When the Town of Paonia built a stage at Town Park about a decade ago, Rob Miller knew it was time to start a free, family-friendly concert series. An idea came to him while touring the West with Sweet Sunny South. "We saw, as a band, that it was an opportunity to bring communities together," said Miller of the concerts.
That was nine years ago. Last week, Miller released the 2016 Pickin' in the Park summer concert series lineups for both Paonia and Ridgway. The free concert series happen Thursday evenings during July in Ridgway, and August in Paonia.
This year's lineup features local, regional and national acts, from folk and bluegrass to rock 'n' roll, soul and funk. "What we're always shooting for is bringing a style of music that the entire town can enjoy," said Miller.
Tim O'Brien will open the Paonia series on Aug. 4, with the traditional/future folk duo of Betse & Clark opening. O'Brien's songs have graced the Billboard top 10 charts, and in 2013 he was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. His summer tour runs from coast to coast and includes the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Red Rocks.
In response to numerous requests for a good rock 'n' roll band, Miller booked The Sheepdogs, a Canadian rock and roll band, for Aug. 11. In 2013 they made history by becoming the first unsigned band to make the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, beating out 15 other artists in the "Choose the Cover" contest. New Orleans soul guitar wizard Colin Lake opens. Lake has performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage and Austin City Limits Music festivals.
Austin, Texas-based Mingo Fishtrap will bring a blend of R&B, soul and funk to the Howard Berkman stage on Aug. 18. The lovely Gabrielle Louise will open. The sole local act in the lineup, Louise combines music with environmentalism and has used her sultry and strong voice and original, poetic lyrics to support causes including the "Save the Arkansas River" campaign and North Fork-based Citizens for a Healthy Community.
Denver-based Paper Bird, a six-member band playing a "joyful blend of Indie folk, blue-eyed soul and rock to delighted audiences nationwide" takes the stage Aug. 25. They were recently featured on NPR's All Things Considered, in a New York Times story about up-and-coming Denver bands. Richie and Rosie, a "dynamic duo performing music rooted in the Americana tradition, opens.
The Ridgway Concert Series is held Thursdays at Hartwell Park. The lineup includes the Honey Island Swamp Band on July 7, The Hip Abduction July 14, the Polyrhythmics July 21, and Jenny and the Mexicats July 28.
KVNF will again handle the beer, wine and hard cider booth, and local food vendors will serve delectable menus, with an emphasis on locally grown and produced fare. Food vendors are still being sought, said Miller. Sponsors are also still being sought. May 20 is the deadline to be listed on this season's posters.
For details, visit www.pickinproductions.com or the Pickin' Productions Facebook page for details.