By Mary Wilson
Mishawaka is a wildly unique venue situated 13 miles up the Poudre Canyon, with a scenic mountain views and flowing drinks. Yet, great scenery doesn’t do justice to the music that fills up the canyon through the summer months. Just like the last nine years, Fort Collins based band, Head for the Hills, will be opening up the season.
Pickin’ on the Poudre, presented by 89.9 KRFC, is the ninth year the bluegrass band will be kicking off the outdoor season.
“I don’t know if words can describe how much it means to us to kick off the Mishawaka season, it’s a really, really special place to us,” Michael Chappell, mandolin player for Head for the Hills said. “It was always a huge inspiration to me.” Chappell used to go up to the Mishawaka in high school for concerts with friends, he explained.
“Those guys grew up at the Mishawaka, so I think it’s special in everyone’s heart to see them play up there,” Mishawaka owner, Dani Grant said.
The band; Adam Kinghorn (guitar), Michael Chappell (mandolin), Joe Lessard (fiddle) and Matt Loewen (bass) will be joined with the Drew Emmitt Trio (Leftover Salmon’s Drew Emmitt and Andy Thorn with Andy Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters), and Mosey West to celebrate the warm weather music season.
“It’s always been a really great night of music,” Said Chappell. “This year we are trying to one up the years prior, with the great bands with us. It’s a really great way to start off the summer.”
Head for the Hills has gained national traction over the last years, and has 20 shows booked for their 2013 spring for their “Strings Ahead Spring Tour”, which kicked off in mid-March. Many of these ahead including many Oregon and California dates.
“With their management with Sean MacAskill and the fact that they’re really authentic and talented, there was no doubt that it was a just matter of time before they grew up and out of northern Colorado,” Grant said. “But, you have no fear with a band like that because their hearts are at home, so we’ll never loose them. “
Mishawaka is under it’s third year of new management, and Grant is confident the start off with Pickin’ on the Poudre is the start to a great year for outside music at the outdoor amphitheater.
“I think you’re going to find that our season three is a lot more dialed in. We bought our own bus, so were trying to control our own destiny. I think you’ll see more shows that show a diverse reflection for verity,” Grant said. “We’ve finally gone from the transitioning from the new welcoming atmosphere, to actually having it. I think it’s the first year no one is put off by the change and everyone is excited about it.”
Some of these include shows that will be large, energetic shows such as EOTO (with Jason Hann of String Cheese Incident), as well as shows for all ages such as the Fort Collins Symphony. “We are trying to dial in a mixed crowd. I think it’s the first year that no one is put off by the change, and nobody is brand new to it either.”
As for Head for the Hills, the band is always welcomed at the authentic and close-knit venue. “We started going as fans, now it is so special to play there as musicians,” Chappell said.
Pickin’ on the Poudre is the first time of the season for friends and families to come together and enjoy warm weather, and a special Colorado place. Tickets are available online, and at Chipper’s Lanes, and shuttles are running to and from the venue from two Fort Collins locations every concert night. All info is located at themishawaka.com.
“It’s going to be a shake your booty dance season!” according to Grant.