Community, Features, Print August 3, 2021

Bohemian Light Brings Heavy Hitters Back to Famed Fort Collins Festival

by Dan England

• Editor’s Note: On Friday, August 6 (after press time) the Bohemian Foundation announced cancellation of Bohemian Light due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions

The Bohemian Foundation will put on a music festival this summer in downtown Fort Collins, and though the headliners are big names, fans of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest should temper their expectations somewhat.

The festival’s new name previews the scaled-back version of the past that’s featured Bonnie Raitt, Blondie, Cake, DeVotchKa and The Fray. Dubbed the Bohemian Light Music Festival, live concerts will commence two nights instead of three, featuring psychedelic soul band Black Pumas and singer-songwriter Randy Newman, plus Shovels & Rope and dozens of Colorado’s top bands. The free festival runs on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15 in Old Town Fort Collins.

Newman, whose goofy and catchy style fit right in with the Toy Story movies which featured his hit “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” is also known for “I Love L.A.,” “Short People” and the many hits he wrote for others, earning him an induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Black Pumas, a soul duo, were nominated for the Grammys Album of the Year in 2021 along with three other nominations to their credit.

Black Pumas had a great breakout year, said Laura Wilson, live music manager for the Bohemian Foundation, with the Grammy nominations as well as their performance for President Biden’s inauguration and should bring great, soulful energy to their Saturday night concert. Newman, despite his age, should bring out fans of all ages that Sunday because of, yes, his Toy Story songs, but also his many years as a household name.

“It should be a great way to wrap up our festival weekend,” Wilson said of Newman, “bringing out…the young folks who know his film scores and adults who know his decades of sharp and often satirical songwriting.”

Though technically stripped down, the festival still features more than 45 Colorado bands across four outdoor venues. Bohemian organizers know it’s a smaller version of New West Fest, but the realities of COVID-19 made it difficult to put on a show of past years’ magnitude.

“We really wanted to provide a live music festival if it was possible,” said June Greist, communications director at Bohemian. “We usually have an entire year to plan, but this year was a bit different because of the uncertainties around COVID-19.” 

Planning, therefore, turned into a condensed affair, Wilson said.

“The health of our community is our primary concern, so we have had to be nimble and flexible in planning as the months passed,” Wilson said, “but we were always hopeful that it would be possible, and are delighted that we can have Bohemian Light this year.”

The performances are free, first-come, first-serve and will be enclosed with limited capacity. The exact capacity may not be known until mid-August, Greist said. The venues will also be cleared several times throughout both days to allow as many people to experience the festival as possible. Both Black Pumas and Newman will perform on the Mountain Avenue main stage. Food trucks will be available too, but no goods and services will be allowed this year. 

The foundation doesn’t know if future festivals will look more like the New West Fest of years past, this year’s limited cap event, or if one will take place next year at all, Greist said.

“It’s too early to say,” she said. “But they do hope to continue to bring a festival to the community.” 

Bohemian Light Music Festival takes place in Old Town Fort Collins on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15 from 1-8 p.m featuring Black Pumas and Randy Newman. Times and locations of all performances will be available August 2 at and all shows are free to the public. Select performances will also be streamed live to the web.