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The Ten Biggest Music Stories of 2017

Juggalos gathered in Boulder at the September Insane Clown Posse concert.
Juggalos gathered in Boulder at the September Insane Clown Posse concert. Brandon Marshall
Although creatives in Colorado continued to be priced out of their homes, the music scene here reached new heights this year. Our instrument-wielding governor emphasized music education by way of a nonprofit he launched with some other heavy hitters in the state, a mega music promoter picked Denver as the site of a large-scale music festival, and a San Francisco-based nightclub opened a second outpost in the Mile High City.

Marginalized music fans got some good news this year, too, after Red Rocks changed its ticketing policy to allow more access for disabled fans, and an oft-overlooked neighborhood in town got a killer music venue. Read on for the ten biggest music stories of 2017.

1. Overland Golf Course...Music Festival?
Super-promoters AEG and Superfly announced in March that they had selected Denver as the host of a new music festival, and in April, they picked Overland Golf Course, a municipal course, as the site for it. Denver City Council approved the contract in July amid protest from residents of the surrounding neighborhood. The music festival will shutter the course for five weeks next summer to allow for setup and cleanup.
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On September 16th the Juggalos Marched on Washington D.C.
Nate "Igor" Smith
2. Gathering of the Juggalos ditches Denver.
Local fans of the Insane Clown Posse were "whoop-whooping" plenty after ICP announced in late 2016 that it planned to bring the Gathering of the Juggalos to town. But in March, the band's record company told Westword that it was backing out of Denver, as there were no suitable venues in town for the event. Instead, the Juggalos convened in Oklahoma City. Insane Clown Posse threw Colorado a bone (or was it 10,000 bottles of Faygo?) and played Boulder in September.

3. Take Note Colorado launches.
Music-buff extraordinaire Governor John Hickenlooper had a vision: Every child in Colorado should have access to an instrument and music lessons. He rallied billionaire Democrat Pat Stryker and rocker/philanthropist Libby Anschutz, the daughter of Republican billionaire Phil Anschutz, to help him realize his dream, which has taken form in Take Note Colorado. The nonprofit celebrated its launch at a massive show at 1STBANK Center in May, with OneRepublic, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and Slade.
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Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp spent three days in Cory Gardner's office, demanding he vote against any Republican attempt to cut Medicaid. She was arrested on June 29, 2017.
Andrea Moore
4. Wheelchair Sports Camp gets political.
Wheelchair Sports Camp's Kalyn Heffernan had a busy year, embarking on an international tour and playing endless shows around town, including the Westword Music Showcase. But her schedule didn't stop her from joining the legendary disability-rights group ADAPT at a protest at Republican Senator Cory Gardner's office in July that turned into a multi-day sit-in. Heffernan and her fellow activists demanded that Gardner vote against a GOP-led gutting of the Affordable Care Act. Their activism landed them in jail, but charges were eventually dropped.

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Opening night at Levitt Pavilion Denver.
Brandon Marshall
5. Levitt Pavilion opens.
The nonprofit venue Levitt Pavilion, which promises to bring dozens of free concerts each year to Ruby Hill Park, opened in July, much to the delight of Denver City Council and Denver Arts & Venues (though notably absent from the ceremony was Mayor Michael Hancock). The nonprofit offered Denver a stunning lineup of local acts all summer long for free and several ticketed events showcasing national acts including UB40, Matisyahu and the Josh Abbott Band.

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris