Music on Main might feel a bit different this year, with beer forced into cans rather than the open vessels of festivalgoers’ choosing, but the bands are back and the thrill of live music will once again grace the main drag in Victor.
“Live music is so important for people’s wellbeing,” said Amy Fradley, executive director of the Teton Valley Foundation, which has put on the free outdoor festival every summer (apart from last year’s pandemic-foiled series) since 2007.
This year’s eight-week lineup features groups like the Young Dubliners and Micky & The Motorcars. Local talent Lonesome Gold will kick off the season Thursday, opening for Asheville’s The Broadcast, fronted by vocalist Caitlin Krisko.
Produced by members of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Krisko’s squad has been gearing up in living-room jam sessions for a proper tour of the West, including an already sold-out show in Denver.
“It was really like getting back on a bicycle again,” Krisko said. “I think we were all expecting it to be kind of rusty and sort of trudging back into it, but everyone’s really refreshed. Everyone’s been working on their craft in their time apart, so there’s this really nice elevated feeling in rehearsal. It’s been super fun.”
Krisko, who cut her hair into “sassy” bangs for the tour, said she’s looking forward to getting back on stage after a year of transformation: “It feels like we’re in our early 20s again.”
The return to live music follows the coronavirus pandemic and many show planners dare to trust in the semblance of safety.
“I still have a couple plans in my back pocket,” said Fradley, who remains cautiously optimistic about putting on such a large event before everyone is vaccinated. That’s the main reason planners decided to nix the reusable cup program, which allowed fans to fill whatever crock they wanted with local brews. In what she calls the “kegs vs. cans” decision, Fradley said the contact between vendors and decanter-bearing spectators just seemed too risky.
But the executive director said there will still be plenty of promising brews, such as small batch fermentations from Victor startup Highpoint Cider, which also happens to employ Fradley’s summer sidekick, TVF Program Director Kate Driscoll, who fell for Teton Valley when she flew out from Maine a few summers ago.
If the opening shows go smoothly, Driscoll might just be taking over the popular music festival, freeing Fradley to focus on other foundation responsibilities. But, she said, for now music holds her heart.
“I truly believe in the power of music,” Fradley said, “whether it’s for healing qualities or a sense of community.”
She’s excited to bring people together for summer carousing, especially at a time when other festivals are cancelling. Jackson Hole Live and Targhee Fest, for example, both called off their summer shows for 2021.
Last year, when she had to shut things down, Fradley implored bands that had signed on for 2020, like The Broadcast, to keep their spot in 2021. Most did.
Amy Helm and the Commonheart band — both from the East Coast — did decide to drop out, likely due to the difficulty of stringing together enough gigs to make a Western visit worth it.
“What keeps me up at night sometimes is thinking, ‘Are we doing this too soon?’” Fradley said.
But, at the same time, she knows the community is champing at the bit to jam again — something Krisko is also excited for.
“There’s just this hunger for it, which I’m so thankful for. … We are so ready to rock,” the singer said. ￼