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Best New Festival Denver 2013 - Make Music Denver

Readers' Choice: Chef N' Brew Festival

The Downtown Denver Partnership sprung a sweet surprise on 16th Street Mall strollers last summer when it threw the mall's first Make Music Denver street festival, a participatory free-for-all that celebrated beats and blasts and reverberations from masses of musicians of all skill levels and age groups. Inspired by an international event with roots in France's Fête de la Musique, which started more than ten years ago, Make Music Denver invited professional ensembles, independent bands and armies of instrumentalists to gather on the mall and perform for free. There were mass-appeal, same-instrument combos throughout the day, featuring groups of ukuleles or fiddles or guitars. There were drum circles. There were teen rock bands. There were jazz combos and symphonic sections, and plenty of opportunities to join in or just sit back and enjoy. The basic idea behind Make Music Denver — that everyone, from concert pianists to three-year-old toddlers beating on a pan, makes music — is a winner; the fest will return on June 21.

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Make Music Denver is another exploitive attempt to make money on the backs of hard working musicians.  I hope that it gets the recognition it deserves, NONE.


Dear Westword,

You have done a huge disservice to all of those professional musicians out there trying to scratch out a living in the Denver market. Please rethink your support of Make Music Denver and its free advertising and support for non-union a
nd non-paid musicians. Your "Best Of" award should be given to those freelance professionals who have to struggle everyday in a market that is shrinking due to mobile DJs, Karaoke Machines and now Make Music Denver.

pvriesenga 1 Like

Can anyone please explain why ALL musicians performing for Make Music Denver MUST work for free when the Downtown Denver Partnership represents billions of dollars in member wealth? World Music Day is a celebration of music ... not a mass exploitation of musicians.

The Downtown Denver Partnership operates under the guise of four "nonprofit" organizations, but their CEO and staff collectively earn over $2.3 million/year. Why aren't they working for free? 

Pete Vriesenga, President

Denver Musicians Association