Colorado's Ten Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Summer Music Festivals

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The massive music festivals throwing down in Colorado this summer need no introduction — big bashes like Riot Fest and the Underground Music Showcase are well-known, promising great line-ups and fun times. So what about the little guys? There's a statewide network of smaller scale but equally vibrant and viable music-minded gatherings happening all season, spanning genres and cities. Here, we've collected and shared all the necessary details of just ten of these specialty music festivals (some of them free!), offering a peek at great line-ups and great cities hosting these summer sonic parties.

Shredded Beats Street Festival, June 26 & 27, Various venues along East Colfax in the Bluebird District, $20-$40
Shredded Beats is a two-night, five venue, 51-act showcase of the best in hip-hop and electronic music from Denver and beyond. Local acts like the ReMINDers, Bollywood Life, the Abstract Collective and U.T.I.C.A. join performers like Paul Basic, GoldLink and Sam Lachow on stages at The Bluebird Theater, Lost Lake Lounge, ParkHouse, Goosetown Tavern and the Southside Bar and Kitchen. Get to know all the spots for live music on East Colfax while dancing your ass off to some Colorado greats served up through booming sound systems. 

Loudwire Music Festival, June 26-28, Jam Ranch, 1065 Highway 6 & 50, Mack, Colorado, $59 and up
This rockin', weekend-long gathering brings some heavy hitters, like Linkin Park, White Zombie and Weezer to the outdoor stage for the first ever edition of a festival just outside of Grand Junction. Grab a one-day pass or pitch a tent and camp out in true Colorado style for three days of what is described as a line-up "rooted in rock music [and] incorporating classic rock, hard rock and metal, alternative rock and indie rock."

Clear Creek RapidGrass Bluegrass Festival, June 26-28, Shelly/Quinn Baseball Fields, Idaho Springs, $15-$250
Enjoy the sweet sounds of the country's best pickers and players at this very popular Colorado mountain music festival. The Sam Bush Band, the Travelin' McCourys and the Jeff Austin Band are just a handful of the big names performing at RapidGrass, not to mention the experts brought in to teach engaging workshops. On-site camping has been sold out since May, but surrounding areas around Idaho Springs may still be taking indoor and outdoor reservations. Oh, and of course, RapidGrass wouldn't be complete without white water rafting, which happens along Clear Creek. See the fest's website for more details on the line-up, workshops and camping options. 

Living Spaces, July 10 & 11, Conifer, Free (RSVP required) 
National music and culture blog Portals has created a unique 360-degree gathering focusing on sound, visual art and the community created around the disciplines. Converging in Conifer on a campsite, the curated weekend features music from national acts Mutual Benefit, Emily Yacina and Cross Record, along with local acts Sound of Ceres/Candy Claws and Sister Grotto. The artists will perform at sunrise and sunset and throughout the days on hikes; at night, artist Eloise Hess's 16mm experimental films will be shown. Camping gear and an RSVP are required; food, drink and performances are free. Visit the Living Spaces website for more information.

Colorado Irish Festival, July 10-12, Clement Park, Littleton, $10 and up (kids under 12 are free)
Celebrating all that's wonderful about Ireland, the Colorado Irish Festival packs a weekend with music, Gaelic sports, Irish step dancing, beer and more. The 2015 line up promises to be a memorable three days of great entertainment as acts like Gaelic Storm, Screaming Orphans and The Moxie Strings come from across the globe to participate in this family-friendly round-up of fun with an Irish twist.

Winter Park Jazz Festival, July 18 & 19, Hideaway Park, Winter Park, $25-$75
A great mix of legendary artists and current favorites, the Winter Park Jazz Festival has been bringing great music to the mountains for more than three decades. Tower of Power, Rebirth Brass Band, Morris Day & the Time and so many more acts fill this diverse line-up, which is a celebration of jazz in its many classic and contemporary forms.

Mile High Parley, July 24-26, Mutiny Information Cafe, Free
Billing itself as a staunchly local affair, the Mile High Parley is a festival that marches to the beat of its own drum. Taking place on three stages in and around Mutiny Information Cafe — and directly in the midst of the four-day Underground Music Showcase, which rolls out across many venues on South Broadway — the Parley welcomes sixty musical acts, plus food, drinks and local merchant booths. Slated to perform are SPELLS, The Dirty Few and Altas, along with a revival of the always ready-to-party Machine Gun Blues and so many more. 

Rock N' Ride Festival, July 25, Elitch Gardens, Free with park admission
Part of its summer-long concert series, Elitch Gardens' Rock N' Ride event brings a full line-up of acts together for a Christian music festival that comes free to patrons regular park admission. Tenth Avenue North, Britt Nicole and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus take the stage for this family-friendly concert set inside downtown Denver's premiere amusement park. 

Synesthesia: Denver Psych Fest 2015, August 15, Various locations in Curtis Park, $20-$30 
Taking place throughout the day at The Big Wonderful, The Savoy at Curtis ParkThe MeadowlarkLarimer Lounge and DATELINE, this show highlights the national and local artists tying together the psychedelic rock and electronic realms of modern music through experimentation. Headliners The Fresh and Onlys and Holy Wave join Denver acts like Ancient Elk, RUMTUM, The Kappa Cell and many more on this yet-to-be-announced full festival line-up.  

Higher Ground Music Festival, August 21 & 22, River North Art District, $20-$85
Focused on up-and-coming indie acts from across the country, Higher Ground Music Festival showcases national bands like Joywave, The Score and The Tragic Thrills alongside local acts like Montoneros, The Patti Fiasco and Instant Empire. More than just two days of music, this gathering is a full-on celebration in the streets with food trucks, local vendors, games, live art and so much more. 

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