The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park has been on a mission to be much more than a luxury lodge up in the mountains. Under the frenetic stewardship of John Cullen, the iconic old hotel — which famously inspired Stephen King’s The Shining — has become a swirling epicenter of cultural offerings on Colorado’s Front Range. As we explored in our October 2016 cover story, “Shine On,” Cullen has invested heavily to build out the Stanley into a sort of one-stop shop for unique dining experiences, shows, adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park – and maybe even a ghost sighting or two encouraged by a staff that embraces the hotel’s haunted reputation.
While not all of Cullen’s visions have come to fruition or had staying power, including the surprising cancellation of the Stanley Horror Film Festival in 2016 and a $24 million horror-film center that remains stalled until (or if) state tourism dollars kick in — the owner has forged onward with other ambitious and expensive investments.
This week, the Stanley is announcing two more offerings.
One is a physical space. After more than a year of construction, a new concert venue has just opened on the hotel grounds called the Pavilion Auditorium, an indoor-outdoor space with 300 seats next to a pond, complete with granite rocks, waterfalls and a giant glass partition that moves up and down using hydraulics.
Reed Rowley, the vice president of Cullen's management group, says that the space will soon host events, adding that he thinks guests will find it to be a one-of-a-kind venue in Colorado. Below is an architectural rendering of the event space:
The other big announcement is that the Stanley will be hosting its own Bluegrass Festival, called “Stan Jam,” which will take place on the weekend of February 23 to 24.
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Stan Jam will feature Colorado groups like Chain Station and RapidGrass alongside touring headliners the Del McCoury Band and the Jeff Austin Band.
Similar to most festivals, there will be a packed schedule of performances (the full lineup and set list are below), but the festival is also designed to be interactive and participatory for festival-goers, including a craft-beer reception to kick things off on Friday, February 23, and an interactive workshop on Saturday at which fans can play instruments in a group “pick-along.”
Still, the festival will be competing against a surprising number of bluegrass-themed events in the Centennial State, including RockyGrass (which just announced some of its 2018 lineup) and, of course, the long-running Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
Rowley says that Stan Jam will differentiate itself from other bluegrass events by facilitating a small, intimate community over the course of the festival weekend. "Stan Jam offers an intimate connection between artists and fans,” says Rowley. He adds that fans can bank on getting to know each other and the artists they've come to see for a couple of reasons: Many people will be staying at the hotel over the weekend, and the festival itself is quite small. There are only about 400 tickets available.
Rowley also points out that the Stanley is highlighting local talent at its inaugural bluegrass fest, including the band Chain Station from Estes Park.
“This is about more than music,” says Jon Pickett of Chain Station. “Stan Jam is a community gathering for all those with a bluegrass heart and soul...and we’re definitely ready to show off some local talent.”
To find out more about the first annual Stan Jam Festival and other Stanley offerings, including upcoming concerts from Murder by Death, Los Lobos and the Victor Wooten Trio, visit Stanley Live online.
Below is a full set list for the inaugural Stan Jam festival. Tickets start at $40 for a Friday-only GA ticket and $90 for a two-day GA ticket. There are also VIP packages and room packages available.
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3:30 to 6:30 PM: Welcome Reception feat. Modern Whiskey Market
8:00 to 9:00 PM: Rapidgrass
9:30 to 11:00 PM: The Jeff Austin Band
10:30 p.m. to 11:45 AM: Bluegrass Workshop (Rapidgrass)
noon to 1:30 PM: Group Pick/Jam
2:00 to 2:45 PM: Wood Belly
3:15 to 4:30 PM: The Lonesome Days
5:00 to 6:00 PM: The Side Hustlers (K.C. Groves)
6:00 to 7:00 PM: Dinner Break
7:30 to 8:30 PM: Chain Station
9:00 to 10:30 PM: The Del McCoury Band
11:00 to 12:30 PM: The Jeff Austin After Party