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Farmers’ market, music fests highlight summer on South Pearl

Summer is about to sprout on South Pearl Street, with the arrival of the annual farmers’ market on June 5 and a trio of music festivals — including the brand new Old South Pearl Jam — on the second Saturdays of June, July and August.

Featuring around 70 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and artisanal food products to goose-down pillows and other agricultural products, the farmers’ market runs from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. every Sunday from June 5–Oct. 30. The market has expanded slightly this year to make room for new vendors; it will run on the 1500 block of South Pearl Street and about half of the 1400 block near Sushi Den and the Pearl Street Grill.

“We’re more of a neighborhood, low-key event as opposed to, say, the Cherry Creek Farmers’ Market, which is a good one, but it’s a little bigger and has more of a commercial kind of feel,” says Mark Gill, president of the Old South Pearl Street Association.

Opening day on June 5 includes a green fair, featuring vendors and information on eco-friendly living and urban homesteading. Other special farmers’ market events this year include a health and wellness fair on July 17, “eat local day” on Aug. 21, a pet fair on Sept. 18, a chili cook-off on Oct. 16 and a Halloween fest on closing day, Oct. 30. Keep an eye out for representatives of the city’s red-hot food truck scene as well; past markets have featured visits from Watercourse Foods’ Steamin’ Demon cart and the Little Orange Rocket run by South Broadway eatery Deluxe.

As for music, the old standards — bluegrass and blues — are back, along with a new fest that celebrates the jammier side of the local music scene. Each fest also features beer from eight Colorado breweries, including Left Hand, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Breckenridge and Great Divide. Music festivals are on the 1200 block of South Pearl, near the Duffeyroll Cafe. Admission is $5.

The bluegrass-heavy Brewgrass, June 11, features performances by Kansas-based Split Lip Rayfield, Los Angeles roots band Truth & Salvage Co., the Ryan Montbleau Band, Missy Raines and the New Hip, “high-octane Rocky Mountain dancegrass” band Whitewater Ramble, Chicago’s Giving Tree and Denver’s own Loose Cannon.

Blues and Brews, Aug. 13, features three national acts — New Orleans-style singer/pianist Marcia Ball, Muddy Waters’ son Big Bill Morganfield and Texas guitarist Bugs Henderson — plus local trio 3 Twins (led by former Subdude John Magnie), the Boulder-based Lionel Young Band, seven-piece all-female dance band She Groovez and Colorado acoustic blues band Felonius Smith.

“We kind of branched out a little bit this year and really went after some national acts and were lucky enough to get a couple of really good ones,” says Dave McIntyre, who books the bands for the blues festival. “I think this is one of the best lineups we’ve ever had.”

The new kid on the block, the July 9 Old South Pearl Jam, features an all-Colorado lineup of improv-heavy rock, including Boulder’s Motet, String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth and DU’s own Kinetix, plus Denver quartet the Congress, bluegrass fusion band Mountain Standard Time, electro-jammers Signal Path and DJ Mikey Thunder, who will open the show and perform in between the other acts, making for nine or so hours of nonstop music.

“Obviously, Denver — and Colorado for that matter — is a huge market for [jam bands], and there are some terrific bands out of here that are doing very well,” says David Weingarden, the Swallow Hill concerts director who also works on the Pearl Street events. “Luckily enough, most of the ones that were right at the top of the list were available, so it worked out nicely and I think we have a really strong lineup.”


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