Trade a stadium and blaring lights for a natural cottonwood tree amphitheater and a prairie backdrop. It’s a concert on a ranch.
Chico Basin Ranch will host its annual Ranchland concert series celebrating music, songwriting and the Western heritage from noon Saturday to noon Sunday.
Colter Wall, Americana singer and songwriter, will perform Saturday evening for a night of BYO beer, family friendly tailgating and camping. Songwriters Frankie Zwick and Emily Nenni will open the night.
“It’s not a concert where you’re going to be up and dancing,” said business director Tess Leach.
“It’ll be a time to just sit and listen to the words and enjoy a performance, really.”
Zwick is a songwriter in winter and a ranch wrangler in summer. The concert, she said, is a collision of her two worlds.
“I live in Nashville in the winter and the Springs in the summer. To be able to play for this kind of audience, it’s a way to see my two passions coming together. It’s a really rewarding experience.”
Everyone is always invited to the ranch. The open-door policy bridges the gap between urban and rural communities, Leach said. Chico Basin cracks the myth that “ranching is bad for the environment,” she added. Ranching, she said, is one of the best alternatives to large-scale conservation.
“Our livelihood depends on the landscape and on the cattle,” she said. “If there’s not a synergy between the two, then there’s not a business. It’s inevitable that you’re going to have conservationists if your livelihood is dependent on it.”
The concert proceeds go toward the ranch education program. More than 3,000 students participate in the free programs each year, learning about ranching, conservation and how the two work together.
Bird banding is one of the ranch’s booming education programs. With more than 330 birds species sighted on the ranch each year, the nonprofit Bird Conservancy of the Rockies works with the ranch to study migration patterns. All are invited to watch when it’s underway, one month in spring and one month in the fall.
“The conservancy sets up 10 mist nets every morning and captures migratory songbirds,” Leach said. “Then they routinely go around and take the birds out of the net and document them. They check their weight, their sex, their age, so they can document the specific birds that pass through.”
The natural landscape suits the concert music, she said.
“Colter’s music is inspired by the land, and I don’t know that you can fabricate that.”
It’ll be an informal evening at its finest to encourage camaraderie.
“There’s no formal seating, and it feels like a community. Most of the time, you know quite a significant number in the crowd, and it’s a wholesome outdoor experience. It’s just a good time for everyone.”