horrible timing,” Smith said. “I’ve been a regular patron of NewWestFest for years, but when I found out Kan’Nal and Xavier Rudd were playing, I knew I would be going to (Arise). There seems like there will be a lot of spiritual development going on there, which is what a lot of my friends and I are into.”
After playing Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest two of the past three years, Fort Collins-based funk band Trichome is looking forward to taking part in the first Arise Music Festival.
“NewWestFest is great, but it’s a street festival,” said Trichome keyboardist and saxophonist Mike Windham. “Arise is going to be more of an event you’re going to want to immerse yourself in. It’s going to be a lot like those mega festivals you see in the midwest and east coast.”
Bassis said he wasn’t looking to create a dilemma when he scheduled the dates for the Arise Music Festival back in November.
“NewWestFest is a great event,” Bassis said. I was actually at it last year. The first thing we did when we were looking at the options that were available to us for dates to do the festival is we looked at the NewWestFest website, and saw what the dates of their event were last year (Aug. 10-12).
“We saw that it was not the same dates that were available to us so we locked in our dates, and we started making offers on various acts and talent to perform at the festival. We started getting confirmation and everything was on the forward motion, and then we learned that NewWestFest had changed their dates. I had since found out later, that they had changed their dates back to what it used to be – that last year was an off year.”
To better help avoid conflict with Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, the Arise Music Festival is selling Friday-Saturday passes and Saturday-only passes, in addition to full-festival passes.
At press time, the Arise Music Festival had yet to announce the daily lineup schedule. That likely was because Bassis said the festival would be announcing a major headliner for the Saturday slot early this month.
“We have a very, very popular headlining act – I would say one of Colorado’s most favorite acts in a lot of ways who is going to headline for us Saturday night, but we have an advertising restriction and I’m not able to release that information as of now,” Bassis said. “The act exemplifies what the Arise Music Festival is all about.”
Arise Music Festival takes place Aug. 14-18 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland. For more information, visit www.arisefestival.com.