By Jeffrey V. Smith
Clear Creek RapidGrass is rapidly becoming a significant festival on the Colorado summer circuit. What began as a small, downhome afternoon of acoustic music is growing into a major event attracting bluegrass fans from across the state and beyond. The annual event, now in its sixth year, is still a locally-grown, locally-supported “labor of love” for the Morris family who created and continue to produce it. Enjoy both nationally touring acts and Colorado-grown bands, June 26-28, at the Shelly/Quinn Baseball Fields n Idaho Springs.
Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist Sam Bush, the Travelin’ McCourys, Jeff Austin Band and Gonzalo Bergara’s Hot Club are highlights on this year’s schedule and standouts for Mike Morris, festival organizer and father of founders Mark and Sarah Morris.
Although Morris said preparation for the event “has been hectic as usual” they are “really excited” about the line up. “We have again this year been able to bring in some incredible musicians,” he said. “In addition, we have a number of returning bands that everyone has enjoyed in past years and local Colorado bands. And, of course, we have the [Idaho Springs-based] Rapidgrass Quintet, the house band.”
Apart from the bigger names, the growth of Clear Creek RapidGrass is evident by the additional of a third day this year. The event now features additional world-class picking in an intimate mountain setting and even more workshop opportunities. Also, Tommyknocker Brewery will premier its new “The Mountain City Amber” beer at the festival. “Each year we have tried to bring something new and we think we have succeeded this year,” Morris said.
Also, due to the increased size of the event, the festival now offers 200 tent camping passes for $15 each at the Clear Creek Middle School to accommodate overflow camping. A shuttle will run “constantly” to accommodate overflow parking at this location as well. “We are encouraging people to use the shuttles, rather than trying to park at the fields,” Morris said. “Also, there will be various stops throughout town in case people would like to take a break from the festival and see what Idaho Springs has to offer in the way of food, gifts, etc.”
Another new idea this year is the “Raft To The Grass 2015” Contest on the festival website. Three winners will receive the “ultimate summer bluegrass experience” and get to experience Clear Creek RapidGrass Festival in style. Winners will raft Clear Creek on the way to the festival where they will be all-access VIPs with many other prizes, including dinner with Sam Bush, thrown in on top.
Special VIP passes are also available for purchase for the early-bird price of $250. They include a backstage pass with reserved seating, three-day festival access, three-day camping pass, festival poster signed by artists of choice, a meet and greet with Sam Bush, lunch and dinner all three days, VIP beer pass, access to massage parlor, commemorative VIP cup and a festival T-shirt. Regular general admission three-days passes are also available for $80 in advance.
In addition to the headliners attendees can expect boundary-bending acoustic performances from national and regionally touring acts like Todd Phillips, Matt Flinner & David Grier; San Francisco’s Front Country, Asheville’s Jon Stickley Trio, California’s Sweetwater String Band and members of the Hickory Project from Pennsylvania.
Colorado-based bands on the line-up include The Railsplitters, Coral Creek, Gypsy Cattle Drive, Credibility Gap, Thunder & Rain, Robin Davis, Sarah Morris & Friends, Lazer Bunny, Monocle Band, Uptown Toodeloo String Band, Acoustic Mining Company, The Lonesome Days, Mile High Express, Dr. Harlans and Martin Gilmore.
According to Morris, attendees can expect “an incredible festival experience, period. For those who have never been, it promises to be an enjoyable family atmosphere time.”
Originally published in the June 2015 issue of the MMAC Monthly