You’ve poached the concerts with picnic in tow at Chautauqua, but couldn’t see the band, stuck outside with the rest of the freeloaders. You’ve hung out in the alley while the neighbor’s party kicked off with live tunes (shouldn’t have kicked his dog, he would have invited you). You’ve even listened to every single old Dead bootleg in your buddy’s collection (trying to get that live show “feeling” again). In other words, you’re done. Done with compromises, done with being close to, but not part of, the party, and done with poor substitutes for the real, live thing. You need some music, you need it bad, and you need it cheap. But better than cheap is free. Free is good. And the only thing better than good is great. Well, you’re in luck because you can get great and free at the same time. Just load up the old microbus with a bunch of friends, stuff a cooler full of cold ones in the back, and head up, up out of the heat, up to hear the beats, the free summer beats of Colorado’s resort towns. Here’s a primer on where to go and what to see — and what to listen to.
Friday Night Street
Party Copper Mountain Info: coppercolorado.com
You may not recognize the names of many of the acts booked for this summer’s line-up at Copper Mountain, but it’s worth remembering that when U2 started, no one had heard of them either. Catch underground talents here on Fridays, including Angie Stevens & The Beautiful Wreck ( July 30). Stevens’ folk- and country-infused musings on love and life are made all the more poignant by her hauntingly beautiful voice.
Other acts include the Matt Clark Band, Guitar Town Showcase and Lipbone Redding and the Lipbone Orchestra, which close out Copper’s summer season with yet another free show on Aug. 27.
Hot Summer Nights
Vail Info: vvf.org
This venerable tradition happens each Tuesday at the world-class Ford Amphitheater. If you think that $45 bucks for the front-row seats is too much dough to spend to see Toad The Wet Sprocket at Chautauqua, then show up at 5:30 when the doors open for a free concert with the band here on Aug. 17. Other musicians gracing the Ford’s outdoor ambience this summer include The Police tribute band Message In a Bottle (Aug. 24). Finally, aficionados of dance won’t want to miss a date with BreakEFX, a dance crew from right here in Colorado that’s won acclaim for their hip-hop-infused performances (Aug. 10).
Steamboat Springs Summer Concert Series
Steamboat Springs Info: resortqueststeamboat.com
The Howelson Hill amphitheater plays host to Steamboat’s free Friday night concert series, which, unlike many other events listed here, features opening acts in addition to headliners. Highlights include reggae sensation Easy Star All Stars ( July 30); MOFRO, a seven-piece blues, Southern rock and funk band from Jacksonville, Fla. (Aug. 13); and the Emmitt Nershi Band (Aug. 20).
Sunset Concert Series
Telluride Info: tellurideskiresort.com
Telluride is best known for its Bluegrass Festival, but the town also delivers with a stunning line up for Wednesday Sunset Concert Series. The concerts kicked off with a July 14 date featuring Duwayne Burnside, son of veteran bluesman R.L. Burnside. Can’t-miss evenings include an Aug. 25 performance by country and bluegrass phenomenon Jim Lauderdale, who was recognized by the Americana Music Association as Artist of the Year in 2002. And fans of reggae won’t want to miss an Aug. 4 date with the Sierra Leone All Stars. Other acts include Dangermuffin ( July 28), Marco Benevento Trio (Aug. 11) and These United States (Aug. 18).
Snowmass Free Summer Concert Series
Snowmass Info: stayaspensnowmass.com
Snowmass is rapidly becoming the place to see live music in the Roaring Fork Valley, and this summer is no different with blues act Tab Benoit holding down an Aug. 5 date. Other performers include Holmes Bros (Aug. 12), and the quirky sounds of These United States, who will wrap up this free summer series on Aug. 19.