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San Juan River Music Festival comes to Yamaguchi Park

Smack dab in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28, will see Yamaguchi Park hosting its first-ever music festival and a day of fun for the whole family.

Starting at noon, the event kicks off with a rendition of the National Anthem performed by students from The Pagosa Springs High School Americana Project. Those students will be on hand throughout the day to perform music specifically for kids as well as to provide free music lessons and Americana music workshops.

The day’s musical lineup includes Bixiby, The Flying Elmos, The Lindells, Elder Grown, and Quality Retreads. At 7 p.m., headliners Great American Taxi will take the stage.

According to their web site (, “In the past five years, Great American Taxi has become one of the best-known headliners on the jam band circuit. Their uninhibited sound is a swinging concoction of swampy blues, progressive bluegrass, funky New Orleans strut, Southern boogie, honky tonk country, gospel, and good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll.”

Great American Taxi features singer, guitarist and mandolin player Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon.

The amplified music at Yamaguchi Park will end at a 10 p.m. with an encore performance by The Pagosa High School Americana Project with Great American Taxi.

Local resident and event producer Jesse Lee said he organized the show because, “We wanted to do something that will bring the whole town and surrounding communities together. How will we do that and where will we put this gathering of exceptional people? The answer is Yamaguchi Park.”

Lee added that the event’s location made perfect sense for a tie-in with Memorial Day.

“I don’t know the Yamaguchi family formally, but have read about some of the sacrifices they have made for this country and this community,” Lee said. “As a veteran myself, this location makes perfect sense in the fact that this beautiful piece of land was dedicated for the remembrance of the Yamaguchi Family’s unique example of what it truly means to be an American and for the enjoyment of the freedoms that so many of our fallen heroes have sacrificed for. “

The four Yamaguchi brothers, Ernest, Fred, George and Ralph, all served in the “Go For Broke” regiment — the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The most highly-decorated military unit in the history of the United States Armed Forces (the unit earned the nickname “The Purple Heart Battalion”), the 442nd saw action in both Europe and Asian theatres. All receiving decorations during their time in the army, the Yamaguchi brothers served bravely and with distinction in a unit that produced no less than 21 Medal of Honor recipients.

Event organizers will allow entrance into the venue beginning at noon, Saturday, May 28 in conjunction to the end of the Pagosa Springs High School graduation ceremony that day.

The San Juan River Music festival will have something for the whole family to enjoy ,with kids under 12 getting free admission into the event And kids will have plenty to do at the festival with activities galore: face painting, music classes, and special live performances just for them.

As the festival wears on, the music continues and appetites begin to grow, there will be barbecue provided by the Pagosa Springs Lodging Association, pizza by The Floured Apron, gourmet coffees and pastries by Boulder Coffee Café, Fruits Fresh Squeezed Lemonade for cold drinks, and, of course, the beer garden will be sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club and Pagosa Brewing Company.

Please go to to check out show details, read more information on the bands, purchase tickets, and read more information regarding the many sponsors and vendors for the event.

Pagosa Springs’ very own Colorado Mounted Rangers will provide security and traffic direction for the convenience and safety of the music fans.

Coke products, bottled water, and specially-priced Rafting for Rangers Tickets will be sold at Yamaguchi Park during the concert to benefit the Colorado Mounted Rangers. Attendees are encouraged to raft to or from the show. Check out the Rafting for Rangers ticket specials provided by Wilderness Journeys on the website.

For those attending the day’s graduation ceremony at the high school, the show is just an easy walk across the street towards the river. More information is available on the website Graduation Party page.

Finally, the music continues after 10 p.m. as ticket holders are invited to attend the San Juan River Music VIP After Party at Pagosa Lodge featuring very special guests, the band Taarka.

According to the band’s web site (, Taarka, “performs a patented and irreplaceable blended evolution of Western and Eastern folk traditions of jazz, rock, bluegrass, old-time, gypsy, Indian, and Celtic music interpreted through the highly capable ears and hands of four of today’s top classically trained, eclectic-acoustic music pioneers.”

Kick-starting a busy summer season in Pagosa, the San Juan River Music festival hopes to become a premier and landmark Memorial Day weekend event. Come out for a day of music, food family fun to celebrate those men and women who have honorably served to protect the freedoms we all enjoy.

Advance tickets for the San Juan River Music Festival are $20 and are on sale now, either online at or at the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce. Tickets will also be available at the festival gate and will be $25 the day of the show.

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