Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest
By: Meghan Pipe
Each year’s Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest lineup is a snapshot of what our local music scene looks and sounds like. It’s a weekend of music discovery and a chance to see how many amazing musicians call Colorado home. Now in its 15th year, the event draws festivalgoers to Downtown Fort Collins for three days of live Colorado music, anchored each evening by national headliner performances.
“I’ve been a part of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest since the beginning,” said Greta Cornett, a member of the Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest booking committee and a local musician herself. “2005 was the first year of Bohemian Nights music, and I performed then with 12 Cents for Marvin on the old Walnut Street stage. We played with the Motet, who headlined the festival last year (in 2018). They were just a fun local band way back then. There has always been great music coming from the Rocky Mountains, and being able to catch a band before they go to that next level and support them from the beginning of their journey is so important and fun.”
One artist on the rise performing at the festival this year is Fort Collins hip-hop artist Boss Eagle, whose self-made, self-promoted “The Firebird Album” debuted on the Billboard charts in late 2017. He said that performing at the festival for the first time means getting to connect with audiences who might not otherwise attend a show in his genre. “Festivals have a built-in mechanism for displaying diverse musical styles. Plus, I’m still fairly new in the scene, so festivals are nice because the crowd is already there for the music.”
Another new name on the festival lineup this year is Lady Gang, a solo project by established Denver-based artist Jen Korte. As Lady Gang, Korte live-loops with her “gang” of instruments – a beat machine, loop station, bass, guitar and vocals. “People love to watch me balance performing and beat-building,” said Korte. “I get a lot of, ‘Man, I don’t know how you manage to do all of that at once!’ which I take as a compliment since it’s taken me about four years to master what I’m doing. I love performing live. It is a proud moment for me to execute these songs in front of an audience after spending so much time putting them together.”
When asked which Colorado artists she’s excited about these days, Korte said there are so many – great new bands, and bands that have been around for a while – including fellow festival artists Porlolo, The Still Tide, The Milk Blossoms and Los Mocochetes. “The list goes on,” Korte said, “and I can proudly say that many are my friends. I am most excited to see my best friends, Alysia Kraft and Staci Foster of Whippoorwill, open for Bonnie Raitt. It’s been such a journey to watch all of us grow.”
That sense of support for fellow Colorado artists is echoed by Kerry Pastine, whose band Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene returns to the festival this year. “For me, the best aspect of being a part of the Colorado music scene is the community,” said Pastine. “I’ve been performing in Colorado for over 25 years, so my community feels like a dream. I love getting to see what everyone has been up to and how hard they’ve been working.”
The band is eager to share new material from an album released this summer. “We’re excited to be back at the festival this year,” Pastine continued. “There’s nothing quite like Fort Collins’ love. The hospitality is big and beautiful with such an inviting spirit, whether in the crowd or on the stage.”
One festival stage – the Kids’ Music Adventure Stage – is dedicated entirely to the newest generation of Colorado artists. One group slated to perform is Youth Music Collective, a band comprised of talented high school musicians who have graduated from Little Kids Rock programs in Northern Colorado. Rafael Boyle, a member of Youth Music Collective, said that he’s learned a lot from being a part of the Colorado music scene. “I remember a long time ago I thought that the scene here was all just bluegrass,” Boyle said. “But there’s so much different stuff going on. As I’ve grown up in the Colorado music scene, I got exposed to all different types of people and musicians in Colorado.”
“I feel like because of the Colorado scene I’ve changed my technique and the way I approach music because of the people I play with,” said Boyle’s bandmate Nathaniel Morris. “Colorado is a great place to grow in music because there are so many great artists to help you learn and be more diverse and become a better musician all around. And for me that’s exactly what’s happening.”
When asked how a festival attendee might dive into the lineup, Cornett said that tools like the Bohemian Nights app and the music guide distributed at the festival are useful for navigating the weekend, though every person has their own strategy for enjoying a weekend jam-packed with live music.
“I love hearing how different people plan their festival,” said Cornett. “There’s the weekend warrior who tries to stop by every performance, even if it’s just to catch a song; there’s the wanderer who has no set plans but drifts toward whatever strikes their fancy; there’s the planner who has mapped out every artist, every stage and every minute of their experience; and there’s the local music lover who has seen many of these festival artists already and will make it a point to see only the artists they don’t know or haven’t seen live yet. There’s no wrong way to support live music. Making your own path and discovering new music is part of the fun.”
BOHEMIAN NIGHTS AT NEWWESTFEST
For the full lineup of 80+ Colorado artists and more festival information, download the Bohemian Nights mobile app or visit bohemiannights.org.
Headliner performances take place on the Mountain Ave. Stage. Saturday night’s headliner performance by Bonnie Raitt will be simulcast on large screens located in Library Park and Old Town Square.
Download the Bohemian App