ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT Culture in the Vail Valley

A Musical Gem

We have a unique gem in the area. It shines. Is engaging. Filled with life. No, it’s not hidden. But, rather, it’s out there — ready for all to share in its delight. What’s more, the only thing you need is a ticket to capture the joy it creates. It’s easy to find. Its name clearly marked as you approach: The Vail Performing Arts Center (VPAC). Enter its walls and the magic begins.

The array of entertainment that the VPAC brings in each year is astounding. The programs cover a gamut of entertainers in every genre for every age group. It might be a circus or a Broadway show, Grammy Award-winning artists or a full orchestra — all performing in this 530-seat venue with state-of-the art stage rigging, production and backstage accommodations to host the biggest and best!

And this summer is no different, when the VPAC opens its summer season with acclaimed television late-night host and stand-up comedian, Jay Leno, who was once characterized as “the hardest working man in show business.” Leno’s television rating domination included two decades as the host of the No. 1-rated, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The comedian’s latest venture, Jay Leno’s Garage, now in its third season, explores the world of cars — and the audience is sure to hear some great stories on this comedian’s exploits about cars and his creative, intelligent take on many things current to our daily lives. And he never misses! Troupe Vertigo is known for its inventive and eclectic approach to circus, dance and theatre. The entire family will be mesmerized by the acrobatic artistry of this group that showcases its extraordinary physical feats that are choreographed into works of art.


Country music fans will be able to tap their boots to country all-stars, Grammy-Award winning, Shenandoah on its 30th Anniversary tour, as well as Army vet- turned-country singer, Craig Morgan. Beloved for their late ’80s and early ’90s hits like “Sunday in the South,” “Two Dozen Roses” and “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)”. Original members Marty Raybon and Mike McGuire have reunited to write a new chapter in this group’s story — much to the delight of their loyal followers.

And then there’s the ten-time Grammy Award- winning, Asleep at the Wheel, with 20 albums and 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. In fact, for their 2015 record, Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Cowboys, has been referred to a “genial Texan magic” by The Guardian. This tribute to Wills assembles an array of talent including Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, George Strait, to name a few. So get ready for some Texas fiddles and boogie piano when this group rolls into town!

If you like Tex-Mex — a little bit of country, a touch of Latin and a magnetic rockabilly influence, then The Mavericks is the ticket! This group, with top country hits like “O What a Thrill” and “Here Comes the Rain,” won the band a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance with Vocals in 1995. Get ready to shake your booty, if you catch this group.

Grab the chance to see Buddy Guy, whose latest album, The Blues is Alive and Well sums up his legacy. This is a must for blues fans! A celebrated guitarist, who is ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Guy is credited with influencing the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Keith Richards, to name a few.


This eight-time Grammy Award winner’s talents are unmatched by any blues musician including those who came before him or are currently performing. He’s that good! You know his voice. It’s instantly recognizable. It’s Michael McDonald, who has endured through the changing face of pop music. His classics such as “What Fool Believes” and “I Keep Forgettin'”, still have his fans enamored. A former member of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, McDonald has garnered five Grammy Awards. And with his release of Wide Open, his first album of new material in over 17 years, he proved that he’s not done cranking out the hits.

The Washington Post once said, “With enthusiasm and experimentation, the Punch Brothers take bluegrass to its next evolutionary stage, drawing equal inspiration for the brain and the heart.” In fact, the group, mandolinist Chris Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Koweart, banjoist Noam Pikelny and violinist Gabe Witcher won a Grammy for their 2018 album All Ashore. The venturesome band will surely take you on a musical journey.

Drenched in soul, rooted in gospel and always breathtakingly powerful, Toots & the Maytals, true architects of reggae, will have you dancing in the aisles.

Their music incorporates elements of blues, jazz, calypso, African and Latin American music as well as other genres. The group holds the Guinness Book of World Records for its incredible 31 “top of the charts” hits in Jamaica.

The Gladiators, also a Jamaican roots band featuring singer Droop Lion, will open this show. Last on this summerfest of shows is Swedish- Argentinian singer-songwriter, José González, whose trademark sound is solo classical guitar with soft vocal melody that is said to move listeners and stir the soul. His work, although mostly original, also includes acoustic covers of such hits as “Heartbeats,” by his fellow Swedes, The Knife and “Love will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division.

This summer also brings a redesigned May Gallery patron lounge at VPAC which will showcase a contemporary mountain feel, open floorplan and state- of-the-art technology.

Truly, the intimacy of this venue is a special experience for not only the audience, but the artists, as well — many of whom have noted how special the space is, placing it on their “favorite” list.