When we opened Triple Play Records in 1988, there were not a lot of options in the Grand Valley for live music.
If my memory serves me correctly, we had Castle Creek, The Rose, Two Rivers Plaza, the Hilton Hotel and some bars around the valley. Mesa Theater was dark and Ron Wilson had not yet brought Sandstone Concerts to town.
There just weren’t very many big name acts that came to the valley and for good reason. The first time Wilson brought Lyle Lovett to Grand Junction he played for approximately 200 people at Two Rivers Plaza.
About the same size of crowd came out for Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt when they played outside at the Hilton on a August night in the early 1990s. For reference, that trio sold out the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen the next night with a show I will never forget.
Much has changed since then. There are more venues here than ever before with live music from about every genre. From local bands to up-and-coming acts, top performers and artists who have been at it for decades.
The first big change that moved the live music scene in this direction came in 1992 when the Avalon had its original facade restored and the lobby remodeled. That project was accomplished through a buy a brick and buy a set fundraiser as well as through private donations.
A second transformation began in 2008 with the expansion of the theater with improved seating, among other things. We are now enjoying the fruits of that labor.
Another big change came when Mesa Theater and Club opened in the early 1990s. Now simply named Mesa Theater, the venue is in its third and, in my opinion, best ownership since then.
Mesa Theater has become a major player in the local music scene with the most diversified group of artists of any venue in the valley. It also is a great neighbor for Triple Played Records.
There several festivals that have developed and feature great live music, including Country Jam, Palisade Bluegrass and Roots, Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, the Fruit Fall Festival and Grand Junction Off-Road and Downtown Music Festival.
In addition, the James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park in Fruita hosts the Colorado Riverfront Concert Series that brings different shows from national acts that can be seen for three dollars per ticket.
Several of the valley’s breweries and bars from Fruita to Palisade now have regular live music performances. The Copper Club Brewing Co., Edgewater Brewery, Palisade Brewing Co., Cruisers and Warehouse 25Sixty-Five are all worth keeping an eye on.
During the summertime, several area wineries feature live music as well as Grand Junction’s Downtown Market on Main with the Rockslide Brewing Co.’s Rhythm and Blues Summer Concert Series.
Last but not least is the Amphitheater at Los Colonias Park. Since it opened in 2017, it has established itself as the premier outdoor venue in the valley. All you have to do is look at the lineup of shows they have had as well as the shows scheduled.
Some of the artist of note who will play in the coming weeks and months at various venues in the valley are KC and the Sunshine Band, Boz Scaggs, the Expendables, Foghat, Sam Bush, Arturo Sandoval, JJ Grey, the Beach Boys, Diamond Rio, Lewis Black and others.
There will likely be some surprises throughout the year, so stay tuned.
Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St. Email him at email@example.com.