Denver’s biggest multi-day music festival kicks off this weekend and this year they plan to focus on the mission of mental health and sobriety
Denver – Denver’s largest multi-day music festival kicks off this weekend and this year, they have a new focus and partnership with Youth on Record. Underground music show (UMS) will affect various stages along Broadway between Alameda Ave. and 6th Ave. While providing mental health support to artists and concertgoers.
This year’s new Impact Show at UMS is part of a festival-wide focus on mental health support and substance abuse prevention among musicians and 10,000 attendees are expected at the festival. The festival will also introduce Sober bars, which will provide alternatives to traditional bars at each of the main festival venues.
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“What we saw was an incredible community container of 10,000 people a day and 600 musicians a day who need care and need support,” said Jamie Duffy, Executive Director of Youth on Record. “We got together and said, ‘What if we make this really helpful and really impactful in the areas of mental health and artist care? “
Duffy is the new co-director of the UMS Festival and said they saw this as an opportunity to address the mental health and sobriety of their artists and attendees. The group said it hopes to reduce stigma by providing health and affordable resources for wellness within the care community.
“The past two years have been tough for a lot of people,” Duffy said. “So our focus at the festival on mental health, it really came from our community saying, ‘We need support, we need resources’ and we thought ‘Why not bring it all together? “.
Casey Berry is the co-owner of the UMS Festival and said that this year, they are introducing an ‘Artist Care Lounge’ where musicians can relax in an alcohol- and substance-free space.. Artists will have access to non-alcoholic beverages, yoga, acupuncture, tai chi, body movement, and essential oils.
“I think we are very excited to help our teams, venues and everyone who works at the festival take a second and appreciate themselves and appreciate the others around them as we try to give as many resources as possible,” Berry said.
UMS also has the support of the medical community. Colorado Health Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Kering for Denver Foundation, and Colorado Enterprise Fund are early supporters of the music festival’s focus on mental health. According to festival organizers, young Denver artists were 25% more likely to suffer from mental health problems and substance abuse.
“They were very brutal, loser entertainers,” Berry said. “I think everyone assumes it’s a musician and their Instagram is, but it’s so much more than that, they have a family, they have friends, they’re part of teams.”
Michelle Rocket has been boxing and singing for a Denver band called Milk Blossoms for the past 10 years. Rocket is an artist of color and says making music can be stressful.
“It comes with additional considerations, it comes with additional challenges and that starts to show up on you over time, and so it’s really hard to be an artist of color to see how other people view your life.”
She said it was part of the reason she was recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.
“I’ve been a sober artist throughout my twenties and now in my thirties and have noticed how focused the music industry is around drinking or drugs and substances.” Rocket said. “I lost my brother to a drug overdose in 2015 and realize how unsustainable that is for artists.”
Organizers hope this festival will bring mental health awareness to everyone and make an impact with artists before and after they take to the stage.
“We’re really committed to being part of the solution,” Berry said. “(We) are making changes to where people can access mental health, access sobriety, and access care while having fun is really what we’re on this year.”
For more information on the Underground Music Show, visit https://www.youthonrecord.org/underground-music-showcase.
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