Vail Jazz Party: June–Sept. 5, 2016
Scene: A full summer of jazz performances in Vail concludes with a four-night, five-day bash at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa over Labor Day weekend.
Sound: Embracing the spontaneous roots of authentic jazz, the party has in the past hosted soloists such as Ernie Adams, Dick Oatts, Shelly Berg and Wycliffe Gordon and groups like the Monty Alexander Trio and Clayton Brothers Quintet in a cabaret-style setting.
Tip: The Patron Pass grants you early entry to all 11 performances and functions, including the Saturday evening dinner with artists and the opening-night reception, and it’s transferable so you can share it with friends.
Tickets: Vail Jazz Party
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival: Aug. 19–21, 2016
Scene: Set in the culture-rich, tiny mountain town of Lyons, the Folks Festival celebrates song and story with music from morning until 10pm nightly and songwriting workshops sprinkled throughout the day.
Sound: The mellow fest has featured folksy talent such as Brandi Carlile, Josh Ritter, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Don’t miss the impromptu late-night campsite sessions put on by festival attendees.
Tip: Bring your swimsuit and a beach towel and take a refreshing dip in the St. Vrain River just steps from the festival.
Tickets: Rocky Mountain Folks Festival
Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) Labor Day Festival: Sept. 3–5, 2016
Scene: This three-day festival just east of Aspen at the Snowmass Town Park in Snowmass tops off the summer season with a dance-inducing display of popular, R&B, rock, funk, blues and soul music.
Sound: At past events, you could catch large stars like Steely Dan sharing mountain-framed stages with Fitz and the Tantrums, Lenny Kravitz and the Zac Brown Band.
Tip: Make sure to drink lots of water when dancing in the sun all day at 8,100 feet.
Tickets: Jazz Aspen Snowmass
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival: Sept. 16–18, 2016
Scene: Telluride, a festival capital of Colorado, hosts this soulful gathering complete with brews from 53 of the country’s best microbreweries.
Sound: Previous years' lineups were a who’s who of the blues, rock and gospel worlds, including Chicago, The Fray, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Galactic and Jimmie Vaughan (Stevie Ray’s big brother). Check the site in June to see this year's roster.
Tip: Camping is popular with festivalgoers headed to this picturesque resort town. Get there early; spots are first come, first served.
Tickets: Telluride Blues and Brews