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Janiva Magness will headline October’s Blues on the Mesa, featuring Grammy winner Alvin Youngblood Hart and others. 

Amy Whitesell and her husband George have been staples of the Colorado Springs blues community for nearly two decades. In 2003, Amy was one of the founders of the nonprofit Pikes Peak Blues Community, which supports blues and American roots music along the Front Range. In 2006, she parted ways with them to start her own company with George, and that’s when A Music Company Inc. was born.

Since then, they’ve brought in tons of national touring blues artists such as Johnny Winter, Pure Prairie League, Otis Taylor, Tim Reynolds and many more. Amy and George were founding members of the MeadowGrass and Blues Under the Bridge festivals and booked a majority of their shows at The Crystola Roadhouse in Woodland Park. That is until a national disaster redirected their focus.

In June 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire tragically burned through the area, and a year after the fire, the burn zone suffered a huge flood. “That fire came all the way down the mountain to Highway 24. The next year we were driving up for a show and all the vegetation was gone on the hillside, so when it rained you had mud coming down,” explains George. “After that, people didn’t want to come up to the pass because if you did and they closed it, you had a four-hour drive home going the back way,” adds Amy. That was when things changed. “That was a turning point for our business. People were afraid to go to shows, afraid of getting stuck, so we said ‘things change, we need to as well,’” says George. After still trying a little more and some deliberation, it was time to put it on hold. 

While many artists paused bookings and live shows because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in George and Amy’s case, it actually served as inspiration to provide people a safe way to enjoy music again. “For the past eight years I’ve been away for four to six months every year. So when the pandemic hit, I was just here,” explains Amy, “So we got the chance to clean up the house and in doing so I found a bunch of things.”

Among those things found were items from early years of the Pikes Peak Blues Community’s Paint the Town Blue, an outdoor concert series event that’s still in existence. Seeing those and programs from other events and festivals she’d helped put on led her to consider creating something new.

 “I brought it to the new president of The Blues Community. We sat and

talked for about an hour, and within a couple days of thinking, I said to George, ‘You need to sit down, we need to have a talk.’ That is not typically the thing a husband wants to hear from a wife, but luckily in this case it was. I said, ‘I had a door open for me and I don’t know if it’ll open again, I’m doing a festival. Are you with me?’ And he said yes.”

On Oct. 2, A Music Company Inc. will be partnering with the Colorado Springs Blues Community for a new festival called Blues on the Mesa. It will be a family- friendly, daytime event from noon to 6 at Gold Hill Mesa.

“Children 16 and under will be free because we do want children there. We don’t want to discourage people because they wouldn’t want to get a ticket for their child,” explains Amy. Tickets run from $35 up to a $70 VIP package that includes chairs, goodie bags packed with items from local businesses, and a ticket to the after-party.

The after-party in the Community Room at Gold Hill Mesa costs an additional $10 a ticket and will include food from Blue by Red Gravy and a performance by BJ Estares & Route 61.

Blues on the Mesa will feature headliner Janiva Magness along with Grammy Award-winning Alvin Youngblood Hart, plus Buddy Whittington & The Atomic Fireballs, Cass Clayton Band, and a production of Ladies Sing the Blues featuring Deloris Scott, Jessica Rogalski, Jill Watkins and Peaches Embry. In addition to all of these stellar artists, the Pikes Peak Blues Community will also host the School of Blues Youth Stage.

For the festival, you will want to bring chairs and blankets. There will be food vendors, drinks and more. Blues on the Mesa will take place rain or shine, but by now we’re all used to abrupt with changes, right? “I know things are changing every day. But we must be open to 500 people outside. If we can’t, then everyone gets a 100 percent refund. I don’t want people to be afraid to buy a ticket,” Amy says. For more info on the festival and to purchase tickets, visit AMusicCompanyInc.com.