Denver’s Underground Music Showcase returns in July with a new part-owner

Denver’s long-running Underground Music Showcase is due for a nonprofit makeover after its owner sold a stake in the festival to Youth on Record..

The Denver-based music and education organization aimed at marginalized communities purchased a minority stake in the event from owner Two Parts, Youth on Record executive director Jami Duffy said in a press statement Tuesday. The news was first reported by Denverite’s Kyle Harris.

The idea came into focus when Duffy met with Casey Berry, the founder of Two Parts, last year. They quickly bonded over “the challenges of leading forward-looking organizations during the pandemic, a time of uncertainty for both the nonprofit and music industries,” Duffy said in a press statement.

“(On Tuesday), Casey and I met on South Broadway to sign a deal bringing Youth on Record and Two Parts together as co-owners of the UMS,” Duffy said. “When the festival returns to South Broadway July 29-31, it will be under our co-leadership and management of the UMS, including operations and financial oversight.”

The social-justice Youth on Record has long been a UMS beneficiary — and a contributor to its lineup of local and national indie artists — and helped make the event more equitable and diverse. Two Parts bought The UMS from the Denver Post Community Foundation in 2018 for an undisclosed sum. The money for Youth on Record’s stake is being taken out of a $1 million, unrestricted gift from philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and husband Dan Jewett in June, Harris reported.

Co-founded by Denver Post music critics John Moore and Ricardo Baca in 2001, The UMS has grown into the region’s largest independent music festival, with 100-plus artists playing dozens of stages along Denver’s South Broadway stretch in the Baker neighborhood over multiple days.

This year’s event will feature higher artist payments, sober bars, mental health resources and more, Harris reported.

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