Rhythms on the Rio 2019 Review: 10 Best Reasons for Choosing Rhythms

by Aug 26, 2019

Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019 Review

The 14th Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival took place in South Fork, Colorado, on August 2 – 4, 2019.  The annual event is hosted by the South Fork Music Association, a non-profit striving to provide musical instruments and education to children throughout the San Luis Valley.

Summer festival season in Colorado is a difficult time – filled with something that can only be classified as “festy problems.”  These ‘problems’ are actually blessings beyond imagination.  We have So. Many. Festivals!  Yup, truly blessed.

Of course, with this many options, summer planning can be daunting, and FOMO can knock on the door and say ‘look over there!’

‘Over there’ will offer all of the best options of the best touring bands from around the country, playing in some of the most beautiful venues on the planet. 

On the Colorado festival landscape, we’ve got Telluride, Lyons, Rancho del Rio, Sunrise Ranch and many, many more…

And we have South Fork, Colorado.

South Fork isn’t much more than a blip on the map if you don’t know better, but upon further inspection it is a beautiful base for adventure that surrounds the natural beauty of the Rio Grande River.  And it has one hell of a music festival each year!

Rhythms on the Rio, hosted by the South Fork Music Association (more on that later), takes place literally on the banks of the mighty Rio Grande.  In its 14th year with one of the best musical lineups to date, Rhythms brought a slew of amazing moments, on and off the stage.

With a lineup of artist that included festival favorites like Fruition, The Travelin’ McCourys, Kyle Hollingsworth Band,  The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and many more, it’s easy to see why Rhythms on the Rio was on our festy radar for quite a while.


With that in mind, here are the Top 10 Reasons we are grateful for choosing Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival in 2019:

Crowd dancing at Rhythms on the Rio 2019

The Larry Keel Experience

Larry and Jenny Keel are always going to bring the party, and when the Larry Keel Experience (including Jared Pool on mandolin) adds Kyle Tuttle (Jeff Austin Band) to the mix, things are going to get weird and amazing.  The chemistry between all four members is undeniable, leading most fans to resoundingly hope that the Keels find a way to keep Kyle in the mix.

Oh, did we mention that they were also joined by Jeremy Garrett of the Infamous Stringdusters?  The result here was one of the best bands we have seen all summer.  And when Billy Nershi joined in for a smoking hot version of “Groundhog,” we were truly blown away.

The Rio Grande

It’s called Rhythms on the Rio for a reason.  Steps away from camp and the stage is the mighty Rio Grande.  Daytime at the festival finds a river ripe with activities.  Festy goers soak, float, fish and swim in a section of the Rio that allows (fairly) safe access to most folks. 

A put-in area at the main stage provides the start to a perfect little float to the end of the campground, a short 5-minute walk back up steam -the perfect amount of time to have a refreshment and do it again.

Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019

Furry Fest Friends

One of the best things that Rhythms on the Rio has going for it is the policy on pets.  “Well behaved” canines and owners are allowed at Rhythms on the Rio. 

The freedom this gives to dog owners who may not be able to leave their furry friends for the weekend is huge.  We encountered so many folks with dogs who say they wouldn’t get to any festivals if it weren’t for Rhythms on the Rio.

Plus, we got to hang out with some adorable pups all weekend long.

Puppy at Rhythms on the Rio

Pixie and the Partygrass Boys

This band has become hands-down our favorite festy-crush of 2019. 

We first encountered this energetic group from Salt Lake City at WinterWonderGrass and have been chasing the Partygrass ever since.  A Partygrass show is part whiskey-drinking-bluegrass, part showtunes, part funk and all Party!  What is Partygrass?  A mixture of Shenanigans and Art, according to the band.

Check out this great interview we had with a few members of Pixie and the Partygrass Boys after their show! 

Here’s a taste of Pixie and the Partygrass Boys, with the tune “Ski and Party.”  Kind of a Partygrass theme!

Sparkles the Bus

While main-stage activities come to a fairly early close at Rhythms on the Rio, there is always a pick and party to be found somewhere. 

This year, Sparkles the Bus played host to some amazing late-night parties.  On the deck atop of this funky old school bus could be found a crazy assortment of talent, including an amazingly energetic performance by Dirty Dozen Brass Band after the official conclusion of the festival on Sunday evening. 

Sparkles the Bus at Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019

Teach the Children Well…

The entire purpose of this festival is to help ensure the musical future of the area’s children through the South Fork Music Association (SFMA). 

As a non-profit, Rhythms on the Rio provides for the SFMA to give free instruments and lessons to kids throughout the area.  Volunteers work their butts off to ensure a successful event each year at minimal cost to maximize the benefits to the SFMA. 

Kids are learning music, and when we get old we’ll be seeing them grace the stage of Rhythms to help the next generation!

Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019

Buses on the Rio

One of the coolest things about Rhythms on the Rio is “Buses on the Rio.”  In its 3rd year, Buses on the Rio encourages folks with vintage VW buses – almost 100 this year – to gather and camp together, celebrating their bus culture!.

Strategically placed (or so it seemed) so that most of the general camping population has to walk through their ranks, it makes for an amazing thoroughfare leading to the festival. 

Who doesn’t like seeing a bunch of vintage VW’s at a music festival?!  And the owners are all welcoming and willing to show you their pride and joy.  Just ask!

Busses on the Rio

Family Friendly

Providing musical education for the local area kids is the long-term goal of the festival, but in the short-term Rhythms provides a playground that would make any adult jealous.

Aside from having a beautiful river to splash in (adult supervision necessary!), there are a slew of kid-friendly art installations for sparking imaginative play, as well as a giant collection of light-up hula hoops available for kids of all ages to hone their hooping skills. 

We even saw jugglers teaching a few kids some tricks.  Definitely fun for the whole family at Rhythms on the Rio.

Mom and child at Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival

Location, location, location!

Coming from the Front Range as we do, South Fork is a little bit of a drive, but what a gorgeous one it is!  The beautiful 4.5 hour trek takes us by the Collegiate Mountains and through the town of Buena Vista, passing the iconic Coney Island Hot Dog Stand along the way!.

Want to extend your Rhythms weekend?  There are a ton of activities nearby and along the way, regardless of your origin.  Hot tubs, hiking, fishing and floating are all around, making it easy and tempting to turn a weekend music festival into a week-long summer vacation.

The southern-Colorado location of South Fork means that the Denver/Boulderites like us get a rare opportunity to spend some quality time with our Durango family – always a plus!

Coney Island Hot Dog Stand - Bailey, CO

Rhythms Community

Rhythms on the Rio is a community. 

From the wonderful family, friends and volunteers that make this wonderful event happen each year, to the huge groups of fest friends who gather annually to celebrate Rhythms – community is the theme.  Group camps set up communal gathering spaces, host group meals and center around themes.  And EVERYONE is invited! 

Did you arrive at Rhythms alone?  No, you didn’t.  There are friends all around waiting to meet you and invite you in.

Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019
Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019

That’s just a start!  We could go on and on with reasons to Choose Rhythms on the Rio.

Need some more?  Join us next year and make your own list.  (It won’t be difficult!)


See you next year, Rhythms on the Rio!


View the Full Rhythms on the Rio 2019 Photo Gallery

Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival 2019
Funky Festival Gear and Clothing

Funky Festival Gear

“Be Your Fest Self” with fun and unique festival gear.

Like Aliens riding T-Rex with rainbow stars shooting out its butt.   Because we can.

Funky Festival Gear and Clothing
Resonate Suwannee 2024 Photos: David Armas Photography

Resonate Suwannee 2024 Photos: David Armas Photography

Resonate Suwannee 2024: Photos by David Armas Resonate Suwannee took place the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida April 4-6 2024. All photos by David Armas for Festy GoNuts.   Resonate Suwannee went down at the iconic Spirit of Suwannee Music Park...

read more
Is Beyoncé’s “COWBOY CARTER” Album Country?

Is Beyoncé’s “COWBOY CARTER” Album Country?

We take a look at Beyoncé’s new album “Country Carter”, and delve into why the country world is having a fit about this particular pop star making a so-called country album. What really defines a genre of music, and who decides on that genre?

read more

About The Author


Jason has been in love with the festy lifestyle ever since his first festival experience, The Great Went in August of 1997. Whew. That was a while ago. Jason loves the way festivals free us from the constraints of the outside world, and let us be our true "fest" selves!

Sam Bush Boulder Theatre 5.3.2024 banner ad

Be Your Fest Self with Funky Festy Attire!



Festy GoNuts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

FestyGoNuts logo

Don't miss the latest Festival news!

WhooHoo! Check your email for our Festy Food Guide as thanks!