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The term "jam band" usually refers more to the fans than the music itself. The Dancin' in the Streets festival was conceived with that sentiment in mind. The event, which is being presented by Jay Bianchi, a pioneer and supporter of all things jam in the Mile High City for more than a dozen years, will offer a chance to experience the very best artists of that scene. With the Denver skyline serving as a backdrop, the aptly named Dancin' in the Streets will showcase an array of talented performers spanning a variety of styles, including rock, jam, funk, bluegrass, live electronica, worldbeat and every combination thereof over the course of three days and nights.
According to Bianchi, proprietor of every major jam venue in town, the purpose of the event is twofold. First, it's a celebration of the life of Jerry Garcia, who passed away on August 9, 1995. "The whole concept really revolves around making a bad day into something positive," says Bianchi. "Most folks know where they were on August 9th when they got the news." Dancin' in the Streets also builds upon the scene created by Quixote's and Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, which have served as the de facto hub of jam music for the better part of a decade. Straying from the indoor confines of those clubs, Bianchi will literally bring music to the streets of Five Points, with hopes of also reinvigorating the neighborhood.
"The neighborhood is ready for this," he says, "and just needs to get a little boost to get discovered and bring commerce back to the area."
Fittingly, especially considering that the fest is taking place during "Jerry Week," Dark Star Orchestra is headlining, bringing its unique cover-band approach of re-creating entire Grateful Dead shows. Also atop the bill are Colorado jamgrass giants Leftover Salmon, Steve Kimock and Crazy Engine, Tea Leaf Green, Hot Buttered Rum, Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass and the Everyone Orchestra.
In addition to the main-stage acts, there will be a variety of late-night shows happening after the noise ordinance sets in: At Cervantes', groups like Papa Mali will hold court with Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead, along with the Chicago Afrobeat Project, Cornmeal and Head for the Hills, among others. Next door, Quixote's has a full slate, with Family Groove Company, Mountain of Venus, an all-star group featuring Nershi/Mosely/Deutsch/Misner, and local favorites Stanky Pockets.
Some helpful things to know before you go: The stage is located on Welton Street between 26th and 27th, in front of Cervantes' and Quixote's. Light rail will be shut down after 26th Street, but you'll be able to take the train right to the gate. Outdoor music starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 11; indoor shows run from 11 p.m. until closing time.