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Pavilion Group looking at seven locations

Seven different pieces of property have been offered to The Pavilion at Pagosa Springs as possible sites for its concert tent, according to Janis Moomaw, chair of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Four of the proposed locations are uptown in the Pagosa Lakes area and three are downtown.

The Pavilion became homeless after controversy erupted about the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners voting on a lease at $1 a year for five acres of downtown county property to house The Pavilion’s tent.

BoCC chair Clifford Lucero said that of the many hundreds of e-mails and phone calls the three commissioners received on the subject, about half were against the lease plan and half were in support. Commissioner John Ranson added that virtually all of the downtown merchants were in favor of the plan. Most of the complaints centered on the lack of transparency in the process surrounding the lease application.

Because of the dissention, Moomaw chose to withdraw The Pavilion’s application, saying at a special BoCC meeting on Feb. 8 that “the community was being torn apart” and that “the Pavilion will continue to follow our vision, but we will take a different path.” Moomaw went on to say, “By putting the venue on private property, we have the freedom to grow into a successful site for the benefit of local businesses and all our residents.”

Property offers

Even while the public was voicing its opinions pro and con relating to the proposed lease, prior to the February 8 BoCC meeting the owners of two pieces of prime property had stepped forward to suggest their land for the site of The Pavilion. Later five more locations were offered.

Meanwhile, Moomaw already has requests from three different music groups to put on a dozen different concerts in July and August — all this with no soliciting or promotion.

“This widespread support and early demand reinforces our belief that The Pavilion will quickly become a versatile community resource that will complement the auditorium in the high school and the proposed Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts at the former Paint Connection location on Put Hill.”

Board members of The Pavilion are evaluating all seven of the proposed sites, but Moomaw says their strong preference is for a downtown location to generate business for restaurants, motels and merchants — and hopefully, in the longer term, the construction industry. “Everyone involved in The Pavilion is a non-paid volunteer with an intense desire to help in the economic recovery of Pagosa Springs and the county,” she said. “This is why we are determined to keep The Pavilion dream alive – for the good of our entire community.”

Economic benefits

“From the beginning we have said that this new Pavilion provides a huge economic opportunity for Pagosa to showcase our wonderful community and all its amenities,” she said.

“We look forward to hearing great music and also to generating significant financial benefits for our local businesses and residents from visiting tourists who may well become second-home owners. That is why we are leaning so strongly toward the downtown location.”

Moomaw also said that she has a letter in hand dated February 8 reaffirming the earlier commitment by Kelcy Warren, new owner of BootJack Ranch, to purchase a tent seating up to 500 people “for use at The Pavilion at Pagosa Springs.” The letter said Warren understands that the tent “will be used to host local music festivals in town and thus help further economic development for the community.”

Inaugural event

The inaugural event in the tent is the Songwriters Festival & Symposium featuring Nashville Sound music — a unique blend of country, rock, pop, folk and Americana. The festival encompasses four performances. It opens Thursday evening, July 7, with a gala fund-raiser catered by the Alley House to raise money for scholarships for local music students. Governor John Hickenlooper has said he will be a special guest at this event. Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, are evening concerts. Saturday afternoon is a symposium for aspiring songwriters from across the United States.

The Songwriters Festival & Symposium features four of Nashville’s greatest singer-songwriters — Dickey Lee, Buzz Cason, Richard Leigh and Pat Alger. All are inductees or nominees to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Promotion for the festival, which is planned to be an annual affair, should bring nationwide visibility to Pagosa, Moomaw said. “Our four performers are determined to make Pagosa one of the premiere destinations on the Nashville music circuit,” she said. “This festival is a perfect example of the value to our community of a first-class venue for major musical events.”

The Pagosa Springs Town Tourism Committee has awarded The Pavilion a $10,000 grant to market the Songwriters Festival and the other musical events planned for this summer. The marketing campaign will promote Pagosa via multiple media (print, Internet, radio, TV and posters) in the Four Corners area and in the southern U.S.

As well, there will be a three-state road show in late April to southern cities including Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Jackson, Madison, Oxford and Hattiesburg, Miss.; plus Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La. Pagosa community leaders will join two of the singer-songwriters on the road to publicize the attractions of Pagosa and encourage attendance at the Songwriters Festival.

The group also will visit universities known for their outstanding music programs such as Belmont University in Nashville and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg where Jimmy Buffett is an alumni. Buzz Cason, one of the singer-songwriters who will perform at the summer festival in Pagosa and travel on the road show, is credited with discovering Buffett.

Music in the Mountains

Following the Songwriters Festival, Music in the Mountains was next to contact The Pavilion with a plan for three concerts in July.

Pagosa classical music lovers were disappointed last summer when, after David and Carol Brown sold BootJack Ranch, there was no venue in Pagosa appropriate to host an orchestra concert, by far the local audience’s favorite classical offering. “That situation meant classical enthusiasts drove to Durango for Music in the Mountains events, taking their restaurant dollars with them and depriving us of opportunities to raise scholarship money for our talented local music students,” Moomaw said.

She now has a proposal in hand for three concerts — two chamber concerts and an orchestra event.

Fans of the classical festival’s conductor, Guillermo Figueroa, will be delighted to know that he will perform in two of those concerts, as a conductor of the orchestra and as a solo violinist with other world-class performers at a chamber concert. Also featured will be pianists Aviram Reichert and David Korevaar, perennial favorites of local audiences.

Moomaw pointed out that most of the volunteers now involved with The Pavilion are the same leaders who planned, organized and implemented the Music in the Mountains concerts in Pagosa since the festival’s inception here 10 years ago. “That experience and expertise has been instrumental in generating great interest in The Pavilion by a variety of music groups,” she said.

Americana concerts

Also on the table is a proposal for five separate Americana concerts in August. Performers would include Sam Baker, Slaid Cleaves, Jimmy LaFave, Stonehoney and Kevin Welch, all Austin-based recording stars from the Music Road Records label.

Moomaw promised that the site for The Pavilion will be decided soon. “We are eager to get started on a fund-raising campaign and to work with the various music groups who want to come here to make these promises a reality.”

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