The Bluebird Music Festival featuring Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Langhorne Slim, and Gregory Alan Isakov, returns Saturday, May 25 to the Macky Auditorium in Boulder. It’s a first class music program: there will be a “Strings and Stories” afternoon session, and an evening session, when many of those artists, and more, take the stage later for full concerts.
Hosted by the Future Arts Foundation, and helping fund educational programs along The Front Range, the festival and the foundation’s mission is ambitious in its reach. And founder Travis Albright is just getting started.
As the second year of The Bluebird Festival is set to get underway, we met up with Albright, to discuss how the festival looks to combine the very best of Colorado – community, music, and outreach – while bringing a more relaxed festival experience to The Front Range. It’s a labor of love for Albright, a former educator, and we started there.
As a disclaimer, The Colorado Sound proudly presents The Bluebird Music Festival, and we are thrilled to be a part of such a supportive mission.
The Colorado Sound: So, you attended graduate school in Education. How did that contribute to what is now the Future Arts Foundation and The Bluebird Music Festival?
Travis Albright: Yes. And the whole idea behind that, I was in my eighth year and I am thinking, ‘How am I going to live in Boulder County and support a household? I can’t afford to be a teacher in Boulder County.’ So I worked in the corporate restaurant world for awhile. My heart has always been working with kids and in the music industry. I took my experience in the music and arts festivals and combined that with my love of education and the importance of community.
And with the music, you put that right back into the community. Can you tell us a little about that?
Proceeds from The Bluebird Music Festival supply area public schools with instruments and will launch a summer arts camps in Boulder County. These arts camps will offer free and reduced arts lessons to children’s of local teachers, first responders, and military members.
That’s a terrific mission. Going from education to booking festival headliners, how did that happen?
Well, I have a background in both. I hosted music and arts festivals around the state for a few years, but also attended CU-Boulder for graduate studies in Education. I have no background in non-profit or grant writing. I learned by the seat of my pants. Now, there are several fundraisers, including Colorado Dines Out for the Arts, that we host annually.
When I started the foundation, I had no inkling of hosting concerts. However, I found some amazing local business partners who wanted to sponsor these events, so it just made sense. Plus, I had a good relationship with musicians and booking agents, so it was a fairly seamless progression for the Future Arts Foundation.
What have you learned since on how to grow a festival?
Treat your attendees, musicians, and business partners well, and the rest will take care of itself. And, create a family atmosphere around your events. Make them welcoming to all and folks will want to continue being a part of something this special.
You have the Bluebird Festival, Strings and Stories, and The Future Arts Foundation, all tied into one music vision. What is your grandest vision?
We want to be able to host music events that we (and hopefully everyone else) love. Because they benefit youth arts programs, it’s this amazing, symbiotic relationship that we strive for.
Tell us about the Strings and Stories series, which is a more specific event to Longmont and is being featured as an afternoon session at The Bluebird Music Festival.
We always loved the old VH1 Storytellers and MTV Unplugged shows. However, you never see that format anywhere these days. Our goal is to bring that format back, and give folks a more personal connection to the musicians.
The areas between Fort Collins and Denver seem to be thriving musically, and you’re picking up on that. What’s going on in towns like Longmont where Strings and Stories take place?
There are just so many folks now who used to live in Boulder or Denver who now live in the surrounding towns. It’s nice to be able to bring quality events to a town like Longmont. It’s also great to have the events end at a reasonable hour for people who have children, but still love to see live music.
Where do you want your work with Strings and Stories and The Bluebird Music Festival to go?
The idea is to establish events that become something that the community loves and can grow old with. We just want to create one big, happy family who supports each other while having a blast doing it!