Grand Junction, Colorado may not be well-known as a Mecca for live-music aficionados but it does have plenty to offer. Throughout the year, music lovers in the area (known as the Grand Valley for the river that connects each individual town along its winding route) can partake in a variety of festivals that both feature live music and center themselves around live music of all genres.
We will begin with the Main Street Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday evening from mid-spring through the end of the summer, local farmers and business owners join on Main Street in Historic Downtown Grand Junction to share their hard work with the community. Since the beginning of the Main Street Farmer’s Market, several other venues have joined the bandwagon, so to speak, but the Main Street venue is still the largest and most well known.
The Farmer’s Market spans four blocks of Main Street and on each block participants can indulge in fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade food and live music. Everything is represented in the musical aspect of the festivities, from jazz quartets to Hawaiian pan flutes to belly dancers to mainstream popular music, and each week patrons are sure to find new surprises in entertainment.
Thirteen miles west of Grand Junction on Interstate 70, in the single-stoplight town of Mack, music lovers will find the Country Jam Ranch. Country Jam is a four day country music festival that falls in the final weekend of June each summer, beginning on Thursday and ending around eleven o’clock Sunday night. For more than a decade music lovers from around the state of Colorado as well as neighboring states have enjoyed the festival, which has featured not only country/western bands and artists such as Brooks and Dunn, Dolly Parton, Clay Walker, but also classic rock bands and artists including the Monkees, Styx, and ZZTop.
The early summer Country Jam has not the only chance Colorado residents have had to see ZZTop on the Ranch stage. In 2003, the Ranch was became home to Rock Jam as well. The same principle of big bill bands and solo artists applied, however, Rock Jam, held the first weekend in September, has only been scheduled as a two day event. Rock Jam-goers have been treated to the song stylings of Joan Jett, Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper and many others. (For information on and tickets to both events, visit www.countryjam.com.)
The Palisade Peach Festival is growing in national recognition. Each year, in early August, the farmers of the Palisade area (approximately ten miles east of Grand Junction on Interstate 70) come together to exhibit their harvests. While the focus of the weekend is the peaches, live music supplies ambience. From Friday afternoon through Saturday night, each aspect of the Peach Festival is underscored by one live, local band or another. (For more information, visit www.palisadepeachfest.com.)
Finally, throughout the year, live music aficionados can partake in a wide variety of concerts at the Mesa Theater, located in Historic Downtown Grand Junction at 582 Main Street. Formerly a movie theater which closed to the public in the 1980’s, the Mesa Theater has recently been restored, remodeled and reopened to an 800 capacity concert hall featuring local bands and nationally touring mainstream artists alike. Also at the Mesa Theater, on nights when there is no live music, is a dance club with focus on including the kids. Teen dance parties are not an uncommon event at the Mesa Theater. (For events schedule, visit www.mesatheater.com or call 970-241-1717.)
Even though Grand Junction is not well known for it’s live music scene, it’s not completely void of opportunities. In addition to these larger venues and festivals, many local restaurants and bars feature live music from once a month as some places to two or three times a week at others. Finding live music in Grand Junction can take a little work but it is definitely worth the effort.