The iAm Music Festival, sponsored by Durango’s own iAm Music Institute, is in its third and biggest year. What we’re talking is $35 for 30 bands plus a mime parade, a silent disco, a sax mob, an International Day of Peace celebration, a community art project, a circus performance and more
This year, the iAm Music Institute hooked up with the Colorado Music Strategy to put on the second annual Colorado Music Summit. Free to musicians and industry people who register, the Colorado Music Summit is a secondary conference taking place all weekend, full of panels and events created by music industry leaders to help musicians take their work to the next level.
We spoke to Ashley Edwards and Jesse Ogle, founders of the iAm Music Institute and lead members of the band Hello, Dollface, about the fest and the Colorado Music Summit.
Q: This year, the iAm Music Fest partnered with the Colorado Music Strategy. What does that mean?
Edwards: The Colorado Music Strategy is a statewide effort to support musicians. It helps create economic revenue and development through music and art. They provided a grant for us to host the Colorado Music Summit.
Q: What is the Colorado Music Summit?
Edwards: It’s a networking weekend for musicians to build authentic relationships between each other statewide. Musicians can get to know industry people and find the support to make their art more sustainable.
There’s a welcome party, five educational panels free to musicians who register online, an after-party, a wrap-up party and a few events between. It’s free. You just have to register.
Q: What does iAm Music do?
Edwards: Our mission is defined as cultivating conscious creativity, community and empowerment through music. That applies to anyone, whether they’re at DeNier (detention center) or they’re an adult who needs group coaching on a project or the gigging world. Maybe you’re a new student on guitar who wants to learn or a songwriter who is ready to record and book shows. We can help find musicians gigs in the community when they’re ready. We do free instrument rentals, so there’s nothing holding you back from getting access to a PA or a guitar or a piano. We hold events to build community and to bring the music and business districts together.
It’s attempting to help musicians create, connect and be professionally stable and showcasing what that artistic economic factor means to the wider community.
Q: Getting into the iAm Music Fest, what acts are you stoked for?
Edwards: Chimney Choir out of Denver were here last year. They’ll be back ... I love seeing their evolution every year.
There’s so much music. There’s about 30 bands between two nights. Thursday is the kickoff party with fire dancers and is more focused on the International Day of Peace.
Let Them Roar is a folk project out of Carbondale with a lot of activism in their mission. We have anything from delirious roots music to good vibes. That’s an actual genre, good vibes. We have a multi-instrumentalist cellist, his name is Russick Smith.
This year is exciting because it is all Colorado musicians.
Q: What’s the most gratifying thing, after all the hard work, of throwing a music fest?
Edwards: It defines friendships and what is important to you. You can lose sight if you are constantly pushing to make your career happen in any medium. You can get lost in, “OK, three years just went by and I played 600 shows. Where are my connections at? How am I relating to people?” For me, the most gratifying part is watching friendships spark and seeing the connections that will create waves. It’s watching what happens when you give people the opportunity to be vulnerable in a space together. It can be healing. Especially in these political times, we need connection.
Q: Why does a non-musician person want to go to the fest?
Edwards: You won’t know what to expect. There’s a silent disco happening. You might walk down the street and get mobbed by a mime parade. You could walk in and discover a band that could change the way you feel about life and Durango ... It will be four days of awesomeness and music.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.