Visitors to Dairy Block are always treated to eye-popping artwork, a tasty array of food choices and general good vibes. And for a few select evenings this summer, they will get to enjoy the talent of up-and-coming musicians: Dairy Block is resuming its annual Artists on the Rise concert series on Saturday, April 1, with a performance by Americana and country folk musician Justin Garber.
The Artists on the Rise series started in 2021 and runs from April to October each year, showcasing a different local musician every month. Artists are nominated through the concert series’ submission page and are chosen based on quality of the music, genre and prior performances. The series varies its selection from month to month, hosting indie solo acts, bluegrass groups, rock bands and everything in between.
Dairy Block’s marketing manager, Maggie Pryde, helped develop the concert series. “We really go through and look at the criteria [the musicians] submitted…their Spotify playlist, their website, different gigs they’ve done,” Pryde explains. “We really try to keep it a good mix of different types of music, different types of performers.” Each artist selected is spotlighted by Dairy Block – whose employees promote the artist online and in real life by playing their Spotify tracks in the alley – and performs twice under the new installation "Downpour" in Blake's Passage, transforming the Dairy Block alley into an intimate outdoor concert venue.
“Dairy Block is very art-forward. We like to support the local arts program. So we were trying to figure out a way to bring musicians into that, so not just the artists, but also the musicians in the Colorado scene,” Pryde says. “So that’s kind of how we came up with this idea, and it’s a way to spotlight up-and-coming musicians in Colorado.”
While visitors enjoy the music, the artists enjoy a new marketing opportunity. “It’s a way for them to gain more followers or awareness around their music,” Pryde says. “And then from the community side, I think it’s important for the community to see that we do support the arts, not only through the murals and the cool art projects around the block, but through music as well.”
Garber, the season’s first performer, was chosen not only for his excellent musicianship but because he formed connections with Dairy Block visitors by busking there in the past. “Justin earned this recognition by performing and busking around the block many times. Everyone around the block loves him. We think he’s super-deserving,” Pryde says.
Garber is looking forward to his upcoming performance, which happens the day after the release of his new single, “Hearts and Hands,” dropping on March 31. “Anytime I get to play my own music in front of live audiences, no matter how large or small, it’s always so much fun," he says. "I play a lot in the Boulder area, so I’m thrilled to be able to hopefully gain some new fans in the Denver scene."
Both Garber and Pryde have a common goal for these Artists on the Rise performances: They want those visiting Dairy Block to enjoy the show, the atmosphere and the experience. “That’s one part of my job that I love, is seeing people enjoy their experiences at Dairy Block. Not just people who are attending, but the people that are performing,” Pryde says.
“My goal when performing is for everyone to have fun," he says. "So if I can pull that off, then I’ll consider that a success."
Justin Garber performs 5-7 p.m. Saturday, April 1, and Friday, April 21, Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street. Nominate other noteworthy local musicians for the concert series here.