Friday, October 18, 2019
Ketch’em Alive Even Catching the Kids Now
Will Caldwell painted a 20th Anniversary commemorative poster for Ketch’em Alive.
Monday, June 17, 2019


Will Caldwell’s children—Scarlett, Wyatt and Yancy--were teen-agers in high school when he started Ketch’em Alive 20 years ago. Now he’s babysitting their children and another is on its way.

It’s hard to believe, but there was no Facebook then and scarcely any email so Caldwell had to line up bands by phone and letters.

“I had a big pile of CDs that bands sent me,” he said. “Now I just check them out by YouTube.”

The popular concert series launches its 20th season on Tuesday when the Hurdy Gurdy Girls take the stage to be followed by Pandas and People, a folk and alternative rock band from Fort Collins, Colo.

Like Caldwell’s kids, Ketch’em Alive has grown over the years. A good crowd 20 years ago was 300 people toting picnic baskets. Today it’s not uncommon to have a thousand people crowd into Ketchum’s forest Service Park. And they no longer have to bring their own picnic, as eight food vendors will be set up on Washington Street.

“When we started in 1999 the feeling around town was that Ketchum was too quiet during summer—that there wasn’t a lot going on. And, to make matters worse, Sun Valley had stopped having concerts at Trail Creek Cabin,” Caldwell recounted.

Caldwell, who occasionally makes his own mark with world beat music, proposed a free weekly concert and the Ketchum/Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce and City of Ketchum helped him create it.

“The young people of the valley didn’t get it at first. They wanted to have their own gatherings out in the canyon,” he said. “But, little by little, they decided Ketch’em Alive was the place to be, that it was a good place to meet their friends. All ages feel comfortable there, and it’s all free in the heart of Ketchum.”

School-aged kids have had the chance to open for some of the headliners, which motivated them to work on their music. And some of those young entertainers have gone on to study music at such schools as the Berklee College of Music, a premiere music and performing arts conservatory in Boston.

“The weather has been kind to us generally. It’s rarely been rained out, but we have been smoked out a few times by forest fires.”

Caldwell painted one of his characteristically colorful paintings for a commemorative poster that he’ll be selling to raise money for the concerts. He’s also donating the original 30-by-40-inch painting from which he built the poster to raise money.

“It’s my vision of what I feel Ketch’em Alive is: People coming together in a mountain setting. People dancing, parents dancing with their children,” said Caldwell, who will display photos and posters from past years at this year’s concerts. “Music is a catalyst to bring people out and to bring people together on our wonderful summer nights.”

This year’s Ketch’em Alive lineup:

June 18—Pandas and People, a Fort Collins, Colo., group playing Americana, folk and alternative rock. Hurdy Gurdy Girls will lead off.

June 25—Tumbling Dice made up of Johnny Valenzuela, Chip Booth and Paul Gregory will play a Rolling Stones tribute.

July 2—Swagger from Salt Lake City will make an umpteenth visit to the valley to play their rollicking Irish rock.

July 9—Scott Pemberton Band, an electric guitar virtuoso from Portland, Ore.

July 16--Kuinka, a modern Americana/electronic music from southern California.

July 23--Pixie and the Partygrass Boys, which has become a local favorite via the Sun Valley Wine picnic and other appearances, will bring their joyous folk pop from Salt Lake City.

July 30--Gene Avaro Band, an Arizona band, will perform soul, funk and electronic music.

August 6—Lukewarm will play Lost River disco.

August 13--The Heaters, a classic rock dance band that has long been a mainstay in the valley, will close out the 20th season.

The Tuesday night concerts start at 7 p.m. with a warm-up band. The headliners come on at 7:30 p.m.

The concerts will be held at Ketchum’s Forest Service Park at First and Washington streets behind the Limelight Hotel. There will be eight food vendors on Washington Street.





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