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Local Life

Spending the summer with national, local musicians

Options abound for outdoor concerts around Denver metro area

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Lakewood resident Tim Litherland and his wife love spending their summer evenings under the stars at Lakewood’s Heritage Center, sipping on a libation and listening to live music under the stars.

“Even if we didn’t live in the Lakewood area, we’d come to see these concerts,” said Tim Litherland, a season ticket-holder to Lakewood’s Sounds Exciting! Summer Concert Series. “We really enjoy the setting, people we’re surrounded with, and the variety of musicians we get
to see perform.”

During the summer months, it seems like every city around the metro area takes to a park or outdoor amphitheater to host outdoor concerts.

So that means music fans in the area are spoiled for choice when it comes to their evening plans.

“These concerts are the way music is supposed to be heard,” said Jen Reinhardt, the Town of Castle Rock’s event specialist. Castle Rock recently announced its third summer concert series season. “We have one of the most amazing acoustic setups, and when you add the views, it’s hard to beat.”

The cities usually split into two categories — those featuring nationally known touring performers, and those showcasing the variety of talented locally based musicians.

Venues like the Arvada Center, Castle Rock’s Amphitheater at Philip S. Miller Park, Denver’s Botanic Gardens and Littleton’s Hudson Gardens all bring in names that almost everyone will recognize, like Pat Benatar, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Amos Lee and Sheryl Crow.

One of the most exciting concerts for Reinhardt is David Pack’s Legends Live on Saturday, Aug. 18. The show features a kind of supergroup, made up of Gary Wright (singer of “Dream Weaver” and more), John Elefante (former lead singer of Kansas), Jim Peterik (founder and singer of Ides of March, songwriter in .38 Special, and formerly of Survivor), David Pack (former lead singer of Ambrosia) and jazz pianist David Benoit.

“We make sure all our concerts are family-friendly events that are great options for a child’s first concert,” Reinhardt added. “We want to make it an easy night for everyone, one that turns into a great time for everybody.”

The key to a successful concert season is variety, and that’s what every venue, no matter the reach, strives for. That’s why audiences will see a blend of everything from bluegrass and rock to jazz and R&B.

“We’re really excited about the range of performers we’re hosting this year. This is our most diverse line-up in a long time,” said Philip Sneed, the Arvada Center’s executive director. “So often, you have to choose between being outdoors or enjoying the arts, but not during the summer.”

Just because the performers at venues like the Broomfield Amphitheater, Highlands Ranch’s Heritage Regional Park, Lakewood’s Heritage Center, Parker’s Discovery Park, and Thornton’s Carpenter Park Amphitheater and Cherrywood Park may not be immediately recognizable, one shouldn’t discount the quality of musicians.

Planners like Rebecca Gushen, community events coordinator with Lakewood’s heritage Center, spent countless hours listening to local musicians and crafting the perfect season.

One such artist that Gushen found that she thought would be great for Lakewood audiences is Rob Drabkin, who will be performing on Aug. 8. She heard his performances and thought he would be a wonderful new voice to share.

“Of course, you want to bring in artists that people know and enjoy, but we also really like bringing new artists that our audiences hasn’t heard before,” Gushen said. “We have some great world music and Afro-funk artists who will be performing for audiences this summer.”

Most of these concert venues offer more than just great music — there are typically food trucks, beer gardens or custom created drinks, and at some of local shows, there’s a chance to meet the performers.

“There’s an energy in these experiences that you don’t get anywhere else,” Litherland said. “When there’s not a bad seat in the house, it’s hard to go wrong.”

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