Bluebird Music Festival will return to Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus this weekend and promises a variety of settings – from full jams to stripped-down sessions.
Future Arts Foundation (FAF) – the non-profit organization behind the event – launched an instrument drive after the Marshall Fire tore through more than 1,000 homes. So, in addition to arranging a diverse lineup of performers, organizers regularly put everything from guitars to tambourines back into the hands of the musicians who have lost so much.
“It was the best kind of activity,” said Travis Albright, founder of the Future Arts Foundation. “We were able to place 500 instruments to Marshall Fire survivors who not only lost their instruments, but also their homes.”
Albright stored the extensive collection in his garage and living room. The cause drew news outlets from across Colorado to visit his Lafayette home. Those who decided to part with trumpets, amps, mandolins, keyboards and more were rewarded for their generosity.
“We donated $60,000 in tickets to those who donated instruments, so it will be great to welcome them all to the Bluebird Music Festival family,” Albright said. “There’s so much to look forward to this weekend.”
The festival begins with a kick-off concert at 6 p.m. Friday at the Rayback Collective featuring King Jasmine, Nicole Atkins and The Last Real Circus.
Margo Price — a powerhouse vocalist who brings the classic Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette vibe to the stage — is a welcome addition to this year’s bill.
From jamming with Nathaniel Rateliff to performing with Willie Nelson, Price remains a country collaboration queen. The Nashville-based musician continues to dazzle audiences with her heartfelt originals and the occasional cover that can run the gamut from Tom Petty to Dolly Parton.
“I’m very happy that Langhorne Slim, Margo Price and Waxahatchee are all bringing their full groups,” Albright said. “This year will be a little more rock than previous years.”
While artists who have performed at the Bluebird Music Festival over the years have varied in genre – from folk to blues – one thing that remains a constant is the palpable soul found in the lineups.
Albright – a music lover who started the Bluebird Music Festival in 2018 – makes sure to curate a selection that never fails to thrill audiences.
“Saturday will feature Colin Meloy singing the songs of The Decemberists and the angelic trio of The Lone Bellow,” Albright said. “While this is Langhorne Slim’s third appearance at the festival, it will be the first time he’s brought together the full band. I can not wait to see them.
Emelise Munoz, a 16-year-old singer-songwriter from Denver, will join the festival for the first time this weekend. It will open the evening event on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
“Playing live – that’s just my favorite thing to do, especially for big crowds, so I’m beyond excited for the Bluebird,” Munoz said.
The love of song was born from an early age in the singer who, like Cher and Madonna, bears her first name, Emelise.
“When I was 4 years old, I really wanted a guitar for my birthday and my grandmother bought me one,” Munoz said. “Then I started taking lessons and my guitar teacher took me to play during his breaks, and that’s when I really fell in love with live. I was 6 years old at the time.”
At age 7, while living in Florida with her family, she got her busking license and performed in Fort Myers Beach, drawing praise and advice from tourists and locals alike. .
His urge to perform spontaneously hasn’t faded, as Munoz still enjoys strumming his acoustics and surprising unsuspecting people with an impromptu concert in random public places.
“I will always hit the streets whenever I don’t have a show,” Munoz said. “I’m going to do my own show.”
She continually balances being a high school student with booking gigs at venues like Stone Cottage Studios in Boulder, the Oxford Hotel in Denver, and the Great Hall at Union Station in Denver.
From the Apollo Theater in New York to the Women’s March in Denver, Munoz has performed at many events and enjoys connecting with others through music.
With a striking vocal range and remarkable guitar playing skills, Munoz is a force.
Her musical tastes are varied and she admits to being a huge fan of past and upcoming Bluebird Music Festival artists.
“I’ve had so much fun listening to their music lately,” Munoz said. “Margo Price has been one of my favorites for years now. I got to see her open for Lyle Lovett at Red Rocks a few years ago.
Some of his other favorite bands include Dave Matthews Band, Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers, Leon Bridges, Jade Bird and Lizzy McAlpine.
“People describe me as an old soul with a lot of passion,” Munoz said. “Performing live is what I was born to do and in a place like the Macky Auditorium, with such an incredible lineup, it’s a dream come true.”
On Sunday, the festival will close with performances by Price, Syrian-American artist Bedouine and Waxahatchee.
“Sunday programming, focused on women, will be very special,” said Albright. “It’s certainly the most we’ve ever put into production with back-to-back sets by hugely popular and world-touring musicians Margo Price and Waxahatchee, with their full bands.”
Closing Day delivers some of Albright’s most revered acts.
“They’re some of my favorite musicians right now, and it just so happens that it worked out that way with their schedules,” Albright said. “But I think they’re as excited as I am that it happened like this. I hope for sit-ins.
All proceeds from the Bluebird Music Festival go to the FAF to fund the programming of children’s music programs.
While the FAF has hosted numerous events at Front Range locations, including the Longmont Firehouse Art Center and The St. Vrain venues, Albright has always dreamed of having its own brick-and-mortar space, where festivities could be organized throughout the year.
“Our goal since the birth of FAF 8 years ago has been to open a community arts house to enable us to house most of our programs and events in-house,” said Albright. “We will try to use the proceeds to make this a reality while funding our ongoing programs.”
Albright hinted that there may be another event to look forward to in December. For now, there are plenty of chances to revel in the song. Tickets range from $29 to $49.
Bluebird’s “Strings and Stories” events will take place from 2-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. on Sunday. The evenings will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday.