Editor:The O's are an Americana band comprising Taylor Young and John Pedigo. Like many of the other 50 artists on the Steamboat Springs MusicFest lineup (and many of its 6,000 attendees), they are from Texas. They will be documenting their first experience at the festival for Westword. There will be snow and beer and local fauna and (ahem) flora and possibly even music.
We've spent years touring the states and overseas, and never have we heard more about a festival from the red dirt world than the one that goes down every January in Steamboat, Colorado. For some time now (thirty freakin' years), all the die-hard red dirt enthusiasts go on about is how incredible the Steamboat MusicFest experience is. When we ask specifics, though, the answers are resoundingly vague: "It's so awesome!" or "It's my favorite 'thang' all year."
"Duuuude, you gotta go."
Therefore, we think it's about time to dig into this "thang" and find out what makes it tick. And what a perfect opportunity, because not only are we one the bands playing, we are also curious festival goers bent on getting to the nitty gritty. So while we blaze through the haze of Colorado's loose, "fun" laws, we ask ourselves these questions: What makes MusicFest so Festive? How many times will we fall on this crazy ice? Do I wear underwear under or over long-johns? What happens when I eat this candy? What about THAT candy? Is it the music? Is it the booze? Is it the scenery? Is it the pre-plucked trees we can breathe deeply at our leisure? Is it a mixture? It's time you roll with the O's through Steamboat Springs Music Fest and get the answers you may or may not have been looking for...
Day One: A Hero's Journey
Flash Weather Update: Snow keeps us O's grounded at the airport in Dallas, and Denver seems but a faint blizzard away. But wait! The flight attendant speaks from behind her security grade counter and announces that boarding is imminent.
Flash Fun Update : Steamboat Music Fest is straight upon us.
On the next page: Our narrators arrive in Colorado, where they drink beer, listen to music and hear a rumor...
Day Two: The Seven Mystery
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During our first official day at the festival, we first head to the Steamboat Grand Hotel, which acts as MusicFest HQ. We check in, get wristbands, slam a few Shiner Bocks and decide to dedicate day two to getting a visceral grasp of the festival's layout.
While meandering through a sea of cowboys, cowgirls, Deep Eddy vodka and beer, it is hard not to notice a sorta high-school vibe coursing through the area. Except that at this alternate version of Bayside High, there's only one giant click of folks, and they're all into the same things: binge beer drinking, music listenin', music playin', koozies, good times, washers (the game, not necessarily the things themselves), bullshittin' (what red dirt folks call conversing with a fellow human), Yeti coolers, KC lights, BBQ brisket and Guy Clark. We can all dig that, right?
And there's an absolutely staggering amount of people up in this town for this "thang." I suppose it makes sense that the locals call it "Texas Week," because most of the festival goers are from Oklahoma and Texas. It's a pretty cool little world that we're all in here -- displaced on the side of the mountain in Colorado, hellbent on partying our asses off.
We saddle up at the Grand Cafe, where drinks are flowing and we can "bullshit" with fellow musicians Matt Hillyar and Corb Lund. Matt has got a new album out, produced by legendary producer and steel guitar master Lloyd Maines. Check it out.
A PA is brought in, and Kylie Rae Harris and Zane Williams play to a sardine packed crowd. We roam the hotel and streets in search of the shows printed on our tiny pocket schedule. The Dirty River Boys absolutely kill it, playing new stuff off their latest self-titled album. Reckless Kelly continues his tradition of rockin' country for a tent chockablock full of fans. And then back around to Whiskey Myers, who shuts down the night for us. Pretty darn good day.
There's something special out here in the mountains. We're just taking it in one barley malt at a time, and everyone's getting river drunk.
However, there's a baffling mystery that needs unraveling! As the night escalates, chirps turned to whispers about a mysterious seventh floor of the hotel, where musicians and songwriters "jam" throughout the night. Elusive and puzzling, these whispers peak our interest. The next few nights, we'll be trying to finagle our way onto this mystifying floor of suites dedicated to the finer things in life: drinking and picking guitars. We'll keep you posted.
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