Last week’s unprecedented music announcements foretell an exciting summer in Buena Vista and Chaffee County.

It may, in the course of Buena Vista’s historic story, be the benchmark, that defining moment in our transformation into a music town.

Five major music festival events are planned this summer in Chaffee County, four in Buena Vista.

There’s been a growing presence in Buena Vista the last couple years – an energy, a vibe, movement – that we’ve been seeking to document in the newspaper.

While Buena Vista continues to transform itself from a quiet, forgotten mountain town into an adventurer and music lover’s paradise, names-you-know entertainment is nothing new in the Upper Arkansas Valley.

What was noteworthy last week were the number of big announcements in the same week. Leftover Salmon and the outstanding mountain music the Rapids & Grass Beer Festival announced Monday opened the engagement.

Rapidgrass, an annual staple of live music at The Beach in South Main since it opened about a decade ago, will be the first group to play the Ivy Ballroom in a free show Friday night. Leftover Salmon gets the honor of playing the official grand opening show Sunday night.

Add Bonfire Dub, Liver Down the River and Tierro with Bridgett Law playing free shows at The Beach and it will be a great weekend.

Later on Monday evening, FIBArk announced via Facebook the lineup for its 70th anniversary celebration of boating the Arkansas first. The June 14-17 events at the Salida Rotary Amphitheater in Riverside Park will feature a pair of Allman Brothers Band kids Friday night and southern/blues rock jam band North Mississippi All-Stars Saturday night. Haven’t heard Duane Betts’ and Devon Allman’s bands? Check them out on YouTube!

Thursday brought the big one we all had been waiting on when country superstar Dierks Bentley announced a Labor Day weekend celebration that includes Miranda Lambert and the Del McCoury Band at the inaugural Live Nation Seven Peaks Music Festival.

Perhaps overlooked but not forgotten in the recent frenzy is Bewnie’s annual transformation from winter to summer (sometimes in the same week!) was CKS PaddleFest’s free music lineup over Memorial Day weekend. The rite of passage into summer shows will feature the Durango Funk Allstars and Dragondeer.

Campout for the Cause the following weekend, which was the first to announce this summer’s festivities will highlight hosts Bonfire Dub along with the Lil’ Smokies, Mandolin Orange and Grant Farm.

All exciting announcements on their own, and awesome added up together, but it is by no means a new phenomenon in the Upper Arkansas Valley.

Big promoters Madison House brought Mumford and Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road tour to Salida’s outskirts in 2015 and then Vertex and Graham Nash, Alabama Shakes, Lettuce, Gramatik and ODESZA to the Meadows just outside Buena Vista the following summer.

There are roots that can be traced back farther in Buena Vista and the county, but music artists have been and will continue to be drawn here for many of the same reasons we live here and others visit.

The Salida Café may have been one of the first venues to offer a steady schedule of entertainers – including BV’s Trace Bundy back in the day – but hot springs and other venues brought live entertainment for a time and the SteamPlant in Salida has been bringing live entertainment names to the valley for years.

Here out West back around the turn of the century, Michael Martin Murphey was seen hereabouts, time to time.

Following a string of top country hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the former “Cosmic Cowboy” went legit, living and singing the life of the Old West.

Murphey moved his operation to New Mexico by the mid-2000s, but not before giving hometown sweetheart Carin Mari’s career a stirrup lift up and playing sold out fundraisers at the Orpheum Theater and the Roadhouse, present site of The Trailhead and Simple Eatery.

Buena Vista has hosted street dances and concerts in the park and other places around town numerous times over the years, most notably the Collegiate Peaks Music Festival, which ran for several years around town including East Main Street and South Main last decade and brought several national acts through BV in the summer.

Names we know have played in the valley, so is there a difference now?

I think there is – a confluence of energetic efforts (think X marks the spot over Buena Vista) of two very different music makers.

Next week, in part two.

Schiefelbein, a former newspaper music columnist, has been Times editor since 2012, the year the ancient Mayans miscalculated as the end of time. Or did they simply mean a new beginning?

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