Colorado Springs’ music scene is ready to crank back up after an extremely difficult year, and the return of the MeadowGrass Music Festival is a fitting start to summer in its usual Memorial Day weekend time slot, May 28-30, 2021.
“Having MeadowGrass return means we can celebrate community face to face with our friends and family,” says Nicole Nicoletta, executive director of host Rocky Mountain Highway Music Collaborative. “We can feel a sense of ‘normalcy’ as we transition through the pandemic and heal from a brutal 2020.”
The region’s biggest and, arguably, best music festival is known for its eclectic lineups of local, regional and national artists playing a wide blend of roots, indie Americana, folk, rock, soul and blues. It’s a good place to catch that next “it” band, as many MeadowGrass alumni have gone on to find their breakthrough on the national scene.
The outdoor setting at La Foret in Black Forest makes it easier to stay spread out while still getting together and grooving. While there is currently no group size limit on outdoor, unseated events in El Paso County, the pandemic will bring some changes to the festival. Instead of the iconic, yellow-striped circus tent, the stage setup will feature a tent over the performers only. Fans are welcome to set up their own tents and canopies, up to 10-by-10 feet, in designated areas. Beer Fest vendors will be spread out rather than grouped closely together. And masks will be required in some areas, including the late night show, greenroom and yoga sessions until you find your spot. Masks will also be highly encouraged when ordering food and beverages. “We want as many people as possible to feel comfortable attending the event,” Nicoletta says. “We are fortunate to have plenty of space to spread out.”
As for the lineup? Nicoletta says she appreciates the equal mix of local, regional and national artists. When pressed for highlights, she says, “Personally, I’m excited for Kyshona Armstrong, singer-songwriter from Nashville, and Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers from Columbus [Ohio]. I could go on and on, the lineup is incredible!”
The musicians themselves are eager to hit the stage again. “To say I’m excited to play music with people and for people again is an understatement!” says J.J. Murphy of Mary and the Pharaoh. The local guitarist formed the band with vocalist-violinist Deirdre McCarthy of Woodshed Red. “The last year has helped me learn to focus on what really matters, and music matters for people right now in a somewhat unprecedented way. I’m fortunate to be part of this music community!”
With restrictions on public gatherings eased, the concert calendar is filling fast all over town. Live performances have begun at venues including the Black Sheep, the Wild Goose Meeting House and Lulu’s Downstairs. Outdoor concert series are on the calendar at Banning Lewis Ranch, Wolf Ranch and other parks. Plus, there’s a new blues fest, Blues on the Mesa, coming in the fall. Read more about those summer shows in “Live Music Is Back.”
MeadowGrass Lineup 2021 Highlights
Artists include the following. Listen at the Official MeadowGrass 2021 Playlist on Spotify. Find the complete lineup and schedule at meadowgrass.org.
Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers
Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband
The Arcadian Wild
Tierro Band with Bridget Law
The River Arkansas
Mary and the Pharaoh
Join the MeadowGrass Jam
For tickets, camping info, complete details and more: meadowgrass.org
Live Music Is Back in COS