By Quentin Young
With the way bluegrass seems to be bubbling under the surface of the Lafayette music scene, it was probably only a matter of time before someone got something together like the Lafayette Bluegrass Series.
The series kicked off at the Center for Musical Arts with a concert in August, and a second show is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2.
Organizers at the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society plan to present a show up to every other month in the late summer and fall, and they aim to lure name talent to the stage. The August concert, which drew up to 90 people, featured acclaimed mandolin player Chris Henry, who has taught at the RockyGrass Academy and plays in Peter Rowan’s band.
“Our aspirations are to feature young, up-and-coming bluegrass musicians that are passing through Colorado — more national acts,” CBMS president Annie Savage said.
The Oct. 2 show presents an up-and-coming bluegrass band, Silverplume, which happens to be from Colorado. Local bluegrass fans know the band’s mandolin player, Nick Dunbar, from Mountain Standard Time, and its banjo player, Kane Hollins, took first in the 2014 RockyGrass banjo competition.
Opening the show will be The Savage Hearts, which describes itself as “a bluegrass band with a curtsy toward honky tonk and western swing.” The band includes Savage, the CBMS president, who has performed with Giddyup Kitty, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado and other popular bluegrass acts from the Front Range.
The series takes place in a performance space at Center for Musical Arts in downtown Lafayette. Savage said the CBMS was thrilled to find this pro-level facility for the concerts.
“We just thought, ‘Wow, what a great opportunity,’ ” she said.
The concert series got its start with a conversation Savage had with Dave Rosenberg, a Lafayette resident and CBMS volunteer.
“I came to Annie and said, ‘I’d really like to get something like this going in Lafayette,’ ” said Rosenberg, who plays upright bass and used to perform with the the Sugarloaf Stringband. The city has a couple of right-size venues for such a series, and demand had reached a suitable level, he said.
“Lafayette has an incredibly strong undercurrent of arts that’s starting to rise to the surface of the community,” Rosenberg said.
Savage pointed to some signs that Lafayette could be the region’s next bluegrass hot spot.
• The city is home to well-attended bluegrass jams, such as those offered by East Simpson Coffee Co. and Front Range Brewing.
• The FARM School, which is similar to Denver’s Swallow Hill and offers lessons from such instructors as Savage, Scroggins and Greg Blake, is located in Lafayette.
• People who work in all kinds of creative fields have been drawn to live in Lafayette and are apt to fuel an expanding arts scene.
• The city already is seeing growth in other cultural initiatives, such as Art Night Out.
Plus, Lafayette might have a slight advantage when it comes to bluegrass — four of CBMS’ nine board members, including the president, Savage, happen to live in Lafayette.
Savage sensed music had fallen behind other arts endeavors in the city.
“There was a gap in the music scene,” she said. “Lafayette has a really sophisticated visual-arts scene, a really sophisticated calendar of events.”
She wants to fill the gap by helping to foster music activity that rivals more established scenes in Louisville, Boulder and Lyons, she said, adding that local music fans are “tired of driving to other places to see bluegrass.”
The Lafayette Bluegrass Series is a first step in making such drives unnecessary.
“Likely we’ll see more bluegrass activity and more of a drive to create a destination music scene in Lafayette,” she said.
As a way to build the local bluegrass community, the CBMS is offering a free “learn the jam workshop” at 5:30 p.m. before the Oct. 2 concert. The workshop is open to players of any bluegrass instrument who want to learn the fundamentals of jamming, Savage said.
Organizers have yet to announce future lineups for the Lafayette Bluegrass Series. Savage advises fans to check back at the Colorado Bluegrass Society website for information.
And she is open to offers of help. She asks anyone interested in volunteering to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quentin Young: email@example.com or @qpyoungnews
If you go
What: Lafayette Bluegrass Series, featuring Silverplume
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct 2
Where: Center for Musical Arts, 200 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette