In Colorado, there’s only one thing as sure as the spring snowmelt: the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. Sure, spring and the resulting runoff has been happening for a little bit longer, but the Meltdown is now in its 23rd year — not as impressive as annual seasonal changes over hundreds of millennia, but still.
The bluegrass festival runs April 21, 22 and 23 and includes three days packed with performances by a stellar lineup of bands and musicians. Concerts will take place at five venues: the Henry Strater Theatre, Durango Arts Center, Powerhouse Science Center, Wild Horse Saloon as well as the Balcony Backstage, the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown’s Band Showcase venue for free shows Saturday afternoon and for the Old-Time Barn Dance on Saturday night.
The 2017 Bluegrass Meltdown lineup features more than two dozen bands, including Town Mountain, David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition, the Kathy Kallick Band, Freight Hoppers and more. Town Mountain is a five-piece from Asheville, North Carolina, that’s known for their “hard-driving sound, their in-house songwriting and the honky-tonk edge.” The Kathy Kallick Band is based along the West Coast with members hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, and even one from Anchorage, Alaska. David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition is a quintet with more than 180 years of experience performing in the Bluegrass genre.
Most of the 25-band lineup, though, are homegrown Colorado ensembles. Jeff Scroggins and Colorado is a Colorado-based five-piece with a distinctive sound that showcases an eclectic range of influences. Savage Hearts are a Front Range band that delivers bluegrass-meets-honky-tonk sounds, and Ragged Union has been a fixture on the Colorado bluegrass scene since forming in winter 2014. Other bands are staples of the Southwestern Colorado and Four Corners region, including Quicksand Soup from Moab, Utah, Last Nickel from Dolores, Colorado, and several of Durango’s own bluegrass bands, such as Lawn Chair Kings, Blue Moon Ramblers, The Clods, Bluegrouse and more.
Although the Meltdown is jam-packed with jams, visitors shouldn’t miss these during the festival:
5-7 p.m. — Free Concert: The opening for the Meltdown is a free, two-hour concert at Powerhouse Science Center along the Animas River . Don’t miss kicking off the weekend with performances from the Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble and Last Nickel.
Noon-6 p.m. — Band Showcase: Every year, bands that aren’t seeking the spotlight of the “main stage” can still take the stage during the Band Showcase at the Balcony Backstage venue at College Avenue and Main Avenue. Don’t miss one group that has more than 10 fiddlers and a bluegrass group comprised of middle school. The concert is always free and always entertains!
1-6 p.m. — Super Jam: The Super Jam is sort of the opposite of the Band Showcase. During the Super Jam, professional bluegrass musicians from local, regional and national groups come together to jam and come up with spontaneous music on the spot and on stage at the Henry Strater Theatre. As with any jam session, what happens is impromptu magic!
7:30-10 p.m. — Old-Time Barn Dance: The Old-Time Barn Dance has turned into the don’t-miss event for the Meltdown. This year, the Freight Hoppers and Six Dollar String Band will host the boot-stomping barn-burner at the Balcony Backstage venue upstairs and inside at the corner of College Avenue and Main Avenue. Get your dancing shoes on and get on the dance floor!
8-10 p.m. — Late Night Show: The Meltdown’s marquee event is the Late Night Show on Saturday night, this year featuring the The Danny Barnes Trio comprised of Danny Barnes, Grant Gordy and Joe K. Walsh. The concert will be at the Durango Arts Center, 802 E. Second Ave.
10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Gospel Set: Get your version of church or a spiritual top-off during the Meltdown’s Gospel Set on Sunday morning, also at the Durango Arts Center. David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition, Quicksand Soup and Chokecherry Jam will host the morning congregation during the Gospel Set.
While you’re in town to catch all the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown fun, stay with us at the Quality Inn Durango! We’re consistently rated on of the best hotels in Durango and are located right on Main Avenue, a quick trip to all the Meltdown venues. Book your room today!