Evergreen area’s many nonprofit agencies, businesses,
residents and local musicians.
Non-musician/jazz enthusiast Sterling Nelson and late
(first) wife Shirley moved to Evergreen from Denver in
1964. President of the Denver Jazz Club in 1965 (working
at 17th and Broadway), he often dreamed of a major local
jazz festival. His vision grew closer to reality when in the
mid-1960s, ragtime and jazz found their way to Evergreen.
In the early ‘70s, Evergreen Elks Lodge members purchased the Iris Drive building, turning the former bowling area into a large ballroom. In February 1994, organized by local ragtime pianist George Keeler, the Lodge
( evergreenelkslodge.com) produced and hosted the
first Evergreen Ragtime Bash. This long-running (now
defunct) event was internationally acclaimed.
The Evergreen Chorale ( evergreenchorale.org) formed
as a small community singing group in 1972. Over the
past 45 years, it has been recognized for its outstanding
community choir and high-quality musical-theater productions
showcasing professional-caliber performers.
By 1975, Red Ram Night Club closed. New owners opened
the Little Bear Saloon ( littlebearsaloon.com), with rock, pop,
country, R&B and folk/folk rock replacing Big Band music.
Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell, Bo Diddley and countless others
delighted audiences. Willie Nelson, then an Evergreen ranch
owner, also made occasional impromptu singing appearances.
Little Bear is still rocking the house!
In 1979, Sterling Nelson and two others were contacted to
help plan the first Summerfest near Evergreen’s Buchanan Park.
Hosted by Center for the Arts ( evergreenarts.org), this family-oriented, two-day July outdoor fine arts & crafts festival features 100+ artists, vendors, food and music. Proceeds support
arts programming year round. “Our 2016 Summerfest presented
all local bands,” said Evergreen business owner Jim Sherwood,
volunteer music coordinator for Summerfest and the annual Big
Chili Cook-Off events.
Evergreen Music Festival ( evergreenmusicfestival.org), held
every July 4th at Buchanan Field, features jazz and classical
music, offering rock/R&B at night. A portion of the proceeds
is donated to Mt. Evans Hospice. “This year marks our 28th
year providing terrific music programming, honoring active
military/veterans, and celebrating community,” says Festival
President Cheri Rubin. “We appreciate all the musicians who
donate their time at community/fundraising events. However,
our practice is to pay our musicians.”
Most local musicians, while always looking for community gigs,
must, unfortunately, rely on “day-job” incomes. So, four years
ago, Evergreen resident/musician Ron Isaacson started a success-
ful Facebook page ( facebook.com/groups/music.evergreen) to
help Evergreen venues and local musicians stay connected.
Established in 1996, Cactus Jack’s Saloon & Grill (
evergreenlivemusic.com) has been revitalized by Gary and Megan Mitchell, owners since 2001. Showcasing a new and improved outside
deck/performance area overlooking Bear Creek, enjoy Karaoke
Thursday and Saturday nights, or year-round live rock/bluegrass
music featuring local talent or national acts on Friday nights.
Sponsored by EPRD, the Evergreen Lake Concert Series
( evergreenlakepresents.com), celebrates its 20th season hosting
concerts at the Evergreen Lake House every other Wednesday
evening (June through August).
Though still very much involved, after an 11-year run as the
venue’s producer, Dale Gibbins just stepped down in 2016. His
leadership, and a musical line-up of Americana, pop, blues,
country, folk and funk, has greatly contributed to the success of
this concert series.
In 2001, Sterling Nelson and other Evergreen residents, includ-
ing the Manns, produced Nelson’s “dream come true”—the
first Evergreen Jazz Festival ( evergreenjazz.org). Ted Mann
was an active Festival volunteer until his 2014 death; Jeannie
is still very much involved in this annual July three-day, mul-
tiple-location event. “Fifty-percent of our audience comes from
all over Colorado and nationwide,” said Jeannie, EJF Production
Manager. “The Festival draws people worldwide and hopefully
they return to experience all Evergreen has to offer—musically
Since 2001, the September Big Chili Cook-Off ( bigchili.org)
provides a one-day opportunity to enjoy food/drink and music
while raising funds to support six local area volunteer fire
departments. “We serve a diverse musical crowd. Our bands rep-
resent rock‘n roll, country rock, reggae, bluegrass…,” says Jim
Sherwood, who indicated that he books many bands through the
Music.Evergreen Facebook page.
Presenting high quality bands three times per year, The
Boogie at the Barn ( boogieatthebarn.com) originated in 2012 in
partnership with EPRD, volunteers and Evergreen residents John
and Pandora Erlandson. The event has quickly become a local
favorite, with net proceeds going to worthwhile local charities
and area nonprofits. Singer/musician John Erlandson often plays
community-wide events, as do Dakota Blonde, Johnny Turner,
Austin Young Band and others.
Music is performed in Evergreen almost daily through its
multi-award-winning Evergreen High School Marching Band,
Evergreen Chamber Orchestra, local chorale/theater arts venues,
and area eatery/entertainment establishments.
Music, albeit inadvertently, has also become instrumental in
sustaining/maintaining Evergreen and residents with fundraising, the thread that weaves itself through the musical fabric of
this small mountain community. “Music helps fundraise for the
benefit of any event, in terms of keeping audiences at venues longer,” said Ron Isaacson, “and in that way it supports economic
Jo Ann M. Colton is a newspaper/periodical/business writer-for-hire who also
markets for small businesses and writers. The author of four nonfiction books
( The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Basics 101, So, You Want To Be a Writer,
How to Develop Story Line Ideas and Marketing Matters), and two fiction
books (Pieces of the Puzzle and Heavenly Business) can be reached at www.
jmcoltoncommunications.com or 303-993-9211.
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EVERGREEN’S MUSIC SCENE STRIKES A CHORD