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WestCO Music Feast Could Be a Beaut

By David Goe

For some reason I just can’t stop myself from writing about local music festivals. You may remember, last time I checked in with you I wasn’t overwhelmed with excitement about a certain downtown event, but now I find myself cautiously optimistic about a little thing happening Saturday evening, May 18.

I’m talking about the WestCO Music Festival at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. It’s an all ages event that promises to “celebrate our local lifestyle” and has enough potential to become a major competitor for all music events in the Grand Valley and change the way we think about local music.

No pressure or anything. But, yeah, I’m excited.

For the inaugural event there will be performances by The Williams Brothers Band, Jack + Jill and The Pineapple Crackers. All tried and true local bands with area name recognition and solid fan bases, pretty much what you’d expect for the first year.

There is a lot to like about WestCO. First off, James Williams is involved.

Williams, from the Williams Brothers Band, generally does not involve himself or his band with ill-conceived events. The fact that he is part of WestCO is encouraging as it indicates the event is thought out and worthy of our attention.

Second, I love the location. The amphitheater at the botanical gardens is a fantastic, under-appreciated venue. Located right off the Riverside Parkway and an easily biking distance from downtown Grand Junction and Orchard Mesa, it’s a piece of cake to get there.

And, once you’re there, you don’t really want to leave. With the backdrop of the Colorado River and the warm glow of the sunset to your back, it’s really the total embodiment of western Colorado life.

The addition of Kannah Creek’s Edgewater Tap and Grill to the area makes it that much more appealing. Talk about our local lifestyle: beer and the beauty of the West is so GJ.

What I like about WestCO’s potential is that it is set up with the future in mind. Already backed by hugely popular local companies such as Loki Gear, Enstrom Candies and Kannah Creek, WestCO has a sturdy sponsorship foundation, which bodes well for success.

All successful music festivals around the region and across the country have the same things in common: capable leadership, a great venue and consistent sponsorship. It looks like WestCO has those tangibles in place.

Where those festivals excel, and what will ultimately determine the success of WestCO, is in creating an unforgettable experience for fans.

Those festivals, such as Telluride Bluegrass Festival and even Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival, sell an experience, not the music.

Don’t get me wrong, the music matters. Music certainly plays into the overall festival experience, and I expect a more diverse and expanded offering from future WestCO events.

Think about this though. A cold craft beer on a sunny afternoon in Colorado is an experience in itself. Adding music to the mix is just gravy.

Again, it looks like WestCO has those tangibles in place.

Perhaps what has me most excited about WestCO is that it is a music festival with a focus on local bands. Building a sustainable event means cultivating local talent. There is more music ability in Grand Junction than most people realize, and this event is an ideal showcase.

Let’s hope that WestCO can be what we need it to be. First, a great event we anticipate year to year. Second, a kick in the butt to all area music events.

Competition forces everyone, bands and promoters alike, to do better. Competition also means a better experience for us fans.

WestCO’s got me feeling cautiously optimistic. You should feel the same.

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