Dillon Amphitheater’s ‘Million-Dollar View’ Now Has Facilities to Match
In 2014, Summit County-based musician Beau Thomas stood in front of a TV audience of millions, on a stage in front of Shakira, Adam Levine, Usher and Blake Shelton. The singer-songwriter was performing in a blind audition on NBC’s “The Voice.” While Thomas did not move to the next round, the experience led to new career opportunities and connections. “I created so many incredible relationships,” he says.
It also taught him that such a commercialized approach to music – which he says felt “disingenuous” at times – has its downsides. These days, as Thomas (above right) works on his first full-length album, he favors a smaller stage and a grassroots approach. He is less focused on international fame and more on forming genuine connections, “making people feel through melodies” through his “organic,” intimate performances. The newly renovated Dillon Amphitheater – and the audience it attracts – fits his aim perfectly.
“As a Summit County resident, that is something we’re huge on – being present and being genuine and really living in the moment.” Thomas says he feels lucky to play for a community that truly values artistry – from music, to photography, to painting – in a setting that he describes as “one of the most breathtaking venues that I’ve ever seen.”
Dillon Amphitheater is on the banks of Lake Dillon with a view of Buffalo Mountain and the Tenmile Range to the west. People have been known to sail to its shows from across the lake in nearby Frisco and listen from the water.
Thomas says Dillon and Silverthorne’s proximity to Denver is ideal for an up-and-coming musician. “We have the exposure of a big city, with people in and out from all over the world,” he says. “But we also have the small-town vibe and level of support, because there’s only a few thousand year-round residents in each town.”
John Truscelli, another local singer-songwriter, seconds this sentiment. In his new album “Pictures,” he sings fondly of making his living in Colorado ski country, “the land of milk and honey.” Truscelli plays at Dillon Amphitheater as part of the larger ensemble the John Truscelli Band. He also plays as part of a duo with violinist Jess Moidel in smaller venues around the county. For restaurants catering to the après-ski crowd, the vibe and sound level of the acoustic guitar and violin duo is perfect, he says. “It’s not overwhelming sound-wise – it’s enough to just fill a room.”
Truscelli, who calls Dillon his home, feels lucky to be able to make a living as a musician in a place where most other people are on vacation. “We as a band, and me as a solo artist, have been so fortunate to play for a living. I’ve always had a part-time gig to help make ends meet, but music has been at least 80 percent of it for 10 years now up here. I couldn’t have done that anywhere else.”
Having opened for big-name acts including the funk and soul band Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Truscelli has seen Dillon Amphitheater filled to capacity and then some. He’s looking forward to playing the expanded facility.
Thanks to a multimillion-dollar upgrade, the amphitheater’s capacity has grown by a couple hundred seats. Other improvements include a more gently graded grass seating area, a larger dance floor and new, modern restrooms, according to Dillon Events Manager Matt Miano. The stage is getting a facelift, and bands will enjoy new spaces backstage for costume changes, makeup and the like.
“The venue already had million-dollar views, and now we’ve built a structure that matches that. Now we want to bring in entertainment that will fit that same bill,” Miano says.
Audiences may see a few ticketed shows for national touring acts, but local bands will still be the focus; Friday and Saturday shows will remain free.
Shows will begin the last weekend in June, with a grand re-opening slated for July. Visit townofdillon.com for a full lineup.
Photos Courtesy Town of Dillon; Tripp Fay