What happens with you mix world-class guitar music, beer and nachos all nestled at the foot of a scenic mountain at the slightly staggering 12,000 feet? You get Guitar Town of course! Now in its 13th year, the world’s best guitarists come together for the annual Guitar Town festival, which features three days of free performances, guitar & songwriting workshops and kids music activities. Joe Robinson calls it, “one of the better kept secrets in the guitar world.”
Located just 75 miles west of Denver, Colorado in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Copper Mountain Resort sits at just over 12,000 feet of elevation. The pedestrian-friendly village areas provide a central community for both winter and summer activities. And while the average snowfall in winter is over 250 inches per year, at Guitar Town in the summer the days clock in the mid 60s in the day and a smore-eating 40s at night. It makes for perfect concert-going weather while gazing at the stage and the mountain pass.
It’s free to attend and there is always plenty of the local community who turns out (with their dogs in tow), along with fans from all over the world. There’s acoustic day and electric day with performances by seasoned pros and stunning up and comers. Fans are treated to performances by musicians they may know and others they may not (yet). But in all cases, the music is magical.
This year featured Zepparella, Tommy Emmanuel, J2B2 (which is John Jorgensen’s bluegrass band), Doyle Dykes, Joe Robinson, Striking Matches, Diego Figueiredo, Richard Smith, Corey Congilio, Zakk Wylde, Harvey Mandel, Guitar Army, Bob Margolin, Casey James, Stig Mathisen, all of which was MC’d by Scott Goldman.
It was TrueFire artist Corey Congilio’s first time on the roster. He says of the experience, “If you’re a fan of guitar driven music then Guitar Town should be on your list of destinations. The amount of talent that’s compiled during the weekend is second to none. It was truly an honor to be associated with the show and the list of awe-inspiring players. Hard to beat!”
For Guitar Town veteran Joe Robinson, the event is inspiring as well. “I’ve seen some of the most amazing musical performances at the festival. I think as a player, having some of your most respected musical colleagues alongside the stage watching pushes you to play better and really give it your all. The audience really gets to see a show they couldn’t experience in a typical music venue. During the day there are workshops and interviews with the musicians, and in many cases, you can bump into the performers walking around the Copper resort.”
Each morning commences with sound check wafting through the morning light, as you head to the conference center for master class workshops with the performers. While you wait for them to commence, you can watch the die-hard snowboarders practice their tripods and dismounts in the manmade snow mountain. The workshops give attendees a chance to hear unique perspectives on collaboration, inspiration and improvisation. We have informally recorded these events for Riff readers who can check them out online.
During the lunch break one can take a play a game of corn hole, mini golf or grab a chair lift up the pass. While deciding on lunch, you can watch the kids trampoline bungee jump through the sky. Scott Goldman, the longtime MC of the event leads the afternoon yoga and stretching between the musical sets and the artists who have played already join down in the crowd to watch the music unfold. There really is something for everyone with the common denominator being a love of music and the guitar. Even if it’s just for the weekend, life is good as an honorary Guitar Town citizen.