Donations ensure 8 summer blues shows

       There's no stopping the blues.
       At least not in Bancroft Park this summer. After fears in March that the lack of $5,000 would force a cutback in the annual “Paint the Town Blue” free live-music series, a flurry of donations is allowing the full complement of eight weekly shows in the Bancroft bandshell.
       “We were a little scared,” said Laura Hibbitts, president of the event-sponsoring Pikes Peak Blues Community (PPBC). “This is the year the people made it happen. It was all donations. There were no grants or government help.”
       Featuring popular local bands, the concerts will start Thursday, June 25, continuing Thursdays through Aug. 13. Times are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
       For Bancroft Park, the downside is that Paint the Town Blue is the only remnant of what had been an annual cornucopia of summer music through various City Parks- sponsored series (including popular performers such as Floyd Frame). City Council canceled the musical-series program to help balance the '09 budget.
       Previously, because Paint the Town Blue was part of that program, the city had not charged for the use of Bancroft Park (an overall cost of about $1,000). This year, the non-profit PPBC had to come up with that money itself; further, with a weak economy, it lost grants that had helped with other expenses, including band and sound technicians' salaries.
       When the situation became clear in March, PPBC members were concerned they could not afford more than six concerts this year.
       Hibbitts was pleased that the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group contributed $1,000, continuing its long-time support.
       “We've sponsored Paint the Town Blue for several years now,” said Nancy Stovall, an OCCA board member. “It's good for Old Colorado City. It brings people in from the outside and people here can enjoy it as well.”
       Also, responding to letter appeals, individual merchants and various citizens pitched in with donations - some as low as $20 or $30, “whatever they could afford,” Hibbitts said.
       Also helping out were the musicians and sound people themselves, who agreed to take cuts in pay from last year. “Everybody was, like, we really want to do this,” she said.
       The PPBC has produced Paint the Town Blue since 2003, moving the concerts to Old Colorado City in 2006.

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