John Prine has died, MeadowGrass is postponed, but music’s still alive 

click to enlarge Locals Joe Johnson and Grant Sabin raise money for service industry workers through livestream concerts and lessons.
  • Locals Joe Johnson and Grant Sabin raise money for service industry workers through livestream concerts and lessons.

Well, there’s simply no way around it. Last week when we lost Bill Withers, Hal Willner and John Prine — the latter two to complications from COVID-19 — was miserably sad for American music. I hope all of you are still holding fast out there and taking care to be extra safe.

Gov. Jared Polis has extended the stay-at-home order to April 26, but the good news is that a variety of local artists and musical enterprises have options to keep you busy while housebound. Firstly, however, an announcement that clears up some uncertainty around one of the major local festival postponements.

In a press release on April 6, Rocky Mountain Highway announced that the MeadowGrass Music Festival would be postponed until next year, Memorial Day weekend 2021.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision,” says Rocky Mountain Highway Chair Lee Stroud in the release, “But we believe the health and well-being of all our friends, fans, and performers to be the most important factor in our decision-making.”

Obviously disappointing for locals who were looking forward to this year’s installment, but of course common sense and caution are always a good approach. Tickets for the 2020 festival will be honored for its 2021 incarnation, and a majority of the slated lineup — 17 out of the 22 acts — have already affirmed that they will return for the May 28-31, 2021 dates.

Per MeadowGrass Festival’s Nicole Nicoletta, also speaking in the press release: “We are so honored to have the support and commitment of the majority of our acts to play on the new dates. We are so humbled by their commitment to MeadowGrass and grateful for the partnership of our ticket-buyers, sponsors, and vendors in bringing together this much-loved event.”

For more details, including pertinent information on using 2020 tickets, please refer to the 12th Annual MeadowGrass Music Festival page on Facebook or visit rockymountainhighway.org.
In the meantime, two favorite local open mic hosts, Charlotte Rogers and Andrea Stone, from Bar-K and The Zodiac, respectively, have teamed up with comedian and photographer Andrew Ingram to host a “virtual open mic” through Facebook that everyone can safely enjoy — and participate in — from their own homes. Their “Happy Pandemic” page allows local performers to upload videos throughout the week, and the hosts interact with, curate and promote the participants on other local music-minded pages.

“It’s mostly just a way for us to stay supportive in the community and stay creative with one another,” explains Rogers. “The whole point of making something like this was to give people a voice, as open mics do. Open mics help us harness our craft, and we still want to enable that, even while things have been pretty serious.”

In that same honing-crafts-and-supporting-community vein, local blues singer-songwriter par excellence Grant Sabin has been using Facebook to give back to the community in multiple ways. Sabin livestreamed an hour-long performance on April 1 (taking the online place of his ongoing “Whiskey Wednesday” sessions from Distillery 291) and collected donations to help sponsor out-of-work local service industry workers through the Colorado Springs Bartenders Guild. Sabin has also been offering livestreamed blues guitar lessons through his Facebook page, which allows you to not only help locals in need through the “virtual tip jar,” but also lets you learn some tricks of the trade from one of the very best.

Sabin’s compatriot Joe Johnson, likewise, is raising money for service workers during his regularly scheduled livestreams, “Tip Your Bartender Tuesdays” and “Happy Hour from the Homebase,” which take place Tuesday and Friday nights via his Facebook page. Thus far, he’s raised over $2,000 and reached thousands of viewers.

After all, just because we’re all practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still tip your bartenders.


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