The Man Behind the Music of MeadowGrass

If you love the eclectic mix of music at MeadowGrass, you can thank Steve Harris. The music lover, lawyer and former DJ has been shaping the musical lineup since 2010.

When it comes to the eclectic mix of artists each year at the MeadowGrass Music Festival, there’s one man behind the music: Steve Harris. The ensemble of performers for the upcoming 13th MeadowGrass Music Festival is no exception. For all but the first year of the annual festival, Harris has been responsible for booking the lineup and curating the festival’s musical core. For the lawyer and MeadowGrass music director, music has been a labor of love for most of his 30 years in Colorado Springs.

Harris moved to the Springs straight out of law school. in 1993, and he soon began volunteering as a DJ at public radio station KRCC. “I started as a reggae DJ,” Harris says. “Around 2005, I switched to doing jazz, which was a lot of fun. Then the station came to me and said, ‘We’re not going to have jazz every night but want different music shows.’ I wanted to do Americana — bluegrass, folk, blues, authentic country, roots rock.”

That radio show was The Grass Roots Revival, airing once a week from 2007 to 2014, and it was a perfect segue to the new MeadowGrass Music Festival.

Harris took over booking bands as a volunteer in 2010, the festival’s second year. From 2014 to 2017, he served as executive director of the festival, bringing in talented artists such as Dawes, Nathanial Rateliff and Gregory Alan Isakov to play among the Black Forest pines at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center before moving on to bigger tours and venues such as Red Rock Amphitheater. You can read more about the festival’s esteemed alumni in “MeadowGrass Celebrates 10 Years.”

Creating the musical mix is the part of the festival that Harris loves most, and since 2018, he has settled into the sweet spot of being music director. “I ultimately decided to just do the fun parts,” Harris says.

Steve Harris on stage at MeadowGrass Music Festival 2021
Steve Harris, photographed here as Master of Ceremonies during the 2021 MeadowGrass Music Festival on the main stage at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest, Colorado. Harris is a lawyer but also a music fanatic — and worked as a radio DJ for years, beginning in the mid-90s. Before MeadowGrass, Harris founded and hosted a reggae music festival in the late 90s. Harris is the music director of MeadowGrass Music Festival, and he booked the performance lineup of the upcoming festival, which will be live May 27-29.

“The music is the catalyst for MeadowGrass, and we have Steve Harris to thank for that,” says Nicole Nicoletta, executive director of Rocky Mountain Highway, the organization behind MeadowGrass. “The lineup Steve creates for the festival pulls together the perfect mix of local, regional and national performers. Steve makes MeadowGrass a truly unique experience.”

Local musician Jeremy Facknitz has performed the festival three times — in 2011 with his wife, Lindsay Weidmann; solo in 2016, and again last year with his band, The Jeremy Facknitz Band. “It’s hard to do: booking, marketing, promotion,” Facknitz says. “I can only imagine what Steve’s workload looked like attempting to get MeadowGrass off the ground those first years. It was obviously a labor of immense love. I’m thankful he’s kept it going.

“It’s a small budget,” Harris confesses. His goal is to make it stretch and bring in a wide variety of talented artist. He admits most artists may be ones most people haven’t heard of, but he encourages people to broaden their musical palette.

“I try to book a third local bands, a third regional and a third national,” Harris says. “Part of our mission is to support local musicians. It’s very important for us that they get the opportunity to play.”

This year’s festival skews more toward the national and local acts. “it is 11 nationally touring acts, three regional acts and eight local bands,” he says. (You can read about — and listen to — the 2022 MeadowGrass Music Festival lineup and the overall festival in “Music and More at the MeadowGrass Music Festival.

“MeadowGrass is an eclectic mix of music,” Facknitz says. “It’s unlikely every act will be your cup of tea, but each one is going to be great. Four or five of my favorite artists I first saw at La Foret, thanks to Steve Harris.”

This year’s MeadowGrass Music Festival will be held May 27-29 — as usual, Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s going to be a really great festival,” Harris says. No doubt it will, in large part due to the efforts of Steve Harris.

MeadowGrass Music Festival

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