Bringing music and education to Boulder with Travis Albright
Five years into running the Future Arts Foundation, Founder Travis Albright is still exploring exciting new ways to bring music and the arts to Boulder.
With the new monthly Strings & Stories concert series, where some of the world’s greatest musicians play an intimate show and share songwriting stories, as well as a summer music and arts camp for Boulder youth, Albright and his nonprofit are taking music and education in Boulder to new heights.
Boulder Lifestyle: What’s new with the Future Arts Foundation’s upcoming Bluebird Music Fest?
Travis Albright: We wanted to switch up genres a little bit with the afternoon event. Last year, we had like a bluegrass super-jam with members of Yonder Mountain String band, Leftover Salmon, bands like that. This year, we’re doing a String and Stories afternoon event.
The Strings and Stories afternoon event at the Bluebird Music Festival will be with Jim James—who’s headlining the entire festival—Langhorne Slim, who’s also playing in the evening, as well as Daniel Rodriguez, and special guest Gregory Alan Isakov.
BL: How do you consistently draw big names to play the Bluebird Music Festival?
TA: I’ll tell you two stories: In a recent Langhorne Slim social media post, he announced he’d be doing the Bluebird Music Fest, and actually said it’s one of his favorite musical events of the year to play. That was a nice pat on the back.
Then, when reaching out to Jim James when we were first booking, his agent said he really didn’t want to play more Colorado/Front Range shows because My Morning Jacket is only playing three shows this year, and two of them are at Red Rocks. Jim’s also headlining the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
But, his manager said, ‘bring in an offer, and he’ll read over it.’ I thought ok, I’m not going to get my hopes up. Then I got a phone call back like, ‘Well you know, the Tallest Man on Earth and Jim James’ agents are both really good friends.’ Through agents, James heard how much Slim enjoyed playing the event last year. Because of that, Jim wanted to play.
What I try to do is establish a family vibe backstage. I try to book musicians that know each other and will get along. I try to create that vibe with all my events.
BL: Tell me about the summer arts “camp.”
TA: We put “camp” in quotations because no one’s really camping. For seven Monday evenings from June to August, while kids are out of school, we will have a two-and-a-half hour block of music and art classes.
We’re going to be offering free and reduced free lessons to the children of local teachers, firefighters, police officers, military—basically, the people whose salaries aren’t going up like other people’s in Boulder County and may not be able to afford to put their children in these classes.
BL: What are your hopes for the summer “camp”?
TA: Hopefully, it’s going to grow to a year-round event. The more successful these concert series and festivals are, the more money we’re going to have to put into the summer arts “camp.”
BL: How does the “camp” affect the future of the Future Arts Foundation?
TA: In the beginning, we started supplying local schools with instruments and art supplies that they couldn’t afford. We still do that but want to begin helping individual children broaden and expand their arts education.
In addition to that, we do want to assist local, hard-working parents who cannot afford to send their children to art lessons. These parents keep our community safe and educated, and we want to do something to give back to them.
BL: When did the Foundation idea initially begin?
TA: I moved to Colorado and started putting music festivals on around the state, about a half-dozen, about ten years ago. I got burnt out pretty quickly and ended up leaving that industry.
I went back to grad school for two years at CU-Boulder and post-grad elementary education. While there, I was like holy cow, how does a teacher support a family in Boulder county and pay off student loans? [Laughs] I thought, ‘It’s impossible.’
The Future Arts Foundation was a way to tie my two passions together: education and music and the arts. Now, I can still put on my music event while still giving back to the educational system and the fine arts community as well.