What’s next for Bluebird Art + Sound in Snowmass Village?
July 4, 2017
Organizers of Bluebird Art + Sound are re-evaluating the festival's concept following the inaugural offierng in Snowmass Village.
Bluebird drew a thin crowd for its marquee concert Friday night on Fanny Hill, headlined by the Drive-By Truckers and the Seratones. Sunday night's free closing party concerts were canceled because of the threat of lightning. The art side of the event, an exhibition of video and virtual-reality experiences in a tent in Base Village, drew a steady stream of visitors Saturday and Sunday.
"This year was a great way to get people introduced to the name," producer Garret Chau, of the Los Angeles-based Drive Group said Monday. "Thinking about events and big festivals — even Coachella and Lollapalooza — in the first year, it's about establishing that you're here."
As the Seratones began their set Friday, there were no more than a few dozen people on Fanny Hill. A crowd filled in by the time the Drive-By Truckers began their headlining performance after 8 p.m. but remained sparse compared with average crowds for the free Thursday night concerts on Fanny Hill.
"I think we learned a lot," said Snowmass Tourism director Rose Abello. "I'd say, in year one, what we've shown is that it's hard to sell a ticket on Fanny Hill."
The enormous popularity of the long-running free Fanny Hill concert series, she reasoned, has trained people to not pay for entertainment on the ski hill. The stage location, directly off the Snowmass Mall, where spectators can sit on patios at Venga Venga and other restaurants and watch a concert without buying a ticket, make it harder to sell even moderately priced tickets, Abello said.
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"I think we will be evaluating this event and saying, 'What are the components we want to move forward with, if we want to move forward?'" Abello said.
Chau said Bluebird is here to stay.
"We're committed," Chau said. "We're coming back."
Having introduced people to the concept this weekend, organizers are hopeful that Bluebird will grow and catch on in coming iterations. Abello compared Bluebird's best-case future to Heritage Fire, the annual pig roast in Base Village during Food & Wine Classic weekend, which Snowmass hosted for the first time in 2015. In the two years since its inaugural offering, through buzz among locals and tourists, it's become a huge hit for the resort.
Abello said that, should Bluebird return, she hopes it will expand its footprint and add to the vibrancy of the tourist-heavy Independence Day weekend in the Village. Early this summer Bluebird's organizers scuttled plans for an "art walk" on the Snowmass Mall that would have showcased both local and international artists throughout the weekend.
Promoters pulled the plug on the closing party Sunday night, as rain and lightning threatened. Scheduled to run from 6 to 10 p.m., the event was called off at 5 p.m., according to Abello.
"There were some components of it that would be able to grow and evolve," she said. "But a paid concert is a tough thing to sell here. … It would have to be something really special to do a paid concert on Fanny Hill. We're spoiled in that we have free music all summer long and there are so many options."
Before Bluebird tried it, the most recent paid concerts on Fanny Hill were at the inaugural Wanderlust yoga and music festival, which ran over the same weekend from 2014 to 2016 in Snowmass. After ticketed concerts didn't succeed in the festival's first year, Wanderlust hosted well-attended free concerts — including premier headliners like Moby and Xavier Rudd — in its past two years.
Despite the thin crowd Friday, both the Seratones and the Drive-By Truckers put on rip-roaring shows. Seratones singer A.J. Haynes used the unpopulated concert lawn as a personal dance floor during the band's final song — she hopped off the stage with a wireless microphone, sang and frolicked in the grass and greeted fans farther up the hill who were seated in beach chairs. The few hundred fans who came out for the Truckers — Chau claimed they sold 500 tickets — were all able to huddle close to the stage.
A steady stream of visitors, numbering in the hundreds, came through the art tent Saturday and Sunday, according to Chau, leading organizers to keep the tent open after its planned closing time Sunday evening.
"There's a lot of great response for the art part," Chau said. "As far as the music part, we're thinking about how we want to evolve that. We already have ideas of how we want to do it."
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