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Wondering where country music is headed these days? Then mark your calendar for Denver’s first Dusty Boots Festival, taking place July 1 at Civic Center Park. The show starts at 2 p.m.; gates open at 1 p.m.
Headliners include Canadian singer Colter Wall, who’s no stranger to Colorado audiences. Wall has been headlining shows at the Gothic and Ogden theatres and Mission Ballroom over the past few years; most recently, he sold out a two-night run in January at the Mission. Wall’s music, which changes all the time, celebrates the tradition of prairie life, and nobody does it better.
Three of Wall's songs are featured in the fourth season of the Yellowstone TV series, including a rendition of Rex Allen's 1951 classic "Cowpoke," plus Wall's own "Plain to See Plainsman" and "Sleeping on the Blacktop.” The title track of his new album, Little Songs, includes the lines: “You might not see a soul for days on them high and lonesome plains. You got to fill the big empty with little songs.” Expect to see and hear about those lonesome plains during this much-anticipated set.
Wall might be the headliner, but you’ll find plenty of fascinating variations on country music on stage throughout the day. Orville Peck is no stranger to local audiences, either, having played recently at Mission Ballroom and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. An outlaw music legend in the making, Peck openly represents the LGBTQIA+ community, and his covered face has become a fixture at country events over the years.
Margo Price has been through it all as a country singer. Now forty years old, Price gave up drinking and smoking, and along with hubby Jeremy Ivey — also a musician and guitarist in her band — she’s raising three children as she builds her reputation as a Nashville star. Price is on the board of directors of Farm Aid, and her first memoir, Maybe We’ll Make it, was published last year. Her fourth album, Strays, issued in January this year, is gaining airplay in many markets.
Dusty Boots artists hail from all corners of the country, with several that came up around these parts. Casey James Prestwood is from Denver, and was nominated for best honky tonk group in both 2015 and 2016. Kyle Moon & The Misled is an Americana band from San Antonio, Texas, and Moon honed his songwriting skills in the Little Ravens, an indie/Americana band in Denver.
Since forming in 2017 as the house band for Denver's only monthly country music showcase, Extra Gold has made its name as an Americana band to be reckoned with. Honey Blazer is led by Gann Matthews and Brad Grear.
After years of touring, Houndmouth has found a large audience that sings along with the band’s easygoing Americana, especially the hits “McKenzie” and “Sedona.” Futurebirds is an Athens, Georgia-based group that draws favorable comparisons to The Band.
Watch for the electric cello while Murder by Death is on stage, but expect a full-out upbeat Americana/rock kind of set. And while Nick Shoulders won’t have his dog (who’s in his video) with him, you can still plan on a great set from this well-traveled singer. Poet Willie Carlisle grew up with bluegrass music in his family, but he tells stories about all kinds of country music. Richy Mitch & the Coal Miners are from Bozeman, Montana, but they’ve been on the road since starting the group in 2017 as high schoolers.
And it’s not all music. There’s a lot more going on in this first edition of the Dusty Boots experience. There will be three live music stages and a designated area called “Whiskey River” that will feature whiskey and bourbon cocktails, and there will be horseshoes, lasso games and multiple barbeque options available for everyone.
Ticket link: GA and VIP tickets are still available for sale on axs.com.