A stage powered by bicycles, a band risen from the ashes of a horrific car crash and the sound of music wafting through a meadow, Mountain of the Sun Music Festival excites and inspires.
Held June 29 at Aspen Valley Ranch in Woodland Park, the festival is sponsored by Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which owns the property. “Part of our plan is to make Aspen Valley Ranch into a center for the arts, education, exploration and discovery,” said Michael Hannigan, founder and executive director of the foundation. “We want the ranch to be a place where people gather to listen to music and learn life skills such as woodworking.”
In its third year, the festival is a hot bed of innovation, the Mobile Music Project, for instance. Along with listening to music, the audience will no doubt be wowed by the MMP, a stage powered by musicians providing the fuel for the bicycles as well as the rhythm.
Funded and sponsored by the foundation, the project was initiated by Brendan Hannigan and his band, Lazarus Blehm, Taylor Weimer and The Black Flamingos.
A second high note is the musical launch of the festival at 9 a.m. with a performance by Jordan Smith and his band, A Positive Note. “Jordan was in a terrible car crash and suffered traumatic brain injury,” Hannigan said.
As a result of the crash and subsequence emotional and physical challenges, Smith founded the band as a nonprofit organization, a musical workshop for people with disabilities. Smith's classes are held at the Colorado Springs Conservatory. “It's a very touching story,” Hannigan said.
With the seemingly unrelenting tragedy of fires in Colorado, the festival takes a moment at 10 a.m. to honor one of the heroes of the Waldo Canyon Fire. The award recognizes a “Community Presence,” and will be given by the Coalition of the Upper South Platte. Afterward, the Flying W Wranglers play from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The Flying W Ranch was destroyed in the Waldo fire last year.
For the foundation, the festival is a step in a long-range plan that includes three or four concerts at the ranch. “The meadow offers a wonderful cultural opportunity, a great festival site,” Hannigan said.
The festival schedule is available at www.ppcf.org/Aspen-Valley-Ranch. Ticket information is available at the site. In Woodland Park, tickets are sold at Whole in the Wall.
“We really hope to see Mountain of the Sun grow, develop and expand to become one of the foremost music festivals in the state,” said Ralph Holloway, chairman of the Woodland Park Arts Alliance, a beneficiary of the foundation.